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Dovedale Arts Festival 10–12 June 2016

The Dovedale Arts Festival 2016 is back at the Izaak Walton Hotel in the heart of the Peak District with its superb views over Dovedale and taking place in a large marquee in the gardens.

A sparkling programme of talks and performances launches on Friday 10 June.



Sir Christopher Frayling will pull out all the stops, conjuring up Angela Carter and the Gothic in film and the imagination to the accompaniment of the Mighty Compton Organ at Dovedale Garage in Thorpe, home of ‘Pipes in the Peaks’.


On Saturday the Allegri String Quartet returns by popular demand and on Sunday, Robert Bathurst and Virge Gilchrist bring their dramatisation of Christopher Reid’s Song of Lunch, fresh from performances in Chichester and London.


There will be talks by Thomas Pakenham on his lifelong love affair with trees; QCs Jeremy Hutchinson and Thomas Grant will discuss Hutchinson’s most celebrated legal trials; opera director David Pountney and art historian Paul Hills on the artist/poet David Jones; politicians Caroline Lucas and Natascha Engel on today’s challenges in Westminster; historian Juliet Nicolson on seven generations of her extraordinary family; and biographers Adam Sisman and Zachary Leader on John le Carré and Saul Bellow, and on writers’ lives at close range.


There will be paintings, sculpture, collages and ceramics on show, by artists Sarah Anderson, Juliet Bankes, Judy Gilley, Susanna Penrose,  Jane Rye,  Jocasta Shakespeare and Bridget Whitehouse.


Thomas Pakenham will lead a walk down Dovedale in pursuit of trees on Saturday morning, and bicycle wizard Andrew Ritchie, creator of the Brompton bike, will give an informal talk on his invention at 9.30 on Sunday morning.


All details of events and timings at As before, the Dovedale Rover Ticket enables entry to all the events. Why not make a weekend of it by booking into the hotel

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Althorp Literary Festival 30 June – 3 July

The 13th Althorp Literary Festival will take place on Thursday 30 June – 3 July, 2016 at Althorp House. Taking place over four days, this is the largest Althorp Literary Festival to date.


This year’s line-up includes: Britain’s bestselling non-fiction author, Bill Bryson; screenwriter Andrew Davies – whose most recent triumph was War and Peace; actor Brian Blessed; racehorse trainer Henrietta Knight; Today broadcaster James Naughtie; journalist, presenter and Labour peer Joan Bakewell; television personality and heritage campaigner Loyd Grossman; former Governor of the Bank of England Mervyn King; comedian and columnist Sara Pascoe; historian and television presenter Suzannah Lipscomb; renowned director Sir Richard Eyre; popular Classic FM presenter John Suchet; cricket authority Simon Hughes; investigative journalist and biographer Tom Bower; veteran radio presenter Paul Gambaccini; author and biographer Paula Byrne; and one of Britain’s greatest experts on Shakespeare, Sir Jonathan Bate.

The 13th Althorp Literary Festival line-up also features a number of terrific local authors including Sue Bentley, Christine L. Corton, Lord Charles FitzRoy and Damian Collins, MP.

The Althorp Literary Festival is a unique and intimate celebration of the written word. In its first twelve years, the Festival has been privileged to host over 300 novelists, historians, comedians, actors, politicians, sportsmen and television personalities, including Boris Johnson, Alastair Campbell, Jung Chang, Julian Fellowes, Clare Balding, Sebastian Faulks, Helen Fielding, Michael Palin, Darcey Bussell, Sir Tom Stoppard and Twiggy.

I took as the theme of this year’s Althorp line-up ‘originality’ – only one of the speakers has been to any of my previous literary festivals – and that’s Bill Bryson. I have resisted the temptation to stick with past successes, and have gone for freshness and diversity. It’s a lip-smacking line-up.” Charles, Ninth Earl Spencer.

There are at least nine talks taking place on each of the four days with something to suit all interests. Complimentary fringe events include live music, poetry and performance art. There will also be pop-up shops, a variety of food and drink choices, and a spa service.

The Althorp Literary Festival is one of England’s great, summer, celebrations, and it takes place against the backdrop of one of the world’s most remarkable, private, historic homes.

