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Looe Literary Festival 12 – 15 November 2015

Looe is celebrating its second Looe Literary Festival! Come along and enjoy all it has to offer … the dates are 12th-15th November.


This year’s festival will be slightly bigger with many more children’s events held over the weekend; a comic-book workshop with Marvel illustrator Kev Sutherland, photography workshop with sports photographer-to-the stars, John Davis, Children’s Story Time, Paint a Pot and ‘Mazed Tales’ with their magical puppet – all free events for the family to enjoy.


And for the grown-ups we have Christopher Biggins, celebrating 50 years in show-biz … ‘The Biggins’ biography is an absolute giggle and a must-read.
Famed explorer Robin Hanbury-Tenison OBE will take us through his amazing life-story and daring journeys, actress Pauline McLynn takes time out from TV filming to tell us about her equally entertaining novels, The Poldark Panel will talk about Poldark, currently filming the much-awaited second TV series, on Bodmin Moor.
For history lovers we have Julie Peakman, Dr Helen Doe, Adrian Greenwood, Mark Camp and Colonel Ewen Southby-Tailyour OBE, whose sailing and military background combine to inspire his acclaimed Sunday Times best-selling books


Free events will be held throughout the town in Looe’s cosy pubs, cafe’s and historical buildings, a pop-up Art gallery in the Portbyhan Hotel displays a collection of beautiful paintings by local Cornish Artists. Plus various workshops, local authors, debate, poetry readings…an eclectic mix, with something for everyone.


Looe Literary Festival Patrons, Richard and Judy say: “Go on – immerse yourself in everything Looe has to offer.  Read, eat, drink, and be merry. And make sure you have a torch by your bed…some of the books celebrated here will have you turning the pages long into the night.”


We truly hope you will all visit and enjoy our very special speakers, loads of things to do, a wonderful and inspiring way to spend an autumn’s weekend in the beautiful fishing town of Looe.

For ticketed events and full listing please see

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Petworth Literary Weekend 4 – 8 November 2015

Petworth Literary Weekend returns Wednesday 4-Sunday 8 November and is pleased to announce, once again, a stellar line up for its 2015 programme.



WIN a pair of tickets to hear Irma Kurtz on Friday 6 November or Terry Waite on Sunday 8 November at Petworth Literary Weekend. CLICK HERE to enter.

Irma-Kurtz-photo-credit-B.-WhiteAs Cosmopolitan’s professional agony aunt for the last forty years, Irma Kurtz has had to deal with the most intimate problems of successive generations of readers, while having to keep up with the changing mores and attitudes in British and American society. In her new memoir, she looks back on the seismic transformations that have taken place over the last four decades, as well as her own hectic and often difficult life as a single mum from America living in London. Warm, funny and perceptive, brimming with wisdom and insight, My Life in Agony is a meditation on the subjects that tend to concern and confuse us the most – from mother-daughter relationships through to eating disorders, office politics and those perennial areas of interest: love and sex.  Irma will be appearing at 3pm, at Leconfield Hall, Petworth on Friday 6 November.


The 2015 festival concludes by welcoming Terry Waite to talk about his debut novel. The Voyage of The Golden Handshake is a warm and charmingly funny story which reminds the reader what life is for, and in which Terry Waite shows an unexpected talent for comic fiction. Terry Waite was born in Cheshire in 1939. He spent many years working for the Anglican Church in East Africa, before being recruited by the Archbishop of Canterbury as an Advisor on his Private Staff. He negotiated the release of hostages around the world until January 1987, when he himself was taken hostage in Lebanon while negotiating for the release of others. He remained in captivity for 1,763 days, well over four years of which were spent in solitary confinement. Terry will be appearing at 7pm, at Leconfield Hall, Petworth on Sunday 8 November.


The organisers are delighted to welcome Andy McNab, David Starkey, A N Wilson, Alan Johnson, Terry Waite, Lauren Child, Jane Hawking, Irma Kurtz, Simon Cooper, Peter Hennessy, Christian Hill and Michael Billington, who will join us to talk about their books, answer questions and sign their work. There will also be a special spoken performance by Ruth Rosen and Tobias Churton to celebrate the work of William Blake. Once again our special winter concert returns. This year it celebrates the 150th anniversary of the publication of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. Simply titled “Wonderland”, this new project created by pianist Ashley Wass and violinist Matthew Trusler celebrates this anniversary and raises money for the Lenny Trusler Children’s Foundation, a charitable trust dedicated to providing relief from suffering and illness for very sick babies and children.


