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What's in your head? (Fickling Lecture)

Frank Cottrell Boyce

Date/Time: 27th February 2014

The indigenous people of the American Pacific do it by building totem poles. The Shuar people of the Amazon used to do it by shrinking heads. You might do it on Facebook. Whoever we are we define ourselves through stories. But a definition can also be a trap. And a definition can be wrong. What if we've been telling the wrong story all along?

Frank Cottrell-Boyce is a children's writer. His first novel, Millions, won the Carnegie Medal in 2004 and was made into a film by Danny Boyle, who also picked Frank to be the writer for the 2012 Olympic Opening Ceremony. His most recent book, The Unforgotten Coat, won the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize and Der Deutscher Jugendliteraturpreis, as well as being shortlisted for the Costa Book Awards.

Frank is also a screenwriter, noted for such films as Millions and 24 Hour Party People. His current film The Railway Man is in cinemas now.

About the Fickling Lecture

This prestigious annual lecture is funded by David Fickling Books (an imprint of Random House). David Fickling is one of the most adventurous and successful British publishers for children. He is responsible, for instance, for the His Dark Materials trilogy and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.

Fickling lectures provide public figures with an opportunity to be equally adventurous as they put forward their ideas about children's literature and its place in British culture to a large and diverse audience. Speakers are invited to consider children’s literature in all its forms and in its broadest sense. The lectures are intended to inspire people to think about what children's literature is and what it does, about where it has been and where it is going.

The inaugural Fickling Lecture was given by Philip Pullman in 2005. Since then the Fickling lecturers have included:

Andrew Motion

James Naughtie

Sandi Toksvig

Nick Hornby

Roddy Doyle

Each lecture has demonstrated that writing for children often asks profound questions and can have a lasting impact on culture. At the same time speakers have also probed the current state of children’s publishing asking how well books for children and young people are engaging in contemporary debates, providing intellectual and aesthetic nourishment, and responding to the new possibilities offered by digital media.

The lectures are organised by the School of English Literature, Language and Linguistics and Seven Stories: National Centre for Children’s Books.