For more information and to book tickets visit:

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Wealden Literary Festival 18 and 19 June

The first Wealden Literary Festival – a two-day event celebrating landscape, nature and place is being held on June 18-19 in the heart of the Garden of England. The festival, which has won the backing of award-winning landscape and travel writer Robert Macfarlane, is being held in the renowned gardens and woodland at Boldshaves, Woodchurch, near Tenterden.


Wealden Literary Festival is the brainchild of outdoor and nature enthusiasts Laura and Andrew Willan, of Tenterden. It will be an inspiring and fun festival for all ages with talks by nationally-acclaimed writers and speakers alongside hands-on outdoor activities exploring the natural world including wildlife safaris and nature trails. There will also be art installations and specialist craft stalls alongside a wide range of artisanal food stalls taking advantage of the best of local produce.


In short, we are organising the sort of event we just love to go to ourselves. Visitors will be able to hear brilliant speakers in The Garden Tent and meet specialists sharing their enthusiasm for exploring a sense of place and revealing exciting ways to connect with the living world. Authors taking part include Charles Foster, author of the ground-breaking new book Being A Beast, James Macdonald Lockhart whose inspiring book Raptor, journeys across the British Isles in search of birds of prey, and Phillip Hoare, winner of the Samuel Johnson Prize for non-fiction. TV Time Teams expert Francis Pryor will also be there together with leading bumblebee scientist and enthusiast Dave Goulson and Patrick Barkham whose book, Coastlines: The Story of our Shore features Kent in an exploration of how we as an island nation are shaped by our shores.


Other attractions include the works of Kate Beaugie, artist in residence, who will be responding to the gardens at Boldshaves and the natural environment of the Weald. Kate will be talking about the different ways her works capture and respond to the magic of nature in The Barn at 1pm on Saturday, 18 June.


On Sunday, 19 June, festival goers will be able to join author, broadcaster, naturalist and environmentalist Mark Cocker on a Wildlife Safari. From 9am, Mark will lead a small group through a tour of the surroundings of Boldshaves Gardens to reveal the wildlife at out fingertips.


Admission to the festival site is free for younger visitors, under 14 years. There will be free Children’s Activities including a workshop with Matthew Appleby, author of The Children’s Garden, and a chance to learn bushcraft skills with the Meek Family, plus art classes with Naomi Howarth whose book, The Crows Tale, was shortlisted for the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize.

Early booking is recommended for the talks and programmed activities, including free Children’s Activities, as places are limited. The full Wealden Literary Festival programme, with details of all special activities and talk tickets, including day passes, is available at

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The Brewin Dolphin Borders Book Festival 16-19 June

The Borders Book Festival, sponsored by Brewin Dolphin, has over 100 events in its programme for all ages, and on a wide variety of topics, all taking place over the weekend of 16th-19th June 2016. 


Headline acts this year include master storyteller Frederick Forsyth, who makes a rare appearance to talk to Rory Bremner about his extraordinary life as one of the most lauded thriller writers of our time; world renowned musician Evelyn Glennie in conversation with Kirsty Wark; the founding member of Genesis, Mike Rutherford; comedian Phill Jupitus,  returning to his roots as a performance poet; food critic Jay Rayner;  popular novelist Kathy Lette and comedian Sara Pascoe talking about her first book Animal: How a Woman is Made. Former Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, will join Borders Book Festival regular Gordon Brown and Scottish politicians, Jim Sillars and Michael Forsyth in a series of political debates.  Douglas Alexander talks about life after politics and veteran broadcaster James Naughtie gives the insider’s view on the American Primaries and upcoming Presidential election.


Further highlights include world famous chef Albert Roux; ‘Rab C Nesbitt’ actor and comedian Gregor Fisher; leading Scottish historian Tom Devine; best-selling author and raconteur Gervase Phinn and Top Gear script writer Richard Porter going behind the scenes on one of TV’s most successful series.


Leading authors from the world of children’s books will take to the stage during the ever-popular weekend SBHA Family Book Festival including Cressida Cowell, author of the bestselling How to Train Your Dragon series (Sat 18th June) and acclaimed War Horse author, Michael Morpurgo talking about his book Private Peaceful to mark the Battle of the Somme centenary (Sun 19th June).


