Readers & Writers Fundraiser ‘Personal Wonderlands’








Louisa Young, Neil Arksey, Tom Stoppard and Tony Bradman - just some of the participants on the night

Louisa Young, Neil Arksey, Tom Stoppard and Tony Bradman – just some of the participants on the night

Personal Wonderlands

 

Review by Jessica Irene, English PEN Intern







Compere Sue Macgregor

Compere Sue Macgregor

PEN supporters united on Tuesday night for a fundraising evening entitled Personal Wonderlands, a celebration of childhood imagination and inspirational children’s literature.

This very special event was the first ever fundraiser for English PEN’s Readers & Writers  Programme, which brings authors and their books to those who would not otherwise have access to them – underfunded schools, young offenders institutes, prisons and community programmes. It has been described as the Rolls-Royce’ of reading development programmes by







Photo courtesy of Dafydd Jones
The Children’s Laureate
Photo courtesy of Dafydd Jones

the National Literacy Trust.

This sparkling evening shone under the purple and blue lights of the Bloomberg auditorium, the breathtaking surroundings surpassed only by the sprightly smiles of 150 eager guests. Lavish trays

of hors d’oeuvres and wine floated among the crowd including a distinguished roll-call of guests of honour – Jung Chang, Antonia Fraser, Bonnie Greer, Doris Lessing, Sue Macgregor, the Children’s Laureate Michael Morpurgo, Harold Pinter, Alexei Sayle, Tom Stoppard, Jacqueline Wilson and Louisa Young. They each read from literature that inspired them as children – stories that helped to develop their literary passions and desire for a career in writing.







Doris Lessing and Antonia Fraser

Doris Lessing and Antonia Fraser

Sue Macgregor began the adventure by reading Swallows and Amazons, followed by Jung Chang’s heart wrenching reading of The Little Match Girl. Tears quickly turned to laughter however, as Alexei Sayle took the stage with a sweeping flourish of comical whimsy and read from Spike Milligan’s Puckoon. Doris Lessing then whisked the guests to the exotic wonderland of The







Photo courtesy of Dafydd Jones
Louisa Young
Photo courtesy of Dafydd Jones

Jungle Book, before Louisa Young took them sailing through the fantastic Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader. The first half was then brought to a close with a hilarious reading of a section of Ulysses by Harold Pinter, who admitted that he first read this at the age of 13.

The interval ended with the Personal Wonderlands raffle, which included signed children’s books and a CD box set of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire read and signed by Stephen Fry.







Photo courtesy of Dafydd Jones
Sayle & Pinter
Photo courtesy of Dafydd Jones

Part two kicked off with an auction, with lots such as illustratations by Raymond Briggs, a collection of signed books donated by the speakers and a lithograph donated by Paula Rego, raising £3,400 for Readers & Writers. The charismatic Michael Morpurgo’s heart-warming reading of The Elephant’s Child was followed by Antonia Fraser’s revealing choice, Our Island Story: A History of England for Boys and Girls by HE Marshall. Jacqueline Wilson drew us fully into the world of Jane Eyre with her reading from Charlotte Bronte’s







Photo courtesy of Dafydd Jones
Bonnie Greer
Photo courtesy of Dafydd Jones

ever-popular novel and Bonnie Greer opened hearts and minds to alternative American lives in James Baldwin’s Another Country. Afterwards, the room was rich with laughter during Tom Stoppard’s rendition of England, Their England, which, sadly, marked the conclusion of the evening. Guests headed for home in high spirits, having been reminded of the child within.

We would like to express enormous gratitude to Bloomberg for its generosity as host, to our distinguished speakers and to all those who donated raffle prizes and auction lots, as well as all those who supported Readers & Writers by attending this fabulous evening.

Originally posted with the url: www.englishpen.org/events/reportsonrecentevents/personalwonderlands/

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