We are delighted to announce the programme of LSE's first ever literary festival, which will form a part of the celebrations surrounding the completion of the New Academic Building here at LSE.

This weekend will see a wide range of events exploring the interaction between the arts and social sciences.

From its foundation LSE has aimed to be a laboratory of the social sciences, a place where ideas are developed, analysed and disseminated around the globe. Literature is a powerful tool for such exploration and dissemination, and ultimately, as LSE founder George Bernard Shaw and other Fabians argued, a means of provoking social change. Shaw is an embodiment of the theme of our Literary Weekend. His plays aim to inspire audiences to think about social problems, acting on the Fabian belief that social reform can be achieved through gradual and patient argument, by 'permeating' ideas into the circles of those with power.

"The man who writes about himself and his time, is the only man who writes about all people and about all time" Shaw

The LSE Space for Thought Literary Weekend will be a forum for discussion about about not only the links between the social sciences and the arts, but the role of the arts in the LSE's past, present and future. Is literature relevant today?

LSE's Literary Heritage

George Bernard ShawLiterature and LSE have been intertwined from the first lectures on the lower floors of George Bernard Shaw's London house, to the School's recent appearance as a character in My Revolutions, Hari Kunzu's latest novel. Beatrice Webb's diary records a longing to write fiction rather than wade through the detail of a History of Municipal Institutions and in the archives of economist Sir Henry Phelps Brown lurks an unfinished novel.
LSE Archives records many links between literature and the world of the social sciences. Arthur Conan Doyle and Mark Twain join in the campaign against King Leopold's ruthless rule of the Congo, Edith Nesbit, Shaw and H.G.Wells argue over the Fabian Society, John Betjeman and Margaret Drabble write a poem and letters supporting reform of the laws on sexuality and Barbara Pym corresponds with anthropologists around the world in her time at the International African Institute (IAI) and E.M.Forster writes to his friend, LSE Director, William Beveridge.
Some more recent LSE alumni have also entered the literary world, these include Pat Barker, Edwina Currie, Jack Higgins and Mary Wesley.

The LSE Library will be holding an exhibition to coincide with the Literary Weekend examining the links between literature and the wider world using books and archives.
Imagining a Better World: literature and politics in the Library at LSE, Monday 23 February - Friday 6 March, Foyer, Lionel Robbins Building.

Shaw and the Soviet Union

As part of the LSE Literary Week students studying on the LSE undergraduate literature courses, offered by the LSE Language Centre are presenting an evening devoted to George Bernard Shaw's earliest known response to the Russian Revolution of 1917.

Annajanska, the Bolshevik Princess is a rarely performed one act play which Shaw wrote within weeks of the Revolution.

The evening will be completed by readings from both contemporary Russian poetry and song and responses from fellow Fabian H G Wells (the first writer to arrive in person in the new Soviet state, in 1918) and also the correspondence between Shaw and Maynard Keynes relating to the Soviet experiment.

The event will take place, fittingly, in the Shaw Library, Old Building on Wednesday, 25th February at 6.30pm.  Entrance is free and there will be a wine reception after the event.  For more information please contact or

The LSE Language Centre runs three Literature & Society degree options:

  • English Literature & Society
  • Comparative Literature & Society
  • Contemporary Literature & Global Society

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New Academic Building

"The New Academic Building will, at long last, provide LSE with an academic environment consistent with its academic reputation. It is the key which unlocks the future development of our 'snug' campus. Without it, we cannot hope to achieve our ambitions." Howard Davies, Director

LSE has been famous for many things over its 100 years of existence, but it is fair to say that, until recently, the quality of its buildings was not among them. The completion of the New Academic Building, which was officially opened by Her Majesty The Queen on 5 November 2008, is a major step for LSE. It sets a new standard for departmental accommodation- one which the Management and Law departments, and the Grantham Institute on Climate Change are now enjoying, and it includes teaching rooms and venues which are radically better than anything else we have. The New Academic Building is also one of the most environmentally-friendly buildings in the area.

The New Academic Building includes four lecture theatres which will be used as venues for the Literary Weekend: the Sheikh Zayed Theatre, the Wolfson Theatre, the Thai Theatre and the Alumni Theatre.

Art in NAB


Joy Gerrard- Elenchus Aporia
The giant globes represent major economic or political concepts, echoed around the atrium in smaller constellations of glass and steel that suggest the linguistic relation between a formal utterance or statement and how ideas travel, prompting meaningful debate.

Richard Wilson- Square the Block
Richard Wilson's proposal for the exterior of the New Academic Building provides a subtly humorous addition to the architecture. Square the Block is a sculptural feature attached to the corner of the building. The feature on inspection is a fake, a manufactured corner where previously there was just a chamfered edge to the building.

Curated by the Contemporary Art Society for the LSE, the works commemorate the new building as a symbol of knowledge and creative thought.


LSE Arts commissioned two artists, Hana Sakuma and Henna Nadeem, to each produce a limited edition print to celebrate the opening of the New Academic Building (NAB) during autumn 2008. The prints were produced under professional supervision at London print studio. Henna Nadeem's screen print Spectra (screen print, 54cm x 74cm, 2008) is based on diagrammatic style and an extension of the classic Penguin and Pelican book covers from the 1960s on the theme of social sciences. Hana Sakuma's screen print A moment before a quotation mark is closed, (screen print, 54cm x 74cm (each) 2008) is a diptych which immortalises that most familiar of hand gestures.

NAB Print Limited edition prints are available for sale. LSE Print Sales c/o London Print Studio, 425 Harrow Road, London NW10 4RE.
Price: £250 Henna Nadeem £400; Hana Sakuma (unframed)
Please contact: LSE Print Sales c/o London Print Studio, 425 Harrow Road, London NW10 4RE.
Telephone: 020 8969 3247


Café 54 will be open throughout the weekend, located on the ground floor of the New Academic Building.
'Grab-n-go' or eat-in - great sandwiches, hot and cold wraps, soup, pasta, fresh baked pastries and cookies, coffees, and cold drinks

Book Sales

Waterstone's is the official bookseller for the LSE Space for Thought Literary Weekend.