The winner of this year’s prestigious £25,000 Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction will also be announced on Saturday 18th June, from a shortlist, including authors Patrick Gale, William Boyd and Simon Mawer.


Primary schools from across the Scottish Borders will attend the Schools Gala Day on Thursday 16th, and there will be an exciting new strand of events on Friday 17th, thefuture@bbf, with an afternoon of live music, creative writing, theatre, poetry and film/TV recording workshops, entirely programmed by local youth organisations.


There will be even more opportunities to take part as well as spectate this year, with a variety of live music and theatre performances and workshops, a street market, tented food village, gin and wine tastings, performances by Scottish Opera, and kids craft and activity workshops.


The ever-popular Family Day pass will be available, where for £35, four family members can enjoy a number of events on either the Saturday or Sunday.  It’s the ideal way to make the most of the SBHA Family Book Festival supported by Arts & Business Scotland.


The newly-opened Borders Railway offers a new way of getting to the festival for visitors from outside the area, with festival signage showing the way for walkers from Tweedbank Station 1.5 miles away, and a shuttle for those who prefer not to walk.


Box Office (opens 27 April 2016): 0844 357 1060

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The Daily Mail Chalke Valley History Festival 27 June – Sunday 3 July 2016

Lovereading is delighted to be sponsoring WWII veteran Victor Gregg with Rick Stroud on Saturday 2 July


Enter our prize draw to win one of 3 Family Tickets giving access to many events at the festival (for 2 adults and up to 3 children) details below

“Forget Glastonbury, just back from Chalke Valley History Festival – the most wonderful, stimulating few days in stunning countryside.” ALEX PRESTON.

“It has to be seen to be believed.” IAN HISLOP.

“They roast food on spits. They march around the Wiltshire countryside, drinking period authentic booze and discussing armour. When they tire of eating dirt and hitting one another with sticks, they can repair to a dry tent to hear lectures and debates on historical topics, given by world experts…You will come back much wiser.” DAN JONES The Daily Mail.

Chalke Valley History Festival is a true celebration of the past. For one week at the end of every June, a normally sleepy corner of England – in the fields of South-West Wiltshire – comes alive to sound of Merlin engines, cannon-fire, muskets and music.


2016 sees the centenary of three very important battles of the First World War: the naval Battle of Jutland, the French and German ten-month Battle of Verdun, and of course the Battle of the Somme, so indelibly marked on our national consciousness. Now in its sixth year, The Daily Mail Chalke Valley History Festival will be marking all of them this summer, along with a vast range of talks, discussions, debates, and study mornings, from the dinosaurs right through to the Cold War and beyond.


With a unique combination of speaker events and living history entertainment, including combat displays and interactive experiences, as well as a series of stunning short air displays with historic aircraft across the weekend, the Festival once more looks set to dazzle, entertain and educate, whatever age you are. Set against the beautiful backdrop of the Chalke Valley downs, 12 miles south-west of Salisbury, the largest festival in the UK devoted entirely to history attracts a line-up of speakers like no other. The 2016 programme has just been announced and tickets are now on sale. Headlining for the first time this year, amongst others, are: the distinguished historian and commentator Niall Ferguson, author and broadcaster Melvyn Bragg, former Secretary of State and European Commissioner Peter Mandelson, renowned biographer Hermione Lee, philosopher AC Grayling, and legendary musician Mark Knopfler. Also making a debut appearance on this year’s impressive speaker list is former Home Secretary and Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, former head of the British Army Field Marshall Lord Bramall, political commentator and writer Jonathan Dimbleby, the journalist and popular scientist Matt Ridley, art historian and BBC television presenter Dan Cruickshank, and former Beirut hostage Terry Waite. Festival   favourites making a welcome return include Max Hastings, Michael Morpurgo, Dan Snow, Suzannah Lipscomb, Ian Hislop, Andrea Wulf, Michael Wood, Tracy Borman, Dan Jones, Alice Roberts, Simon Sebag Montefiore and Charlie Higson. The full literary programme of over 140 speakers, including eminent historians and experts in their fields, can be found here:


