London is well represented in fiction, having been brought to life on the page by masterful writers like Charles Dickens, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Virginia Woolf. Now, the Museum of London Docklands is giving literary buffs a unique opportunity to celebrate one of the capital’s finest science fiction writers via a one-off boat tour of the Thames.
Dr Gregor Claude will helm an expedition downriver from the Southbank Pier, recreating a journey originally envisioned by William Morris in his landmark 1890 novel News from Nowhere. Those who chose to participate will be treated to educational and entertaining ruminations on the utopian thinking of the Victorian age, the literary culture of 19th century England and the wider historical importance of the Thames.
In News from Nowhere, narrator William Guest falls asleep only to slumber, quite unwittingly, for many centuries. Awaking in 22nd century London, he finds the capital has been transformed into a radical socialist utopia where ideas like property and money are obsolete. His subsequent river voyage through the heart of the capital reveals a painstakingly reimagined vision of the city.
Using William Morris’ work as a starting point, Dr Claude will look at how other writers and artists have considered the possibility of technological, political and cultural upheaval on the banks of the Thames.
The tour takes place next Saturday (June 22nd) at 2pm. Dr Claude’s lecture lasts for about two-and-a-half hours; the boat is expected to return to Southbank Pier for 6pm. Tickets cost £20, though a concessionary rate of £17 is available and friends of the museum can enjoy a further reduced charge of £15.
Interested parties are urged to book in advance, as places on the vessel are strictly limited. This can be done through the Museum of London Docklands website.
Southbank Pier is located just outside of the Royal Festival Hall and the National Film Theatre. Those travelling here via the London Underground should head towards the Waterloo, Embankment or Hungerford Bridge tube stops.