Blake Morrison agrees to be Chair of The Reader Organisation Board

Recently, The Reader Organisation has established itself as a company limited by guarantee and is applying for charitable status. This means that we are now an organisation in our own right and whilst we are still supported by the University of Liverpool we are no longer part of its constitution. The Reader Organisation is delighted to announce that novelist, journalist and ‘bibliotherapy’ advocate, Blake Morrison, has agreed to be Chair of our Board of Trustees.

Jane Davis, Director of The Reader Organisation, has responded in excitement to the news, saying:

I am so thankful for Blake’s support and commitment. To have such a high profile ‘voice’ for The Reader Organisation will enable us to go forward with added confidence; to get more people reading, experiencing and benefiting from great books.

Our connection with Blake Morrison was made when he travelled to Liverpool to visit reading groups from The Reader Organisation’s outreach project ‘Get Into Reading’. So inspired by what he witnessed he wrote a feature length article for the Guardian (‘The Reading Cure’, 5th January 2008), which focused predominately on our ‘Get Into Reading’ project and draws attention to the benefits for well-being through literature. Although scientific evidence for ‘bibliotherapy’ is inconclusive, it is becoming recognised that books can reach out and touch people in ways that are impossible in traditional medicine:

These reading groups aren’t just about helping people feel less isolated or building their self-esteem… More ambitiously, they’re an experiment in healing, or, to put it less grandiosely, an attempt to see whether reading can alleviate pain or mental distress.

We were flooded with responses after this article was published – from people from all over the UK and Ireland, as well as France, Italy, Germany, Denmark and the United States – a clear indication that there is a huge potential take-up of ‘Get Into Reading’ practice. Jane has been leading ‘Get Into Reading’ training days across the county, offering an introduction to the basic principles of the initiative and discussing the possibilities of implementing the project nationally.

As a genuine supporter of our work, we’re excited about forging this relationship with Blake. It will enable The Reader Organisation to build upon its recent successes and it firmly establishes us as the recognised authority in reading and health.

Posted by Jen Tomkins

The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists Events

News today from Wirral Libraries that Roger Lyon from BBC Radio Merseyside will be appearing to talk about Robert Tressell’s political work The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists. Widely regarded as a classic of British working-class literature, Tressell’s book was published as socialism was beginning to gain ground and provides a fascinating glimpse into the social life of Britain and the dynamic relationships of the men themselves. Roger will discuss the novel and the issues that it raises for us today. If you would like to grasp this opportunity and can get to West Kirby Library, this free event will be held at 2.30 on Friday 2nd May (refreshments provided). All those who attend will receive a free copy of the book and a booklet pointing to its continuing relevance for contemporary society. For further information or to secure a place for the day, please call West Kirby Library on 0151 929 7808.

As part of the Robert Tressell celebrations being organised in Liverpool this year by PCS and other trade unions, the Writing on the Wall festival brings us three performances of The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists to the city: Tuesday 6th May and Wednesday 7th May, 7.30pm at The Casa, Hope Street and Thursday 8th May, 7.30pm at the Novas Contemporary Urban Centre, off Parliament Street (all tickets £5, please call 0151 231 6120 for further details).