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The Alliance of Literary Societies AGM Weekend, Birmingham

Friday 18 May, 2018 - Monday 21 May, 2018

The Gaskell Society is a member of the Alliance of Literary Societies (ALS), so our members are most welcome to attend the Alliance’s AGM in Birmingham

Friday, 18 May
  7 pm There are lots of places to eat in Birmingham, but if you would like to join us for a Chinese buffet experience (within easy walking distance of the Ibis New Street Hotel), please indicate on the booking form – so that we can book a table.
Saturday, 19 May – at the Ibis Birmingham New Street Station Hotel
(21 Ladywell Walk, Birmingham, B5 4ST – a ten-minute walk from the station)
  10 am Registration, coffee and an opportunity to browse the society stalls. Our friends from Slightly Foxed will be on hand all day with a selection of books and goods, information about subscriptions and offers, and will happily chat about all things Foxed.
  10.50 am Welcome by the Chair of the ALS.
  11 am Claire Harman, the President of the ALS.
  11.15 am Molly Rosenberg, the new Director of the Royal Society of Literature, ‘Literature in Britain Today’.
  12 noon Michael Hall, The Francis Brett Young Society, ‘Francis Brett Young’s Birmingham’.
  12.45 pm Buffet lunch and chance to chat.
  1.30 pm Raffle closes.
  2 pm ALS AGM.
  3 pm Raffle prizes.
3.15pm Tony Gray, The Jerome K Jerome Society, ‘Jerome K Jerome’s Life and Times: Walsall and the Thames’.
  3.45pm John Llewellyn, The Jerome K Jerome Society, ‘Three Men Went to Row’.
  4 pm Julian Hunt, The Housman Society, ‘A E Housman, the Worcestershire Lad’.
  4.30pm Maria Artamonova, ‘Tolkien’s Childhood in Birmingham’.
5pm Talks close.
  7 pm Dinner (at the Ibis), with readings.
Sunday, 20 May
  10.30 am to 11.15 am A Pre-Raphaelite guided tour at the Museum and Art Gallery (to be booked in advance – Download our booking form

See other suggestions below.


Booking.  For those registering for this conference, the talks and three course buffet lunch at the Ibis on the Saturday are included. The Saturday evening meal is extra. The deadline for booking is 23 April 2018, but really, the sooner the better! Download our booking form

Raffle Prizes.  It is part of the ALS tradition that, if possible, societies bring items to be included as raffle prizes. This is often a good way to advertise your particular author to others! These can be left at the registration table on arrival at the Ibis on Saturday morning. Raffle tickets will be on sale from the start of the day until 1.30 pm, and the raffle will be drawn at 3 pm, straight after the AGM.

Saturday evening dinner. Traditionally, we have provided our own entertainment at the Saturday evening dinner. Diners bring along favourite passages (prose or poetry) to read out. If you would like to join in, please tick the box on the form and bring your reading with you.  Readings should be short (e.g. one short poem or no more than three pages of text).

Table space. There will be limited table space to display member societies’ promotional material. Please do not bring items for sale unless you have contacted Linda Curry in advance.

Slightly Foxed. For those of you who have notheard of them, this is what they say about themselves: ‘Companionable, entertaining and elegantly produced, Slightly Foxedis more like a well-read friend than a literary magazine. It is a quarterly for nonconformists, for people who don’t want to read only what the big publishers are hyping and the newspapers are reviewing. Each quarter, it offers 96 pages of lively personal recommendations for books that have stood the test of time and have left their mark on the people who write about them. It also brings back forgotten voices through its Slightly Foxed Editions, a series of beautifully-produced little pocket hardback reissues of classic memoirs, all of them absorbing and highly individual.’

Friday and Sunday activities. A group of us will be sampling a Chinese buffet in the China Quarter (walking distance from the hotel) on the Friday evening and if you would like to join us for that, please indicate on the form so that we have some idea of numbers.

If you are staying in Birmingham on the Saturday night and wish to take part in the Pre-Raphaelite guided tour on the Sunday morning, please indicate on the form. There is no provision to store luggage at the Museum and Art Gallery while you undertake the tour but most hotels (including the Ibis) will keep your luggage for you after check out.

Accommodation. As the Saturday event is centred on the Ibis Birmingham New Street hotel, you might consider staying there. We would recommend that you book direct with the hotel (although we have no special rates for this event) – on 0121 619 9000. It is in a lively area of the city and might be a little noisy at night but the rooms are reasonable. Otherwise, there are lots of hotels. Jurys Inn and Novotel on Broad Street are probably about 20 – 25 minutes’ walk away. Parking in the city centre is expensive. So, if you are coming by car, check with your chosen hotel that they have a parking arrangement – or perhaps stay outside the centre (on the south side) and use local transport to get in. Edgbaston has a number of B&Bs and there are buses every few minutes along the A38.

Birmingham is a vibrant, cultural city and there is a lot to do here. You may therefore want to make a long weekend of it. If you are staying for longer than the programme, here are some suggestions  – or you can browse through the Visit Birmingham website.


Friday 18 May, 2018
Monday 21 May, 2018


Ibis Birmingham New Street
21 Ladywell Walk
Birmingham, B5 4ST United Kingdom
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