One Day in the City: 15 June 2012

What is One Day in the City?

“One Day in the City” is not a literary festival: it is a celebration of London and literature at University College London.
A.S. Byatt and Alan Hollinghurst


For one day in the year, we invite members of the local community, schools and the general public to come along to UCL's Bloomsbury campus and take part in our celebration of London and literature. It is an open invitation to learn something new and contribute to conversations about London and its literature, with the capital's greatest authors, poets, thinkers and public figures. We aim to create intimate and dynamic forums through which the city, research on the city and creative talents within the city can be celebrated and showcased to as wide an audience as possible. In order to achieve this, all the events are free and everyone is welcome.


Our inaugural "Day in the City" on 15 June 2012 was a great success. A full house came along to listen to and engage with such contributors as A.S. Byatt, Alan Hollinghurst, Daljit Nagra, Alan Jenkins, Will Self, Iain Sinclair and Adam Thirlwell; we drew special comment from the Guardian, the Independent, the Evening Standard, the Saturday Times magazine and Time Out; and we were kindly sponsored by Man Booker Prizes and UCL Grand Challenges: Sustainable Cities.

There were talks, readings, panels and Q&A sessions: Dame Antonia Byatt and Alan Hollinghurst, for example, discussed some of their favourite literary London moments with John Mullan, the Head of the English Department; whilst earlier in the day Will Self discussed an MRI of his brain with Hugo Spiers (UCL Neuroscience). Elsewhere there were art and design exhibitions, interactive audio-theatrical tours and film showings: Nick Shepley (UCL English) and Andrea Fredericksen (UCL Art Museum) co-curated two exhibitions offering a unique and dynamic conglomeration of London texts and images – digital, photographic, hand-drawn, and hand-crafted;

UCL Art Museum

William Raban showed and discussed his wonderful film, The Houseless Shadow; whilst Unclaimed Creatures took bookings out of Beadle's Box for Metaphysical Travel.

Invisible Cities

The majority of the day’s events took place within UCL’s Bloomsbury Campus, within the square created by the Euston Road, Gower Street, Torrington Place and Gordon Street. The British Museum, Senate House Library and the Royal Institute of British Architects also held linked events.

"One Day in the City" is an initiative conceived in 2010 by Nick Shepley and supported by UCL's Department of English.