Service Update: Spring Vacation 2024


Congratulations on making it through Hilary Term! Isn’t it nice to see the sun still up in the early evening? We hope you’ll be taking some well-earned rest this vacation – yes, even if you’re sticking around in Oxford. For those of you who will be making use of the libraries this vacation, we’ve got a few service updates to help you keep abreast of what’s changing in the library. Read on for collection updates, library displays, opening hours, and more!

Collection Updates: Catalogue Stand & Oversize Items

In preparation for our move the Schwarzman Centre for the Humanities in 2025, we’re reorganising and reclassifying some parts of our collections. At the moment, these reorganisations are mainly happening in the Catalogue Stand and the Oversize section. E.g. What’s ‘oversize’ for the shelves here in the EFL, might not necessarily be ‘oversize’ for the new shelves in the new library!

While these sections are being reorganised, you may not find everything exactly where you’d expect to. If you’re struggling to find anything, don’t be afraid to ask a member of staff.

Library Display: Literature in Translation

Feel free to stop by the library and have a look at our latest display on Literature in Translation, curated by our very own Graduate Trainee, Leah Brown! This display follows a timeline of translations: from the Trojan War and its wide variety of classic and modern retellings, through to 21st Century writer Han Kang, whose Korean works have been translated into English and have resonated internationally.

Previous Display: LGBTQ+ History Month 2024, curated by Sophie Lay (Senior Library Assistant for Reader Services) in collaboration with the Oxford SU LGBTQ+ Campaign
Upcoming Display: Dambudzo Marechera, curated by Dr Tinashe Mushakavanhu (Junior Research Fellow in African and Comparative Literature, St Anne’s College)

Opening Hours

From Monday 11th March, we’ll be transitioning back to our vacation opening hours. The EFL will be open:

Monday – Friday
9am – 5pm

Library Closure

The English Faculty Library will be closed for the duration of the Easter Bank Holiday weekend, from:

Friday 29th March – Monday 1st April (inclusive)

Vacation Loans

Vacation Loans have come into effect from Monday 4th March. This means that anything you borrow or renew on or after this date will be due for return in the first week of Trinity Term (starting 22nd April). These can then be renewed as per the usual Bodleian rules (unless they’ve been requested by another reader, or have been on loan for 112 days).

Contact Us

If you have any questions or need help with anything, our library staff will always be available during opening hours to speak with you.

You can also contact us via:

  • Telephone: 01865 271050
  • Email:
  • ‘X’ (formerly known as Twitter): @EFLOxford

All our details can be found on the English Faculty Library webpage.

Final Words

Whatever you’re needing this spring vacation – whether that’s the quiet study space to knuckle down or just a peaceful break – we hope you find it. And if there’s anything that we can do to make your studies or your research easier, don’t hesitate to get in contact.

LGBTQ+ History Month 2024 in the EFL

Three logos (LGBT+ History Month 2024, LGBTQ+ Oxford SU, and the Bodleian Libraries) on a pink background

This display was produced in collaboration between the Oxford SU LGBTQ+ Campaign and the English Faculty Library of the Bodleian Libraries

For LGBT+ History Month 2024, the English Faculty Library has collaborated with the Oxford SU LGBTQ+ Campaign to put together a book display! This display was created from suggestions made by Oxford’s very own LGBTQ+ community, and features descriptions written in their own words. You can come into the library to see the whole display laid out for February, or peruse the titles here are your leisure.

Continue reading

New Books January 2024

January is over, the evenings are drawing out again, and we have another New Books post to celebrate! If you’re starting to flag with your New Year’s resolution to read more books (we’ve all been there), then perhaps one of these will take your fancy. We have a mix of poetry and prose, works from Indigenous authors, even some books on magic – quite the eclectic mix!

As always, if you want to keep track of the EFL’s latest acquisitions then you’re more than welcome to check out our New Books Display next to the Enquiry Desk. If you can’t make it into the EFL, or just want to see the bigger picture, then LibraryThing will be your new best friend!

And now, onto the books.

