November 11, 2010


Alfred Bestall: illustrator of Rupert Bear

Although he also worked as a painter and book illustrator, Alfred Bestall (1892-1986) was most famous for his Rupert Bear comic strip in the Daily Express, which he produced from 1935 to 1965. The 90th anniversary of the character invented by Mary Tourtel is being marked by the publication of a book, The Life and Works of Alfred Bestall, written by his god-daughter Caroline Bott. The Bott family is also donating his archive to the University of Oxford's Bodleian Library. To celebrate, the library is holding an exhibition in its Proscholium (13 November to 8 January 2011), which brings together original Rupert artwork, Bestall's sketchbooks and examples of his other work. It will also present evidence of his passion for origami.


Onassis Cultural Centre

This month will see the opening of the Onassis Cultural Centre, a minimalist building of glass and white marble that takes up an entire block in the heart of Athens. Amenities include a 874-seat hall for concerts, conferences and performances, a 7,500ft gallery and an outdoor theatre space. Its first major event will be a series of Athens Dialogues (24- November), in which the Onassis Foundation will join forces with eight other leading international institutions for a conference considering contemporary global issues and challenges in light of the Hellenic cultural legacy. About 800 scholars and scientists are expected to participate in discussions on the themes of: identity and difference; stories and histories; logos and art; democracy and politeia; science and ethics; and quality of life.


Second series of Garrow's Law (four episodes from 14 November)

The first series of Garrow's Law - the legal drama inspired by the life of pioneering 18th-century barrister William Garrow, who was openly critical of Britain's corrupt criminal-justice system - won the prize for history at the Royal Television Society Programme Awards for 2009. It was strongly underpinned by an Arts and Humanities Research Council-funded project that created Old Bailey Proceedings Online, a digitised collection of the court's surviving proceedings from 1674 to 1913. This gives access to more than 197,000 trials and details of about 2,500 people executed at Tyburn. The new series, according to writer and co-creator Tony Marchant, draws on the same sources in storylines that examine "slavery; the grave implications of being gay in the 18th century; the mistreatment of injured and disabled sailors in war campaigns; and the characterisation of women as property".



The Nigerian composer, performer and political activist Fela Kuti (1938-97) was one of the leading African cultural figures of his generation. Fela! started as an off-Broadway collaborative workshop in 2008, but was turned by Jim Lewis and Bill T. Jones into a hugely successful Broadway show the following year that was nominated for 11 Tony Awards. Featuring most of Fela's iconic songs, it celebrates his art, style and controversial life through a mixture of music, theatre and dance. It has now been brought to London, where it can be seen at the National Theatre until 4 December.


Four Hundred Years of the King James Bible

On 12 November, two leading academic experts will be discussing the definitive English translation of the Bible at the University of Leicester as part of the Literary Leicester Festival. Gordon Campbell, professor of Renaissance studies at Leicester, is the author of Bible: The Story of the King James Version 1611-2011, released this year. David Crystal, honorary professor of linguistics at Bangor University, has recently published Begat: The King James Bible and the English Language. Their debate will explore the influence of the Authorised Version on poets, playwrights, politicians and, more recently, advertisers, Hollywood and hip hop. The festival continues until 13 November.


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