Thursday 8th October | 7pm-8pm

'Avatars: LGBT Storytelling by Amy Dillwyn'

'Avatars: LGBT Storytelling by Amy Dillwyn'
The Amy Dillyn Lecture 2020

Thursday 8th October | 7pm-8pm

Presented by Swansea University's CREW (Centre for Research into the English Literature and Language of Wales) and Cultural Institute'.
Introduced by Norena Shopland

In this talk, Professor Kirsti Bohata introduces Swansea writer, Amy Dillwyn, and her radical fiction. In her novels, Amy Dillwyn created male avatars (often criminals) to allow her to explore genderqueer identities and lesbian desires. Later, these avatars become female characters (still criminal) who occupy male storylines. This talk is suitable for a general audience and all are welcome.

13 October 2020 - 2PM - 9PM

13/10 Poetry Workshops

New World, New Beginnings - Online Poetry Workshops

How can poetry help us to connect with others and with our world at a time of uncertainty and physical distancing?
Join us for FREE poetry workshops on 'New World, New Beginnings' as we celebrate human resilience and connectivity.
Workshops will be led by critically-acclaimed poet and Swansea University Professor in Creativity Owen Sheers who will be joined by award-winning poets Eric Ngalle Charles (workshop 1) and Natalie Ann Holborow (workshop 2).
All participants will be invited to share their poetry at a special online event on 12th November as part of Being Human, the UK's only national festival of the humanities.
In association with the Being Human Festival, Swansea University's Cultural Institute and Oriel Science.

Wednesday 4th November | 7pm-8pm

‘Cross Currents: The Fiction of History' - Dai Smith CBE

‘Cross Currents: The Fiction of History' - Dai Smith CBE in conversation with Jon Gower

Wednesday 4th November | 7pm-8pm

Dai Smith reflects on the intellectual cross currents of his life as both historian and novelist as he launches his latest novel, The Crossing, in conversation with Jon Gower.

The novel builds upon and completes Dai’s trilogy on the fictive history of Industrial South Wales. The Crossing, polyphonic and multi-vocal, is a startling and provocative mix of the actual and imaginative in its intertwining of individual destinies, real and fictional ones, with a society’s fated and shaping direction.

Dai is now writing a work of memory making which, he says, is neither autobiography nor memoir but, rather, both forms held in suspension in the mind of recall.

In association with PARTHIAN

Cultural Institute 'Literary Salon Series'


Friday 6th November 2020 | 7pm-8pm

06/11 - Living Histories Cymru

Living Histories Cymru present:

A Moral Amazon: the story of Miss Amy Dillwyn

Born a tomboy in Swansea, South Wales in 1845, Amy Dillwyn spent many years searching for a meaningful existence. As a young woman Amy was brought low by unrequited love for her friend Olive and blocked ambitions. She later revisited her experiences in a series of  best selling novels. ‘Jill’, ‘The Rebecca Rioter’ and A Burglary are entertaining reads, published by Honno Classics.

Later in life Amy would become a famous public figure in Wales and featured in the British and American press, taking over her father’s business, fighting for women’s rights and standing for public office. We tell the story of this remarkable woman, and her doubts and fears as she struggles for a meaningful place in the world. But she never forgot her one true love, the girl who would not love her back.

Amy Dillwyn is played by Helen Sandler (in costume)

Narrator: Jane Hoy

A Moral Amazon is brought to you by Living Histories Cymru from our series Queer Tales From Wales.  Living Histories Cymru  perform stories about the often hidden or ignored history of LGBTQ+ people in Wales in an entertaining and accessible way. Our shows have been enjoyed all over the UK including Y Senedd Cardiff, Swansea Waterfront Museum, Brighton Museum, The People’s Museum Manchester, The Museum of Liverpool, Aberystwyth Arts Centre, a story walk in Aberystwyth for Amgueddfa Ceredigion Museum and most recently on line for the Women’s Archive Wales.


Thursday 26th November | 7pm-8pm

'Entering the Yellow House: Jon Gower talks to Alan Bilton about his fantastical take on historical fiction, The End of The Yellow House'

'Entering the Yellow House: Jon Gower talks to Alan Bilton about his fantastical take on historical fiction, The End of The Yellow House'

Thursday 26th November | 7pm-8pm

Book Synopsis
Central Russia, 1919, a sanatorium cut off by the chaos of the Russian civil war. The murder of the chief doctor sets in motion a nightmarish series of events involving mysterious experiments, the secret police, the Tsar’s double, an enigmatic ‘visitor’, giant corpses, possessed cats, sorcery, and the overwhelming madness of war, in this fantastical and wildly exuberant historical novel.  

