Hello Readers, Here for your delight and enlightenment is our roundup of slow arts and culture events to experience in late April, May and June - from Dickens last novel Our Mutual Friend reborn as London Tides at The National Theatre in London - to subterranean jazz at the 606 Club; Sylvia Pankhurst's Lost play at The London Library - and a not to be missed fundraising night with Robert Kennedy Junior and Friends in Nashville in an evening of Country and Comedy - for the We the People US presidential campaign at Kennedy 24. Oh, and don't miss John Singer Sargent at The Tate and Boston Museum of Fine Arts, together with the film that examines the artist who personified beauty, power and sublime, flight of fantasy fashion in the Victorian age. His pictures dazzle from the way they look deeply to the personality of the sitter, to the intoxicating power of hot pink or the sensual way light falls on a waterfall of lace around the nape of the neck.

I've included a video of RFK Junior going rock climbing in search of an Eagle's Nest in East Africa in the seventies, showing how he has nurtured a profound, life-long commitment to nature, wild creatures and the environment through his work as a legal eagle.


Sargent: Fashion and Swagger

John Singer Sargent : Fashion and Swagger in Cinemas Nationwide

John Singer Sargent, the great fashion portraitist of Victorian society glitterati, is the subject of a new film by Exhibition on Screen to celebrate the dual exhibitions of his work at Tate Britain and the Museum of Fine Art Boston. Sargent was a genius with paint and his portraits of the women of the age are the personification of beauty, glamour, fantasy and the power of fashion as a symbol of wealth, change and scandal as with his infamous and audacious portrait of Madame X. In the painting that led Sargent to move countries, he paints his alluring and confident society muse in a daring black gown which was deemed outrageous at the time as black was the colour of mourning. Sargent: Fashion and Swagger is showing in cinemas nationwide now.

Find a Screening of Sargent:Fashion and Swagger

Tate Britain - Sargent and Fashion Until July 2024


The London Library

N.B. You can book tickets for each event at The London Library via the What's On Section on the library website. This saves us from broken links after the event has happened and it is taken down.

Professor Higgins Has His Very Own Library in the Brilliantly Authentic 1939 Film Version of Pygmalion Written by Bernard Shaw. Starring Wendy Hiller and Leslie Howard.

I was a member of The London Library for a year, and I adored hanging out between the stacks, and writing magazine articles in such hallowed reading rooms. My productivity was stunning. The Library is home to 1 million books. Imagine that. Hidden away in St James's Square, The London Library also boasts a rare perfume that writers and book lovers adore - the intoxicating perfume of eau de vintage rare books. There is nothing like it. The fun part is imagining running into the ghosts of of Dickens, Iris Murdoch or James Bond's creator, Ian Fleming. I have no idea if the revealing of this juicy nugget will elicit laughter or a ticking-off. Let's see. Libraries, especially esteemed ones are the perfect place for flirting and potentially finding a far more meaningful connection as a delightful side effect of writing, researching and being crazy about books! Join the library and the you can immerse yourself in the literary life and go and hang out in one of the kitchens for a coffee or tea break and rhapsodise about Sartre and Proust. It works! You don't have to be a member of the library to attend one of the ticketed, buzzing social, literary and cultural events in May and throughout the year. However, once you have stepped into the hushed world of this beautiful library, you will never want to leave. Alison Jane, Editor-in-Chief April 2024.

April 25th Art Literary Salon The Body and Spirit in Person

Lauren Elkin and Jennifer Higgie on the body and the spirit in women's art

Celebrating the Jhalek Prize

The Jhalak Prize was first awarded in 2017 and its sister award Jhalak Children’s & YA Prize, founded in 2020. Both prizes seek to celebrate books by British/British resident BAME writers.

Come along to The London Library for an evening of discussion and drinks about the prize itself and the process of judging it from Jhalak Prize judge Anni Domingo and Jhalak Children's & Young Adult Prize judge JP Rose in conversation with Sunny Singh, followed by readings from some of the (soon to be announced) shortlisted authors. This year's winner will announced on May 30th.

Doors (and the bar) open at 7pm, with discussion and readings from 7.30. Drinks are included with the ticket.

The London Library

Friday 3rd of May

Write & Shine: Ways of Seeing – Iris Murdoch (Online)

Rise and Shine Writer's Workshop Inspired by the Writing of Irish Murdoch

Start your day with a brilliant dash of creativity sparked by the writing of Iris Murdoch.

