Monthly Archives: May 2015

Some great Festival of Ideas events for your diary

It’s May which can only mean the summer programme of the Bristol Festival of Ideas is in full swing!

Here are some events you may enjoy:

Åsne Seierstad:  One of Us: The Story of Anders Breivik and the Massacre in Norway

27 May, At Bristol

On 22 July 2011, Anders Behring Breivik killed 77 of his fellow Norwegians in a terrorist atrocity that shocked the world. Many were teenagers, just beginning their adult lives. In the devastating aftermath, the inevitable questions began. How could this happen? Why did it happen? And who was Anders Breivik?

Award-winning foreign correspondent Åsne Seierstad has spent years writing about people caught up in violent conflict. Now, for the first time, she examines her home country. Her work is based on Breivik’s statements and writings, as well as police records and interviews with people involved in the murder spree, as victims or relatives of victims.

That Brevik had a dangerous imagination is clear. But to what extent can we separate him from the ideas that fed him?

Book now

Yasmin Alibhai-Brown: Exotic England

28 May, Watershed

England may be a small country on a small island, but its inhabitants have always had a boundless curiosity about the world beyond their shoreline. From the nation’s modern origins in the Renaissance, travellers have eagerly roamed the globe and been enticed by the diversity and richness of other civilizations. And while this appetite for adventure has often been tainted by aggression or exploitation, the English have also carried within them a capacity to soak up new experiences and ideas and to weave them into every aspect of life back home, from language and literature to customs and culture.

Yasmin Alibhai-Brown traces this golden thread of otherness through five centuries of English history to reveal how it has shaped the buildings, flavoured the food, powered the economy, and created a truly diverse society. Today, when England is no longer synonymous with Britain and the English ask themselves who they are, she paints a sumptuous and illuminating portrait of who they have been and brings a fresh, invigorating perspective on what ‘Englishness’ really means.

Book now

Amitav Ghosh: Flood of Fire

29 May, Waterstones

It is 1839 and tension has been rapidly mounting between China and British India following the crackdown on opium smuggling by Beijing. With no resolution in sight, the colonial government declares war. One of the vessels requisitioned for the attack, theHind, travels eastwards from Bengal to China, sailing into the midst of the First Opium War. The turbulent voyage brings together a diverse group of travellers, each with their own agenda. Among them is Kesri Singh, a sepoy in the East India Company who leads a company of Indian sepoys; Zachary Reid, an impoverished young sailor searching for his lost love; and Shireen Modi, a determined widow en route to China to reclaim her opium-trader husband’s wealth and reputation.

Flood of Fire follows a varied cast of characters from India to China, through the outbreak of the First Opium War and China’s devastating defeat, to Britain’s seizure of Hong Kong. It is a thrillingly realised and richly populated novel, imbued with a wealth of historical detail, and suffused with the magic of place and plotted with verve.

Book now


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The What the Frock Book of Funny Women is hitting the shelves

Great news!

Here at the Bristol Women’s Literature Festival we love to have a bit of a chuckle and we love to promote women’s writing and performing.

Which is why we’re so delighted to be able to write and inform you about the exciting publication of the What the Frock Book of Funny Women – a celebration of 100 years of rib-tickling, hilarious women.

Bristol-based comedy night What the Frock already bring together the funniest women from across the UK, proving once and for all that the sexist stereotype that ‘women aren’t funny’ is nothing more than a lot of misogynistic bilge. The publication of their book goes even further.

The book is written by What the Frock founder, Jane Duffus and the foreword is by Lucy Porter. It profiles some of history’s funniest women, and has guest contributions from everyone from Viv Groskop to Ian Martin.

I’ve recreated the press release below with all the details.

Happy – and hilarious – reading and well done to everyone involved in What the Frock and the fantastic work they do for women’s representation.

to celebrate 100+ years of fantastically funny women

WHAT THE FROCK! COMEDY and BCF BOOKS announce the publication of the groundbreaking, myth busting paperback The What The Frock! Book of Funny Women (written by Jane Duffus, foreword by Lucy Porter) – which is putting an end, once and for all, to the tired idea that women aren’t funny by providing countless examples of side-splittingly hilarious women.

The book’s publication coincides with the third birthday of What The Frock! Comedy – the phenomenally popular, award-winning all-female comedy event that celebrates up and coming talent via stand-up shows, improv, workshops, an all-female comedy award and more.

The What The Frock! Book of Funny Women is a book of two halves. The first half contains chapters outlining the history and important role of women in comedy on both sides of the Atlantic, as well as addressing the myriad of obstacles that stand in the way of female comedians’ success. The second half of the book collects together more than 70 profiles of some of those women (from Caroline Aherne to Victoria Wood), and includes guest contributions from names such as Ian Martin (writer on The Thick Of It, Veep), Viv Groskop (comedian, broadcaster, journalist), James Mullinger (comedian, GQ comedy editor) and Kate Smurthwaite (comedian, broadcaster).

What The Frock! Comedy founder, and author of the book, Jane Duffus, says: “This book neither asks nor answers the question ‘are women funny?’ because of course women are funny. To suggest otherwise is as absurd as asking whether a man can be a nurse. This book presumes you know women are funny and confirms this by celebrating some of the wonderful women who have made us laugh for the past century or more. We shouldn’t have to segregate the genders in the 21st Century. But to me the important point is to provide a platform to nurture new female talent, and to continue to raise the profile of those talented performers in the media. This is what What The Frock! aims to do and this book is an extension of that goal.”

Comedian Jenny Éclair says: “A wise and witty guide to the wisest and wittiest women in comedy. At last someone gets it – women have funny bones! Read all about it.”

Visit the website at

Find What The Frock! Comedy on Twitter (@WTFrock_Comedy)
and Facebook (

The What The Frock! Book of Funny Women by Jane Duffus

BCF Books, ISBN 978-0-9571275-0-0, £7.99, Published 11 May 2015

Buy the book

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Angela Davis at Watershed

We’re delighted to tell you about some exciting films being shown at Watershed this weekend about the brilliant and awe-inspiring black feminist activist Angela Davis.

Sister Angela: Black Power Remixed & Reloaded

Angela Davis went from being a University Professor to being number three on the FBI’s ten most wanted list. The passion and the struggles of the time seem troublingly familiar for contemporary audiences as the political and cultural struggles of the 60s and 70s are revisited in two very different ways. Angela Davis features prominently in this stirring double bill of political resistance (The Black Power Mix Tapes 1967 – 1975 screens later in the day at 18:00) and the fight for basic human rights.

In this this rarely presented documentary legendary radical activist Angela Davis speaks for the first time about her 1970s imprisonment as a terrorist and conspirator, a flashpoint in the black liberation struggle that made her a revolutionary icon. With extraordinary archival footage, interviews with Davis, all four of her trial lawyers and the activists who co-led a massive international movement for her freedom, this complex story continues to reverberate in our own time.

  • After the screening, a panel will discuss how historical absences about black lives and contributions to cultural histories from the past can act as drivers for creativity in the present.
  • + Short: Hairpiece: A Film For Nappy Headed People (USA 1982 10mins) Ayoka Chenzira unpacks the thorny history and politics of what black people do to their hair in this humorous yet cutting short animation.
Ticket prices:£5.50 full / £4.00 concessions. Ticket offer: Get £1.00 off to The Black Power Mixtapes 1967-1975 later in the day at 18:00 with a Free Angela and All Political Prisoners ticket. To claim this discount please visit Box Office orbook online via this link.
Sounds like a fantastic opportunity to celebrate this amazing woman and her many exciting achievements.
See you there!

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