The prizewinning author, poet, essayist, literary critic and environmentalist
Margaret Atwood is the first writer to contribute to Future Library.
“How strange it is to think of my own voice — silent by then for
long time — suddenly being awakened, after a hundred years. What is the first thing
voice will say, as a not-yet-embodied hand draws it out
of its container and opens it to the first page?”
( Writer )
“It is my dream that Margaret Atwood is writing for Future
I imagine her words growing through the trees, an unseen energy, activated and
materialized, the tree rings becoming chapters in a book.”
( Artist )
( Biography )
Margaret Atwood (b. 1939, Canada)
author of more than forty volumes of poetry, children’s literature, fiction and
non-fiction. Her work has been published in more than forty languages,
she is the recipient of numerous literary awards, including the Booker Prize, the
Arthur C. Clarke Award for best science fiction and the Canadian Booksellers’
Lifetime Achievement Award. A fervent environmentalist and political
activist, Atwood has over 500,000 followers on Twitter. Her works explore the
existential problems of modern humans with satire and humour, often with a starting
point in a speculative universe. Her recent novel, MaddAddam, concludes
dystopian trilogy that follows the fate
of mankind through an uncertain future. Her latest work
is a book of short stories called Hag Seed, William Shakespeare’s The Tempest Retold.
“I was very pleased to
have been invited to be the first author for the Future Library project. Katie
Paterson’s artwork is a meditation on the nature of time. It is
also a tribute to the
written word, the material basis for the transmission of words through time – in this
case, paper – and a proposal of writing itself as a time capsule…”
“I can hear the sound of melting snow and ice. I’m not talking
about the great ice, the ice cap over Greenland, or the icebergs that break free from
the Antarctic like small continents. This ice is melting
the street where I live…”
The multi-award winning British novelist David Mitchell
is the second writer to contribute to Future Library.
“Future Library is a beautiful proposition. It’s almost like
if you talk about it, whatever words you say will be less beautiful than the thing. The
whole thing is a kind of poem, written yes in words, but
also in trees, also in people. It’s a poem made of reality.”
( Writer )
“David Mitchell makes the world a spirited place. His work is
transporting and polyphonic, blending time, dreams and reality. I am elated he is Future
Library’s 2015 author. His locked-away text will allow
future generations to telescope into other worlds.”
( Artist )
( Biography )
Born in 1969, David Mitchell grew
up in Worcestershire. After graduating from Kent University, he taught English in
Japan, where he wrote his first novel, Ghostwritten. Published in 1999,
it won the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize and was shortlisted for the Guardian First Book
Award. David Mitchell’s second novel, number9dream, was shortlisted
for the Booker Prize and in 2003 he was named one of Granta’s Best of Young
British Novelists. His third novel, Cloud Atlas, was shortlisted for the Man
Booker Prize in 2004, won the Richard & Judy Best Read of the Year and was adapted
for film in 2012. It was followed by Black Swan Green and The Thousand
Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, both longlisted for the Man Booker Prize. In 2013
with KA Yoshida, Mitchell translated from the Japanese the
internationally bestselling memoir The Reason I Jump. Mitchell was
named one of the one hundred most
influential people in the world by Time in 2007. His latest novel is Slade House. He lives in Ireland with his wife and two children.
“Late in 2014 I
received an email from a British editor friend. It was about an art project called
Future Library, the brainchild of Scottish artist Katie Paterson,
it contained a unique
“What is the time of an artwork? When does the process
begin and when does it end? These are questions of encounter, rhetorical devices for
trying to articulate why art matters. The space between ends and
beginnings is sometimes hard to recognise..”
As My Brow Brushes On The Tunics Of Angels
The Drop Tower, the Roller Coaster, the Whirling Cups
and other Instruments of Worship from the Post-Industrial Age
The celebrated Icelandic poet, novelist and lyricist Sjón
is the current writer to contribute to Future Library.
