Shami Chakrabarti delivers The Reading Agency Lecture 2015

“Words, first spoken, then delivered by script, print and now digital media, remain the principal means by which humans may contemplate, negotiate, mediate, adjudicate and agitate for a different world without constant need of violence. And human rights are the only truly universal language other than war.” – Shami Chakrabarti

Last night, Shami Chakrabarti, Director of Liberty, the human rights campaign group, delivered The Reading Agency’s fourth annual lecture to a sold-out crowd at The British Library: On Liberty, Reading and Dissent, following in the footsteps of internationally renowned authors Jeanette Winterson, Neil Gaiman, and comedian Russell Brand.

Chakrabarti delivered an impassioned lecture in support of reading, focusing on dissent in literature. From To Kill a Mocking Bird to dystopic fictionshe outlined the role politics and dissent play in writing and how radical thinking in literature has the ability to change lives. 

Sue Wilkinson, CEO of The Reading Agency, said:  

“It was fascinating to hear Shami’s thoughts on how the books she’s read have shaped her, and on the powerful role reading plays in developing everyone’s ability to understand other perspectives and other cultures, informing our capacity to discuss issues and make choices. Her passionate and thought provoking speech showed just how important it is to get everyone involved in reading - young and old. She demonstrated with examples from her own life and work our belief at The Reading Agency that everything changes when we read.”

Shami Chakrabarti, Director of Liberty, said:

"It's a privilege to give the Reading Agency Lecture; to reflect on the books that made me and the role of reading and free expression in democracy and dissent. When even our Human Rights Act is threatened, reading, thinking and arguing about abuses of power have rarely been more essential to protecting precious freedoms."