Stewart Collins, Artistic Director for Petworth Festival says: “It has been really exciting watching our Literary Weekend go from its standing start just four years ago to the essential part of the Petworth diary that it is today. And, it is with great excitement that we once again reveal our list of authors, books and topics for discussion this coming November. Hopefully you will agree that once again we are really tapping into the lives and work of some great and notable authors covering a genuinely wide range of topics, and hopefully you will also agree that you absolutely have to attend a good handful of events–it’s all too good to miss. And, as ever with what we do at the Festival, it’s all on your doorstep!”

The Literary Weekend Box Office is open on-line, by telephone and post. Visit or call 01798 344576 between the hours of 10:00 – 13:00, Monday to Saturday.

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Richmond Upon Thames Literature Festival

6-27 November 2015

Top authors, historians, and a former politician – the Richmond Literature Festival is back. Highlights of the Richmond Literature Festival have been announced and include an exciting mixture of books and words, tales, talks and ideas.

Richmond’s cultural event of the year will once again run throughout November, and the programme contains a number of famous literary figures, personalities and celebrities. The action-packed month includes panel discussions, creative writing workshops, crime fiction, and events marking the Borough’s World War One commemorations, history, art and science.


After-the-Storm-Jacket-ImageHighlights of the programme include:

  • British Journalist and Foreign Correspondent for the Sunday Times, Christina Lamb, will discuss her new book ‘Farewell Kabul’.
  • Top surgeon, Henry Marsh, will share stories of life, death, and brain surgery.
  • British Linguist and author, David Crystal, will take festival goers through the minefield that is British punctuation.
  • The Guardian’s Theatre Critic, Michael Billington will be in conversation with Artistic Director of the Orange Tree Theatre, Paul Miller, discussing 101 greatest plays.
  • The social history of the 1950s is explored in Virginia Nicholson’s Perfect Wives in Ideal Homes
  • Acclaimed biographer Sonia Purnell will be at Hampton Library to talk about her book First Lady: The Lives and Wars of Clementine Churchill.
  • Former Business Secretary and Twickenham MP Vince Cable, will provide a unique insight into the state of the British economy and global financial market. The discussion is part of Dr Cable’s new book After the Storm which will take place at Richmond Theatre on Sunday, November 15.


Richmond Council Cabinet Member for Arts and Culture, Cllr Meena Bond, said:

“The Richmond Literature Festival is already promising to be bigger and better than ever with a host of stellar names already on the programme. Thousands of residents come along each year to support the festival and celebrate literature in all its forms. There’s something for all literary and cultural tastes once more and so I have no doubt that the festival will be a huge success.”


The box office will open on September 28th. For more information and the full programme visit or call 020 8831 6000.


Follow the festival on Twitter for all of the latest news @richmondlitfest #richlitfest.

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Ways With Words Literature Festival

Southwold, Suffolk, November 5 – 9, 2015

This year’s Ways With Words Literature Festival in Southwold runs from 5 – 9 November and has the usual eclectic mix of fantastic speakers including: Melvyn Bragg • Penelope Lively • Maggi Hambling • Michael Buerk  • Paul Heiney • Giles Radice • Polly Toynbee • David Walker • Peter Hennessy • Terry Waite. Tickets for all events (except the literary dinner) are £12. Writing fiction, trees, reality television, Elizabeth II, David Cameron, and the Holocaust: there’s something to interest all visitors to Ways With Words.

ways with words logo

The festival opens with much good cheer when you enter St. Edmunds Hall with a glass of Adnams wine in your hand to hear Jancis Robinson talking about her career in wine writing. This event will be chaired by Simon Loftus, a past chairman of Adnams, who has published books on wine himself.


Most events take place in St Edmund’s Church Hall in Southwold except for Monday 9 November when Shirley Williams will close the festival in St Edmund’s Church, Southwold at 10.30am. Baroness Williams sits as a Liberal Democrat in the House of Lords and will talk about the Liberal Democrats severe defeat in the General Election in May and the political scene today.