“Like the best of games Future Library makes the player aware
of the skills and flaws he or she brings to the playing field, in this case it tests the
fundaments of everything an author must deal with when sincerely engaging with the art
( Writer )
“Sjón creates a world of metamorphosis: his poetic works weave
together history and myth, folklore, ancient storytelling, the surreal and the magical.
His writing is dynamic and melodic, and like Future Library, interlaces the human
and natural world through stretches of time.”
( Artist )
( Biography )
Born in Reykjavík in 1962, Sjón is
an Icelandic author whose novels The Blue Fox, The Whispering Muse,
From the Mouth of the Whale and Moonstone: The Boy Who Never
Was have been translated
into thirty-five languages. He has won several national and international awards, including the Nordic Council's
Literature Prize for The Blue Fox and has also been shortlisted for the
International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award and the Independent
Fiction Prize. His latest novel Moonstone: The Boy Who Never Was won the
Icelandic Literary Prize. His biggest literary work to date is the trilogy CoDex
1962. In the
lyrical field, Sjón has published nine poetry collections, written four opera
librettos and lyrics for various artists. In 2001 he was nominated for an Oscar for
his lyrics in the film Dancer In The Dark. Sjón is the
president of the Icelandic
PEN Centre. He lives in Iceland with his wife, mezzo-soprano Ágerdur
Júníusdóttir, and their two children.
“My favourite Icelandic folk tale has to do with the future. In it we learn about an old couple who live in extreme poverty on a desolate farm in a dark and narrow valley somewhere beyond the bluest mountains...”
A message in a bottle, a time capsule, a sci-fi leap across time; and at the other end, a window onto the past, an archaeological event, an historical enigma. From the slightly-more-than-human timespan that straddles its alpha and omega, Katie Paterson’s Future Library is all that and, in so many ways, a memento mori…
Vatnajökull (the sound of), 2007-8 A live phone-line to a distant glacier.
Earth–Moon–Earth (Moonlight Sonata Reflected from the Surface of the Moon),
Moonlight Sonata, reflected from the moon's surface.
Streetlight Storm, 2009 Pier lights flickering in time with lightning
Timepieces (Solar System), 2014 A series of clocks that tell the time on
All the Dead Stars, 2009 A map of every dead star in the universe.
Totality, 2016 A mirror ball reflecting every solar eclipse.
Campo del Cielo, Field of the Sky, 2012-14 A meteorite, recast, and
Ara, 2016 Festoon lights matching the brightness of a constellation of
Langjökull, Snæfellsjökull, Solheimajökull, 2007 Records of glacial ice
until they melt.
100 Billion Suns, 2011 Confetti colour matched to the brightest cosmic
Inside this desert lies the tiniest grain of sand, 2010 A grain of sand
only a few atoms.
The Dying Star Letters, 2011 A series of letters announcing stellar
Candle (from Earth into a Black Hole), 2015 A candle scented as if
from planet to planet.
Fossil Necklace, 2013 A necklace of carved, rounded fossils, spanning
Hollow, 2016, with Zeller &
Moye A microcosmos of every tree on earth
Light bulb to Simulate Moonlight, 2008 A light bulb recreating the glow of
History of Darkness, 2011 An archive of darkness from throughout the
Second Moon, 2013-14 A fragment of the moon posted around the earth.
As the World Turns, 2010 A record player turning in time with the earth’s
The artist behind Future Library, Katie Paterson (b. 1981, Scotland) is widely
regarded as one of the leading artists of her
generation. Collaborating with scientists and researchers across the world, Paterson’s
projects consider our place on
earth in the context of geological time and change. Her artworks make use of sophisticated
technologies and specialist expertise to stage intimate, poetic and philosophical
engagements between people and their natural environment.
Combining a Romantic sensibility with a research-based approach, conceptual rigour and
minimalist presentation, her work collapses the distance between the viewer and the most
distant edges of time and the cosmos.