Owen Davies, Art of the Grimoire: An Illustrated History of Magic Books and Spells (2023)

We begin January’s New Books post with something a bit different, a picture book!   Okay, that’s a bit reductionist perhaps, as Art of the Grimoire is definitely a work of academic rigour. However, it is made accessible (and aesthetic) through the use of full-colour pictures with bitesize, but no less-detailed, accompanying explanations. Owen Davies takes you across time, geography, and genre with his clever use of material; this is a great introduction the magic across history or a refresher if you’re simply tired of reading (The horror! The horror!) and want something easier to digest. From yokai to the Necronomicon and even Coptic magic, this is a delight to the senses – get some knowledge whilst feeding the aesthete within you.

Alexis Wright, Praiseworthy (2023)

Praiseworthy by Alexis Wright (Waanyi) is an apocalyptic novel on an epic scale. Clocking in at over 700 pages, this may not be the lightest read but it certainly is worth it. Set in a post-climate change world (sounds familiar), a haze has settled across the town of Praiseworthy, Australia, bringing with it the reckoning of a myriad of intergenerational traumas affecting the Aboriginal inhabitants of the community and Australia at large. Each character stands not only on their own, but also as metaphors to critique and satirise the various ways in which society refuses to acknowledge the Aboriginal people as the original custodians of the land. Marrying together personal and historical, oral tradition and prose, this is a brilliant piece of mythic realism that’s not to be missed if you’re interested in the ongoing settler-colonialism within Australia, or ecocriticism in general.

Victoria MacKenzie, For Thy Great Pain Have Mercy On My Little Pain (2023)

I’m sure many of our readers are familiar with Margery Kempe and Julian of Norwich, but if not then here’s the tea. Margery was the brains behind The Booke of Margery Kempe written in the 1430s, widely considered to be the first autobiography, which details her pilgrimages and encounters with the divine throughout her life. Julian is a similarly religious figure from the same time period, although she chose to express her faith by devoting herself to life as an anchoress after she received visions from God – becoming her Revelations of Divine Love. The two met in real life according the Margery, with her seeking council from Julian, an encounter that this book hinges on. Rather than dismissing their divine visions as mental illness, MacKenzie treats them with compassion and tells us their stories in their own words, providing insight into the treatment of female mystics during the period in an accessible form.

Evelyn Araluen, Dropbear (2021)

We love Indigenous poetry, as you might have seen in our previous blogpost, and this time it’s coming from Australia, with thanks to Evelyn Araluen (Bundjalung). Her debut collection (and what a debut!) features a mix of stanzaic poetry, free verse, and prose, tackling everything from decolonisaton, to Australiana, and even the pandemic. Rather than divorcing herself from some of these difficult to navigate situations, Araluen acknowledges her own inevitable entanglement in them resulting in a deeply personal collection. Some highlights to get you started include: ‘The Inevitable Pandemic Poem’, ‘Bad Taxidermy’, and ‘The Trope Speaks’. There is grief and rage laced into the poems, but also moments of sentimentality and affection, and through it all a deep love for her community.

Ronald Hutton, The Witch: A History of Fear, From Ancient Times to the Present (2017)

Written by Ronald Hutton, a prolific scholar on the study of witchcraft, we come back again to magic and witchcraft. True to his word, Hutton doesn’t just focus on Europe and the witch trials that took place there, instead, he takes us on a detailed ethnographic survey all the way back to Mesopotamia and its demonology, to Coptic magic (for the second time!), finishing on Britain and its Celtic folklore as well. This is a thorough cross-cultural examination of witchcraft, and perhaps not for the faint-hearted, however it is an undeniably interesting area and a great counterpart to Art of the Grimoire if that interested you as well.

SOLO Tip: Finding a Specific Edition of a Work

Need to find a copy of a popular text, but are struggling to find the one with a specific editor or introduction? The English and Film Studies Subject Librarian, Helen Scott, has put together a handy-dandy how-to guide to help you navigate this on SOLO!

Use ‘Sort & Filter’ options in SOLO to locate a specific edition of a work.

