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Chiddingstone Castle Literary Festival Sunday 30 April-Tuesday 2 May

CLICK HERE to win tickets to see Alison Weir – Sunday 30 April 2017.


With 22 authors appearing over the three days of the literary festival, highlights include appearances from Terry Waite, Rev Richard Coles, Artemis Cooper, Nicholas Crane and prize-winning children’s authors Piers Torday, Lauren St John and A F Harrold.

There’s something for everyone in our impressive line-up this year. We have authors of biography, memoir and musings; writers of fiction, historical and heroic; stories for children of nature, family and friends; lively storytelling shows and a musical theatre performance for all the family. From the making of the British landscape, to the history of the Great War, from good mood food to coping with bereavement, from Brexit and Trump to great lives well lived – we’ve got a surplus of literary treats lined up, and a few surprises.

Adult events will take place on Sunday, whilst Bank Holiday Monday sees a range of author events for all the family along with storytelling shows for children, a Comic Art Masterclass, Sock Puppet Shakespeare, a tour of Chiddingstone with a local historian and much more. Tuesday’s Schools Day offers local pupils the chance to hear top children’s authors inspire and celebrate reading and imagination.

Come for one event or stay all day. Enjoy delicious food from our vintage vans, tea and cakes from our tea rooms, drinks from the bar and Larkins beer. All tickets to the festival include free entry to the castle and its collections.

Find out more and buy tickets at

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Stanfords Travel Writers Festival: Olympia 2 – 5 February 2017

Stanfords Travel Writers Festival Line-Up

From explorers, adventurers, TV presenters, journalists and politicians to food writers and poets, the Stanfords Travel Writers Festival will bring a brand new line-up of the very best travel authors to Destinations: The Holiday & Travel Show.

Authors will share accounts of their incredible adventures and expeditions, as well as offer expert tips for all those heading to these destinations. Beside the stage, you can browse through the Stanfords festival bookshop where you will be able to purchase copies of the authors’ books and have them personally signed and dedicated at the signings at Stanfords stand.

Find out more by clicking here.

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November Book Festival Update: Richmond upon Thames Literature Festival and Taunton Literary Festival

Richmond upon Thames Literature Festival 4-27 November 2016

Richmond upon Thames Literature Festival is celebrating its 25th birthday in style, hosting a stellar line up of some of today’s most thought-provoking novelists, including Sebastian Barry (in conversation with Erica Wagner), Margaret Drabble, Kate Summerscale and Sarah Moss.


Consider your November entertainment sorted with events embracing everything from vampires and gangsters, through to spies, royal princes and the Mitford sisters. Science journalist Jo Marchant will open our eyes to mind-body medicine, whilst best-selling biographer Anne Sebba will discuss the fascinating lives and loves of women in Paris in the 1940s. Weekend events for families include historian Lucy Worsley introducing her first children’s book, storytelling and drawing with Axel Scheffler, and a podcast workshop with spoken word artist Polarbear.


As well as this we have writing masterclasses, a poetry evening, film night and performances of Shakespeare’s A Merchant of Venice, all held in some of Richmond upon Thames’ most inspiring spaces.


For tickets and further information contact:



Taunton Literary Festival 5-26 November


The sixth Taunton Literary Festival includes an eclectic mix ranging from Lord Owen on the 1940’s British cabinet, Salley Vickers on her new book Cousins, renowned psychologist Raj Persaud on stalking, Keggie Carew on her unconventional father, Philip Eade on Evelyn Waugh interviewed by his grandson Alexander, Graham Fawcett on W H Auden, Prof. Michael Smith on Shackleton, Luke Dormehl on robots, Gary Cox on Jean Paul Sartre, a talk on the changing position of the church in society with Linda Woodhead and Andrew Brown, a moving account of a POW surviving the ‘Burma Railway put together from letters by his daughter, an account of theatres around the country by Mick Escott, a talk on Lady Jane Grey by Nicola Tallis, on the founder of the Royal Air Force by Russell Miller, cheats and deceits in the natural world with Martin Stevens, all things gothic with Nick Groom, consciousness with Susan Blackmore, agriculture with Richard Soffe and Wild Pony Whispering with Dawn Westcott. In addition, the Taunton Thespians will be performing key scenes from Shakespeare, there will be free children’s events, writing workshops and a bookbinding workshop. As usual there will also be some last minute additions so please look out for any updates to the programme.


The festival is organised and marketed by Brendon Books, Taunton’s independent bookseller, making it a unique event with an eye on overlooked corners of the publishing market, as well as the big names and bestsellers.

We believe that independent bookshops have an important role to play in the local community, which is why Taunton Literary Festival was born, in 2010. To fully support the festival’s place in the heart of Taunton’s community, Brendon Books has become a Community Interest Company. All profits from Brendon Books go towards projects, such as Taunton Literary Festival, which has grown to become a highlight on Somerset’s cultural calendar.

Taunton Literary Festival brings writers from around the world to Taunton to share stories and engage the community in the world of literature. Readers can meet their favourite authors or explore new subjects and ideas through workshops, readings and question and answer sessions at the end of each event.

Celebrating new and established writers, Taunton Literary Festival invites you into the worlds of history, poetry, science, nature, fiction and politics. Each year, the festival grows to include more exciting and inspiring events, attracting writers, comedians, politicians and artists, who want to meet you and share their passions.

For tickets visit, telephone: 01823 337742 or visit Brendon Books, Bath Place, Taunton TA1 4ER. Email@

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October and November Book Festival News. Harrogate History Festival, Bridport Literary Festival, Petworth Literary Weekend

Harrogate History Festival 20-23 October

history-logoNow in its fourth year, delivered by Harrogate International Festivals, giants of the history genre attending include Antony Beevor, Philippa Gregory, Tracy Chevalier, Joe Abercrombie, Nicholas Crane and Paddy Ashdown. The Harrogate History Festival cements Harrogate’s profile as a leading destination for book lovers. It takes place 20-23 October at the Old Swan Hotel.

Antony Beevor is a historian who has transformed the genre and inspired a generation. His history of the battle of Stalingrad catapulted him to international fame in 1998. His latest book Ardennes 1944 – Hitler’s Last Gamble went straight to No 1 on the Sunday Times Bestseller list.

Tracy Chevalier’s Girl with a Pearl Earring was snapped up by Hollywood, starring Colin Firth, catapulting Chevalier into the literary spotlight. Her latest novel, At the Edge of the Orchard, is a dark, evocative and sweeping story of a pioneer family in Ohio, 1838.

Another author who seduced the big screen with The Other Boleyn Girl – which starred Mark Rylance, Natalie Portman and Scarlett Johansson – is Philippa Gregory. She returns to the Tudors, with her latest novel Three Sisters, Three Queens.

Sticking with the Tudors, Tracy Borman’s The Private Lives of the Tudors, looks at their domestic secrets, including intimate body servants who accompanied the king to the privy.

Special Guest, Paddy Ashdown, is one of the most respected political figures, and a former Royal Marine. The statesman and life peer proves the pen is more powerful than the sword. Game of Spies, tells the story of a lethal spy triangle in Bordeaux between 1942 and 1944.

Co-presenter of BBC’s Coast, Nicholas Crane, uses his on-screen charisma to take us on a journey with his latest book, The Making of the British Landscape – part journey, part history – exploring how geology shapes our cities, industry, climate, economy and lives.

Harrogate is a beautiful location steeped in its own history, so we hope to attract tourists, as well as giving local audiences a fantastic opportunity to be enlightened, entertained and inspired by some of the country’s leading literary minds. As a genre, history is hot, increasingly dominating our bookshelves and screens.

The Festival also features fantasy writer, Joe Abercrombie, singled out by Game of Thrones author George R. R. Martin for his ‘terrific work’. Author and TV presenter Tom Holland discusses his latest book, Dynasty: The Rise and Fall of the House of Caesar, a formidable account of Rome’s terrifying first dynasty. The academic, cultural historian and TV presenter, Dr Janina Ramirez, shines a light on the Dark Ages with The Private Lives of the Saints: Power, Passion and Politics in Anglo-Saxon England. Janina has also fronted two rock bands.

