Top five things to do in Hampstead and Highgate this week

T. S. Eliot, the poet, playwright and essayist, in Edinburgh during the Edinburgh Festival.

T. S. Eliot, the poet, playwright and essayist, in Edinburgh during the Edinburgh Festival. - Credit: PA Archive/Press Association Images

A talk to mark the 50th anniversary of poet T.S. Eliot’s death, an afternoon of gift swapping in Kentish Town, and a free walk are just some of the things featured in our top five this week.

1. Thursday - T.S. Eliot

Fifty years since the death of TS Eliot will be marked with a talk in Hampstead on his life as “one of the 20th century’s major poets”.

Born in Missouri, the acclaimed essayist, playwright and literary critic emigrated to England in 1914 at the age of 25 and later renounced his US citizenship. He married in Hampstead.

The talk, called Footfalls Echo in the Memory: Eliot’s Expatriation, will be given by esteemed scholar Lyndall Gordon, a senior research fellow at St Hilda’s College Oxford and the author of Eliot’s Early Years and Eliot’s New Life, as well as biographies of Henry James, Virginia Woolf and Charlotte Bronte.

Speaking on the influence being an expat had on his work, Eliot once said: “I’d say my poetry has obviously more in common with my distinguished contemporaries in America than with anything written in my generation in England.

“It wouldn’t be what it is if I’d been born in England, and it wouldn’t be what it is if I’d stayed in America. It’s a combination of things. But in its sources, in its emotional springs, it comes from America.”

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The talk will be held with Keats Community Library at Keats House in Keats Grove, Hampstead.

Runs 7pm to 8.30pm. Tickets £5. Call 020 7431 1266 or visit to book.

2. Thursday - Lisa Williamson

Author Lisa Williamson comes to Hampstead to launch her provocative and controversial debut book, The Art of Being Normal. The novel explores the life of teenager David Piper and his struggle in dealing with his desire to become a girl. Ms Williamson will discuss with the audience her “bold and compelling” exploration of sexuality and gender identity at Waterstones book shop in Hampstead High Street. Starts 7pm. Tickets £5 (£3 concs.). Call 020 7794 1098 to book.

3. Sunday - Gift Swap

Beat the January blues with the Transition Dartmouth Park January Give and Take. Bring along any unwanted presents and other items to exchange for something you’d prefer. Whether they’re books, plants, toys, clothes or home-made jams and chutneys, items can be exchanged for dried beans which acts as currency on the day to buy other items. The day will be followed by a presentation of current Transition Dartmouth Park projects, including setting up a community energy company, and its local food growing initiative. This will be followed by an open ideas session on your ideas for 2015. There will also be fun craft activities for children, and a tea and cake stall. Held at Highgate Civic Library and Cultural Centre in Croftdown Road, Kentish Town. 2pm to 4pm.

4. Thursday - Free Walk

Take part in a free walk around the Regent’s Canal in a relaxed and friendly environment, led by the Camden Sport and Physical Activity Service. The walks are described as ideal for those who are less active and new to exercise. Meet at Granary Square at the top of the steps which lead down to the canal 10 minutes before the walk to meet the instructor and other walkers. From 1pm to 1.50pm.

5. Friday - French Art

A new exhibition bringing alive the spirited streets of “fin de siècle Paris” will be shown in Belsize Park. Original Maîtres de l’Affiche and French Art Deco Pochoir prints will include work from iconic artists such as Toulouse-Lautrec, Mucha and Steinlen. This selection of prints is said to encapsulate “the vibrancy of Paris during the belle époque” with the posters for cabarets, alcohol, music halls, perfumes and operas having turned Parisian streets into a “riotous art gallery.” Work is available to view and purchase. Prices start from £250. Held at the Sylvester Fine Art gallery in Belsize Lane. Call 020 7443 5990 or email for more information.