Iris Murdoch and the Power of Imagery and Colour in Writing

Join Write & Shine bright and early, live from The London Library for a 90-minute virtual writing workshop inspired by novelist Iris Murdoch, author of Under the Net (1954) and The Sea, The Sea (1978). Iris's work is often rich in visual symbolism and, in this session, we’ll consider how imagery and colour play a vital role in her writing—and in our own.

A Romantic Encounter Between the Bookshelves!

Iris Murdoch (1919-99) was a member of The London Library and wrote in her diary about a romantic encounter amongst the bookshelves with future husband John Bayley: “We leaned against the shelves in the half darkness and clung to each other.”

This workshop is part of a series of morning writing sessions, led by author Gemma Seltzer, exploring the connections between image, writing and seeing in the work of celebrated former members of The London Library, as inspired by John Berger’s seminal book Ways of Seeing.

Think, Dream and Imagine!

Write & Shine workshops takes place in the early morning light - the best time to think, dream and imagine! You won’t be expected to share your writing, which offers great freedom and encourages all kinds of fascinating ideas to emerge.

Login at 7.30am for 7.45am start. You will be sent a Zoom link a few days before the workshop (if you do not receive it, please check your junk file or email events@londonlibrary.co.uk).

Between Two Fires - Sylvia Pankhurst's lost play (in person) returns to The London Library

Sylvia's Suffragette Play Written in Prison

Sylvia Pankhurst wrote a play in HMP Holloway during her imprisonment for sedition in 1920/21. During her in solitary confinement, with a contraband pencil on prison issue toilet paper, the legendary suffragette and socialist activist composed a dramatisation of her experiences within the political movements that would go on to bring vital social and political change, from her own grassroots activism to the political conflict being played out by her beloved Keir Hardie – Labour's founding leader.

Back by Popular Acclaim

Nearly a hundred years later, Pankhurst's biographer, Rachel Holmes, discovered and transcribed the play via painstaking analysis of the delicate fragments jumbled into brown envelopes in the depths of an archive. First performed last year to a sold-out audience at The London Library Lit Fest, we are delighted to be bringing the play back exclusively to The London Library for a limited run, with new, recently discovered material woven into the script and an accompanying programme of talks.

Directed by Roxana Silbert, produced by Amy Powell Yeates, with a cast yet to be announced, this is a rehearsed reading and will be followed each evening by different discussions and conversations inspired by and in response to the play, as follows (times indicate the performance. The talks will take place directly after each performance):

Thursday 9 May, 7pm: Labour MP for Rhondda and parliamentary historian Chris Bryant speaks to Rachel Holmes about how to bring about change in politics, the history of the Labour Party and his work uncovering the stories of activism and injustices around sexuality and gender in Britain, including in his new book James and John, about the last men to be hanged for homosexuality in Britain.

Friday 10 May, 7pm: Film director Sarah Gavron (Suffragette), Sylvia Pankhurst's biographer Rachel Holmes and London Library Archivist Nathalie Belkin, speak to Claire Berliner about archives and what gets lost within them, unearthing the hidden stories of women in history and the project of bringing those stories to light on page, stage and screen.

Saturday 11 May, 7pm: Activist and granddaughter of Sylvia Pankhurst, Helen Pankhurst, and human rights lawyer and campaigner, Baroness Shami Chakrabarti, speak to Rachel Holmes about the legacy and relevance of Sylvia Pankhurst's life, work and activism in today's contested and troubled times.

Sunday 12 May, 3pm: Playwrights April de Angelis, Sonali Bhattacharyya and Chris Thorpe speak to Rachel Holmes about political theatre, how they and others have responded to the political climate and whether theatre has the power to make change. This will be followed by an EWP Scratch Night at 6pm, showcasing political playwriting from former and current participants in The London Library Emerging Writers Programme.

Performances begin at 7pm on Thursday 9 May, Friday 10 May and Saturday 11 May and at 3pm on Sunday 12 May. Performances will run for an hour and will be immediately followed by a 45 minute talk. Doors (and the bar) open 30 minutes before each performance.

Supported using funding from Fondation Jan Michalski.

Books by contributors are available to buy from our partner bookshop Hatchards and will be available at the Library during each event.