Panel events will explore themes including Spies: Beyond Bond, Sex and Violence, and Game of Thrones, with a Writing History creative writing workshop for aspiring authors.

The Friday night features a presentation for the Outstanding Contribution to Historical Fiction Award, and the Historical Writers’ Association Goldsboro Debut Crown. This coveted award is presented to the book judged to be the best debut in historical fiction and comes with a £1,000 prize.

For individual tickets, Day Rovers or Weekend Rovers and accommodation packages, visit or call the Box Office on 01423 562303 


The Bridport Literary Festival 6-13 November

The festival is now in its 12th year and goes from strength to strength. This year’s eclectic mix of speakers promises to appeal again to all those who read books and love literature. The programme of events includes a stellar cast of writers both of fiction and non-fiction. ‘We always plan to invite authors who will intrigue, enlighten and entertain’ says festival director, Tanya Bruce-Lockhart and this year’s line up certainly promises to banish away the dark and gloomy days of winter.






As well as National Treasure Alan Titchmarsh and best selling novelists Margaret Drabble and Salley Vickers,

the year cannot pass without a tribute to William Shakespeare, and Edward Wilson-Lee’s Shakespeare in Swahililand is a celebration of the great Bard’s influence in East Africa – part history, part travelogue. The intrepid Ben Fogle is the ultimate Land Rover, travelling the world in search of adventure – usually with a trusty canine companion at his side.   Tristan Gooley unlocks the secrets of How To Read Water to help we islanders understand the relationship between water, land, sea and sky and shares his own adventures of wild swimming. Robert Twigger’s biography of the Himalayas – White Mountain – reveals the home of mythical kingdoms, wars and expeditions and Charles Foster tells what its like Being a Beast. The week of words includes Jeremy Paxman talking about A Life in Questions, Simon Sebag Montefiore telling the triumphant and tragic story of The Romanovs and Paddy Ashdown revealing his novel A Game of Spies.   A N Wilson’s powerful new novel Resolution is based on the adventures of Captain Cook and crime writers, Sophie Hannah and Janet Ellis will keep us all guessing!

Full programme information Tickets: Bridport Tourist Information Centre 01308 424901


Click here for a chance to win 2 tickets to hear Frank Gardner on Friday 4 November at Petworth Literary Weekend

Petworth Lit logoPetworth Festival is hosting its 6th annual Literary Weekend from 2 November until 6 November at various locations in and around the town including the Leconfield Hall and St Mary’s Church. With tickets starting from as little as £8 for adults and £4 for children, the Petworth Festival Literary Weekend is a unique opportunity to see and meet a wealth of literary greats, up and coming authors as well as high-profile luminaries with fascinating life stories to share. Some of this year’s highlights include:

  • Sarah Raven, English gardener, cook, writer and TV presenter;
  • Top novelist and journalist Victoria Hislop;
  • BBC security correspondent, journalist and author Frank Gardner;
  • Former army Chief of Staff, Lord Richard Dannatt

Artistic Director Stewart Collins commented, “The Literary Weekend has proved itself to be a high point in the life of Petworth – and of course further afield. Coming as it does when the winter is just setting in, the kind of events we have been staging have really lifted the atmosphere and given a very dedicated and engaged audience the chance to mix it with some seriously interesting and successful authors right across the subject range from cooking to history to politics and to fiction.”

The Literary Weekend has already established itself as a hotly anticipated event on the literary circuit, with a solid reputation for securing an impressive line-up of authors. Lovers of the written word can come along to see an eclectic range of writers deliver thought-provoking talks, engage in interviews and participate in revealing Q&A sessions. In addition, each performance includes a book signing, kindly organised and managed by Petworth Book Shop, giving ticket-holders the opportunity to purchase the latest published work, signed by the authors themselves, a brilliant souvenir to take home with them.

For more information call 01798 343055 or email Tickets are available by telephone 01798 344576 or on-line at

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September Book Festival Round-up.

Read on for News of Guildford Book Festival, Blenheim Palace Festival of Literature, Film and Music and Chester Literature Festival 2016.


GUILDFORD BOOK FESTIVAL 2016  Sunday 9 – Sunday 16 October



Heading the line-up of more than 50 events at Guildford this year are legendary broadcaster Jeremy Paxman sharing his long-awaited and candid memoir, brilliant presenter and comedian Graham Norton discussing his darkly funny debut novel, Holding; much-loved chef Rick Stein, popular cookery writer and food blogger, Ella Mills (née Woodward); and Formula 1 favourite Damon Hill, celebrating the 20th anniversary of winning the World Championship. Among the bestselling fiction writers at the Festival will be Robert Harris, Alison Weir, Anthony Horowitz, S J Parris, and Charles Cumming.


History is hugely popular at Guildford Book Festival and this year has more on offer than ever before.  Eminent historian John Julius Norwich, will discuss his new book, Four Princes, the colourful story of Henry VIII and his European counterparts, while former Liberal Democrat leader Paddy Ashdown, will reveal the story of a lethal spy triangle in Bordeaux between 1942 and 1944.


This year’s Literary Lunch brings together top biographer and writer, Anne Sebba, and prizewinning author Elizabeth Buchan, to talk about life-or-death decisions made by women in World War II, and its aftermath, while leading food writer William Sitwell reveals the remarkable story of Lord Woolton, Minister for Food, tasked with feeding the nation during the war. With ‘Tudormania’ taking the nation by storm, this year’s programme includes an opportunity to hear from experts Alison Weir and Elizabeth Norton on the lives of women in Tudor times.


In The Wicked Boy, Kate Summerscale uncovers a fascinating true story of murder and morality in Victorian Britain and social historian, Sian Evans reveals the story of six extraordinary hostesses who shaped British society in the inter-war years.Through personal letters and documents, local author Irene Black shares the moving story of her parents, refugees of the Nazi era who fled to Britain. 950 years after the Battle of Hastings, Marc Morris gives a fresh view on ‘the man who changed England more than any other’, William the Conqueror.



Nadine Dorries MP will host this year’s Afternoon Tea, and will talk about her latest book, The Angels of Lovely Lane, the first in a new series, while Hello! editor and author of The Stylist, Rosie Nixon, will join us for an evening of cocktails. Guardian games editor, Keith Stuart, will be in Guildford to tell us about his moving father-son novel, A Boy Made of Blocks, inspired by his own experience of playing Minecraft with his autistic son, and rock legend David Essex, will discuss the inspiration for his first novel, Faded Glory.


The popular Readers’ Day, a feature of the Festival for many years, will welcome number one bestselling author Amanda Prowse, former TV executive, Jane Lythell, crime writers William Shaw and James Henry, as well as debut novelists Joanna Cannon, Jess Kidd, and former Blue Peter presenter, Janet Ellis.


Former Hampshire cricket captain and broadcaster, and now author of A Beautiful Game, Mark Nicholas, will join Guardian writer, Jon Hotten, to talk about the future for English cricket with the Evening Standard’s Cricket Correspondent, Tom Collomosse. Sports psychologist Damian Hughes shares his thoughts on what sport can teach us about great leadership; while world economist, Dr Pippa Malmgren, who predicted Brexit, advises on How Everyday Signs Can Help Us Navigate the World’s Turbulent Economy. Natasha Courtenay-Smith provides top tips for creating The Million Dollar Blog.


Marking this year’s Shakespeare400 commemorations, Edward Wilson-Lee presents a breathtaking look at the Bard’s global legacy in Shakespeare in Swahililand.


Juliet Nicolson, granddaughter of Vita Sackville-West, discusses seven generations of exceptional women in her family, and Anna Pasternak, great niece of Nobel prize-winning novelist, Boris Pasternak, reveals the heartbreaking story of the passionate love affair between Boris and Olga Ivinskaya, the woman who inspired Lara in Doctor Zhivago.  Anna’s talk will be followed by a special screening of the Academy Award-winning 1965 film directed by David Lean.