Example: looking for Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility, edited by Edward Copeland (Cambridge University Press)

Search SOLO for brief details, including the editor’s name, eg: ‘austen sense copeland’:

A SOLO screenshot of someone searching for 'austen sense copeland', with the filter set to 'Oxford Collections'

Note: The filter is set to ‘Oxford Collections’

Limiting the search to ‘Oxford Collections’ can help to make your search more targeted (but is only appropriate when searching for books, not when searching for articles).

The search results will show a ‘cluster’ of the different editions of Sense and Sensibility, with the edition you are looking for highlighted:

A SOLO screenshot of a search result for Sense and Sensibility - a copy with 88 versions

Note: The 88 versions of the title have been clustered together into one search result

Click on the title, to open up the cluster of 88 versions. The default will be date order, with the most recently published at the top. To find the Copeland edition, use the ‘Sort & Filter Results’ menu on the left-hand side, and open up the ‘Author/Creator’ options:

A SOLO screenshot of the clustered item opened to show all 88 results individually.

Note: You can filter the clustered results by ‘Author/Creator’ on the left hand side.

Click on the editor you are looking for and this will narrow the results accordingly:

A screenshot of the newly updated SOLO search results, now only showing the copies edited by Edward Copeland

Note: Now that the filter has been applied, only the copies edited by Edward Copeland are shown

By Helen Scott, English and Film Studies Subject Librarian

Service Update: Hilary Term 2024


Dear readers, we’re slowly making our way back to term-time Oxford! The students are back, the Missing Bean will soon be open, and the EFL is ready and waiting to support you in all your research needs. We’ve compiled this short blog post of service updates to keep you informed about changes in the library. Happy reading!

Opening Hours

Late nights and Saturdays are back! From Saturday 13th January we are open:

Monday – Friday: 9am-7pm
Saturday: 10am-1pm

Vacation Loans

All books that were borrowed for a vacation loan will be due back on Tuesday 16th January. These can be renewed as per the usual Bodleian rules (if they haven’t been requested by another reader and have been out for less than 112 days).

Contact Us

If you have any questions or need help with anything, our library staff will always be available during opening hours to speak with you.

You can also contact us via:

  • Telephone: 01865 271050
  • Email:
  • Twitter: @EFLOxford

All our details can be found on the English Faculty Library webpage.

Final Words

Hilary Term has a sneaky habit of racing by. If you find yourself getting caught up in the swell of the term, don’t panic. Your friendly library team are always around to help out – pop by and see us or get in contact via one of the methods above. We look forward to seeing you back in the library soon!

New Books December 2023

Welcome back and Happy New Year!

We hope all of our readers had a warm and relaxing festive period (perhaps even making some progress through your to-be-read list) and are now ready to look forward to Hilary. We have once again had a brilliant selection of books pass through our processing table and onto the New Books Display – it’s been difficult to choose just five to highlight! To make things easier, this month we have gone with the theme of contemporary literature, some of which have only been published within the last few months. As ever, we encourage you to take a look at the display the next time you’re in the EFL as you will more than likely find a gem to take home with you. If you can’t get to the EFL, then there’s also our LibraryThing account where we add any new books that make their way to us.

With that said, onto the books!

Zadie Smith, The Fraud (2023)

It has been seven years since Smith’s last novel, Swing Time, and The Fraud has definitely been worth the wait. Set primarily during the 18th century trial of Roger  Tichborne (or a butcher from Wapping depending on who you ask), we follow Eliza Touchet, cousin to then-famous novelist William Ainsworth as she grapples with their past and her future. Two thirds through, the narrator switches to Bogle, Roger Tichborne’s page and supporter – a black man born to enslaved people in Jamaica. Smith explores the hypocrisy of the characters, and no one is spared – Eliza is an abolitionist, but her annuity is paid through her husband’s money made from slavery; Bogle wonders if the respectability he has had to change himself for makes him a fraud. An immersive read, and one that will get you thinking.

Jeanette Winterson, Nightside of the River (2023)

Perhaps in the tradition of mid-winter ghost stories, Winterson treats us to a new collection of short stories on hauntings. She doesn’t simply cover your classic haunted houses (although you will certainly find some in there), additionally, she looks to how new technology can equally be a hotbed for ghostly activity and what this might look like. Interspersed between the short stories are various anecdotes personal to Winterson, considering how she might haunt once she dies, her own experiences with ghosts, and how the future of hauntings might look. A great spooky selection, which simultaneously deals with grief and healing – if you’re a fan of works by M.R. James and his ilk then it’s not to be missed.


