Thursday, 17 November 2011

Philippa Gregory opens Stockton's 'New' Central Libary

Hardly a day goes by without us hearing of the pressures on libraries with the threat of closure hanging over many.

It's a pleasure therefore to report on one that's very much alive. The Central Libary at Stockton-on-Tees reopened on 1 November after an extensive refurbishment. The building hasn't changed but the refurbishment has provided a library to be proud of.

The Library was officially opened on 14th November by historian and best selling author Philippa Gregory.

Prior to the opening ceremony Philippa gave a talk to an audience and signed copies of her books in the Library's packed lecture hall. She recounted the importance of libraries in her life from childhood in 1960s Bristol to becoming a historian and best selling author.

At Sussex University Philippa read English Literature but she was 'hooked' on History by her Professor's dramatic introduction to the subject. 'History does not repeat itself' was the lesson she has never forgotten. At Edinburgh University she studied Gothic heroines and in particular the disempowerment of women in the 1800s. Her PhD research took her all over the country to compile a 'best seller' list from library catalogues. Expecting to find only 10 relevant catalogues there turned out to be 64. Noone has ever guessed the title of the book that topped the list she produced from her research.

When Maggie Thatcher froze the courses for 18th century literature historians, Philippa switched to writing historical novels - all based on women overlooked in British history. A reference to the launching of a ship called Mary Boleyn gave Philippa the idea which resulted in 'The Other Boleyn Girl' which was later to become a TV drama and a major film.

After her talk Philippa signed copies of her books (hard- and paperbacked) for members of the audience.

You can find details about all her Tudor novels and those she has also written on the Plantagenets on her website


Carole Anne Carr said...

So pleased that Stockton is recovering. Last time I visited some years ago it seemed derelict. The church at the end of the high street boarded up.

Bob Scotney said...

Unfortunately Carole, Stockton is still suffering with many shops empty - the air of dereliction is still there.

Carole Anne Carr said...

How very sad, it was so vibrant in my childhood, loved shopping in the market, the hiss of hurricane lamps, oranges wrapped in silver paper, and then listening to the Messiah in that wonderful church every Christmas.

Karen S. said...

I know these kinds of neighborhoods and you wonder just why are the shops closing? Where are the people going, and what do they really want? It is sad to see places you enjoy wither away...and the libraries...we all need these places.....and must do whatever we can do in our power to keep promoting them!

Little Nell said...

How uplifting. It’s good to hear of a rejuvinated library.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Bob .. loved your post here - glad the library has a revival .. ours is full of computer screens .. but at least it operates.

Very interesting to read about Phillippa Gregory .. I learnt some things that fascinated me .. and I must 'dig' some more sometime ..

Cheers and have a good weekend ..Hilary