In Rise: Surviving and Thriving after Trauma, broadcaster Sian Williams shares her own experience of a breast cancer diagnosis and explores resilience in the darkest of times. Renowned Scandinavian cook Signe Johansen demystifies ‘hygge’, the way of life that is said to make Nordic countries amongst the happiest in the world; and urban forager John Rensten will lead an ‘edible walk’ through the town. Popular interiors stylist Selina Lake takes a look at the current trend for ‘all things botanical’, and Jim Buttress from BBC Two’s Allotment Challenge discusses his life in gardening.“Horse obsessed” Susanna Forrest looks at the relationship between humans and horses through history, and for photographers there’s David Ellwand’s Retro Photography Workshop.


As the Spectator approaches its 200th birthday, long-time contributor Marcus Berkmann collects some of the magazine’s drollest contributions of the past twenty-five years to bring a sharp eye to bear on the strangeness of modern life.


The Festival is delighted to be offering a mini-creative writing course running over five days, hosted by Rachel Marsh of the University of Surrey, and featuring a different guest speaker each day, while the editor of the Writers & Artists Yearbook will lead a session called How to Get Published.


The Children’s programme is also bigger for 2016: Alastair Watson will host wonderfully entertaining shows inspired by the Dinosaur that Pooped a Show and the Wimpy Kid series; bestselling children’s author and illustrator Britta Teckentrup will introduce her latest character, Oskar and young ornithologists will enjoy Mike Langman’s guide to birdspotting.


Funds raised through ticket sales at Guildford Book Festival enable the Festival to deliver an exciting Schools’ Programme.  This year local schools will have the opportunity to hear from Rob Biddulph, Jonny Lambert, Susan Moore and Laurel Remington. And, for the first time, the Festival has arranged an event for the Borough’s Brownies and Guides, who will be entertained by Lauren Child talking about the latest adventures of Ruby Redfort.


Each year, Guildford Book Festival works in partnership with local community groups and other charities to bring unique and inspirational events to members and prospective members, and to raise awareness of these organisations within Guildford and the surrounding area.


The Amnesty International event will this year see the return of Ben Holden and Anthony Holden, this time to share Poems That Make Grown Women Cry; while Festival goers can enjoy an hour of reflection with readings from The Poet’s Quest for God, featuring contemporary poems by writers of all faiths, and none.


The Festival also looks forward to working once again with GEDFAS and West Surrey Area NADFAS.  Art historians Eric Shanes and Linda Collins will provide insight into Impressionist London at the turn of the 20th century and Art & Culture in Paris, 1850 – 1930.

For tickets and information visit:






Thursday 13 October – Sunday 16 October 2016

One of the highlights of the autumn literary season, the boutique Blenheim Palace Festival of Literature, Film and Music will return to the stunning grounds of Blenheim Palace from Thursday 13 October to Sunday 16 October 2016 with a fascinating programme of events, discussions and debates.



Revealing a star-studded line up for 2016, the festival will feature renowned speakers from the fields of music, food, fashion, literature and film during the four-day event in Oxfordshire. All tickets for the main festival events include entry to Blenheim Palace’s magnificent gardens and grounds on the day of the event.


Arguably the greatest English ballerina of all time Darcey Bussell will speak about her life and career onstage and life after retirement as a judge for BBC Strictly Come Dancing. Bussell performed in major classical ballet roles after becoming principal dancer of Sadler’s Wells Royal Ballet at the age of 20 and performed with the world’s leading ballet companies.


Renowned perfumer and businesswoman Jo Malone will speak with the internationally acclaimed Chinese chef, food writer and television presenter Ken Hom about the significance of smell, taste and food in their lives, and recount their stories of the rise from modest beginnings to international fame. Justine Picardie, editor of Harper’s Bazaar, novelist and biographer, will reflect on the 1950s when Christian Dior brought his glamorous fashion house to Blenheim Palace and its recent return to Blenheim Palace as the setting for the Spring/Summer 2017 cruise collection.


Geographer, explorer and presenter of BBC television series Coast Nicholas Crane will look at the evolution of the British landscape and its future whilst wildlife expert, photographer and presenter of BBC Springwatch and Autumnwatch Simon King will explain what to look out for when trying spot wildlife in the British countryside. Other names already confirmed for this year’s line-up include Richard E Grant, Nicholas Parsons, Simon Callow, Maureen Lipman and Jacqui Dankworth.


Festival director Sally Dunsmore said, “We are delighted to announce the high-quality speakers that promise some fantastic discussion and great entertainment at this year’s Blenheim Palace Festival of Literature, Film and Music.


“We have 40 events over 4 days, and we’ve packed in something for everyone, whether you are interested in literature, history, religion, politics, the stage, film, television, music, the natural world, your kitchen or your garden.”

Tickets are currently on sale for these events and booking is now open at or call 0333 666 3366, or in person at Oxford Visitor Information Centre, Broad Street, Oxford. Book using the discount code LOVEREADING for a 10% discount online or at the box office.

To keep up to date with all speaker announcements and to book tickets, please visit


Chester Literature Festival 2016 8 – 23 October


Chester Literature Festival, produced by Storyhouse, returns this autumn with over 60 events with many taking place at its hub in Chester Town Hall. This year features appearances from best-selling authors, adventurers, comedians and poets as well as strong strands of film, politics and performance. The festival programme reflects the ethos of the new Storyhouse building when it opens in spring 2017, with a new city library, boutique cinema and theatre, providing a place in the city to think, share ideas and be inspired.


victoria_hislop_whiteHighlights include leading names and rising stars including Sir Ranulph Fiennes, Victoria Hislop, James Kelman, John Osborne, Sarah Pascoe, Matthew Parris, Ian McMillan, Laura Barnett, Ann Cleeves, Lemn Sissay and Margaret Drabble.


The Festival’s reputation for being a test-bed of new ideas continues with radio playwright and Edinburgh Fringe veteran John Osborne as he develops new material as well as retelling stories from his previous Radio 4 plays.


History and politics feature strongly in the festival this year, with Westminster diarist Chris Mullin talking about life outside Parliament and journalist Martin Williams unearthing the shadier side of our representatives as he discusses his book Parliament Ltd. Ex MP Matthew Parris looks at the history of insults in his book Scorn.


Edward Ross presents a history of cult cinema, using his latest graphic book Filmish and supplemented by film excerpts. Booker prize winner James Kelman simultaneously wrote a screenplay of his latest novel – Dirt Road – and he will talk about storytelling via the page and the screen with clips from the yet to be released film. Cheshire writer and director Helen Walsh will also present a screening of her 2016 film The Violators, which takes a sensitive look at the difficult area of abuse.


Austentatious, back by popular demand, will improvise a Jane Austen story suggested on the night by the audience. The Bookshop Band are a duo who write songs about books and perform them and there will also be a stunning evening of Finnish myths and music called Fire In The North Sky. Tying in with the festival’s politics and history strands is War Girls, Ruth Sillers’ one-woman show about the First World War.


Music will take centre stage on 10 October with the day dedicated to the late David Bowie. His friend Lesley-Ann Jones will tell the personal story of her time living with him and commentator and journalist Paul Morley will talk about the impact of Bowie’s art in The Age of Bowie. Comedian Sara Pascoe has appeared at countless comedy venues and panel shows, and here she casts her forensic eye on herself with Animal an ‘autobiography of a female body’.


Sir Ranulph Fiennes has endured the very extremes of the planet, through his new book Fear, he will share his many experiences in deserts and the tropics. In his debut Icefall, 21-year old Cheshire born adventurer Alex Staniforth tells the story of his relentless journey overcoming adversity to climb Everest where he was twice thwarted by major avalanches.


Novel-writing is at the core of the festival experience with a raft of bestselling authors. Victoria Hislop, author of The Island warms up the autumn with her latest book Cartes Postales From Greece. Ann Cleeves, author of the Shetland series and Vera Stanhope novels reveals her brand new Shetland book – Cold Earth. Best-seller Jessie Burton will talk about The Muse, her follow-up to the best-selling The Miniaturist. Laura Barnett’s The Versions of Us was also a best seller and she will be in Chester to discuss the novel and to lead a writing workshop. Margaret Drabble discusses her latest book The Dark Flood Rises over afternoon tea at Chester Town Hall.


