COMMENT: A great way to inspire and influence new generation

We live in an electronic age, where information and entertainment increasingly comes via smartphones and tablets.

Wednesday, 21st March 2018, 6:38 am

The sad truth is that many of the younger generation would much rather play video games than read a book or write a story.

To them, even the medium of television is old-fashioned.

So they tend to view the written word as something hugely anachronistic.

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But as they sit with earphones in, glued to YouTube on their small screens, we must not give up hope that they will one day come to appreciate the magical world of words and enjoy exploring our rich literary heritage.

That’s why, despite libraries suffering cuts as local authority budgets get squeezed, we believe they remain a vital resource, providing easy access to a wide range of books for readers from 8 to 80.

But in Portsmouth of all places, we also want people to be enthused by some of the great writers who have called the city their home down the years.

That’s why a new space called the Portsmouth Writers’ Room, unveiled at the Central Library in Guildhall Walk yesterday, could prove to be so important.

Literary giants Charles Dickens, H G Wells and Rudyard Kipling are just some of the writers featured – and wouldn’t it be great if being exposed to their genius ended up influencing people to enjoy their works and also to develop their own creativity?

If you add in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who wrote his first two Sherlock Holmes stories while living in Southsea, we really are spoiled when it comes to celebrated authors.

The new writers’ room will prove invaluable for anybody wanting to research these world-famous names and their books.

Portsmouth Writers’ Hub regular Wendy Metcalfe enthused: ‘It’s going to be a joy discovering what’s there.’

So too will Portsmouth City Museum’s forthcoming exhibition on Conan Doyle, funded by a £140,000 Arts Council grant.

Anything that puts such superb storytelling in front of people must be welcomed.

But the real value could be in unlocking the creativity of young people, inspiring them to put down their phone and pick up a pen or a good book.