26 May, 2015

Future Library

Today, Margaret Atwood became the first author to submit a work into the Future Library. The Future Library is the idea of a Scottish artist, Katie Paterson, and involves one book a year being held in trust in a library in Oslo until 2114 when all 100 books will be printed. 1000 trees have been planted just outside Oslo to provide the paper for the printing process in 100 years' time.

I love this idea. The thought that every year a writer - some of whom haven't even been born yet - will produce a work that nobody will read for up to 100 years is wonderful. I can't imagine what it must be like for Margaret Atwood to know that something she has poured her creativity and time into will never be read in her own lifetime, but how special to be part of something like this. (I suppose it will be less romantic, but also less frustrating, for the last few authors who contribute books, as their works will be read in their lifetime.)

I'd love to know what Margaret Atwood has written - do you think she's written about the not-too-distant future as she did in The Handmaid's Tale? We'll never know! I wonder what the readers of 2114 will think of her. I only came across her work a couple of years ago myself, and have only read three or four so far, but I love her writing. I always tell people when I grow up I'd like to write like her!

It got me wondering what we might be reading now if some famous works of literature published in 1914 or 1915 were due to be published this year for the first time instead. Here are just a few of the works we'd be discovering...
  • The 39 Steps - John Buchan
  • The Metamorphosis - Franz Kafka
  • In Flanders' Fields - John McRae
  • 1914 and Other Poems - Rupert Brooke
  • The Ragged Trousered Philanthropist - Robert Tressell
  • Tarzan of the Apes - Edgar Rice Burroughs
  • Dubliners - James Joyce
Any of your favourites in there?

1914/15 were also the years where the world was introduced to Jeeves and Wooster (PG Wodehouse) and when the Wizard of Oz (L Frank Baum) and Anne of Green Gables (LM Montgomery) series were going strong. It was a time of Rudyard Kipling, GK Chesterton, Thomas Hardy, DH Lawrence, Virginia Woolf, HG Wells, Hilaire Belloc, Arnold Bennett, WB Yeats, Arthur Conan Doyle and TS Eliot - which makes it seem like both ancient history and a golden age for literature! I wonder if the first people to read Margaret Atwood's secret novel will feel the same about 2014/15?

Which current authors would you nominate to write a book for the Future Library?


  1. I think some of today's mystery writers would be interesting to readers of the future. (Think Cara Black, Catriona McPherson, Terry shames.) And I think some of the work of David Corbett and Walter Mosley, full of great commentary on today's world, would be interesting for future readers.

    1. To my shame, I haven't read any of those authors! I don't read much mystery though. What would you recommend most from all of those writers? I'll put it on my To-Read list!


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