Larger than life poet Ian McMillan will perform his clever and funny poetry as well as hosting a creative writing workshop. Stand-up poet Henry Normal (who produced TV hits The Royle Family, Gavin and Stacey and Alan Partridge) will be at the festival, as will Hollie McNish, whose poem about breast-feeding has been seen 1.4 million times online. Poet Lemn Sissay will be a highlight, reading from his new collection Gold From The Stone.

Workshops on paper-making, writing dystopian fiction, completing your novel and non-fiction writing will be on offer alongside experiments, games and demonstrations exploring the personalities of fonts which will be delivered by Sarah Hyndman, author of Why Fonts Matter.

With a literary lunch organised by The Oldie magazine and perennial festival favourite The Poetry Pub Crawl, this year with Molly Naylor and songster Gavin Osborn, there is no shortage of out of the ordinary events. Clare Dudman, author of the upcoming book Real Chester will share her thoughts on the city during a walking tour and Emma Wells will run a workshop on how to uncover the history of your house.


The popular and free University at the Festival strand also returns, with a series of lectures from the staff of the University of Chester on subjects ranging from contemporary French novelists to Shakespeare.


To book tickets and for further information visit

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Autumn Book Festival News

Ever fancied a literary tour of Great Britain? Visit these autumn festivals and soak up the treats on offer at Budleigh Salterton (15-18 Sept), win tickets to Victoria Hislop at Henley Literary Festival (26 Sept-2 Oct), Jersey Festival of Words (28 Sept-2 Oct), Chiswick Book Festival (15-19 Sept) and Wigtown Book Festival (23 Sept-2 Oct).


Budleigh Salterton – 15-18 Sept

The line-up for this year’s Budleigh Salterton Literary Festival, taking place from 15 – 18 September, has been revealed. The announcement unveils an impressive selection of well-known names from the worlds of literature, philosophy, politics, science, maths and history.


Returning to Budleigh will be much loved poet Jackie Kay MBE and Honorary President Dame Hilary Mantel DBE. They will be joined by new faces including historian Helen Rappaport, biographers Alexandra Harris and Juliet Nicolson, political journalists Peter Snowdon and Tom Bower and best-selling authors Mark Haddon and Deborah Moggach and Helen Dunmore.

Following David “Bumble” Lloyd’s popular event at last year’s festival, first-class retired cricketer Mike Brearley OBE will make an appearance, as will award-winning foreign correspondent Luke Harding and barrister and former Liberty director, Shami Chakrabati.

As well as the critically acclaimed authors’ events, this year’s festival will include all the usual activities, such as the marquee on the green, where attendees get a rare chance to have their books signed by the authors after their events. There will also be a wide selection of refreshments and live music throughout the four-day festival and a special Roald Dahl tent filled with fun activities to keep children entertained.

The opening event for the 8th annual festival will welcome historian Helen Rappaport in discussion about Caught in the Revolution: Petrograd 1917 which tells the story of the first year of the Russian Revolution through eye-witness accounts.

Britain’s most famous Mathematician Marcus Du Sautoy OBE will discuss his most recent release What We Cannot Know: Explorations at the Edge of Knowledge which takes readers on a thought-provoking expedition to the furthest boundaries of modern science.

Returning to the festival for another year, will be double Man Booker Prize winner, author of Wolf Hall and the festival’s long-standing Honorary President, Dame Hilary Mantel DBE. Hilary will be performing a reading of her short story In a Right State, followed by a conversation about writing short stories.

Investigative journalist Tom Bower will dissect one of the 21st century’s most divisive politicians, Tony Blair. Whilst in discussion with the Observer’s Rachel Cooke, Bower will discuss his biography of Blair Broken Vows: Tony Blair: The Tragedy of Power, tracing Blair’s career to date from an historic election to post Iraq-war demise.

Bestselling author of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Deborah Moggach, will talk about Something to Hide, a witty and wise novel about the unexpected twists that later life can bring. Jenny Balfour-Paul will deliver a visually rich and inspiring talk around her book Deeper than Indigo which traces the journey of forgotten Victorian explorer, Thomas Machell from his ancestral home in England to the Middle East and Asia.

Cultural historian and writer Alexandra Harris will discuss her latest book Weatherland: Writers & Artists Under English Skies on the inspiring role weather has played in our art and literature. Juliet Nicolson, granddaughter of the infamous diplomat Harold Nicolson and poet Vita Sackville-West, will be in conversation with Rachel Cooke about her family memoir A House Full of Daughters which traces 200 years and seven intriguing generations of her family tree.

First-class retired cricketer Mike Brearley OBE, will be in conversation about the 30th anniversary re-release of his seminal treatise on leadership and motivation, The Art of Captaincy: What Sport Teaches Us About Leadership.

An analysis of another well-known British politician will take place with historian and BBC journalist Peter Snowdon. Snowdon will be offering his critique of the first five years of Cameron’s premiership, Cameron at 10: The Inside Story 2010-2015 and his thoughts on the EU referendum.

Returning to the festival for her second visit is Scotland’s poet laureate and author of Red Dust Road, Trumpet, Fiere and The Adoption Papers, the multi-award winning Jackie Kay MBE who will discuss and read her work with Observer writer Rachel Cooke.

Bestselling social historian and author of Just my Type, To the Letter and On the Map, Simon Garfield will be in discussion about A Notable Woman: The Romantic Journals of Jean Lucey Pratt, a collection of brilliant and incredible funny diaries kept by a kept by a Buckinghamshire bookseller between 1910 and 1986. Harry Parker & Peter Hanington appear in the festival’s ‘New Voices’ event, where they will discuss their experiences of combat, conflict and the aftermath of war in their acclaimed debut novels; Anatomy of a Solider and A Dying Breed.

Tahmima Anam, award-winning author of A Golden Age and The Good Muslim will appear at midday on the Saturday to discuss her newest release Bones of Grace. This book is the final in her Bengal trilogy, a sweeping love story set in the present day which explores migration, belonging, identity and climate change as her character’s traverse countries, continents and communities.

Award-winning foreign affairs correspondent Luke Harding and barrister and former director of Liberty, Shami Chakrabati. Chakrabati will discuss her book On Liberty and his excellent and timely new book, A Very Expensive Poison: The Definitive Story of the Murder of Litivenko and Russia’s War with the West.

Former journalist and editor Kate Summerscale will be in conversation with Erica Wagner about her latest book The Wicked Boy: The Mystery of a Victorian Child Murderer which traces the shocking story of two young brothers who became an overnight sensation when they were found to have murdered their mother.

Multi award winning novelist and author of the Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time Mark Haddon will talk about The Pier Falls, a collection of short stories demonstrating Haddon’s sinister imagination.

Helen Pearson will introduce her book, The Life Project, which documents the world’s longest-running study of human development, running from 1946 and encompassing five generations of children. Respected British Philosopher A.C. Grayling will discuss his latest release, The Age of Genius, which examines scientific developments throughout the 17th Century where intellectual thought moved from observation to evidence-based investigation.

Critically acclaimed author Artemis Cooper will present her biography of novelist, actress and model, the late Elizabeth Jane Howard. Cooper will discuss Howard’s colourful life on and off the page with Honorary Festival President Hilary Mantel, a good friend and admirer of Howard’s work.

Closing the festival will be award-winning author Helen Dunmore talking about her exceptional new novel Exposure. She will be in conversation with Erica Wagner about this masterful thriller which captures the mood, tension and the paranoia of the Cold War.

There will also be also be two workshops including Prose Fiction: Keeping it Real with Devon-based award winning author Virginia Baily and Poetry Workshop: Let your imagination flow with Professor Andy Brown, lecturer in English and Creative Writing at the University of Exeter.

Tickets for Budleigh Salterton Literary Festival are available from 22nd July. For more information and to purchase tickets visit . Tickets can be booked in person or by phone from The Tourist Information Centre: 01395 445 275.

Follow the festival on Twitter @BudleighLitFest.



Cartes Postales from Greece at 6.30pm on 28 September



Michael Hesltine, Julian Clary, Alan Johnson, Carol Decker, Victoria Hislop and Susan Calman announced for the 10th Henley Literary Festival, in association with Baillie Gifford


Some of the UK’s most respected writers will be joined by top speakers from comedy, cookery, politics, music and more with over 150 events for adults and children at the 10th annual Henley Literary Festival this autumn.