London Library

EWP Playwriting Scratch Night: scratching a political itch (in person)

New and Emerging Playwrights at The London Library

Discover the work of former and current members of The London Library Emerging Writers Programme to showcase some of the incredible talent that has come through over the last five years.

Four New Playwrights Explore Politics, Protest and War

Four playwrights, Olga Braga, Maryam Garad, Amy Powell Yeates and Sid Sagar, will each stage short, rehearsed readings of their work, exploring a diverse range of political themes from the protest at Greenham Common to the war in Ukraine and more besides.

Come along to discover exciting new writing and illuminating new perspectives.


A Short Guide to Staying Alive by Olga Braga
Set against the backdrop of the Ukraine war, this play unfolds in the decrepit kitchen of an abandoned house, where Kolya, a young and inexperienced recruit, and Sergey, a jaded older sniper, engage in a tense yet humorous exchange, which reveals their contrasting perspectives on war, life, and survival. A profound exploration of resilience, camaraderie, and the human spirit amidst the horrors of war.

Reparations by Maryam Garad
Aisha struggles to navigate her life after going to prison for three years for shoplifting. She soon finds herself infatuated by a wealthy young woman named V and comes to the conclusion that stealing material items is simply not enough – true healing will come when she steals this woman’s life. Reparations is a play about the consequences of neglect and the ramifications when it’s at once familial and systemic.

You Can't Kill the Spirit by Amy Powell Yeates
‘You told me it was a party, not a sodding revolution.’
New Year’s Eve, 1982. From behind her local shop counter, Joan waits for the nuclear sirens to sound. But then brilliant Theresa walks back into her life. Brilliant Theresa wants to take Joan to a party. An extract of a new play inspired by the world of the Greenham Common Women’s peace camp that asks, is there is anything left to do when the world is ending?

John From Hull by Sid Sagar
A delivery driver, in the heat of road rage, is confronted with fragments of his past. Exploring the politics of masculinity, privilege and roundabouts in contemporary Britain, this extract is from a new play currently being written for Hull-based theatre company Middle Child. The play is scheduled to tour the UK in 2025.

You can book tickets for these feature events on the website - The London Library

Please see our Event Access Guidelines before you arrive. London Library events are subject to Terms and Conditions.

Politics, Culture and Social Regeneration

Robert Kennedy Junior - We the People Presidential Campaign in the USA.

Robert Kennedy Junior, a leading environmental lawyer for four decades and the heir to RFK his father, and JFK, his uncle, didn't want to run for president of the USA. He is running because America and Americans are in serious trouble. In a historic, epoch-making campaign to become the first green and organic independent president of the USA in the November 2024, RFK Junior is running the We the People Campaign to heal the divide between left and right and to restore America as a land of freedom and opportunity. He is also running to deal with government and corporate overreach, the border crisis, destruction of the middle class, the decimation of nature and essential ecosystems, chronic disease, especially among children, forever wars and to embrace organic and regenerative farming.

Read his manifesto, watch his declaration of independence speech and don't believe a word you read about him in the mainstream media. None of it is true.

RFK Junior is the first presidential candidate since the assassination of his father and uncle to be denied secret service protection. Help raise money to keep him safe and to get Bobby on the ballot for the presidency in every state in America.

Oh yeah, I am a journalist based in the UK. We all need RFK Junior in the White House.

28th April - Voter Rally, Villa Lombardis, Holbrook, NY

28th April - Private Reception with RFK Junior, Melville NY.

15th May A Night of Country and Comedy with Robert Kennedy Junior and Friends, Nashville.

18th May - Private reception with RFK in Castlerock.

02 June - Private reception with RFK and Cheryl Hines in Santa Monica CA.

For readers based in the US, there are plenty of exciting ways to get involved in Bobby's campaign for president and put a Kennedy back in the White House.




National Theatre London

Underdog: The Other Bronte Until May 25th 2024

Reader, I think you know who is the most quotable.

Charlotte Brontë has a confession about how one sister became an idol, and the other became known as the third sister. You know the one. No, not that one. The other, other one… Anne.

This is not a story about well-behaved women.

This is a story about the power of words. It’s about sisters and sisterhood, love and jealousy, support and competition.