© jane brownP.D. James wrote an introduction to a book on the history of Southwold and said “Thousands of visitors have asked themselves the same question – why is Southwold so special? There is its beauty. Every street and every vista holds its own particular charm, delighting eye and mind.” She goes on to mention the church, the bird-loud marshes, the beach-huts, the North Sea, the sand and shingle.
This is why we have an event at Ways With Words in Southwold Remembering P.D. James (she died on the 27 November 2014 at 94); featuring two of her old friends, Penelope Lively and Peter Kemp on Sunday 8 November at 10am. It seems particularly appropriate to have this event in Southwold as she owned a big house just off the Square, opposite The Swan.


Whether you want to know more about wine, find out about the political scene since the election, discover how to make the most of your potential or hear about betrayal and Judas Iscariot. Don’t miss the informed and inspiring speakers who come to Southwold for the Ways With Words Literature Festival.


Visitors to the festival can buy individual, day tickets or packages. Tickets are available to book online at, or by phone on 01803 867 373.

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WIN FREE TICKETS to see Peter James at the Guildford Books Festival on Wed 14 October AND A 10% DISCOUNT CODE for Lovereading members booking tickets to most events at the festival – CLICK HERE to find out how.

We also have a special 10% discount code for all Lovereading members to book tickets for the majority of events at the Guildford Book Festival. Visit the festival website, call the Box Office on 01483444334 or in person quoting discount code: LRGBF15 (some exclusions apply).

A glittering line-up is promised for the 2015 Guildford Book Festival (11-18 October) as organisers announce the preliminary list of authors, writers and thinkers coming to the town for what is now recognised as the premier literary event in the South of England.


Larger than life and twice as loud, the much-loved actor Brian Blessed makes a triumphant return to Guildford. A brilliant storyteller, he will be reading excerpts from his memoir, crammed with anecdotes from his illustrious career. Martinis will be shaken not stirred as the suave and debonair film star Roger Moore gives an enthralling and witty account of his colourful life, including his time as HM’s longest serving 007 agent.

Acclaimed journalist Max Hastings will reveal the stories behind the real-life global espionage stories of World War II in The Secret War – spies, codes and guerrillas 1939-1945. Top fiction writers include Deborah Moggach, author of successful novels Tulip Fever and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel – subsequently a blockbuster at the cinema.  Moggach’s new work, Something to Hide, is a warm, witty and wise novel about the unexpected twists that later life can bring. S J Watson’s unnerving debut Before I go To Sleep was a phenomenal international hit and made into a film starring Nicole Kidman and Colin Firth. Watson’s follow up psychological thriller, Second Life, promises to be just as tantalizing, as it asks, ‘How well do we really know ourselves?’

The non-fiction programme will be topped by a fascinating biography about the life of HRH the Prince of Wales by Catherine Mayer, who has been writing about the Windsors for three decades. The new book, Heart of A King, Charles, Prince of Wales, offers fresh insights and sheds new light on the heir to the throne. The Royal Family is also represented by HRH Princess of Michael of Kent, now a respected historical novelist, who will talk about the third book in her Anjou Trilogy.

Terry Waite has published five non-fiction books and is of course known as a humanitarian, hostage negotiator and for the ordeal he endured as a hostage himself for over four years in The Lebanon. What is less known is that he has an unexpected talent for writing comedy, which is put to great effect in his debut novel, The Voyage of the Golden Handshake, an entertaining story about life on board a cruise ship. Another debut work receiving great reviews is Campari for Breakfast, a quirky coming of age novel by award-winning actress Sara Crowe. Known for her television, stage and film work including the iconic Four Weddings and a Funeral, Sara will be telling all in what promises to be a funny and lively session. Spirits are also given top billing in Olivia Williams’ Gin glorious Gin – How mother’s ruin became the spirit of London, as she explores the vibrant cultural history of London.