Veterans of the Second World War have always been a huge draw at the Festival, and this year we are thrilled to be welcoming Herr Günter Halm, a German veteran of North Africa and Normandy and Knight’s Cross winner – awarded to him in person by Field Marshal Rommel in 1942. Johnny Johnson, the last surviving Dam Buster, will also be discussing the Dams Raid and his time in Bomber Command, while Joy Hunter, one of Churchill’s wartime secretaries, will be discussing with Andrew Roberts her memories of working for the Prime Minister, plus the incredible events she witnessed and people she met. The annual Prospect Debate is bound to be controversial with the motion ‘Trident: Britain’s Nuclear Deterrent Should be Consigned to History’ – contested by Professor Lord Hennessy and Philip Dunne, Minister of State for Defence Procurement against Professor David Edgerton and Kate Hudson, General Secretary of CND – as relevant today as it has ever been. In 2015 the Festival introduced a series of panels entitled The Long View where current world issues were discussed by experts and Festival audiences through the prism of history. Following its success last year, this June will see two topical issues discussed: the first on Migration, with historians Peter Heather and Keith Lowe as well as Jack Straw, and the second entitled ‘Baiting the Russian Bear’, when writers and opinion formers such as Peter Frankopan and Edward Lucas, along with Marina Litvinenko, will discuss the fragile relationship between Russia and The West, chaired by Mary Ann Sieghart.


For many attending the Daily Mail Chalke Valley History Festival one of the highlights each year is the series of spectacular air displays, which take place at intervals over the two weekend days. There can be few more stunning places to watch the historic aircraft overhead than in the Chalke Valley and, with many planes already confirmed for this summer’s show, this year’s displays promise to be particularly special. The list includes: the only Avro Lancaster (on both days) flying in the UK, a Fairey Swordfish, an Auster, a Curtiss P-40 Kittyhawk, a Hawker Hurricane, a Supermarine Spitfire XIX, a Supermarine Spitfire IX, a Vought F4U Corsair and a Yakovlev Yak-3.   Commenting on the huge range of events lined up for this year, co-Chair of the Festival James Holland said: “This year we have a wider range of subjects, more diverse speakers, incredible historic aircraft, and a truly spectacular living history show with World War II tank battles, Vikings, Romans, a totally authentic scale section of First World War trench and a fabulous 1940s Blitz Party. To have the likes Mark Knopfler on stage talking about and playing his history songs and eminent historians like Niall Ferguson speaking, while at the same time there are a vast number of activities and other events for people of all ages, from battles to historic cookery, is incredibly exciting.”


This summer at the Daily Mail Chalke Valley History Festival there will be a wider range of living history activities than ever before. The centrepiece of this year’s programme will be the spectacular Second World War displays which will include multiple tanks in action, guns and infantry, all working together. At the weekend will also be a tough SOE and Commando training course, on which participants can be put through their paces and learn some of the skills needed to operate in Nazi-occupied Europe. Another major focus will be on King Alfred’s Battle for Wessex. There will be a week of activities at the ever-popular Anglo-Saxon settlement, with more than 100 re-enactors, as well as a recreated Viking longship. Covering some two thousand years of history, there will also be an impressive list of demonstrations and displays to choose from, with lots of family-based inter-active events, including Anglo-Saxon Bread Making, Musketry in the American War of Independence, a Battle of Waterloo Diorama with the BBC’s Peter Ginn and Mark Evans, and Tudor Fast Food. Continuing the success of last year’s Pop-Up History programme, 2016 will also see a series of fun, fact-filled, informal talks at various locations around and throughout the Festival. These will be interactive and free half-hour talks where audiences will be encouraged to ask questions and feel involved. Talks will be given by living historians, speakers and experts who will talk on a wide range of topics – from a shipwreck off the Dorset coast to steam trains, and from fabrics of the First World War to the efficacy of the Cromwell tank.   At this year’s festival there will be a scale section of a First World War trench. Built by a team of experts and local volunteers, using authentic methods and materials, plus official period manuals, as well as drawing upon the testimonies of those who built and fought in them, this will be as close a representation of what a First World War trench was like as is possible.