Katie Paterson has broadcast the sounds of a melting glacier live, mapped all the dead
stars, compiled a slide archive of darkness from the depths of the Universe, created a light
bulb to simulate the experience of moonlight, and sent a
recast meteorite back into space. Eliciting feelings of humility, wonder and melancholy akin
to the experience of the Romantic sublime, Paterson's work is at once understated in gesture
and yet monumental in scope.
Katie has exhibited internationally, from London to New York, Berlin to Seoul, and her works
have been included in major exhibitions including Hayward Gallery, Tate Britain, Kunsthalle
Wien, MCA Sydney, Guggenheim Museum, New York, and
The Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh. She was winner of the Visual Arts
category of the 2014 South Bank Awards.
Ingeri Engelstad Publishing Director at Oktober Press
Håkon Harket Publishing Director of Forlaget Press
Anne Beate Hovind Project Director Bjørvika Utvikling and Chair of the Trust
Katie Paterson Artist
Liv Sæteren Former Director of the Deichmanske Bibliotek
Simon Prosser Publishing Director of Hamish Hamilton
The paramount objective of the Future Library Trust is to select and invite the authors, and
to compassionately sustain the
artwork for its one hundred year duration.
The Future Library trustees include artist
Katie Paterson, Publishing Director of Hamish Hamilton Simon Prosser, Former Director of the
Deichmanske Bibliotek Liv Sæteren, Publishing
Director of Forlaget Press Håkon Harket, Editor-in-Chief of Oktober Press Ingeri Engelstad
and Anne Beate Hovind, Project Director at Bjørvika Utvikling, and Chair of the Trust.
The authors are being selected for their outstanding contributions to literature and poetry
and for their works’ ability to capture the imagination of this and future generations. Key
words in the selection process are “imagination” and
“time”. The Trust is inviting one hundred outstanding writers of any nationality or age to
contribute works in any genre or language. The length of the piece is entirely for the
author to decide.
Nordmarka is a forested area to the North of Oslo. Norwegian spruce (Picea abies), birch
(Betula pubescens) and pine (Pinus sylvestris) flourish in this area, which is protected by
the city against the threat of urban sprawl. With the
guidance of foresters from the Agency of Urban Environment who have been tending this land
for over one hundred years, Katie Paterson planted one thousand Norwegian spruce trees in
May 2014. A
number of existing spruce, birch and fir remain in the
forest, to allow it to regenerate from its own seedbank. Visitors are able to visit the
Future Library forest, which is located a 30 minute hike from Frognerseteren Station.
Katie Paterson has created a limited edition artwork, a certificate entitling the owner
to one complete set of the one hundred texts printed on the paper made from the Future
after they are fully grown and cut down in 2114. The
proceeds support the running of the project over its one hundred year duration. For more
please contact the artist's galleries:
Support for this one hundred year long artwork has been given by the City of Oslo, which
are working with the artist and Future Library Trust to ensure the protection of the
forest and manuscripts until the year 2114. Conceived by Katie Paterson, Future
is commissioned and produced by Bjørvika Utvikling and managed by the Future Library
Trust. Supported by the City of Oslo, Agency for Cultural Affairs and Agency for Urban
Environment. Hosted by the Deichmanske Bibliotek, Oslo. Library room design with
architects Atelier Oslo and Lund Hagem.
We extend our deepest gratitude to the authors Margaret Atwood, David Mitchell, and
Sjón. To Anne Beate Hovind, Project Director, Bjørvika Utvikling. To the Future Library
Trust: Ingeri Engelstad, Håkon Harket, Simon Prosser, and Liv Sæteren. To the foresters
Jon Karl Christiansen, Eivind Johan Birkeland, Trond Enkerud, Vidar Veli-Matti Gjølmo,
Jon Hagen, Knut Johansson, and Frank Thomassen. To the architects Nils Ole Brandtzæg and
the team at Atelier Oslo; Svein Lund and the team at Lund Hagem. To the essayists Arve
Rød, and Lisa Le Feuvre. To graphic designers Fraser Muggeridge Studio. To the whole
Future Library team, assisted by Siobhàn Maguire, Vibeke Hermanrud, Claire McAree, Jarl
Solberg, Martin John Callanan, and Isabel Paterson. To filmmaker Giorgia Polizzi. To all
those at the Deichmanske Bibliotek. To photographer Kristin Von Hirsch. To Lillehammer
Literature Festival. To Oslo Business Region. To Adam Asnan for his sound composition.
