Skip to Content


Val McDermid: Locating Crime Fiction

26 September 2017, 6:30pm
Book Online

Val McDermid is a celebrated and best selling Scottish crime writer, known for her series of suspense novels and her famous creation for television, Wire in the Blood. Many of McDermids books feature locations in the North and this September she will talk about the importance of place in crime fiction, how location informs the story you can tell. McDermid will discuss A Place of Execution in Derbyshire, the Brannigan novels using Manchester and the impossibility of Bradfield feeling real without readers being able to map their experience of Northern cities on to it. Please book in advance to avoid disappointment. This event is brought to you as part of The Portico Literary Prize programme.

Family Fun Book Launch at Waterstones!

1 October 2017, 2pm - 4:30pm

Journey back in time to Victorian Manchester for a FREE family fun book launch event at Waterstones, Deansgate.
The Portico Library's new children's book, Time Travellers and the Crystal Dome is a time traveller thriller suitable for children aged 8-14 years and features four historical characters; Elizabeth Gaskell, Robert Peel, John Dalton and Peter Mark Roget. Join us for games and quizes, author signings and readings from the book.

The Portico Library have commissioned Time Travellers and The Crystal Dome to support their annual competition, The Portico Sadie Massey Awards for Young Readers and Writers, which aims to encourage a lifelong love of reading and writing. The 2017 winning entries are featured within the book and signed copies will be available to buy.

Anne Michaels with Manchester Literature Festival

10 October 2017, 6:30pm
Book with MLF

The internationally acclaimed Canadian author Anne Michaels reads from her stunning and long awaited new poetry collection All We Saw: luminous reflections on desire and loss, exploring ‘what love makes us capable of, and incapable of.’ Her work plums the depths of human emotion with a haunting, lyrical beauty that leaves the reader winded.

Anne is the author of three previous collections: Skin Divers, Miner’s Pond and The Weight of Oranges, which won the Canadian Authors Association Award. She has also penned the novels The Winter Vault and Fugitive Pieces, which won multiple awards including the Orange Prize and Guardian First Book Award, and is the current Poet Laureate of Toronto.

Exhibiting Slavery in a Post-Imperial Context: Reflections on 2007 and Manchester's Contributions

Illustrated talk with Professor Alan Rice (University of Central Lancashire)
11 October 2017, 6.30pm
Book online

This illustrated talk will explore the landmark 2007 exhibition Trade and Empire: Remembering Slavery curated by SuAndi, Kevin Dalton Johnson, Emma Poulter and Alan Rice at the Whitworth Art Gallery. Rice will outline the curatorial methodologies he and Poulter used to create their sections of the exhibition and discuss selections made and the controversies they caused. These will range from eighteenth- and nineteenth-century slave narratives by Olaudah Equiano and Henry Box Brown to contemporary art and textiles by Godfried Donkor and Althea McNish.

Slavery & Abolition in Manchester

Lecture with Dr Natalie Zacek (University of Manchester)
12 October 2017, 6.30pm
Book online

This talk discusses the importance of the city of Manchester and its inhabitants to the abolition of slavery in both Britain and the United States. Although "Cottonopolis" grew wealthy from the processing and sale of slave-grown commodities, it was also a major site of anti-slavery activism, and its visitors included not only celebrated abolitionists such as Thomas Clarkson but former slaves such as Frederick Douglass and Henry "Box" Brown, as well as black celebrities such as the Shakespearean actor Ira Aldridge and the "Hottentot Venus" Sarah Bartman.
The talk is delivered by Dr Natalie Zacek of the University of Manchester's American Studies programme.

New Manchester Walks - Slavery and Abolition in Manchester

18 October 2017, 2 - 4pm
Book Here

Manchester prospered from the horrors of slavery for much of the 18th century but by the end of that period the growing town was leading the campaign for its abolition. Our friends at New Manchester Walks take you on this detailed tour, highlighting key sites in the city to tell the story of Manchester's place in this global history. The tour runs on International Anti-Slavery Day.

