I was in West London yesterday for the Forum of Kazakhstan Culture and Literature. As well as Ambassador Erlan Idrissov and head of the National Library Umitkhan Munalbaeva, the forum included contributions from a number of prominent Kazakh artists and writers. These included philosopher Dr Yesim Garifolla, film maker Rustem Abdrashev, poet and scientist Bakytzhyan Tobayakov, Professor Zhanat Aimuhambet and Professors Charles Melville and Firuza Melville. Gillian Brown, whose husband Steve Brown is a direct descendant of Thomas and Lucy Atkinson, also gave a speech.
I gave a paper on the literary connections between Britain and Kazakhstan, exploring the works of travellers and writers over the last 300 years who have visited the Kazakh homelands in Central Asia. These included such early figures as John Castle, the Atkinsons, William Bateson, Samuel Turner, John W Wardell and several others. In such a short presentation I could not go into great detail, but you can find an outline of my speech here: Kazconf speech