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W.G. Sebald Lecture on Literary Translation 2016

Roger McGough CBE FRSL

Monday 22 February 2016 at the British Library Conference Centre, London

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To listen to the Sebald Lecture on Literary Translation 2016


Photo credit: Colin Clarke ARPS

Roger McGough Photo credit: Colin Clarke ARPS

The 2016 Sebald Lecture on literary translation, sponsored by the British Centre for Literary Translation at UEA, was given by poet, playwright and broadcaster Roger McGough.  He drew on his experience of translating three critically acclaimed Molière plays for the English stage (Tartuffe, 2008; The Hypochondriac, 2009; The Misanthrope, 2013) and having his own poems translated into many other languages – including translations into German by W.G. Sebald himself, who founded BCLT in 1989.


Roger McGough is one of Britain’s best-loved poets. He first achieved recognition in the 1960s, in the Penguin anthology The Mersey Sound and in the chart-topping group The Scaffold. Since then he has published many internationally acclaimed collections of poems and stories, for adults and children. He has edited several anthologies, and hosts the long-running weekly poetry programme Poetry Please for BBC Radio 4. His poems have been translated into many other languages – including translations into German by W.G. Sebald himself.

The Sebald Lecture is given annually on an aspect of literature in translation and is named after W.G. Sebald who set up BCLT in 1989. ‘Max’ was a German writer who opted to live in the UK and continue writing in German. His novels and essays include The Rings of Saturn, Austerlitz and On the Natural History of Destruction and established him as a leading writer of the 20th century.

This event was supported by Arts Council England and Writers’ Centre Norwich.


Sebald Lecture 2015

The Language of the Heart

A L Kennedy

Award-winning writer and performer A L Kennedy explores translating human experience across the inevitable boundaries between individuals and considers the forces in play which make that more and less possible. The 2015 Sebald Lecture took place on Monday 16 February 2015 at the British Library Conference Centre, London.

Watch on YouTube

You can watch the lecture now on YouTube or listen to audio via SoundCloud.

Listen via SoundCloud

You can listen to the lecture now on the BCLT SoundCloud page (where you can also listen to further discussion and questions from audience members) or by using the audio player below.

A L Kennedy was born in Dundee in 1965. She is the author of 15 books, 6 novels, 6 short story collections and 3 works of non-fiction. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.  Her latest book All the Rage – a collection of short stories – was published by Jonathan Cape in spring 2014. She is also a dramatist of the stage, radio, TV and film. She writes for a number of UK and overseas publications and has a blog with The Guardian Online.

Photo credit: Campbell Mitchell