Readers’ Day is always greatly anticipated by book-lovers, and this year’s event promises to thrill!  The line-up includes Gill Hornby, whose first novel, Hive, was the hit of 2013, with her new work, All Together Now, a hilarious and heart-warming novel about a singing group in a small town; Liz Fenwick, who has penned three highly popular romantic novels set in Cornwall; Guy Saville, with the sequel to his action thriller The Afrika Reich; Saira Shah, whose remarkable, funny and frank novel The Mouseproof Kitchen tells how motherhood may not turn out how you expect it to be; and historian Kate Williams, whose debut novel The Storms of War is an evocative tale about the tumultuous lives of the  De Witt family during the First World War. There is also the chance to meet Clare Mackintosh, a Richard and Judy’s Book Club featured author, and have morning coffee and chat with romantic novelist Giovanna Fletcher (Billy and Me).

Fresh from his role at the heart of the government, Vince Cable gives an incisive examination of what might be on the horizon with After The Storm – The World Economy and Britain’s Economic Future. The political life in times gone by is considered by Lord William Waldegrave in his memoir A Different Kind of Weather, in which political successes and failure, and the passing of an era, are assessed.  Elected to Parliament in 1979, Waldegrave served as a minister under Margaret Thatcher and John Major. Historical events are also in the spotlight. History buffs will enjoy Vera Brittain and the First World War by Mark Bostridge, while Paul Cox examines Wellington: Triumphs, Politics and Passions, a timely reminder of the Iron Duke’s achievements in this 200th anniversary year of the Battle of Waterloo.

The year also sees the 200th anniversary of the publication of Jane Austen’s Emma, and to celebrate Guildford Book Festival is delighted to welcome back Austentatious. An improvised comedy play based on nothing more than a title from the audience, and performed in Austen’s incomparable style, the evening was a sell-out in 2013, and is expected to be a huge draw again.

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. This year the Festival looks forward to working once again with GEDFAS and West Surrey Area NADFAS to bring a special day of art related events. Internationally renowned bookbinder, artist and conservator Dominic Riley will be giving two talks in which he’ll share his passion for beautiful and interesting books, with examples from his own vast collection. There will also be a lecture by leading art expert, Douglas Skeggs, who will be examine the ground-breaking work of Picasso and Hockney, and their influences as ‘the old masters of modern art.’ The Amnesty International event will this year see Caroline Moorhead share stories about the resistance movement in France during the Second World War, reading excerpts from her Village of Secrets trilogy.

Guildford Book Festival has also scheduled an exciting programme for schools, and a strong children’s section, led by Piers Torday, who’ll be talking about the final installment in The Last Wild Trilogy.

Would-be writers will be able to kick-start their writing career by taking part in a ‘plotting’ workshop with romantic comedy novelist Chris Manby, and in the session ‘How to get published’, led by bestselling author and Books Editor at Woman & Home Fanny Blake (Orion) and journalist turned writer Lucy Atkins (Quercus).

Advance tickets for select events are available from or from box offices at Guildford’s Tourist Information Centre and Electric Theatre. See website for more information and for latest updates.

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The full event guide for the Harrogate History Festival is now available to view here



You heard it here first! Every year, new writers hit the bookshelves; new names, fresh names, good names – and here, we have brought you five new writers of the very best new historical works of fiction. The Historical Writers’ Association is in the fourth year of its Debut Crown Award for best debut historical novel. Here we have our pick of the best new novelists whose books cross eras and span continents. The New Blood panel brings you five of the brilliant shortlisted authors; Toby Clements for The Winter Pilgrims, Ben Fergusson for The Spring of Kasper Meier, Antonia Hodgson for The Devil in the Marchalsea, Anna Hope for Wake and Stephen Burke for The Good Italian.

These five sparkling new talents will talk to HWA and Prize committee Chair, Manda Scott, about their books, their experience of life in the world of publishing, and their plans for the future.

We have three pairs of tickets to give away for New Blood on Saturday 24 October at the Old Swan Hotel, Harrogate at 12.00pm.

To have a chance of winning one of three pairs of tickets, 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. Draw closes on 2 October 2015. The winners will be notified by 6 October 2015. Good luck!


