November 25, 2013

London brings literary art to street benches


A bench designed after The Wind in the Willows, part of London’s new Books About Town.

The city of London is planning to bring some literary art to the streets next summer. In a program being called “Books About Town,” the literary charity the  National Literacy Trust is going to set up benches painted to look like giant books throughout the city.

Claire Armitstead writes for the Guardian that the first set of BookBenches commissioned for the project include Peter Pan and Michael Rosen’s We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, sponsored by children’s publisher Walker Books and tax advisers KPMG.

Rosen says that his selection for a bench based on his book would be Coram’s Fields, a seven-acre playground in the city. He told the Guardian, “It’s the world’s first purpose-built playground still in use, so in a way it’s a rare monument to the importance of play… I love the idea of sitting on giant books. With the Bear Hunt big BookBench, I suppose you can say that you can’t go through it, but you can go over it, you can go under it or better still you can sit on it. I think that people seeing BookBenches in the street will chuckle and remind each other about a good reading experience. The BookBench for The Wind in the Willows (upper-right) is shown here on the bank of the Thames, but will be relocated to a spot next to the Bank of England, where Kenneth Grahame worked when his classic children’s book was published.

The location for a Nineteen Eighty-Four bench has yet to be determined, as the prospect of placing a landmark for such a politically charged novel seems to be daunting; a spokeswoman for the Literacy Trust says that they are “open to suggestions.”


Nick Davies was a publicist at Melville House.