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Irene-vallejo
Irene Vallejo
Peter kemp
Peter Kemp

Papyrus: The Invention of Books in the Ancient World

Irene Vallejo Interviewed by Peter Kemp

Tuesday, 6 June 2023

6:30pm

1 hour

Pusey House: Chapel

£7 - £12.50

Spanish historian, writer and philologist Dr Irene Vallejo talks about her global bestseller about the creation of the earliest books and the literary culture of the ancient world.

Papyrus is the story of the book’s journey from oral tradition to scrolls to codices, and how that transition laid the very foundation of Western culture. Vallejo describes how the earliest books made from reeds from the Nile were worth fighting over and dying for and follows the journey of the earliest books from the creation of the Library of Alexandria to the fall of the Roman Empire. Vallejo talks about the spies, scribes, illuminators, librarians, booksellers, authors and statesmen who had a complicated relationship with books and the written word that bears similarities with today. They include Aristophanes and the censorship of humourists, Sappho and empowerment of women’s voices, and Seneca and the problem of a post-truth world.

‘A mindboggling history of the earliest books . . . the story she tells is impressively rip-roaring’ Daily Telegraph

Vallejo won the Spanish national essay prize for Papyrus, which has been published in 30 countries.  It also won the Premio Aragón, the highest distinction awarded by the government of Aragon. She is also author of two children’s books, two novels, and three collections of essays, articles, and short fiction. Her writing often mixes discussion of ancient writers with current events. Here she talks to chief fiction reviewer of The Sunday Times Peter Kemp, author of Retroland: A Reader’s Guide to the Dazzling Diversity of Modern Fiction.


The event is part of the festival’s programme of Spanish and Latin American literature and culture.

Event supported by

The Feathers Hotel Woodstock festival hotel The Randolph Hotel by Graduate Hotels Sponsor of the festival crime fiction programme Blackwell’s Festival on-site and online bookseller International Literary Properties Supporters of the festival green room The Dorchester Hotels Collection Festival London hotel partner Italian Embassy Supporter of Italian programme Republic of Panama Event generously supported by Republic of Panama Cervantes Institute, London Spanish Embassy Event generously supported by the Spanish Embassy Oxford Martin School Festival ideas partner Bodleian Libraries Festival cultural partner Owen Mumford Supporter of programme of science and medicine and annual science and innovation award BBC World Service International radio partner Cultural Relations Platform Supporter of the festival's Voices of Europe programme European Union Delegation of the European Union to the United Kingdom Netflix University of Oxford FT Weekend Title partner Marlene Hauser Mary and Cecil Quillen Supporters of the programme of American literature and culture Jill Dunsmore David Isaac Carole and John Allen Lucian Hudson Pank Koria CEO of Project People Masumi and Jonathan Dobson Miles Young Emily Rose and James Marrow Supporters of the programme of American literature and culture George Warren Lady Hatch Patron donor for the programme of Irish literature and culture John Roberts Trinity College Trinity College St Cross College St Cross College Lincoln College Lincoln College Worcester College Worcester College New College Exeter College Exeter College: college home of the festival Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies British Academy Royal Academy of Arts Project People Institute of Hospitality Thje Menu Partners Foodbuy Jewish Book Week Partner of Jewish programme Bantam Doubleday Doubleday Transworld TORVA Books which change you, your mind, your world Princeton University Press Prestige publishing partner Symington Wines of the Douro Valley Compassion in World Farming Pasture to Plate Oxford Brookes University Oxford University Images Oxford University Images The Sheldonian Theatre Critchleys Accountants to the festival CAV Oxford Felicity Bryan Associates Conference Oxford Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies University of Oxford Alumni Office Alumni Office Paul Bloomfield Ltd Bear Ram Elk Festival Digital Strategy & Web Design BBC Radio Oxford Local radio partner The Oxford Times Regional media partner Racalia Olive Oil Olive oil from Sicily Schoolreaders The Litmus Partnership K T Bruce Photography K T Bruce Photography Ox in a Box OX magazine Siren Communications Siren Communications - corporate consultants Chêne Bleu Wines of Provence The Wild Geese James Currey Society Pusey House Confucius Institute Literature Ireland Flip through Flanders La Leccia
 

FT Weekend Oxford Literary Festival sponsors, donors & partners

The Feathers Hotel Woodstock festival hotel The Randolph Hotel by Graduate Hotels Sponsor of the festival crime fiction programme Blackwell’s Festival on-site and online bookseller International Literary Properties Supporters of the festival green room The Dorchester Hotels Collection Festival London hotel partner Italian Embassy Supporter of Italian programme Republic of Panama Event generously supported by Republic of Panama Cervantes Institute, London Spanish Embassy Event generously supported by the Spanish Embassy Oxford Martin School Festival ideas partner Bodleian Libraries Festival cultural partner Owen Mumford Supporter of programme of science and medicine and annual science and innovation award BBC World Service International radio partner Cultural Relations Platform Supporter of the festival's Voices of Europe programme European Union Delegation of the European Union to the United Kingdom Netflix University of Oxford FT Weekend Title partner Marlene Hauser Mary and Cecil Quillen Supporters of the programme of American literature and culture Jill Dunsmore David Isaac Carole and John Allen Lucian Hudson Pank Koria CEO of Project People Masumi and Jonathan Dobson Miles Young Emily Rose and James Marrow Supporters of the programme of American literature and culture George Warren Lady Hatch Patron donor for the programme of Irish literature and culture John Roberts Trinity College Trinity College St Cross College St Cross College Lincoln College Lincoln College Worcester College Worcester College New College Exeter College Exeter College: college home of the festival Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies British Academy Royal Academy of Arts Project People Institute of Hospitality Thje Menu Partners Foodbuy Jewish Book Week Partner of Jewish programme Bantam Doubleday Doubleday Transworld TORVA Books which change you, your mind, your world Princeton University Press Prestige publishing partner Symington Wines of the Douro Valley Compassion in World Farming Pasture to Plate Oxford Brookes University Oxford University Images Oxford University Images The Sheldonian Theatre Critchleys Accountants to the festival CAV Oxford Felicity Bryan Associates Conference Oxford Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies University of Oxford Alumni Office Alumni Office Paul Bloomfield Ltd Bear Ram Elk Festival Digital Strategy & Web Design BBC Radio Oxford Local radio partner The Oxford Times Regional media partner Racalia Olive Oil Olive oil from Sicily Schoolreaders The Litmus Partnership K T Bruce Photography K T Bruce Photography Ox in a Box OX magazine Siren Communications Siren Communications - corporate consultants Chêne Bleu Wines of Provence The Wild Geese James Currey Society Pusey House Confucius Institute Literature Ireland Flip through Flanders La Leccia