About once a month, in the pre-Covid-19 world, we were lucky enough to host some of our favourite writers, in a small space upstairs at the shop, and began to make these talks available as podcasts in 2019. We still cannot invite authors to speak in the shop in the current circumstances, but we have continued making recordings and podcasts.

In the last few months our speakers and interviews have included Hisham Matar, Caroline Moorehead, David Mitchell, Loyd Grossman, William Dalrymple, Judith Herrin, Martin Latham, William Boyd, Tom Stoppard and Hermione Lee: we are hugely grateful to them all.  We have many more such podcasts planned for the coming months.

Listen to the most recent episodes below, or find us on Spotify and Apple Podcasts to hear them all.


OLIVIA LAING: Everybody: A Book about Freedom

OL talks to Magnus Rena about her new book, Everybody: A Book about Freedom. It’s a sweeping, collective biography of a dozen glamorous but stifled figures: Susan Sontag, Christopher Isherwood, Nina Simone, Wilhelm Reich, Malcom X, Marquis de Sade, Ana Mendieta, etc. What they all share is an urge to break through various inherited constraints and seek out that strange and slippery thing called freedom.

Music: Nina Simone, Mood Indigo

Cover image: Ana Mendieta, Imágen de Yágul, 1973


EMILY MAYHEW: The Four Horsemen and the Hope of a New Age

The horsemen of the title are those of the Apocalypse, the terrifying outriders of war, pestilence, famine and death. Dr Mayhew considers developments in several fields to argue that we are pushing back successfully these dreadful tides. It’s a gripping, lively narrative that is surprisingly uplifting. We wish we could take credit for the inspired choice of introductory music for this podcast but, in this case, those laurels must go to Emily herself.

Music: Denis King, Black Beauty Theme (Galloping Home)

Cover image: Albrech Durer: The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, 1498


HELENA ATTLEE: Lev’s Violin: An Italian Adventure

Curiosity is Attlee’s great virtue: here she takes us on the journey, through space and time, of one violin, whose voice “was powerful enough to unbuckle joints”. Cremona, Russia, Venice, Alpine forest, the Welsh borders… (Her last book, ‘The Land Where Lemons Grow’, about Italy and its citrus fruit, is a great favourite of ours and deservedly a best-seller.)