English PEN presents:

Celebrating Nelson Mandela: His Letters, His Legacy

  • 📅

    Tue 17 July 2018

  • Doors open: 18:30

  • £25 | £15 con. | £75 VIP adv + cmsn

Entry Requirements: Under 16s accompanied by an adult

Book tickets with Union Chapel

English PEN is excited to host a special one-off evening to celebrate the centenary of Nelson Mandela’s Birth. Esteemed guests from the worlds of literature, politics, journalism and activism will come together to perform readings of original letters written by Nelson Mandela during his time in prison, many of which have remained unpublished until now.

Produced and directed by the award-winning Josette Bushell-Mingo, the evening’s stellar line-up will include journalist Gary Younge, poet and novelist Jackie Kay, South African-Scottish writer and campaigner Zoe Wicomb, winner of the 2017 Ted Hughes Award Jay Bernard, actor and Artistic Director of the Young Vic theatre Kwame Kwei-Armah, and composer Errollyn Wallen.

The Prison Letters of Nelson Mandela will be published by Liveright on 10 July 2018. English PEN is thrilled that the book’s editor Sahm Venter and Nelson Mandela’s granddaughter, Zamaswazi Dlamini-Mandela, who provided the foreword to the book, will also be involved in the evening’s celebrations. The letters provide a deeply personal view of Mandela’s imprisonment, painting an intimate portrait of a political activist who was as much a devoted husband, adoring father, dedicated student (studying for a law degree behind bars), and abiding friend.

English PEN is delighted to have this opportunity to celebrate and uphold Nelson Mandela’s legacy of championing human rights. Through the work of English PEN, a leading advocate for freedom of expression in the UK and around the world, thousands of letters are still being received by writers who, even today, find themselves persecuted and imprisoned for speaking out.

This event will be BSL interpreted, please contact Union Chapel for any access requirements. #PENmandelaletters

Estimated Times

All times are subject to change on the night

18:30 – Doors, Bar and Margins Cafe serving hot homemade food open

19:30 – Event Begins

22:30 – Curfew

Union Chapel Bar open after the show.

Margins Cafe

Margins Cafe will be serving delicious, hot, homemade food at this event. All profits support The Margins Project, which works with people who face homelessness and crisis and is based here at the Chapel.


  • You must also have a ticket for this event to eat at Margins Cafe.
  • The Cafe opens to all ticket holders when the chapel doors open, scheduled to be 18:30 for this show.
  • Please note the cafe is cash only (there is a bank machine just across the road).


How to book early dinner reservations:

  • Sorry, it is not possible for us to do early dinner reservation for events with an 18:30 door time.
  • It may be eventually be possible to do early dinner reservations for this show, but we will only know that within two weeks of the show.  We will do our best to alert those who have booked via our website, or else check back here nearer the time.



  • Mains
    Organic Dijon Chicken with Butter Dumplings & Creamy Mash Potatoes
    Roasted Cauliflower with Chickpea Puree & Chilli Pine Nuts (V)
  • Smaller Bites
    Ham, Broccoli & Emmenthal Quiche with Salads (v)
    Roasted Bell Pepper & Cheddar Quiche with Salads (v)
  • Dessert
    Strawberry Tart with Cream


*Ticket and Access Information

Concessions: NUS/ Student, People Under 26

VIP Tickets include reserved seating and exclusive drinks reception after the event


Please note that our lift is currently out of order meaning the bar is only accessible by stairs. We are working hard to get it fixed but we expect it to be unavailable until September 2018.

We can make alternative arrangements for customers whose disability means they cannot access the bar without a lift.

Our stewards will be on hand on the night to help with this but if you have any questions do get in touch events@unionchapel.org.uk | 020 7226 1686 (Mon-Fri, 9am – 5pm)

There is more information about access at Union Chapel here.

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