Tanya Tagaq, Split Tooth (2018)

(Content warning for depictions of sexual abuse and child abuse)

Split Tooth is Tagaq’s debut novel, in which we follow an Inuk woman through the 1970s and ‘80s as she grows up in the Canadian Arctic. Entwining myth, memoir, poetry, and art, this is a hauntingly raw book – as genre defying (or perhaps, melding) as Tagaq’s own music as an experimental Inuk throat singer. Through this mix of media, we encounter a community struggling through the effects of colonialism, where sexual abuse and substance use is the norm, but where there is still a hard beauty to the Canadian North and the folklore entwined with it. This is not a gentle book or an easy read by any means; it is thought-provoking, disconcerting, disturbing. But that’s the point.


Francis Spufford, Cahokia Jazz (2023)

Spufford treats us to an alternate history, in which Cahokia (a pre-colonial Mississipian city) was never abandoned, and instead became a flourishing (if gritty) city run by Takouma (what Native Americans are called in the novel). Set in the 1920s, a murder has been committed and it is up to our protagonist, Joe Barrow, to solve it before rioting from the Ku Klux Klan ruins the relative peace of Cahokia and tears the city apart. If you’re a fan of world-building, then you might enjoy this novel, particularly as it comes equipped with two maps of Cahokia to help visualise Barrow and his colleagues’ journey.




Yiyun Li, The Book of Goose (2022)

Much like Split Tooth, this is another novel that has an atmosphere of strangeness that permeates the narrative. The book follows the friendship of Fabienne and Agnès, from their childhood living in post-World War II France into adulthood, as narrated by Agnès herself. The two form something of a partnership: Fabienne creates fantastical, disturbing stories which she tells Agnès to write down, and eventually publish. Agnès becomes the face for the book upon Fabienne’s insistence and leaves Fabienne behind – physically at least. One cannot survive without the other, this is a story of friendship, obsession, and exploitation.

New Books November 2023

It’s been an eclectic mix of books this month – but then isn’t it always with the breadth of literature our readers study! There’s no common theme this month, unlike November, we have simply chosen some of our recent fiction additions to highlight.

As we enter winter vacation, our lending policies have changed slightly. From November 27th, all loanable books will be due back on January 16th – so you’ll have plenty of time to cosy up with a book during the festive period. You can find more information in this blog post, but if you have any further questions do feel free to send us an email or chat to us in-person at the Enquiries Desk.

With all that being said, onto the books!

Mourning Dove, Cogewea, The Half Blood: A Depiction of the Great Montana Cattle Range (1981)

You may notice that one of our recent displays at the EFL was on Native American literature (you can find pictures on our social media here). In that vein, Cogewea is aFront cover of 'Cogewea: The Half-Bloof' featuring a painting of an Indigenous woman looking over her shoulder on a traditional quilted background great addition to the EFL’s collections, not only as one of the first fiction novels written by an Indigenous woman but in the themes it covers as well. Mourning Dove (Okanogan) takes on the difficult task of writing a Western, a genre notorious for its disparaging depictions of Indigenous people – not to mention women. However, she manages this task magnificently, marrying together the Western genre with the internal struggle that Cogewea grapples with as someone who is caught between both Indigenous and White blood. Cogewea did not have an easy to path to publication: it was finished by Mourning Dove in 1912 but not published until 1927 (and only when her publisher was threatened with legal action). Even once published she was accused of not being the author! As November is Native American Heritage Month, I would challenge anyone to pick up a book written by an Indigenous author; if Cogewea intrigues you, you might also enjoy other Indigenous writing from the early 20th century such as Zitkála-Šá’s essays, or Waterlily by Ella Deloria.