To mark the 100th anniversary of the start of the Battle of the Somme, there will be a service at the Trench from 7.15am on Friday 1st July, led by the Bishop of Salisbury.   Running alongside the main programme, the Festival for Schools sees thousands of pupils, from primary school to sixth formers, visit during the first half of the week on special days dedicated to different year groups. Aimed at Years 6, 10 and 12, a wide range of curriculumbased subjects will be discussed by eminent historians on subjects as varied as The Vietnam War, The History of Medicine, Radio Women: History through the BBC, 17th Century Witchcraft, and Stalin’s Great Terror. Experts will be on hand to show and explain the secrets of the past, encouraging students to learn and to get involved. Guest speakers for 2016 include Ben Kane, Professor Hew Strachan, Dr Kate Murphy, Peter Caddick-Adams and local adventurer Charlie Walker. On the evening of 2nd July and as part of Dress Up Saturday, with a Spitfire and Hurricane flying over, it will be time to get your dancing shoes on for The Chalke Valley History Festival Blitz Party. There will be live music all night, from beautiful Bombshell Belles, the legendary London Swing Orchestra, and the delicious D-Day Darlings, with a scrumptious wartime-inspired supper served up by Victoria Blashford-Snell and a barrage of drinks at the bar. New at the Festival this year is the Children’s Creative History Tent, which will provide art and craft activities for children aged 6 – 12 throughout the weekend and will be where children can create their own exciting historical object to take home. The History Tellers will also be giving free talks – primarily aimed at children – using props and costumes, and recounting tales from our rich historical past. There will be plenty of stalls for some well-earned retail therapy, plus both glamping and camping for those wishing to stay near the site. Book signings will be arranged by Festival partner Waterstones.


The Daily Mail Chalke Valley History Festival will take place in Ebbesbourne Wake, near Salisbury, Wiltshire, SP5 5JH. For more details about the Festival, please visit the website Tickets can be purchased from here or by calling 01722 781133.


Click here to enter our free prize draw: we have 3 family tickets (for 2 adults and up to 3 children) to give away. Each ticket gives access to the Festival on either Saturday 2nd July or Sunday 3rd July.  The family tickets give free entrance to the Festival, the Living History events, the Pop-Up History talks, and the air displays, plus all the stalls and children’s activities, but the literary talks in the main tents and some of the bigger Living History events will need to be booked and paid for in advance. 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 27 May 2016. The winners will be chosen randomly from all entrants and will be notified by 31 May 2016.

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Derby Book Festival 3-11 June

The Festival, which will be held from 3 to 11 June, will include over 70 events and activities in venues across the city. Highlights of this year’s Festival will include the Opening Event, with the Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy, plus bestselling authors Tracy Chevalier, Louis de Bernières, Joan Bakewell, actor and writer Simon Callow, broadcaster Stuart Maconie, historian and historical novelist Alison Weir, Booker shortlisted author Sunjeev Sahota, debut author Joanna Cannon, David Lindo, aka The Urban Birder, and BBC Radio 4’s James Naughtie. 

derby book festival
The Festival’s programme includes a broad range of events and activities aimed at all ages and interests. Events will take place in venues across the city centre, in local schools, libraries and communities and in the Market Place. There will be an expanded programme for children and families on Saturday 4 June with author Andy Cope appearing at two events in QUAD, illustration workshops and a Bringing Books to Life event in the Market Place with pavement art, street theatre, storytelling in the Yurt, mural painting and Derby Shakespeare Company performing on a Trent Barton Bus.


Liz Fothergill, Chair of the Festival, said: “Last year’s Festival was such a great success but we feel this year’s programme is even better with a wider range of events, authors and activities to appeal to new audiences. In particular we have more for children and families and a wealth of events with a local Derby element, including local history and architecture, railways, birding and the Cathedral peregrines, cricket, cycling and real ale.”


The Festival programme will be available from all Festival venues, which include QUAD, Déda, Derby Museum & Art Gallery, The Guildhall Theatre, Derby Theatre, Derby Cathedral, WEA and from all libraries and tourist offices. The Festival is organised in partnership with all the major arts and cultural partners in the city.
Tickets can be booked online at or in person or by phone at QUAD.