Scottish artist Katie Paterson has created a one hundred year artwork
"Framtidsbiblioteket" for the city of Oslo
One thousand trees have been planted in Nordmarka, a forest just
Oslo, which will supply paper for a special anthology of books to be printed in one hundred
years time. Between now and then, one writer
year will contribute a text, with the writings held in trust, unpublished, until the year
Tending the forest and ensuring its preservation for the one hundred year duration of the
finds a conceptual counterpoint in the invitation
to each writer: to conceive and produce a work in the hopes of finding a receptive reader in
an unknown future.
Forest in Nordmarka
( Norway )
The prizewinning author, poet, essayist and literary critic Margaret
Atwood was the first writer
to contribute to the project. The multi-award winning British novelist David Mitchell followed
as 2015’s author, and celebrated Icelandic
novelist Sjón is Future Library’s contributing author
“Future Library is a living, breathing, organic artwork, unfolding over one hundred
and breathe through the material growth of the trees — I imagine the tree rings as chapters in a
book. The unwritten words, year by year,
activated, materialized. The visitor’s experience of being in the forest, changing over decades,
being aware of the slow growth of the trees containing the writers’ ideas like an unseen
The manuscripts will be held in trust in a specially designed room in the New Deichmanske
Library opening in 2019 in Bjørvika, Oslo. Intended to be a space of contemplation, this
will be lined with wood from the forest. The
names and titles of their works will be on display, but none of the manuscripts will be
available for reading – until their publication in one century’s time.
“Future Library has nature, the environment at its core — and involves ecology, the
interconnectedness of things, those living now and still to come. It questions the present
tendency to think in short bursts of time, making
only for us living now. The timescale is one hundred years, not vast in cosmic terms.
many ways the human timescale of one hundred years is more confronting. It is beyond many of
current lifespans, but close enough to come face to
with it, to comprehend and relativise.”
( Artist )
( New Deichmanske Bibliotek )
Hailed by many as a ‘library of the future’, the New Deichmanske Bibliotek - Oslo
Library - will open its doors to the public in 2019. The one hundred unread and unpublished
will be held here in a specially designed room, lined
wood from the forest.
The Future Library room will be situated on the top floor of the library along with
special collection of books and archives. It will face in the direction of the forest, which
can be glimpsed on the horizon. It will be a small,
intimate room, encouraging only one or two people at a time. The authors’ names and titles
of their works will be on display, but none of the manuscripts will be available for reading
– until their publication in one century’s time.
“We are building the Silent Room using the trees we cleared from the forest, still
containing their scent. The atmosphere is key in our design, aiming to create a sense of
quietude, peacefulness, a contemplative space which can
the imagination to journey to the forest, the trees, the writing, the deep time, the
invisible connections, the mystery.”
( Artist )
“There is a magical, contemplative feeling in the
forest. We encourage people to visit, to take this journey, and over the decades, watch
the forest grow and change. Year by year, the
words forming invisible chapters in the trees whose narratives will be reconstituted a
( Artist )
A special ceremony in the forest each spring marks the handover of the author’s manuscript.
event is free and open to all. The handover event is at the heart of Future Library.
a ritual which has two important sites for all
authors over the next one hundred years: the forest and the library. The day involves a
into the forest, where the author gives a reading; then a question and answer event in the
Deichmanske library in Oslo. The story-telling
event in the forest and the in-conversation event in the library will continue for