Rebecca Stott, Dark Earth (2022)

Dark Earth covers a lightly trod period of historical fiction aimed at women, known to many as the Dark Ages (although I hasten to add that no medievalist would ever call itFront cover of 'Dark Earth' featuring an illustration of two women back to back, one holding a sword and the other flowers. this!). Set in approximately 500CE, post the Roman occupation of Britain, we follow two sisters – Blue and Isla – as they navigate being a woman in a world in which there’s little room for them; Stott depicting their respective gifts of herbalism and smithing as unacceptable for women in Anglo-Saxon society. After some serious personal and political upheaval (we won’t expand on that lest we get into spoiler territory), the sisters flee to the ruins of Londinium in order to survive the wrath of the merciless Seax Lord, Osric, and his son. However, they will have to leave the comfort of their found community in Londinium to save them. If you enjoy feministic retellings of history such as The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker, you will likely enjoy this. However, if you want something to evoke the ghostly feeling of the ruins of Londinium, then perhaps you might be interested The Ruin, an elegy in the Exeter Book from 700-800CE describing the crumbling remains of a once great ancient city.

David Bradley, The Chaneysville Incident: A Novel (1981)

John Washington, our protagonist, is a black man and professor of history – not unlike the author himself. He is unwillingly thrown into uncovering the true circumstances ofFront cover of 'The Chaneysville Incident', featuring a papercut style illustration of a white candle on a background of orange and red his father’s death, using his training as a historian to piece together the clues while uncovering deeper, darker secrets along the way. Oscillating between the past and Washington’s present, we witness the multigenerational trauma of racism and slavery and how it affects how Washington perceives himself and his family history. It’s gripping from the very first page, a true must-read for anyone interested in the ongoing and complex history of racism in the United States, and how cultural identities are forged in the face this. If you enjoy Toni Morrison’s works, such as Song of Solomon, or Let us Descend by Jesmyn Ward, this might be the book for you.

Samanta Schweblin, Fever Dream (2014)

Translated from Spanish, a young woman lies dying in a rural Argentinian hospital. Her daughter is nowhere to be seen – instead a young boy named David is at her side, andThe front cover of 'Fever Dream', featuring an illustration of a horse where only the head is visible, covered up by the title and authors name in distorted text. she can’t shake the lingering feeling that she needs to remember what happened to her and her daughter. Some of the main themes of Fever Dream are parental anxiety, the effects of pesticides and industrial-scale farming, and the transmutation of the soul. If this sounds like a bizarre mixture of themes, perhaps even a fever dream, that would be because it is – and that suits the novel just fine. Told in dialogue, the book’s sparse prose is disorienting at times, adding to the relentless tension creeping in the background of the novel. It’s not quite a midwinter ghost story, but if you’re looking for something to leave you unsettled and looking over your shoulder this December, then this might be the book for you. Great for fans of The Grip of It by Jac Jemc or Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer (which was quite literally written in a fevered state!)

Emily St. John Mandel, Station Eleven (2015)

Station Eleven is a strange read in a post-Covid world, somewhat predicting the lead-up to lockdown in its opening chapters with hospital beds overflowing and conflictingFront cover of 'Station Eleven' featuring an illustration of a deer in silhouette, in a frame of plantlife with deserted buildings in the background reports on statistics. Luckily for us, however, we have fared slightly better than those in the book in which most of humanity has been wiped out by the Georgia Flu (loosely based on Swine Flu). St. John Mandel expertly weaves together the stories of a diverse mix of people across the decades following the pandemic, looking at the bonds of community that can form in the wake of disaster (because “survival is insufficient”) and how these communities can become twisted. A great read if you’re a fan of works like Severence by Ling Ma, and The Road by Cormac McCarthy.

(Nb. There are depictions of sexual violence so please proceed with care!)


Service Update – Winter Vacation 23/24


Congratulations on finishing the first term of the academic year! The vacation is upon us, and it’s once again a good time for hot drinks, hunkering down, and hibernating (or, y’know, hiding at home/in a quiet corner of the library and reading).

For those of you who are new to Oxford this year, you may notice a couple of seasonal changes in library operations throughout the year. We’ll always outline them in these service updates. So kick back, get cosy, and happy reading.