Directed by Northern Stage Artistic Director Natalie Ibu (The White Card), Sarah Gordon’s (The Edit). This new play is an irreverent retelling of the life and legend of the Brontë sisters, and the story of the sibling power dynamics that shaped their uneven rise to fame.

National Theatre

London Tide

London Tide at The National Theatre Starring Ami Tredrea and Bella Maclean

And so it begins. With the dusk and the storm and the Thames…

A storm rages and, in the darkest part of the night, and a body is pulled from the swirling Thames.

Across the city, two young women confront an uncertain future. In Limehouse, Lizzie Hexam struggles to break free of the river and its dark secrets. On the other side of town, Bella Wilfer mourns a lost marriage. The appearance of the mysterious John Rokesmith has the potential to change their lives for ever. Will they sink or swim?

This romantic and propulsive thriller is a hymn to the city and the river that runs through it. Directed by Ian Rickson (Translations) and adapted by Ben Power (The Lehman Trilogy), with original songs throughout, the genius of Dickens meets the fierce musical imagination of acclaimed singer-songwriter, PJ Harvey.

The National Theatre


Jazz at the 606 Club, London.

April and May

The 606 Club is almost the last bastion in London of the authentic Subterranean Jazz Hangout of the fifties and earlier. The experience is intimate, the acoustics are pitch-perfect and you can graze before you soak up the jazz.

Jazz at the 606 Club

Frances Madden - Sunday May 5th

Frances Madden, an award-winning singer, songwriter and pianist, has played to full houses at leading jazz venues and festivals around her native Australia, as well as supporting artists such as Dionne Warwick & Grammy-Award winner Gregory Porter. Now based in London, Frances is currently working on a new album with Grammy Award-winning Producer and Engineer Cameron Craig (Adele, Katie Melua). Featuring her unique take on selected American Songbook classics along with new originals the band also features the brilliant trumpet playing of Quentin Collins (Kyle Eastwood).

606 Jazz Club

Amanda Whiting (Album Launch)

Wednesday 8 May, Jazz Cafe

A virtuoso harpist, this classically trained musician has quickly established herself as an essential player in the UK jazz scene, carving her own unique sound, following on from the paths forged by Ashby and Coltrane. Described an "ethereal, beat laden display of beauty", and "extraordinary", her newly released and widely lauded 10-track album, The Liminality of Her, exemplifies Amanda’s talents as a performer and composer, taking in an array of hypnotising sonics from the worlds of jazz; from fusion to spiritual and beyond.

Jazz Cafe

Art and Exhibitions

Bruegel to Rubens

Discover the exquisite drawings of the Flemish Masters from Bruegel to Rubens at The Ashmolean Museum Oxford. Read more in The Luminaries Spy column here.

Ashmolean Museum Oxford

Money Talks: Art, Society and Power

Money Talks at The Ashmolean Museum Oxford

Money Talks opening on August the 10th will explore our conflicting attitudes to money and examine how money and art are closely intertwined through culture, art and commerce. The exhibition features works by Da Vinci, Bansky, Warhol and Rebrandt.

Ashmolean Museum Oxford

Angelica Kauffman- Royal Academy London

Self Portrait by Angelica Kauffman, Royal Academy London

Angelica Kauffman painted the glitterati of the 18th Century from Queens and Kings to leading actors and socialites. This major exhibition runs until June 30th 2024 and looks at her life and work as a founder member of the RA and her to move to her studio in Rome.

Royal Academy

Copyright Alison Jane Reid/The Luminaries Magazine April 2023. Copyright, All Rights Reserved.

Become a Supporter of Independent Slow Magazine Journalism Today - Join Our Tribe - Support The Luminaries Magazine.

About the Journalist and Editor of The Luminaries Magazine

Alison Jane Reid is a Scottish/English feature writer, editor and slow luxury tastemaker. Her iconic career in British national newspapers spans three decades. AJ worked as a lead feature writer specialising in cultural icons at The Times Magazine for a decade. AJ trained at Mirror Group Newspapers and went on to work as a contributing editor at The Lady and You Magazine. Her iconic interviews and features have also been published in Country Life, The Independent, ES, The Evening Standard, Coast and Harpers Wine and Spirits Magazine.

Alison Jane has also appeared in broadcast journalism for - ITV, Channel 5, V&A Fashion Documentary and our television channel. In 2023, she took part in a documentary for Channel 5 about cultural icon Harry Styles.