Michael Heseltine, Nadiya Hussain, David Essex, Sara Pascoe and Jeremy Paxman are among the names joining bestselling novelists Robert Harris, Val McDermid, Sebastian Faulks, Fay Weldon and Victoria Hislop at the Henley Literary Festival in association with Baillie Gifford, which takes place at venues across Henley on Thames from September 26 to October 2.

Over 50 events for children and families include Lucy Worsley, Julian Clary, One Show reporter Mike Dilger and Tiger Who Came To Tea creator Judith Kerr, as well as special Harry Potter and Roald Dahl events.

In addition to Lord Heseltine, who served as Henley’s MP for almost three decades, political speakers include Alan Johnson, David Laws, Anne Widdecombe, Ken Livingstone and Margaret Hodge. From the world of entertainment, comedians Sara Pascoe, Ben Miller, Gyles Brandreth and Susan Calman are joined by David Essex, guitarist Wilko Johnson, T’Pau star Carol Decker and actress Eleanor Bron. Debut novelists include Kit de Waal, Harry Parker, Fiona Barton and Abir Mukherjee, while Miniaturist author Jessie Burton discusses her second book.

Guardian editor-at-large Gary Younge, Everyday Sexism founder Laura Bates, Daily Mail columnist Bel Mooney and Terry Waite will be taking a look at current events, while Tracy Borman, Ben Macintyre, Liam Byrne and David Owen will cover history. On the food front Great British Bake Off winner Nadiya is on the line-up alongside Tom Parker-Bowles and Prue Leith, while broadcasters Alan Titchmarsh, Woman’s Hour host Jenni Murray, Ben Fogle and the Reverend Richard Coles will all discuss their latest books.

A nationwide short story competition, with adult and child categories, is being held in partnership with Dragonfly Tea, with judges including Floella Benjamin, Helen Lederer, Hugless Douglas creator David Melling, Irenosen Okojie and Daily Mail literary editor Sandra Parsons. The winners will be revealed at a special ceremony on the final day of the Festival, which will also see a series of creative writing workshops held at Henley’s Hotel du Vin.

9781472223203Venues for the tenth festival include the historic Kenton Theatre, Fawley Court, Henley Town Hall and a boat on the Thames. Tickets go on general sale from July 18 at

Click here to enter our free prize draw: we have a pair of tickets to give away to hear Victoria Hislop on Wednesday 28 September at 6.30pm. Please note that this draw is open only for UK residents and is free to enter. Multiple entries from the same email address will only be counted once and the prize cannot be exchanged for cash and does not include transport or accommodation.

Draw closes on 29 August 2016. The winners will be chosen randomly from all entrants and will be notified by 2 September 2016.


JERSEY FESTIVAL OF WORDS – 28 September-2 October


INTERNATIONAL best-selling authors Victoria Hislop and Louis de Bernières have been added to the line-up for the second Jersey Festival of Words.

The full programme will also feature leading writers from a range of genres, including former Children’s Laureate Michael Morpurgo, historian Alison Weir, novelists Louise Doughty and Simon Scarrow and journalist Cathy Rentzenbrink, whose memoir The Last Act of Love recently topped national sales lists.


Victoria Hislop’s first novel The Island, held the number one slot in the Sunday Times paperback charts for eight weeks and has sold more than two million copies worldwide. Since then she has written numerous bestsellers and her books have been translated into more than 20 languages. She will appear at the festival to discuss her new novel Cartes Postales from Greece, a compelling family saga due for publication this September.

Louis de Bernières, best known as the author of Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, which won the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize, Best Book in 1995 and was adapted into a popular film starring Nicholas Cage, will be joined on stage by Jersey’s culture minister Murray Norton for a discussion of his numerous books, life and writing.

Sponsored by Le Gallais, popular blogger Sarah Turner, better known as The Unmumsy Mum, will also be at the festival, which runs from Wednesday 28 September to Sunday 2 October at venues including Jersey Opera House and Jersey Arts Centre.

So too will acclaimed performance poet Jo Bell, the former Canals Laureate, and science fiction and fantasy legend Michael Moorcock, in Skype conversation at Jersey Library with his biographer, Jeff Gardiner.

Building on the success of last year’s inaugural Jersey Festival of Words, when thousands of Island children and young adults had the chance to experience top authors at close quarters, there will once again be an extensive schools programme offering free tickets to all schools across Jersey.

Sponsored by the One Foundation, it will feature the entertaining performance poet and writer A.F.Harrold, Jim Smith, author of the Barry Loser series, Chris Bradford’s spectacular Young Samurai and Young Bodyguard shows and, for young adults, William Sutcliffe and Eugene Lambert.

Social issues under the spotlight will include prostitution, with a presentation by Kay Banyard, author of The Pimp State; and freedom of speech, in a collaboration with the Jersey Evening Post which will feature a talk by Mick Hume, author of Trigger Warning, and a lively panel discussion.

Historian Andrew Lownie will discuss his new biography of Soviet spy Guy Burgess while contemporary Russia will be explored by Oliver Bullough, author of The Last Man in Russia.

As well as bringing literary celebrities to the Island and contributing to the development of event-led tourism, Jersey Festival of Words aims to celebrate and encourage home-grown creative writing, some by Islanders already making their mark nationally such as performance poet Christian Foley, novelist John Samuel and the irrepressible Story Beast, John Henry Falle.

Jenny Lecoat will talk about scripting Another Mother’s Son, the forthcoming cinema release about the Jersey Occupation heroism of her great-aunt, Louisa Gould.

Great war historian Ian Ronayne will explore the part played by Jersey soldiers in the Battle of Guillemont, 100 years ago, and journalist Chris Stone will discuss his book, Dangerous Driving, written with one of the Island’s last Normandy veterans, Bill Reynolds.

Elsewhere, Jersey Heritage will feature in presentations on Lillie Langtry by writer and director Tessa Coleman, and Elinor Glyn, the scandalous Jersey-born literary superstar of the early century, whose life has been fictionalised by Paul Darroch. The best-selling Jersey Legends by Erren Michaels will also feature, as will Jersey poet Nicky Mesch’s new collection, Ice Bound.

Jersey Festival of Words will once again include support for the Island’s own language, Jèrriais, including a performance by Badlabecques at a unique literary cabaret night featuring both local and visiting writers and musicians, to be directed by the Jersey Arts Centre’s Daniel Austin.

And aspiring authors have a chance to display and develop their skills through the Jersey Evening Post Writing Competition, run in association with the festival.

As this year marks the 400th anniversary since the death of England’s greatest writer, Jersey’s own team of talented playwrights – Plays Rough, will be presenting an exciting and varied set of short plays based on their unique interpretation of Shakespeare. ‘Plays Ruff at the Castle: Inglorious Bardsters’ will open the 2016 literary festival on the evening of Wednesday, 28th September, at Mont Orgueil.


Jersey Festival of Words chairman Jennifer Bridge said: ‘In our second festival, we continue to celebrate the joy and importance of reading in all its forms in the setting of our beautiful island with its distinctive and inspiring heritage.’

To book an Early Bird Festival Pass (available till end July) please visit For further information and the full line up visit:


Chiswick Book Festival 15-19 September


Top comedy writers and performers will bring a fresh look to the 8th Chiswick Book Festival, alongside many of Britain’s best-loved novelists, non-fiction writers and children’s authors. Andy Hamilton, Shappi Khorsandi and Mark Watson will talk about their new novels, while the creators of the best-selling ‘Ladybirds for Grown-Ups‘ series, Joel Morris and Jason Hazely, will preview their latest ‘How To…’ books due out this autumn.


Dame Jacqueline Wilson and Cressida Cowell head the Children’s Book Festival line-up, talking about their bestsellers and introducing their latest books. Children will also be entertained by Jonathan Meres (World of Norm), Rob Biddulph (Odd Dog Out) and the Really Big Pants Theatre Company.

In a feast of crime writing, Paula Hawkins and SJ Watson will describe the process of turning their best-selling novels The Girl On The Train and Before I Go To Sleep into blockbuster films. And Jill Dawson and Sophie Hannah will debate who deserves the title the Queen of Crime: Agatha Christie or Patricia Highsmith?

