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Page last updated at 10:13 GMT, Friday, 19 June 2009 11:13 UK
Royal Parks are works of fiction
St James Park
St James Park is hosting readings by Clare Wignall and William Boyd

London's Royal Parks have inspired new short stories written by some of the country's most acclaimed authors.

Will Self, Nicola Barker and William Boyd are among the writers who have contributed new works.

Each of the eight writers has taken inspiration from a different park; one for each Royal Park in the capital.

To mark their publication, the Royal Parks are hosting a series of readings by the authors throughout the summer.

As well as the public readings, each short story will be published and sold as an individual booklet.

One of the authors, Clare Wigfall told BBC London:

The Royal Parks are bursting with stories, so it was an absolute pleasure to be commissioned to write on a subject so inspiring that from the very outset ideas were already sparking like fireworks in my mind.

I chose to write about St James's because it was a park I could visualise well from my Berlin study, but it was the day I spent wandering in its grounds with the park keeper that saw the blossoming of my story 'Along Birdcage Walk.'

The park keeper mentioned the gilded cages of exotic birds that used to line the avenue in Charles II's day, and this was an image so beautiful and evocative I knew that I wanted to bring it again to life through my fiction.

Writing the story was a joy, and I hope that it will bring pleasure to future visitors of St James's Park.

Clare Wigfall is also one of the writers who will give a public reading.


Monday, 22 June at 6.30pm, St James's Park, The Bandstand. Clare's story is set in St James's Park: It is 1664. Walking in the park, a lady succumbs to the delights of the King's exotic aviary and her fate is sealed.


Tuesday, 30 June at 1pm, St James's Park, The Bandstand. William's story celebrates Green Park where a young woman reinvents her life. Nearby an old man strives for a kind of immortalilty.


Wednesday, 1 July, 1pm, Hyde Park, Ranger's Lodge Garden. In Hyde Park, Miss Simkins's favourite bench had seen her through peacetime and war. What was she to think of this contender for its charms?

More readings will be confirmed in due course.

Prk Stories
Nicola Barker - Greenwich Park
William Boyd - The Green Park
Shena Mackay - Richmond Park
Will Self - Bushy Park
Ali Smith - The Regent's Park
Adam Thorpe - Hyde Park
Clare Wigfall - St James's Park
Hanan al Shaykh - Kensington Gardens

Literary Heritage

Chaucer, Virginia Woolf, Charles Dickens, Henry James and Sylvia Plath are just a handful of the great writers who have made reference to London's parks in their novels.

Park Stories Editor, Rowan Routh, said:

"This series is a great way to celebrate both the literary heritage of the parks and the short story.

There's a kinship between parks and short fiction - both confined things but no less for being so. They're perfectly matched to be enjoyed together!"

The Park Stories booklets are available to buy for £2 from points of sale within the park and selected London book shops.

The readings are free of charge and can be reserved by visiting www.parkstories.org.uk or ringing 0207 298 2046.

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