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Celebrating No 8

Europe House - 32 Smith Square, London SW1P 3EU

The houses in which famous poets lived have a resonance far beyond their bricks and mortar. Think of Keats House in Hampstead, the Keats-Shelley house in Rome or the Lorca house in Granada.

This event celebrates the house at 8 Royal College Street where Rimbaud and Verlaine lived for an important period of their poetic careers in 1873. Combining short talks, interviews and readings, the evening will paint a picture of the London the two poets encountered in the 1870s while also premiering a completely new suite of poems by the distinguished poet George Szirtes inspired by Rimbaud and Verlaine’s stay in the house.

George Szirtes was born in Hungary and emigrated to England with his parents after the 1956 Budapest uprising. His first book, The Slant Door (1979), won the Faber Memorial Prize. Bridge Passages (1991) was shortlisted for the Whitbread Poetry Prize. Reel (2004) won the T.S. Eliot Prize, and his New and Collected Poems was published by Bloodaxe in 2008. He has written extensively for radio and is the author of more than a dozen plays, musicals, opera libretti, and oratorios.

Lester Hillman is a former Visiting Professor at London Metropolitan University. He is the Academic Adviser to the Islington Archaeology & History Society and has a similar role with the Camden Tour Guides Association. Currently he is also running a heritage-related course for St Pancras Old Church. His great grandparents Pilkington were living a few doors up from No.8 Great (now Royal) College Street at the time of the 1881 Census and a great uncle later lived at No.16 Great College Street.

Donald Macleod was educated in Glasgow and at St Andrew's University where he studied psychology. He started out in radio in the World Service, and began his career as a presenter in 1982 on BBC Radio 3 and for BBC1's 60 minutes as a TV reporter and newsreader. In 1999 he landed what is undoubtedly one of the best jobs in broadcasting when he became the first person to present, single-handedly, Radio 3’s flagship programme Composer of the Week, a programme he continues to broadcast each week.

This event is free of charge but booking is essential. Please go to to reserve your place. Registration will be open from 6.30 pm and the event will start promptly at 7.00 pm.