Spy writer Charles Cumming will analyse what makes a great thriller with former Radio 4 Today producer Peter Hanington, whose first novel has received rave reviews. Nina Stibbe and Cathy Rentzenbrink will discuss what makes a great memoir with Sali Hughes.

Queen Victoria’s biographer AN Wilson will talk about ‘Victoria in Fact & Fiction’ with Daisy Goodwin, who has written ITV’s major new drama series about the young Queen. The centenary of the Battle of the Somme will be marked by Hugh Sebag-Montefiore, author of Somme: Into The Breach. Historian Rebecca Rideal will remember 1666, a watershed year for England, 350 years after the Great Plague and the Great Fire of London. And novelists Jane Thynne and James MacManus will talk about Berlin in the fateful year 1939, on the eve of World War II.

Other non-fiction highlights include Hugh Johnson and Jancis Robinson marking 40 years of the Pocket Book of WineFlags, Tim Marshall’s follow-up to his bestseller Prisoners of Geography; a Foodies Question Time; and a panel on Britain, Brexit and Beyond, with Hilary Benn MP, former shadow foreign secretary, Sonia Purnell (Boris) and parliamentary sketch writer John Crace.

Among the novelists, Victoria Hislop will talk to Jane Garvey of Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour about her new book; Janet Ellis will discuss her debut novel with Joanna Cannon and Barney Norris, whose first works have also been acclaimed by critics; Mark Lawson will talk to Andy Hamilton about their new novels; and Santa Montefiore and four other bestselling authors will take part in Books In The City: Girls on Tour, a relaxed event with a glass of bubbles for Saturday evening!

All this and much more will take place at the 8th Chiswick Book Festival from September 15 to 19, 2016, in a variety of venues close to Turnham Green tube station on the District Line. The Festival is a non-profit-making community event, raising money for reading-related charities and St Michael & All Angels Church, which organises the Festival.

The full programme is published at the end of July, when tickets go on sale at You can follow updates and join in the conversation on Twitter @W4BookFest #ChiswickBookFest.


WIGTOWN BOOK FESTIVAL 23 September-2 October

Every autumn thousands of people descend on a small town in Dumfries and Galloway to experience Scotland’s greatest literary party.


Now in its 18th year, the award-winning festival has more than 240 events and activities for all ages across its 10 days, including 35 especially for the 0-12 age group and a dedicated young people’s festival for 13-25s. It has featured many of our most loved children’s authors from Scotland and beyond and this year includes Vivian French, Chae Strathie, Theresa Breslin, Debi Gliori, Philip Ardagh and many more. There are storytelling sessions, workshops and play activities for children, as well as panel debates, dinners and arts events to entertain and inspire the adults.

A host of leading authors (still to be announced) are attending this year’s festival, but here are a few highlights:

Lisa Owens: Not Working

Claire Flannery has quit her job in order to discover her true vocation – only to realise she has no idea how to go about finding it, while all around her seem to have their lives entirely under control. Moving and hilarious, Lisa Owens’ debut novel is a Bridget Jones’s Diary for the 21st century.


Chitra Ramaswamy: Expecting

When Chitra Ramaswamy discovered she was having a baby, she longed for a book that did more than describe what was happening in her growing body. In Expecting, she has written it, a brilliant portrait of a pregnancy that sets her own experience beside that of writers and artists, from Mary Shelley to Sylvia Plath.


Anne Strathie: From Ice Floes to Battlefields: Scott’s “Antarctics” in the First World War

What happened to the surviving members of Captain Scott’s mission to the South Pole? Anne Strathie talks about her fascinating group biography, which follows them through the first world war, from the trenches of the Western Front and Gallipoli to Jutland and Arctic Russia. As in Antarctica, life is challenging and dangerous. As on the ice, not all survive.


Anna Pasternak: Lara

Despite the huge popularity of Dr Zhivago, the real-life love affair that inspired the novel has not been fully explored until now. Pasternak’s muse and the model for his heroine Lara, Olga Ivinskaya was twice sent to Siberia labour camps because she refused to betray her lover. Anna Pasternak – Boris’s great-niece – reveals a tale of almost unimaginable courage, suffering and loss.


Anne Barclay, Operational Director of Wigtown Festival Company, organises the children’s festival with input from parents, teachers and children. She says, “We’re really excited about all of the fantastic events we have planned for this year. We have a dedicated venue in Wigtown Primary School which will be decorated beyond recognition and has great facilities all in one place. We’re especially looking forward to our James and the Giant Peach reading den which has been made by local artist Julie Houston.”

As Scotland’s National Book Town, Wigtown offers the perfect space to explore fresh ideas for the whole family – just one reason why it has grown to become the biggest Scottish book festival outside the central belt. Come and join in and inspire our next generation of readers and writers.

Full programme launches in August, for information and tickets visit

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July Festival Update. Niddfest and Edinburgh Book Festival

NIDDFEST 5-7 August


Following a successful inaugural year in 2015, NiddFest is returning to the picturesque landscape of Nidderdale, Yorkshire, from 5th-7th August, to present a weekend programme of literary greats. Focusing on celebrating nature in writing, the 2016 programme includes an intimate opening night with festival patron and poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy and ‘world laureate’ Imtiaz Dharker, a lively children’s programme, a talk from legendary peace activist Satish Kumar, wild swimming and music from Mercury Prize-nominated Kathryn Williams. Taking place over three days, in venues such as the Grade 2 listed church St Chad’s and Fish Pond

Wood in Bewerley, NiddFest captures the unique spirit of the Yorkshire Dales, whilst providing a platform to world-class authors, poets and experts.


Outdoor events

In a true celebration of nature, a number of the events will take place outside. The first day of the programme includes a wood walk and wild swim, followed by a picnic. This will be led by a local woodsman, who will speak about managing ancient woodland. Other highlights are a spot of stargazing with members of the Yorkshire Astrological society, a Dawn Chorus bird walk with author Nick Davies, and a walking tour of Nidderdale’s meadows with leading advocate of the new naturalistic style of planting, Dr Noel Kingsbury, who will be exploring plant communities in the wild.



Literary Programme

Championing the best in nature writing, NiddFest is joined by poets Carol Ann Duffy and Imtiaz Dharker, and authors Adam Feinstein, Nick Davies, Ali Shaw and John Lewis-Stempel. These authors will be discussing their books, covering a range of topics from ecology in a post-apocalyptic world (Ali Shaw’s novel The Trees) to the trickery of cuckoos (Nick Davies’ new work Cuckoo-Cheating by Nature). Other special events include a talk with Indian activist, editor and writer Satish Kumar who became internationally famous with his peace walk in the 1960s, and who will be speaking on the opening night of the festival about his new book Soil, Soul and Society. Former Head of Friends of the Earth, Tony Juniper, will also be speaking about what is really happening to our planet.


Some of the UK’s foremost garden writers are also joining the programme, with British presenter and gardener Christine Walkden, well known for her appearances on the One Show and The Great British Garden Revival, talking about her new book, The Life of a Gardener.


Childrens Programme

The children’s programme has been extended this year, including everything from den building to a big draw with children’s author and illustrator Helen Stephens and a recreation of the Brambly Hedge ‘Wilfred’s Birthday Party’. There will also be nature games with the director of the Save Childhood Movement Hattie Garlick. Indoor events will take place in the designated 120-seat children’s tent on the banks of the river Nidd, whilst den building and other activities will allow children to explore nature in a safe and fun environment.


Ticket information: Tickets are per event and range from £3 to £24. They will be available from



Carol Ann Duffy, John Lewis-Stempel, Christine Walkden, Tony Juniper

Imtiaz Dharker, Satish Kumar, Nick Davies, Ali Shaw, Noel Kingsbury, Adam Feinstein


Brambly Hedge, Helen Stephens, Hattie Garlick


Kathryn Williams and The Barrowband


NiddFest Comes South

NiddFest will be popping up at the Curious Arts Festival (22-24 July 2016). Friends of the festival will be appearing throughout this three day music and arts event at Pylewell Park in Hampshire. NiddFest speakers include Jackie Bennett, Stephen Moss and Carol Ann Duffy. Kit Peel, NiddFest Festival Director, will lead an event on the lost language of the countryside, reading extracts from his new book Snow Summer.