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CRIMEFEST Bristol 19 – 22 May 2016


Peter James, Anne Holt, Ian Rankin and Hugh Fraser are among the top names set to speak at this year’s CrimeFest in Bristol, 19 – 22 May. CrimeFest will once again host a stellar line-up of award-winning, bestselling crime fiction authors, as well as hundreds of publishers, agents and lovers of crime fiction over four days of exciting panel discussions and author talks. Since its launch in 2008 CrimeFest has become the standout event of the year for crime fiction aficionados from around the world.

And there is a 10% discount for Lovereading members on the Full Weekend Pass – just  use the discount code ‘lovereading’ on the booking page or click here.   

International bestselling author of the Roy Grace series Peter James will be interviewed by Andrew Taylor about receiving the Crime Writer’s Association Diamond Dagger Award for excellence in crime writing. Anne Holt, who has spearheaded the Norwegian crime-thriller trend, becoming Norway’s bestselling female crime writer, will be interviewed by Barry Forshaw and award-winning crime author Ian Rankin will be interviewed by Jake Kerridge. This year Hugh Fraser, best known for playing Captain Hastings in Agatha Christie’s Poirot, will be the Gala Dinner Toastmaster, having recently released his debut novel Harm.


Adam Sisman, bestselling author of the biography that unearthed the enigma behind John le Carré, will be in conversation with BBC icon James Naughtie to discuss the compelling espionage that led le Carré to write classic crime thrillers like The Night Manager, now a hit BBC series.


The hotly contested trial of Steven Avery in the unmissable Netflix documentary Making A Murderer will be debated in a mock-trial hosted by Crime Scene Magazine. Neil White, criminal lawyer and bestselling author of Cold Kill, will be battling head to head for Avery’s conviction against Steven Cavanagh, author of the Eddie Flynn thrillers. Sophie Hannah will be making a special appearance as the Judge.


CrimeFest host and co-founder Adrian Muller said: “This has been a fantastic year for crime fiction, with TV adaptations of real cases like Making A Murderer and The Jinx and adaptions of crime classics like The Night Manager and Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None boosting crime fiction’s popularity and reaching a new audience. From discussing contemporary issues of everything from cyber-terrorism to sexism within the police force to debating corruption in the criminal justice system, CrimeFest will present an array of exciting panels from the best crime fiction authors from around the world.”


Also appearing at the UK’s biggest crime convention are a number of fantastic panel events and discussions including:

  • ‘Deadly Dames: Women As Killers, Investigators And Victims’ with culinary-crime writers Janet Laurence and Anna Mazzola
  • ‘What’s So Funny? Humour In Crime Fiction’ with James Runcie (Grantchester) and Dead Ringers writer Nev Fountain
  • ‘Crimes Against Humanity: Terrorism, War And International Intrigue’ with Yusuf Toropov, author of Jihadi: A Love Story
  • ‘When is Enough Too Much?: Violence Against Women In Crime Fiction’ with Shetland author Ann Cleeves and author of the bestselling Thora Gudmundsdottir series Yrsa Sigurðardóttir, moderated by James Runcie


A full programme is available at:

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Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival 21-24 July 2016

Crime Wave Heads for Harrogate

Tickets for Europe’s biggest celebration of the crime genre, the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival  are now on sale.

Val-McDermid-2Alongside Special Guest tickets for Martina Cole, Jeffery Deaver and Val McDermid, readers can now book for all panel events hosted over the long weekend of July 21 to 24 at the Old Swan Hotel. Audiences are invited to grab a pint of Yorkshire’s finest ale, and dip into an intoxicating mix of comedy, heated debate and scintillating socialising.

Highlights include Girl on a Train author Paula Hawkins, alongside Clare Mackintosh, whose debut I Let You Go was one of the fastest selling titles of 2015, exploring the publishing phenomenon, Grip Lit.

Broadcaster Mark Lawson also features on a panel exploring political corruption, with BBC security correspondent-turned thriller author Frank Gardner, and the remarkable novelist, playwright and memoirist, Gillian Slovo.

