literature & poetry
spoken word & live literature

From The Tattooist of Auschwitz to Cilka's Journey

Part of London Literature Festival

Find out what happened to The Tattooist of Auschwitz’s Cilka Klein from author Heather Morris as she discusses her latest novel at a London-exclusive event.

One of the key characters from The Tattooist of Auschwitz, Cilka Klein is the teenage girl who saved Tattooist Lale Sokolov’s life. Sokolov told Heather that Cilka was ‘the bravest person’ he had ever met. ‘Not the bravest girl,’ he insisted, ‘the bravest person.’

According to Morris, whenever she talks about The Tattooist, and in the thousands of letters and emails she receives from readers, ‘people want to know what happened to Cilka’.

The answer, revealed in new novel Cilka’s Journey, is heartbreaking.

Selected on her arrival at Auschwitz by the Commandant of Birkenau because of her beautiful long hair, the sixteen-year-old was forced to become his sex slave.

On liberation, and still only nineteen, she was charged by the Russians as a collaborator. Once again, Cilka found herself on a prison train, this time destined for a Siberian gulag.

In reimagining Cilka’s journey to Siberia, her fierce determination to survive against all odds, and her eventual release and discovery of life and love with a fellow ex-prisoner, Morris has given us a powerful new story of hope, and the triumph of humanity over the most brutal of experiences.

Heather Morris is a native of New Zealand, now resident in Australia. For several years, while working in a large public hospital in Melbourne, she studied and wrote screenplays.

In 2003, Heather was introduced to an elderly gentleman who ‘might just have a story worth telling’. The day she met Lale Sokolov changed both their lives.

Their friendship grew and Lale embarked on a journey of self-scrutiny, entrusting the innermost details of his life during the Holocaust to her. Heather originally wrote Lale’s story as a screenplay – which ranked high in international competitions – before reshaping it into her debut novel, The Tattooist of Auschwitz.

The Tattooist of Auschwitz was a number one bestseller in the UK for much of 2018 and was at the top of the New York Times bestseller lists for three months.

Konnie Huq is one of the UK's best-loved presenters and writers. She is best known for being the longest serving member of the "Blue Peter" team as well as for presenting CBBC's UK Top 40 and Top of the Pops. Huq presented Zoo Days, The Red Bull Air Race and also appeared alongside Charlie Brooker in Screenwipe on BBC Four.

In December 2009 Huq won the Best Rising Star Screenplay Angel award at the Monaco International Film Festival for the short story, Ahmed and Mildred. Huq has co-written the second episode of the Channel 4 anthology series Black Mirror, which received positive critical reception.

Earlier this year Huq published her debut children’s book series Cookie, a laugh-out-loud middle-grade sitcom, combining Huq’s own comedic upbringing in a contemporary London Bangladeshi household.

Dates & times

22 Oct 2019
Approximate run time: 90 mins
Run times may vary, find out more
    • Tue 22 October 2019
      • 7:30 pm
        British Sign Language / Speech to Text


Royal Festival Hall


£15 - £35
Booking fee: £3.00 (Members £0.00)

Multi-buy discount

£15, £25, £35

Multi-buy discount
Book three or more literature and poetry events in the same transaction and receive a 25% discount. Selected events only.


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need to know

Age recommendation
For ages 16+

Discounted copies of Heather Morris’ new book, Cilka’s Journey, (RRP £14.99) are available for £9.99 when you buy a ticket to the event. These may be collected at the event.

Southbank Centre takes a strong view on secondary ticketing. We require the lead booker to attend (photo ID may be requested). Tickets can only be resold by Southbank Centre or one of its authorised agents.

Multi-buy discount
Book three or more literature and poetry events in the same transaction and receive a 25% discount. Selected events only.

Event information
Heather Morris is signing books for 90 minutes after her event.

Access information
This event is Speech-to-Text transcribed (STT) and British Sign Language interpreted (BSL).

To join our free Access Scheme and book tickets for these services, call our Ticket Office on 020 3879 9555 or email
Find out more about our Access Scheme