If you hadn’t already heard, Ultimate Library has recently teamed up with Firmdale Hotels to host a series of literary evenings entitled, ‘The Book Salon’. On Tuesday 27th February, we kicked off the very first Book Salon with the wonderfully talented William Boyd. Each Book Salon is to be held in a different Firmdale hotel and this week’s was held in the beautiful orangery of Number Sixteen located in the heart of South Kensington.


The Orangery at Firmdale's Number Sixteen

The orangery at Firmdale’s Number Sixteen


The hotel had converted the usually bright and spacious conservatory into an intimate and cosy space, with two armchairs at the end of the room for the guest speaker and host. The interior helped simulate feelings of being in a drawing room among friends instead of a faceless guest in the audience of an event.  The rooms décor emulates the ethos of Kit Kemp and the other Firmdale properties; unique and eclectic. Kit Kemp is an award winning interior designer and the co-owner, with her husband Tim Kemp, of the Firmdale brand. She has personally designed each hotel with a fresh English feel which welcomes all guests.


Firmdale Hotel Number 16

Number Sixteen Guest area


William Boyd started his illustrious writing career with the best-selling novel ‘A Good Man in Africa’, in 1981. Since then he has cemented his place in the canon of modern English literature with the likes of ‘Any Human Heart’ and ‘Waiting for Sunrise’.


reams of Bethany Mellmoth


On the evening, guests arrived promptly in eager anticipation of meeting a literary hero, they were greeted with wine and a selection of delicious in-house canapés.  Boyd spoke on the trials and tribulations he experienced writing short stories in contrast to novels, a novel can digress from the narrative for countless chapters whereas a short story is under time constraint and must be concise and intelligent. He read an excerpt from his latest book, ‘The Dreams of Bethany Mellmoth’. The story he chose was called ‘Humiliation’, a wonderfully dark and comic short story that leaves every reader feeling satisfied.  As the evening drew to a close, Boyd took questions from the floor about his past novels and personal experiences with writing. Responding to fans who were desperate to know where some of his most notorious characters ended up, he explained simply and profoundly, that in life not everything is tied up neatly in the end.


William Boyd signing copies of his latest book, 'The Dreams of Bethany Mellmoth'.

William Boyd signing copies of his latest book, ‘The Dreams of Bethany Mellmoth’.

The first Book Salon has left us wanting more and in excited anticipation, we’re busy planning the next event. If you missed out on tickets for our evening with William Boyd, don’t panic as we’ve got lots more lined up and we’ll be keeping you all updated with the latest news. Please check out our social media channels for the latest information.