There’ll also be a panel focusing on the French wave of crime authors, as the country is pitched to take the crown of Nordic Noir, and a spotlight on South Africa, exploring one of the most violent societies on Earth.

The Festival opens with Creative Thursday – a day of creative writing workshops – before the annual Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Awards.  As psychological thrillers are one of the hottest publishing trends, budding writers can get to grips with the genre with award-winning writers, Sarah Hilary and Alex Marwood.

Respected arts journalist, editor and publishing commentator, Danuta Kean delivers a session on how to get deep under the skin of your characters, creating full, plausible people with deep back-story and related character traits.

Irish author William Ryan and the bestselling M.R. Hall look at how to turn a good idea into a commercial novel. There’ll also be a chance to pitch your novel to the biggest agents, publishers and editors in the industry in the famed ‘Dragons’ Pen’.

2016 has been programmed by one of the most acclaimed crime writers at work today, Peter James. ‘King of the police procedural’ Peter recently won the Crime Writers’ Association’s highest honour, the CWA Diamond Dagger award.

For a full programme, or to book visit: Box Office: 01423 562 303.

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Licence to Read… WhitLit 11 – 15 May 2016

WhitLit announces third literary festival programme celebrating Ian Fleming & James Bond, fictional spies and real life espionage.

The third WhitLit festival returns in May, and this year the programme will take on a ‘super spy’ theme, celebrating James Bond creator Ian Fleming (who lived in Kent), some of the biggest names in spy fiction today, as well as tales of real life espionage from Bletchley Park to Guy Burgess. Other top names appearing at the festival include ‘Chocolat’ author Joanne Harris, former newsreader and MP Martin Bell, Booker prize short-lister Philip Hensher and Orange Prize winner Helen Dunmore.


WhitLit will present a very special Ian Fleming evening on Friday 13 May featuring his esteemed biographers Andrew Lycett, Matthew Parker and Fleming’s step-daughter Fionn Morgan. The new Young Bond author Steve Cole will be entertaining younger readers and the special ‘Brass Bond’ evening features music from the James Bond films performed by the 1st Whitstable Scout Band. This year’s town read will be ‘Goldfinger’, set largely in Reculver and Whitstable Library has ordered over 40 copies for book clubs and individuals to read and then join the free book debate at the festival.


Inspired by Fleming, the festival will also feature some of the biggest names in spy fiction today from the “new Le Carre” Charles Cumming to Tudor spy writer SJ Parris and literary award winning Francesca Kay. Spies in history will also feature; Andrew Lownie will be discussing his new biography of Cambridge Spy Guy Burgess, Michael Smith will be talking about the female codebreakers at Bletchley Park who helped win the WW2 whilst academic Clive Bloom will be discussing the rise of the ‘Secret State’. But if Bond’s not your thing there are plenty of other subjects and speakers that we hope will interest you from Suffragettes to Tudor queens, Shakespeare and Shackleton, Kent Killers and DFLs!


joanne-harris-picSome of this country’s most respected literary talents will also be making appearances. Bestselling author Joanne Harris who wrote Chocolat which was turned into a film with Juliette Binoche and Johnny Depp will be in conversation, as well as Orange Prize winner Helen Dunmore and Booker shortlisted Philip Hensher who was names one of the 20 best authors of the decade in the prestigious Granta list. Top screenwriter Glen Laker of ITV hit detective show Vera, starring Brenda Blethyn will also be talking to former Eastenders screenwriter Julie Wassmer about crime fiction and writing for TV.

Other highlights include:

