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Kintbury author's unswerving support for local libraries

Robert Harris delves between covers of latest novel at Newbury library

Jane Meredith

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Jane Meredith

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01635 886637

Kintbury author's unswerving support for local libraries

KINTBURY author Robert Harris continued his unswerving support for local libraries with a gripping talk at Newbury library on Wednesday last week, delving between the covers of his latest novel.

The best-selling author, who last month called the proposed closure of eight libraries in West Berkshire  “an act of significant cultural vandalism”, spoke to a large audience at the library in The Wharf, about his latest novel, Dictator.

In a 40-minute talk, Mr Harris outlined the politics of ancient Rome, Cicero’s philosophy and his influence on great political leaders across the world and throughout history.

The author explained that he had wanted to write a novel about politics, but set it in a historical period, so that he could develop his themes without readers comparing the characters directly to current politicians.

In 2002, he began the story of ancient Rome’s greatest orator, Marcus Cicero, which became the trilogy of books Imperium (2006), Lustrum (2009) and now Dictator.

Librarian Jacquie Cooper said it proved a fantastic talk and led to an interesting question and answer session.

“Everyone said how much they learnt in just one evening,” she said.

“We found that Cicero had much to say that is still relevant today and we were pleased to hear that Robert’s trilogy may possibly be adapted for TV and the stage.

“We were also excited to hear about the book he’s writing now and can’t wait to find out more later in the year.”

Faced with finding savings of over £17.5m next year, West Berkshire Council (WBC) last month revealed local libraries facing the axe included Wash Common, Thatcham, Burghfield Common, Hungerford, Lambourn, Pangbourne, Theale and Mortimer, a move which has triggered recent angry demonstrations by protestors outside Newbury Library. An “appalled” Mr Harris last month said: “Going to a local library, I was always reading history when I was younger and that played a big part in my writing.”

Robert Harris’ talk formed part of this year’s West Berkshire LibraryFest, which continues until April 23. For details of other LibraryFest events, pick up a brochure from local libraries, or visit www.westberks.gov.uk/libraryfest.

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