British Library Hosts Hip-Hop Canterbury Tales For Christmas

Started On :: 02/12/2013 - Ended On :: 02/01/2014


What:             Performance

When:            Monday 16th December 2013


Where:          British Library

The works of Chaucer will be given a hip-hop style remix this Christmas in a ground breaking youth project which will bring medieval poetry into the 21st century.

Throughout November and December, Chaucer FFWD aims to transform a group of London’s inner city teenagers into modern day wordsmiths as they embark on the challenge of writing a creative piece inspired by Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales.

The new stories  - based on the Wife of Bath, the Prioress, the Pardoner and the Miller - will finally be presented on December 16th in a televised broadcast at The British Library, home to the original manuscripts of Chaucer’s classic text.

Alice Mayers, Regional Project Manager at The British Library said “We are very pleased to be able to host the Chaucer FFWD event and bring the modern Canterbury Tales to the British Library. It is great that these organisations are encouraging and supporting young people's passion for spoken word, as well as equipping them with the confidence and conviction to perform at the British Library where the original Canterbury Tale transcripts are held."

Established spoken word artist Charlie Dark and performance poet Patience Agbabi will lead workshops to help the 16-24 year olds develop performance and presentation skills and give thetales a contemporary twist. Participants will come from youth groups around the capital including Southwark, which is a fitting nod to the starting and ending points of the pilgrim’s travels. 

Chaucer FFWD Creative Director, Charlie Dark said If you don’t know the history then you can't shape the future and I feel it's important for young people to be aware of the lyricists, writers and word smiths that went before them. There's more to English Literature than Shakespeare and by placing the world of Chaucer in the mouths of the young and allowing them to remix and reinvent his words this project aims to encourage the exploration of the new language and the inspiration and confidence it can bring to a young persons life.”

Other spoken word artists taking part include Malika BookerDeanna Rodger, Rosie Knight and Nick Makoha – and they will be running sessions in the boroughs of Lambeth, Lewisham, Camden and Hackney.

Hip-Hop DJ & Spoken Word Artist Charlie Dark

Poet Deanna Rodger

Poet Nick Mahoka

The project has been funded by the Arts Council England and developed by cultural marketing agency Louder Than Words and the charity Small Green Shoots. The workshops will take place at local libraries and will help young participants gain a valuable Arts Award accreditation for taking part in the project. 

 Event info

Chaucer FFWD hosted by Charlie Dark

Monday 16 December, 6pm-8pm

British Library, Learning Centre, 96 Euston Road, London NW1 2DW

Tickets: free guest list contact


About The Canterbury Tales

The Canterbury Tales is a collection of stories written by Geoffrey Chaucer at the end of the 14th century. The tales are presented during a story-telling competition by a group of pilgrims as they journey together from Southwark to Canterbury Cathedral. The prize for the best tale is a free meal at the Tabard Inn at Southwark on their return.