  • Grazia columnist Polly Vernon and her new book ‘Hot Feminist’
  • Screenwriter of ITV’s Vera Glen Laker with Whitstable Crime writer Julie Wassmer in conversation with Radio Kent’s Dominic King
  • The most popular historical fiction writer Alison Weir discussing Katherine of Arogan with Joanna Labon
  • Kent Crime Queens Lesley Cookman and Linda Regan
  • Dog Tales featuring ITV Vet Jo Hardy and Andrea Bennett with Marnie Summerfield Smith
  • Vita Sackville West’s granddaughter Vanessa Nicholson with Marnie Summerfield Smith
  • Bestselling author of Major Pettigrew’s last Stand Helen Simonson flying in from the US to talk to Jane Wenham Jones
  • Notorious CK Blaine DFL blogger Alison Dilnutt with Guardian journalist Fay Schopen
  • Journalist Liz Hodgkinson in conversation with Val Hennessy and her book about the first transsexual female to male.
  • Bestselling Anne De Courcy’s book about Margot Asquith with Julia Wheeler
  • Pauline Kiernan discussing Shakespeare’s theatre in his 400th anniversary
  • Suffragettes and female MPs with Mary Honeyball MEP, Jad Adams and Anne Logan
  • Michael Smith’s new book about explorer Ernest Shackleton
  • A play reading from the new Kent Coast Theatre
  • Foreign correspondent Heidi Kingstone discusses living in Kabul
  • Local poets Canterbury Yarners and Influx press.
  • For children Herne Bay bookshop A Bundle of Books will be presenting workshops and story sessions.

WhitLit is also excited to announce the launch of the Kent Festival of Writing, a new venture dedicated to providing workshops and support to emerging writers across the county and beyond. The first day-long festival takes place on 16 April at Whitstable Community College and tickets can be booked directly from the WhitLit website only.

Events will take place at the Horsebridge Centre, Whitstable Community College and Whitstable Library. Tickets are available from the Horsebridge Box Office. Tickets for the Festival of Writing are available via For full details on the programme visit

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Boswell Book Festival 6-8 May 2016

More than just another Book Festival… Boswell Book Festival has announced its programme of headline-grabbing authors and uniquely curated talks and events that have established the festival, now in its sixth edition, as a landmark in Scotland’s cultural year.

LoydGrossmanLOVEREADING are delighted to be sponsoring Loyd Grossman’s appearance at the Boswell Book Festival on Saturday 7  May. We have two pairs of tickets to win CLICK here to enter our prize draw.

Famously inspired by James Boswell (b. 1740), the inventor of modern biography, it is the world’s only festival dedicated to biography and memoir, staged at Dumfries House in Ayrshire.

World renowned actor, Martin Jarvis, will be reprising his roles of Just William and Jeeves and Wooster, as well as talking about his legendary career on stage and screen; fellow thespian Gregor Fisher, will be exploring his extraordinary childhood with journalist Melanie Reid; polymath Loyd Grossman will be talking of Americans on the make; while stand-up comic Susan Calman will be revealing her inner life, and WWII hero Victor Gregg will recount his extraordinary survival of the Dresden fire bombing.

Boswell-Book-Festival-2016-LogosFestival Director Caroline Knox said: “Our unique theme – biography and memoir – chosen in homage to the great Ayrshire writer James Boswell, has led us to uncover the amazing variety of life stories in this year’s programme marking us out from all other book festivals”.

The cast also includes 87 year-old super-model Daphne Selfe, art sleuth Philip Mould of Antiques Road Show fame, the founder of Mary’s Meals, Magnus Macfarlane-Barrow, as well as James Naughtie, Mona Siddiqui, Charles Moore, A.N.Wilson, Ben Stewart, Erwin James, Gavin Francis, Ferdinand Mount, Charles Jencks and Dr. Gordon Turnbull on the great Boswell himself.

Ayrshire’s magnificent Dumfries House, famously saved for the nation by the Prince of Wales, sets the scene for portrayals of Queen Victoria, Margaret Thatcher, the Scots in India, traitor Guy Burgess and many more, plus discussions on the lot of writers’ wives and the long tradition of politicians in fiction…

Each year the programme guarantees challenging discourse, creative inspiration and intellectual stimulation as well as fabulous fun and entertainment for all the family. The Boswell Book Festival is supported by the National Lottery through Creative Scotland Open Project Funding. Aly Barr, Head of Literature, Languages and Publishing said: “The Boswell Book festival is an outstanding hub for books, ideas and the delicate art of bringing literature to life”.

Book tickets at, Box Office Hotline on 01563 554 900

Click here to enter our free prize draw: we have 2 pairs of tickets to give away to hear Loyd Grossman on Benjamin West and the Struggle to be Modern. 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 22 April 2016. The winners will be chosen randomly from all entrants and will be notified by 26 April 2016.

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