Other highlights are a spot of stargazing with members of the Yorkshire Astrological society, a Dawn Chorus bird walk with author Nick Davies, and a walking tour of Nidderdale’s meadows with leading advocate of the new naturalistic style of planting, Dr Noel Kingsbury, who will be exploring plant communities in the wild.





edinburg-book-festIn a world of global uncertainty and shifting influence, this year’s Edinburgh International Book Festival explores the power of the human mind to imagine a better world. Events address interlinking questions on the impact of conflict; Europe’s place in the world and our place in Europe; the implications of the current refugee crisis; the effect of migration on Scots both here at home and around the globe and the role of society in our wellbeing. Over 800 writers, poets, illustrators, politicians, journalists, historians, scientists, philosophers and playwrights from 55 countries come together to energise, inspire and stimulate debate in Charlotte Square Gardens in August.

Nick Barley, Director of the Edinburgh International Book Festival, said “You could say that the theme of this year’s Festival is ‘Project No Fear’. It’s about encouraging and celebrating the sort of courageous, positive, creative thinking that we desperately need in order to make the world a better place for everyone, rather than just for a privileged few. Novelists, journalists, scientists and poets – writers are the people we always turn to at a time when we need to imagine better. We welcome legendary novelists, prize-winning journalists and life-changing poets, as well as emerging talents whose unforgettable stories will revolutionise our future thinking. All in all, it’s a Festival bursting at the seams with big ideas.”

Bestselling American author, Jonathan Safran Foer travels to Edinburgh to launch his new book, Here I Am, his first novel in over a decade. Han Kang, author of The Vegetarian and winner of the 2016 Man Booker International Prize, is joined by her translator, Deborah Smith, to discuss the key role of translation in bringing international fiction to an English-speaking audience.  Doyenne of historical fiction Philippa Gregory introduces her new Tudor novel; Eimear McBride launches the follow-up to her award-winning A Girl is a Half Formed Thing and Prue Leith gives a glimpse into the second in her Food of Love series.  Scottish actor Alan Cumming, comedian Stewart Lee and survival expert Ray Mears also offer sneak previews of their brand new books.  Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown addresses globalisation and the new populism; Mark Thompson, formerly the Director General of the BBC, launches his argument on why the internet and 24 hour news has failed to lead to better democracy; leading German historian Jürgen Osterhammel brings his panoramic history of the 19th century and young Edinburgh entrepreneur Fraser Doherty introduces his guide to setting up a successful business in 48 hours.

Other world renowned authors making their first appearance in Edinburgh include Thomas Keneally from Australia, one of China’s leading novelists Can Xue, Mexican writer Álvaro Enrigue and Jean-Christophe Rufin, co-founder of Médecins sans Frontières.  From the world of sport, David Millar, Chris Boardman and Mark Beaumont will talk about their lives in cycling and former goalkeeper Packie Bonner recalls his 30 year career with Celtic and Ireland.

Three Guest Selectors have created a series of events: author and journalist Bidisha discusses the refugee crisis, its human realities and its deep political and economic roots with Wolfgang Bauer, one of the first undercover reporters to document the journey of Syrian refugees from Egypt to Europe, and Gulwali Passarlay who at the age of 12 was smuggled away from Afghanistan and endured a 12 month journey before arriving in the UK. She is joined by journalists Patrick Kingsley and Charlotte McDonald-Gibson who examine the economic and political causes behind the current crisis in the Mediterranean and Sudan-born writer Ahmed al-Malik, who fled to the Netherlands in 1989, and writes of modern day Khartoum. Graphic novelists Bessora and Karrie Fransman have created visual tales of migrant journeys, Ben Rawlence offers an insight into the world’s largest refugee camp and Lucy Popescu discusses her human rights work.  Elsewhere in the programme Leila Al-Shami and Robin Yassin-Kassab look at the situation in Syria; Mostafa Salameh, the son of Palestinian refugees, talks of his life in the UK; respected Lebanese novelist Nada Awar Jarrar and Palestinian poet Ghassan Zaqtan discuss their fictional accounts of encounters with refugees while Margaret Malloch and Paul Rigby explore all sides of human trafficking.

The newly appointed Scottish Makar, Jackie Kay, is interviewed by Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland. In her Guest Selector series Kay examines the importance of poetry in everyday life.  She talks to Zaffar Kunial about being a British writer of mixed heritage in the 21st century; with her son, Matthew about the impact of war and anti-war poetry on her grandfather and with the Poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy.  Poetry touches every strand in the programme – Hollie McNish reads from her poetic memoir of pregnancy; Billy Bragg presents some of his best-loved songs; Luke Wright introduces some of the original protest poets including Attila the Stockbroker and Tim Wells and also performs his poetic and political play What I Learned from Johnny Bevan.   William Letford and Lemn Sissay launch their new collections and Chimwemwe Undi, who was born in South Africa, of Xhosa heritage, and is now a spoken word poet living in Winnipeg, speaks powerfully of the immigrant experience and what it means to call a place home.

The third Guest Selector, GP and author Gavin Francis, examines the intersections between medicine and literature through poetry, memoir, journalism, essay and fiction. He discusses Tools of the Trade, a pocket-sized poetry anthology which is given to all new doctors in Scotland and brings together neurosurgeon James R Doty and GP John Gillies, who is leading the Edinburgh University Compassion Initiative.  Francis also talks to poet, physician and translator Iain Bamforth; discusses motherhood with Chitra Ramaswamy and Eula Biss and mental health with Ruby Wax.

American theatre-maker Bryan Doerries brings his extraordinary performance Theatre of War, which uses the plays of the Ancient Greeks to make sense of contemporary trauma.  Matthew Green looks at the causes and treatment of PTSD while Harry Parker and Victoria Hendry turn to fiction to examine the post combat lives of soldiers.  Christopher Rush ponders the contradictions in our attitudes to war and peace; Max Hastings offers a new perspective on WWII and General Sir Richard Shirreff, former NATO Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe, warns of future confrontation with Russia.

The Baillie Gifford Children’s Programme encourages young people to exercise their imagination with stories from picture books to gripping teen thrillers.  Including energetic performances from Julia Donaldson and Kristina Stephenson, books from Cecilia Ahern, Sophie Kinsella, Julian Clary and Andy Stanton and celebrations of Shakespeare, Roald Dahl, Paddington, Winnie the Pooh and Harry Potter and a Big Draw and workshops from Illustrator in Residence, Alex T Smith, this vibrant celebration of ideas offers something for everyone from babies to teens.  There are rapping bears, singing farmers, giant talking beetles, dinosaurs, gymnasts, heroes, heroines, mythical and magical creatures and older readers will discover moving and uplifting tales of coming of age, friendship, family and finding themselves.

For further information and to book tickets visit:

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Lewes Speakers Festival 22-24 July & Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival Harrogate 21-24 July

Lewes Speakers Festival 22-24 July

This year’s Lewes Speakers Festival, which takes place from 22nd-24th of July 2016 ( brings together a varied and fascinating line-up of speakers: Ken Livingstone explains his vision for the Labour Party and the Left; Sir Malcolm Rifkind gives his memoirs; and former Director-General of the National Trust Fiona Reynolds, states her reasons for fighting for beauty rather than just economic growth. BBC presenter Dan Cruickshank, relates the History of Architecture in 100 Buildings; Philip Mansell speaks on Aleppo; and Former BBC Chief Economics Correspondent Hugh Pym, gives the inside story of the banking crisis.



Former Secretary of State for Wales and Northern Ireland Peter Hain, talks about the future of socialism and former Headmaster of Eton Tony Little, relates his progressive views on how education should evolve. Andrew Lownie tells the story of the double agent and traitor Guy Burgess from his book which won national biography of the year and Frances Welch explains the life of Rasputin. Azi Ahmed, a Muslim woman, recounts what it was like to complete her SAS training and local author Lesley Thomson speaks about her latest detective book. BBC presenter, Diarmaid MacCulloch, presents the reformation and Ruth Dudley Edwards tells the story of the seven founding fathers of the Irish Republic. Political expert James Boys assesses Hillary Clinton’s future and John Gimlette recounts his journey through Sri Lanka.