Opening Hours

We’re changing back to our vacation opening hours for the duration of the winter vacation. From Monday 4th December – Friday 12th January, the English Faculty Library will be open 9am-5pm, Monday to Friday – except for the closed period (see below).

Closure Period

The English Faculty Library will be closed from Friday 22nd December – Monday 1st January (inclusive).

During this time, our phones and email inbox will not be monitored. You’re welcome to leave us email queries which we will endeavour to respond to promptly upon reopening on Tuesday 2nd January. No loans will be due for return during this period.

Vacation Loans

Books that are borrowed on or after Monday 27th November are automatically on loan for the whole vacation. These will all be due for return on Tuesday 16th January (excepting members whose cards expire before this date). Aside from this, all normal loan policies apply.

Contact Us

If you have any questions or need help with anything, our library staff will always be available during opening hours to speak with you.

You can also contact us via:

  • Telephone: 01865 271050
  • Email:
  • Twitter: @EFLOxford

All our details can be found on the English Faculty Library webpage.

Final Words

We know you’re all busy, but we do hope you find some time to relax a little over the holidays. Take care of yourselves – we look forward to seeing you again in the new year!

Referencing Resources

A title 'Referencing Resources' displayed over a photograph of a hand skimming through an open book.Hello, hard workers! We hope Michaelmas term is treating you well. Whether you’re a first year undergraduate or a more experienced academic, referencing can be a complex thing. We thought now would be a good time to put together a blog of helpful library resources on referencing for you.

Please note: This is not intended to be a comprehensive guide on how to reference. Rather, we want to help you to access resources that can provide more thorough guidance. If in doubt, we always recommend contacting your faculty for advice.

Some Advice for English Students

There is no mandatory referencing system from the faculty, though individual tutors may have their own requirements. The most important things are consistency, clarity, and common sense (see the English Language and Literature LibGuide to read this explained in more detail). However, pre-written faculty support is provided for MHRA  – so if you’re able to be flexible about what system you use, you may find this easiest as a starting point.

Whatever style you chose to use, we’ve laid out some resources below that may help you in your studies.

Course Handbooks

Your first port of call for referencing advice should always be your course handbook. For English students of all different courses and year groups, these can be found in the Oxford English Student Space. Your handbook will explain to you what referencing systems you can or should use for your faculty, and go into further detail on some of the most frequently used types of resources. Some handbooks even include guidance for subject specific resource referencing (such as for the Oxford English Dictionary or Text Analysis Tools for English Language and Literature students).

Referencing LibGuides

The English Faculty Library has put together a Referencing tab in our LibGuide which is full of detailed advice and helpful tips for English students. It explains some of the most commonly used referencing systems, bibliographies, and reference creation and management tools. This page is tailored to support members of the English Faculty, but similar pages are available for other subjects too. You can access a comprehensive referencing LibGuide on Managing your References.

Cite Them Right

Cite Them Right is a useful database to which the University of Oxford provides access for its members. You’ll need to log-in to SOLO with your SSO before accessing the website if you’re away from the university network. CTR explains how to create references for loads of different materials and in 8 different referencing systems. You also get the option to input the information to create a reference which you can copy and paste into your bibliography.

This offers usefully detailed information on resources like manuscripts, historical texts, reprints, and facsimiles, which can be particularly useful to scholars within the English faculty.

Citation Tools and Software

A screenshot from SOLO showing the various citation tools available

There are lots of citation tools and pieces of software that the university offers access to which may be of benefit to you. A couple of examples include

  • SOLO Citations: SOLO will automatically generate text citations in 5 different referencing styles directly from the item SOLO record, which can be copied and pasted into your bibliography.
  • Reference ManagersThe University of Oxford offers its members free use of external reference managers such as RefWorks, EndNote, and also supports the always freely-available Mendeley. You can attend Bodleian iSkills workshops (when available) to teach you how to use these reference managers. Alternatively, you can access training materials at any time. If you find yourself struggling, the Bodleian even have an email address you can contact for help with reference management:

Useful Books

If you prefer manually creating citations, the following helpful titles are available through the library service.