Gut Healing

14 October 2017, 6.30pm
Book online

GUT HEALING is an evening of live performance and participation delivered by artist and curator Amy Lawrence, plus special guest artists, in response to the themes and texts of the Portico Library’s current exhibition Bittersweet: Legacies of Slavery & Abolition in Manchester, and particularly to the relationships between women’s histories and the abolition of slavery. The primary intervention, composed by Lawrence herself, will take the form of a part-scripted, part-improvised 'seminar' attended by women who act as a board of trustees, in contrast to the all-male committees that dominated the library in the 19th century. Observe and engage with complex issues of gender politics, power relationships and Black identities through this thoughtful and innovative event.

Amy Lawrence is a Manchester-based artist, creative producer and facilitator of participatory events in a variety of settings, and co-founder of LEGROOM, a new space for exploring approaches to movement and visual arts in Manchester city centre. She recently completed an Emerging Artist Fellowship with Manchester International Festival and the Jerwood Foundation.

Lyndall Gordon with Manchester Literature Festival

16 October 2017, 6:30pm
Book with MLF


Why is it that those on the margins, those who don’t fit in, are responsible for some of the most innovative and memorable creative work? Lyndall Gordon’s new literary biography, Outsiders: Five Women Writers Who Changed the World, is an exciting and provocative look at the women who wrote the novels that changed the world. In this meticulously researched and thoughtful book, Lyndall considers the lives and work of Mary Shelley, Emily Brontë, George Eliot, Olive Schreiner and Virginia Woolf, and explores the relationship between their creativity and their status as outsiders in society.

Lyndall is the award-winning author of six biographies, including Lives Like Loaded Guns: Emily Dickinson and Her Family’s Feuds; The Imperfect Life of T.S. Eliot. Susie Orbach called her 'a biographer with soul, she reaches into the hearts of those she brings alive for us. She makes the meaning of their lives sing and sweat as she invites us into their experiences, their longings, their struggles and their disappointments.’ Lyndall will be in conversation with host Libby Tempest.

Linda Grant with Manchester Literature Festival

17 October 2017, 6:30pm
Book with MLF

‘London. Big black old place, falling down, hardly any colour apart from a woman’s red hat going into the chemist with her string bag.’ In the dog-eared days following the Second World War, a pair of teenage twins are plucked from the East End to a Kent sanatorium, where they encounter an eclectic cast of characters, all trying to find their place in a strange new country. We welcome Linda Grant, reading and discussing her recent novel The Dark Circle, which was shortlisted for the Baileys Women’s Prize, and was called ‘exhilaratingly good’ by the Guardian.

Linda is a writer of acclaimed nonfiction as well as novels including The Clothes on Their Backs (winner of the South Bank Show Literature Award), We Had It So Good, and When I Lived in Modern Times (winner of the Orange Prize for Fiction). She will read and discuss her work with host Libby Tempest.

Adelle Stripe: Black Teeth and a Brilliant Smile

3 November 2017, 6:30pm
Book Online

Adelle Stripe's Black Teeth and a Brilliant Smile is a novel inspired by the life and work of Bradford playwright Andrea Dunbar. Best known for her classic black comedy Rita, Sue and Bob Too!, Dunbar wrote three plays before dying at a tragically young age. This new literary portrayal features a cast of real and imagined characters set against the backdrop of the infamous Buttershaw estate during the Thatcher era.

A bittersweet tale of the north / south divide, it reveals how a shy teenage girl defied the circumstances into which she was born and went on to become one of her generation's greatest dramatists. Black Teeth and a Brilliant Smile is a poignant piece of kitchen sink noir that tells Dunbar's compelling story in print for the very first time.
Now represented by Fleet (Little, Brown Book Group), Adelle Stripe and special guests celebrate the launch of this new edition. Join us for this reading and discussion.

Free Tours of The Portico

Keep you eyes open for upcoming dates!

Drawing Classes at The Portico

Every 2nd and 4th Saturday of the month
11:30am - 1:30pm

£10.00 Booking not required

Practice your drawing skills in one of Manchester's most inspirational environments. Advice and tuition available from the class leader, Greg Fenwick. Basic materials are provided and tea and coffee is included in the price. If you wish to bring your own materials please restrict these to pencils, chalks and charcoals.

Cancellation Policy: Cancellations can be made by contacting us here. Please note that The Portico Library is happy to issue a refund up to 24 hours before the event takes place.

Join Our Mailing List

Email Format
* indicates required