Talks: The School Of Life / Marchmont Street, Bloomsbury

A bookshop in Bloomsbury and also puts on regular talks or ‘Sermons’ from a variety of guest speakers, including Alain De Botton, Prof Robert Winston, Oliver James and Allegra McEvedy, as well as courses, conversation dinners (where you pre-pay for a dinner and are given certain topics to discuss) and breakfast clubs.

Examples include: How To Find A Job You Love, How To Have Better Conversations, How To Read, How To Be Alone, Reclaiming Creativity. Sermons: Alain De Botton on Pessimism, Robert Winston on Curiosity, Charles Leadbetter on Perspective, Sam Roddick on Seduction.

More info & upcoming events:

Watch past Sermons online here. Recommended reading: Alain De Botton - The Consolations Of Philosophy.

Talks: ICA / The Mall, St James’ Park area

Examples of talks: The Trouble With Feminism, The Nature Of Evil with Lars Svendsen, The Trouble With Society, The Situationist City with Tom McDonough. View listings.

Also: art exhibitions, film screenings, bar & events, cafe, music.

Everything: The French Institute / Queensbury Place, South Kensington

French films, French language courses, wine tasting, talks, arts, music, cafe/bistrot.

Example talks: France In The British Mind, French poetry readings/discussion, ‘Coffee Concept’ meetings every Saturday to discuss philosophical questions on a given topic du jour in an informal setting, reading group, Forum for European Philosophy where thinkers and scholars are invited to introduce a short text that has special significance to them.

Talks: Royal Academy Of Arts / Burlington House, Piccadilly

Art exhibitions but also…

Evening talks. Examples: Van Gogh - Reading Matters, The English Landscape - Art & Poetry, Architecture & Beauty - A Troubled Relationship. Free Lunchtime talks. Examples: The Sandbys and The Royal Academy, Van Gogh - The Artist & His Letters. 

Workshops, courses, symposia and tours, plus other free gallery talks.

About 5 mins from Piccadilly tube. W1J OBD.

Talks: Science Museum Dana Centre Lates / Queen’s Gate, South Kensington

Free, regular late night events for adults at the Science Museum’s Dana Centre.

Example: 26th May: The Science Of Genius - a look at genius in all its forms. From art to music and sport to science. Talks and workshops exploring the nature of genius and find out if you have what it takes to become one.

Also hosts other talks and events e.g. The Science Of The Beautiful Game, The Rules Of Attraction, Dreamscapes and Sleeping Brains.

Talks: Forum For European Philosophy / London School Of Economics, The Strand

Philosophy talks, lectures, conferences, discussions, reading groups and events. All of open to the public and most are free.

Examples: Atheists on Religion, Bergson and Freud with a bit of Shakespeare and Bacon, The World Cup, Art and the Limits of the Political, Spinoza Today,

Nearest tube: Holborn or Temple. WC2A 2AE

More info:

Talks: Evenings At The V & A / Cromwell Road, South Kensington

Evening talks. Some are free, some you have to pay for (usually under £10). Upcoming talks include Peter Blake (responsible for The Beatles’ Sgt Peppers cover) and Juergen Teller.

Reading: Steven Johnson - Where Good Ideas Come From, LSE / Holborn

From the LSE website: "In his new book, he identifies the key principles to the genesis of great ideas, from the cultivation of hunches to the importance of connectivity and how best to make use of new technologies. By recognising where and how patterns of creativity occur – whether within a school, a software platform or a social movement – he shows how we can make more of our ideas good ones.”

Read a review of Where Good Ideas Come From on BoingBoing here.

Free | Tuesday 2nd November | 6.30 - 8pm | LSE - Sheikh Zayed Theatre, New Academic Building | WC2A 2AE

More info: Steven Johnson website | LSE website 

Event: How to Spend Time Alone, The School of Life / Central London

"We’ll be exploring what thinkers from Montaigne to Woolf have had to say about the distinction between solitude and loneliness. We’ll ask why being alone can sometimes feel so frightening, and what benefits there might be to overcoming our fears. We’ll consider what we can learn from the practices of hermitage and retreat from the world. And above all, we’ll ask if it’s really possible to be happy in partnerships, in friendships, at work and with family if we can’t also be happy by yourselves?"

Date: Wednesday 16th February - 18.30 - 21.30

Location: The School of Life, 70 Marchmont Street, WC1 1AB

More details: here

Events: 5 x 15, London

5 guest speakers talk about whatever they want for 15 minutes. Next up: legendary 60’s folk record producer Joe Boyd, author, journalist and Coco Chanel biographer Justine Picardie and more will speak at The Tabernacle in Westbourne Park.

Date: 28th February
Location: The Tabernacle, W11
More info, newsletter sign up and tickets:

Talk: 24th June - Simon Schama, Queen Elizabeth Hall / Southbank

As part of the Southbank Centre’s Great Thinkers season…

Simon Schama delivers a special lecture on the Festival of Britain to mark our 60th anniversary celebrations. Schama is one of the world’s leading historians, whose writing considers landscape, memory and ideas of nationhood, which he explores in relation to Britain now and in the future… author of over 15 books …His broadcasting includes the award-winning, Emmy-nominated A History of Britain.”  

…as well as The American Future, which was broadcast during the run up to the 2008 American elections and looked at the future of the country in the context of its past.

Tickets: £12 | Location: Queen Elizabeth Hall | Time: 7.30pm

Talks: British Library / Euston Road, King’s Cross

The British Library hold lots of exhibitions, talks, debates and events which anyone can attend by booking; sometimes paid, sometimes free. Examples of upcoming ones (just some): 

* The Beginning of Infinity: Explanations that Transform the World
* The Age of Entanglement: Are we too Intertwined with Technology/
* Utopias and Other Worlds
* When London Was Capital of America
* Niall Ferguson: Civilisation and Virtual History

There’s also loads to root around on their website. View a selection of virtual books - including Masterpiece Of The Renaissance, Jane Austen’s early work, William Blake’s notebook and sketches by Leonardo - in high quality online  here.

Location: Euston Road, NW1 2DB | Events: all upcoming listings | More info: here + Facebook

Websites: + more / Lectures & Talks in London hosts a huuuge list of public talks and lectures around the UK - click here for London lectures. does much the same, except it’s easier to specify by subject and picks highlights for you (upcoming talks include ones by John Simpson, Will Self and Jon Snow).

Otherwise, if you’d rather stay put, the big-dawg in online talks is Some highlights:  Ken Robinson ‘School kills creativity’. Arianna Huffington ‘How to succeed: get more sleep’. Andrew Bird’s one man orchestra of the imagination.