The Good Doctor of Warsaw

Uncovering the world of Janusz Korczak, in literature, memory and music


Tuesday 17 April, 7:15-8:30pm
British Library
Knowledge Centre
96 Euston Road
London NW1 2DB
Tickets £10/£7, book online or call 01937 546546


Elisabeth Gifford explores the writing of her new novel The Good Doctor of Warsaw (Atlantic Books) using oral memories, documents and research in the Library. It evokes something of pre-war Warsaw’s now lost Jewish community and the life of Janusz Korczak, who cared for 200 orphans in the ghetto. The event features live music from Živorad Nikolic and Susi Evans from the world acclaimed She’Koyokh klezmer band.

Janusz Korczak, a Polish-Jewish Dr Barnardo, was an early pioneer of child welfare and empathetic education. He signed the first Children’s Bill of Rights in Geneva, 1927, still in use today. He published widely for children and adults, including The Child’s Right to Respect, children novels King Matt the First and Kaytek the Wizard, and broadcast on Polish radio. He ran two world famous children homes in Warsaw. Korczak understood that a society that decides not to care for the child is in danger of flying apart, which is what happened when the Nazi Reich decided to murder 4,000 children in one day in the Warsaw ghetto where Korczak’s orphanage stood out as a beacon of love and respect. Korczak was offered his escape, but refused to leave his children and stayed with them when they were taken on the trains to comfort them, and died with them at Treblinka. He educational teachings are still followed across the world today. His story is also fictionalised Jim Shepard's The Book of Aron.

Elisabeth Gifford
has an MA in creative writing from RHUL. Her first historical novel Secrets of the Sea House was shortlisted for the Crown debut historical fiction award.

Duo Živorad (Žika) Nikolic (accordion) and Susi Evans (clarinet) are two members of She’Koyokh, – a Yiddish word meaning 'nice one!' – a London-based group who are 'amongst the finest klezmer ensembles on the planet' (The Australian). Žika and Susi are both graduates of the Royal Academy of Music. Žika is a classical accordionist, an ambassador for Serbian traditional music in the UK and a member of Balkan group Paprika. Susi is one of the UK’s top klezmer clarinetists and in demand as a teacher and band-leader. She is a founder member of the London Klezmer Quartet and is Assistant Head of Faculty at this year's Klezfest London.

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