"A bold and confident novel that throws us into the deep end of post-revolutionary Russian life with fervour and wit. There are knowing nods to Gogol and Bulgakov but the voice is entirely original, with a gem of a phrase on every page. I love the quizzical, querulous, dry voice and it’s a satisfying whilst sometimes disorientating experience... the characters are larger than life, but the mud is real. Alan Bilton has a real talent for the unexpected left-hand turn, with lines that turn on a sixpence and surreal narrative twists. It reads like a very modern translation of a 19th century Russian classic – if that sounds like your kind of thing, you will love this book." - Mark Blayney  

Cultural Institute 'Literary Salon Series'


Thursday 3rd December | 7pm-8pm

'The Murenger and Other Stories: Jon Gower in conversation with Mark Lawson Jones'

'The Murenger and Other Stories: Jon Gower in conversation with Mark Lawson Jones'

Thursday 3rd December | 7pm-8pm

‘In The Murenger and Other Stories’, Jon Gower’s fifth collection of short fiction, he has unleashed a motley crew of rambunctious characters, who experience a variety of unfortunate situations, either due to their own destructive tendencies, to events beyond their control or to the vagaries of others. These unique stories are a melting pot of wild imagination and inventive language, conjured up with a drop of magic realism, a hint of the surreal and a soupçon of fable.’
- Madeleine d’Arcy, author of Waiting for the Bullet

About the Author
Jon Gower has over thirty books to his name, in Welsh and English, including ‘The Story of Wales,’ which accompanied the landmark BBC series, ‘An Island Called Smith,’ which gained the John Morgan Travel Writing Award, and ‘Y Storïwr,’ which won the Wales Book of the Year award. He is a former BBC Wales arts and media correspondent and was for many years the presenter of Radio Wales’ arts’ programme ‘First Hand.’ He lives in Cardiff with his wife Sarah and daughters Elena and Onwy.  

Cultural Institute 'Literary Salon Series'


Wednesday 9th December | 7pm-8pm

9th December - Laura Kalas

'Margery Kempe’s Spiritual Medicine: Laura Kalas in Conversation with Liz Herbert McAvoy'

Wednesday 9th December | 7pm-8pm

Book Synopsis
Born in 1373, Margery Kempe is the writer of the first known female-authored autobiography in the English language. As an effusive, often rambunctious, visionary woman living in the lay world, her particular mode of spirituality was not always well-received in a cultural milieu that frequently pathologized, or deemed heretical, ‘excessive’ female expression. Margery Kempe’s Spiritual Medicine: Suffering, Transformation and the Life-Course (D.S. Brewer) is the first full-length study of The Book of Margery Kempe from a medical humanities perspective. Harnessing the ubiquitous medieval notion of Christ the Physician, it offers a new way of reading the Book as a narrative of Kempe's own engagement with the medical paradigms of which she has previously been a passive subject. Focusing on the interactions of medicine, mysticism and reproduction as a feminist project, the book is a broad traverse through the life course, exploring Kempe's persistent attendance to her mystical body and refusal to compromise her instinct to authentically show how she feels.

About the Author
Laura Kalas is a Lecturer in Medieval literature in the Department of English Literature and Creative Writing at Swansea University. She has published in several academic journals, contributed to The Literary Encyclopedia, and has articles in The Conversation and The Independent. Her work on the medical recipe at the end of The Book of Margery Kempe has been featured in The Guardian and in the BBC History Magazine. Margery Kempe’s Spiritual Medicine is her first book.

In association with Boydell and Brewer.


Thursday 28th January | 7pm-8pm

Carole Hailey

'The Book of Jem - Carole Hailey in conversation with Alan Bilton'

Thursday 28th January | 7pm-8pm

Book Synopsis
In the aftermath of catastrophic religious wars, God has been banned. As snow begins to fall, a young woman – Jem – arrives in Underhill. The isolated community offers her shelter, unwittingly unleashing events that threaten their very existence. Jem announces that she has been sent to Underhill by God to prepare the villagers to fulfil a devastating purpose. Some believe she is a prophet and defy the law to join her God's Threads religion. Others are certain she is lying. With their fragile community beginning to fracture, Eileen, the first and most devoted of the believers, decides to record the birth of this new religion in her own Book of Jem. As God’s Threads gather for the apocalypse, the words Eileen has written will determine the fate of Underhill and, ultimately, of Jem herself. But can Eileen be trusted to tell the truth? And how can anyone know what to believe?

About the Author
After years of failing to write in the middle of the night, Carole Hailey abandoned a lucrative career as a lawyer to become an impoverished novelist. She subsequently accumulated an MA in Creative Writing from Goldsmiths and a PhD from Swansea University in 2020. Carole was shortlisted for the Bridport Prize First Novel Award 2020 and is a London Library Emerging Writer 2020/21. The Book of Jem is her first novel.

In association with Watermark Press

Cultural Institute 'Literary Salon Series'