  • Neville, C. (2016) The complete guide to referencing and avoiding plagiarism. Third edition. London: Open University Press – Available in ebook and in print.
  • Pears, R., Shields, G. (2019) Cite them right: the essential referencing guide. Red Globe Press – Available in ebook and in print.
  • Gibaldi, J. (2008) MLA style manual and guide to scholarly publishing. 3rd ed. New York: Modern Language Association of America. – Available in print.

We hope that these resources will be useful to you in your studies! Remember, if you’re every really stuck, you can always ask for help! The faculty and the library are always here if you need us.

Until then – happy reading!

New Books October 2023

A belated (but no less warm) welcome to all our new and returning readers this term! We have had a huge range of new arrivals in the last month or two, from young adult fiction to a multitude of medieval offerings – and even a book about mermaids. However, in the wake of Black History Month coming to an end, we have picked out a range of books from Black authors that have arrived at the EFL in October. It should be noted that this is simply a jumping-off point for literature written by Black authors, and that you can find much more in the library at large – see our LibraryThing feed for more. We are also open to requests, which you can email to us until our request form opens up again – usually it is located here.

Claude Mckay, Romance in Marseille (2020)

Published posthumously nearly 90 years after it was initially written, we are introduced to Lafala. He is a West-African sailor who loses both of his lower-legs to frost-bite after being locked in a freezing room aboard the trans-Atlantic freighter he had been stowing away in. Set during the Jazz Age, we follow Lafala’s life post-amputation, delving into themes of disability, queerness, and the legacy of slavery. Romance in Marseille was considered too transgressive for its time which is why it took so long to be published, even after the death of McKay. I would, however, like to warn readers that there are some anti-Semitic instances in the novel and would suggest proceeding with care.

Eds. Mojisola Adebayo, Lynette Goddard, Black British Queer Plays and Practitioners: An Anthology of Afriquia Theatre (2023)

Next we have more queer literature by Black British authors in the form of a collection of seven plays. These radical plays explore a whole range of LGBTQ+ experiences in Black British queer theatre, taking the reader from the 1980s through to the present day. Sandwiched in-between are conversations between Black LGBTQ+ artists, who discuss how the plays featured have influenced their work, and consider how they may affect the future as well. Not to worry if you are a newcomer to the genre, however, as this edition begins with a thorough introduction which gives a great amount of socio-political context so you can get the most from each play.

Eds. Paul Field et al. Here to Stay, Here to Fight: A Race Today Anthology (2019)

Race Today was a monthly British periodical that ran between 1969-1988, considered to be the leading voice for Black politics in the UK at the time. In its contributions it drew together giants such as Toni Morrison, Maya Angelou, Linton Kwesi Johnson, and many more. Well-read during its run, the publication gave unique insight into how socio-political factors such as class, race, and gender affected everything nationally and internationally. At the time of publication of the anthology, it was difficult to access Race Today, and so it was ground-breaking for anything to come of it. However, this year the entire archives were published here on The anthology is a great starting point, however, we highly encourage you to dip into the full publication as well!

Ed. Harvey Young The Cambridge Companion to African American Theatre 2nd Edition (2023)

Hot off the press and newly updated from its 2012 predecessor, we have the latest and most comprehensive overview of African American theatre to date. Covering from the 1800s to the present day, this new edition includes new chapters exploring how recent political movements (such as Black Lives Matter) have affected the theatre space, and how queer identity and African American theatre intersect. This would be a great accompaniment to Black British Queer Plays and Practitioners: An Anthology of Afriquia Theatre to compare how performance art by Black creators has developed and diverged across the pond versus in Britain!

Jane Rhodes, Mary Ann Shadd Cary: The Black Press and Protest in the Nineteenth Century (2023)

An (unfortunately) lesser known figure in North American history, Mary Ann Shadd Cary was an eminent figure in the women’s suffrage movement in America. She was the first Black North American woman to edit and publish her own newspaper (The Provincial Freeman), as well as one of the first women at Howard University to received a degree in law, and an activist, setting up a desegregated school in Canada 100 years before desegregation happened in America. If she sounds like a powerhouse, it’s because she is – and we could all do with learning a little more about her.