Former senior Foreign Correspondent for the Economist John Andrews, explains the reasons behind the level of conflict in today’s world; Peter Hennessy relates his conversations with some of Britain’s most iconic senior politicians and Prime Ministers; and Times writer, David Aaronovitch, relates his family’s communist roots.

Tickets are now available at


Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival, Harrogate 21-24 July

Beer and books have proved the perfect partners in crime; the 14th Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival takes place at Agatha Christies’ old haunt, the Old Swan Hotel in Harrogate, from 21-24 July this year with over 90 authors, and is expected to sell 14,000 tickets to crime aficionados from all over the world.


2016 sees Val McDermid join Special Guests Martina Cole, Jeffery Deaver, Linwood Barclay, Tess Gerritsen, Gerald Seymour and Luther-creator, Neil Cross.

Programming Chair ‘King of the police procedural’ Peter James, recently won the Crime Writers’ Association’s highest honour, the CWA Diamond Dagger award. His Brighton detective, Roy Grace series has been adapted for theatre with The Perfect Murder starring Shane Richie and Jessie Wallace.

The Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival is ranked as one of the top three literary festivals in the UK by The Guardian, and featured in The Independent’s ‘The 50 Best Festivals’. Behind the Festival atmosphere, the event is one of the most important in the literary calendar, with publishers, agents, publicists and authors attending.

The Festival also delivers the most prestigious of crime fiction awards, the annual Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year.

For more information and to book tickets visit

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Buckingham Literary Festival 1-3 July

Top authors and writers are booked to appear at the first, of what is hoped to become, an annual, literary festival.

The University of Buckingham will host the inaugural Buckingham Literary Festival on the campus in early July. Speakers include Louis de Bernieres, author of Captain Corelli’s Mandolin; historian, novelist and broadcaster Saul David; BBC television arts correspondent and author Will Gompertz; psychologist and author Oliver James; and historian Victor Sebesteyn.


Taking place over three days in the heart of the historic market town, from Friday July 1 through to Sunday July 3, it is hoped the event will reach out to visitors from Aylesbury, Banbury, Bicester, Brackley, Towcester and Milton Keynes.

One of the festival organisers and manager of the Buckingham University Press Christopher Woodhead said: “We are enjoying the process of discovering the best books and authors for this festival and look forward to establishing this event in an area not already catered for by other literary festivals.”

Buckingham Literary Festival is to welcome leading names in television, radio, journalism and the literary world to the Buckingham Literary Festival. Confirmed speakers and interviewers include: Louis de Bernieres, Saul David, Will Gompertz, Rebecca Fraser, Oliver James, Sharon Bolton, The Wimpy Kid Show, Rebecca Thornton, Sinclair McKay, Tim Lott, Benet Brandreth, Leigh Russell, Barry Forshaw, Victor Sebestyen, AJ Mackenzie, Oscar de Muriel, Mark Mills, Leigh Russell, Howard Linksey, Anthony Glees, Kate Griffin, Judith Allnatt, Tony Webster, Victoria Prentis, John Clarke.

The festival is supported by the University of Buckingham, the Buckingham University Press and HMA Literary Agency. The University of Buckingham’s vice chancellor, political historian and commentator Sir Anthony Seldon will also speak at the event.

Mike Bryan, who runs the HMA Literary Agency and is also one of the festival organisers, said: “We are all looking forward to bringing a really strong range of authors and events to the Buckingham and Milton Keynes area for this festival.We already have a great line up of authors and anticipate plenty more established and debut authors joining this list.”

For more information about the event and to book tickets:visit

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Raworths Harrogate Literature Festival 7 -10 July

To celebrate their 50th Anniversary, Harrogate International Festivals present a summer filled with more talks, concerts and events than ever before. The Raworths Harrogate Literature Festival, picked by Harper’s Bazaar as one of the UK’s Best Literary Festivals, has become the hot ticket on the national Festival circuit thanks to its stellar line up of literary names in a beautifully intimate setting. Spend a long weekend in the Victorian grandeur of Harrogate’s Crown Hotel, and experience inspiring talks and stimulating debate. Socialise with fellow book lovers and soak up the eclectic programme designed to enthral and inspire.

We have 5 pairs of tickets to give away to hear James Naughtie talking about the latest book in his spy series Paris Spring on Sunday 12 July at 12pm click here enter our prize draw for a chance to win a pair of tickets.

This year’s diverse programme features a wealth of fantastic names from the worlds of politics, economics, science, music and literature, including Jeremy Bowen, Julia Bradbury, Vince Cable, James Naughtie, Mary Portas and John Suchet. There are also a number of special anniversary events, marking 100 years since Roald Dahl’s birth, 400 years since Shakespeare’s death, plus a keen focus on the 60’s and in particular 1966 – the year the Festival was born. Stay for the weekend with a variety of Day and Weekend Rover ticket packages also available.


Dickie Arbiter will discuss his memoir, On Duty with the Queen: My Time as a Buckingham Palace Press Secretary, offering a remarkable glimpse into the royal family’s lives as the Queen turns 90 this year. The 100th anniversary of Roald Dahl’s birth sees his official biographer, Donald Sturrock, share his exclusive access to Dahl’s revealing weekly letters written to his mother.


To mark the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, Raworths Harrogate Literature Festival delivers a special event in July, On Shakespeare’s Sonnets: A Poets’ Celebration in association with the Royal Literary Fund featuring award-winning poets Jo Shapcott and Ruth Padel.


There’ll also be a focus on the sixties as a decade, particularly 1966, the year Harrogate International Festivals began. 1966: The Year the Decade Exploded – an era of revolutionary literature, radical politics, fashion and pop – is explored by author and broadcaster Jon Savage with fellow music journalist, Ben Thompson. It was of course, also the year England won the World Cup. Former BBC TV sports producer John Rowlinson tracks the triumphant journey to sporting glory, with his book, The Boys of 66: The Unseen Story Behind England’s World Cup Glory.


Gemma Rowland, Literature Festivals Manager at Harrogate International Festivals, said: “In 1966, Harrogate International Festivals was known as a festival of Science as well as Art, so we’ll be honouring that legacy too, from exploring Einstein’s Universe to A Space Traveller’s Guide to the Solar System. We hope audiences will go on an incredible adventure this July and dive in to the worlds of politics, music, poetry, economics and literature.”


The overarching theme of Harrogate International Festivals’ portfolio of music and literature festivals in July is ‘Discover, Explore, Experiment’.


Weekend and Day Rover tickets are available, alongside tickets for individual events, for the first time at this year’s Raworths Harrogate Literature Festival. The thematic structure of the weekend invites audiences to immerse themselves in a full day of events with some big ideas, including a journey through health, science and nature on the Friday, a focus on discovering more about some of our musical and literary greats on the Saturday and an exploration into politics, economics and business on the Sunday, with some of the biggest names working in and writing about these areas today.


There’s also a chance to learn the art of whisky tasting and a workshop on the art of mindful Origami – the new trend for crafty calmness. The UK’s finest music writers including Mark Ellen and David Hepworth in Rock’n’Roll Confidential share stories around overrated superstars and nightmare interviews. The banking crisis is explored with Hugh Pym, and convicted murderer turned author and trustee of the Prison Reform Trust, Erwin James, looks at the power of redemption with his memoir, Redeemable: A Memoir of Darkness and Hope.


Weekend Rover Tickets and Day Rover tickets start from £60; individual tickets are available from £9 upwards. Packages, including tickets and accommodation at the Crown Hotel, can also be booked through the Festivals Office and start from £429.



We have 5 pairs of tickets to give away to hear JAMES NAUGHTIE on 10 July at 12pm. Click here to enter. Please note that this draw is open only for UK residents and is free to enter. Multiple entries from the same email address will only be counted once and the prize cannot be exchanged for cash and does not include transport or accommodation. Draw closes on 24 June 2016. The winners will be chosen randomly from all entrants and will be notified by 29 June 2016.

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