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Science fiction legend Brian Aldiss is giving the first English class at the Idler Academy this term.

Mr Aldiss will be in conversation with actor Sir Timothy Ackroyd and Melli Bond, and will discuss the creative process and his long and successful career as a writer.

Says Idler Academy founder, Idler editor and Penguin author Tom Hodgkinson: "We're delighted to welcome a writer of the stature of Brian Aldiss to the Idler Academy, and look forward to a fascinating evening." Mr Aldiss appears on Tuesday 6 September. Doors open at 6.30pm. Everyone is welcome: there is no sign-up process involved. Just buy a ticket.

Gavin Pretor-Pinney gives the Idler Academy's first science class of the term. He is the founder of the Cloud Appreciation Society and author of the international best-seller, The Cloudspotter's Guide. Gavin has chosen waves as his topic. Says Tom: "Again it's a delight to have Gavin back for a talk. We founded the Idler magazine together in 1993 and worked together for 14 years. Gav left to stare at clouds and waves, and now he is bringing home the fruits of his study."

Gavin's talk is on Wednesday 7 September at 6.30pm.

The Idler Academy of Philosophy, Husbandry and Merriment was founded in March of this year by Tom and his partner Victoria Hull. It is a coffeehouse and bookshop by day. It is situated in Bayswater, opposite the Westbourne Tavern.

"This really is a free school as we are free to do exactly what we like," says Tom. "This term we have great speakers such as Will Self, Frank Gardner, Phillip Knightley, Roy Strong and Louis Theroux, and a wide range of day and evening classes in everything from Latin to carpentry and needlework.

"At the Idler Academy you can educate yourself and have a lot of fun while so doing. It's open to everyone. The Greek word scholia, which turned into our word for school, originally meant leisure. So in the old days, going to school was something you did for fun. Now that's true once again."

The Aacdemy's motto is "libertas per cultum", meaning "freedom through eduation". Its patron is Emma Thompson.

To speak to Tom or Victoria, get pictures, or arrange an interview with any of the Academy's speakers or teachers, call 0207 221 5908 or email You can view the full term timetable at

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