Follet and Morpurgo star in Harrogate History Fest line-up

Ken Follett, Michael Morpurgo, and Kate Mosse will be among the writers at the third Harrogate History Festival.
Others appearing at the festival, run in association with the Historical Writers’ Association (HWA), include Princess Michael of Kent, Thomas Cromwell biographer Tracy Borman, and Scottish historian and broadcaster Neil Oliver.
Gemma Rowland, literature festivals manager, said: “Harrogate’s literary festivals are an essential part of the publishing calendar and the History Festival is no exception. “Now in our third year, we have gathered some of the most exciting names in historical writing, both fiction and non-fiction, for old and young alike. From Michael Morpurgo to Kate Mosse, Neil Oliver to Melvyn Bragg and Princess Michael of Kent, we have something for everyone, and all united in a passion for history in all its forms.”
The festival will open with the HWA Debut Crown for New Historical Fiction and the Harrogate History Festival’s Outstanding Contribution to Historical Fiction will also be presented, in a ceremony hosted by broadcaster Mark Lawson.
Other events include a ‘My Era’s Better than Yours’ vote, in which period writers will attempt to convince the audience that the Romans, Tudors, Vikings or Ancient Greeks are the best eras for time travellers to return to in a Tardis.
The Harrogate History Festival takes place at the Old Swan Hotel from 22nd to 25th October.


Special Guest: Michael Morpurgo  – The former children’s laureate Michael Morpurgo has written over 130 books. One of our best-loved storytellers, War Horse was adapted to film by Spielberg and stage by the National Theatre.
History is his inspiration – the combination of truth and the magic of storytelling, “speak to us personally and perhaps even have the power to change us as people.”
Prepare to be inspired. Friday 23 October Old Swan Hotel | 9am

Special Guest: Kate Mosse in Conversation with Manda Scott
Two towering pioneers of historical fiction promise to enlighten, enthral and entertain.
Kate Mosse is the international bestselling author who declared our times a ‘golden age’ for historical fiction. Who better to discuss why ‘history is hot’ than with Manda Scott – the author and Chair of the Historical Writers’ Association. Scott is a passionate advocate of the genre that allows us to ‘live a thousand lives’. A novelist, commentator and screenwriter, her books have been short listed for an Orange Prize, nominated for an Edgar Award and translated into over twenty languages.
Friday 23 October Old Swan Hotel | 5pm

New Blood
You heard it here first!  Every year, new writers hit the bookshelves; new names, fresh names, good names – and here, we have brought you four new writers of the very best new historical works of fiction. The Historical Writers’ Association is in the fourth year of its Debut Crown Award for best debut historical novel. Here we have our pick of the best new novelists whose books cross eras and span continents.  The New Blood panel brings you four of the brilliant shortlisted authors, Toby Clements for The Winter Pilgrims, Ben Ferguson for The Spring of Kasper Meier, Antonia Hodgson for The Devil in the Marshalsea and Anna Hope for Wake.

These four sparkling new talents will talk to HWA and Prize committee Chair, Manda Scott, about their books, their experience of life in the world of publishing, and their plans for the future.
Saturday 24 October Old Swan Hotel | 12.00pm

Special Guest: Melvyn Bragg  – Melvyn Bragg’s new novel is set in 1381 when the people of England marched on London to protest against unfair taxes, corruption and to demonstrate  their  complete loss of faith in authority. The Peasant’s Revolt  was the biggest rebellion in English history.
Now Is The Time powerfully captures all the passion and patriotism of this extraordinary struggle between those in power and the apparently powerless.
Sunday 25 October Old Swan Hotel | 11.30am

Special Guest: HRH Princess Michael of Kent –  Royalty has always enthralled and been the most enduring subject for historical writing – fact and fiction. Who better than to welcome to the Harrogate History Festival, a bona fide Princess!
Alongside being a member of the British royal family, the Princess is also a best-selling author, releasing five books including the royal-inspired The Serpent and The Moon and The Queen of Four Kingdoms.
For more than twenty five years, the Princess has pursued a successful career lecturing on historical topics. She lives with her husband, Prince Michael of Kent, in Kensington Palace in London.
In Harrogate, she’ll discuss the third book in her Anjou trilogy following the Queen of Four Kingdoms and Agnes Sorel: Mistress of Beauty.
Saturday 24 October – Old Swan Hotel | 8.30pm

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Wimbledon BookFest 2015, 2-11 October 2015  

The ninth annual Wimbledon BookFest is back this autumn bringing the worlds of literature, the arts, popular culture, film and sport to the Big Tent on Wimbledon Common. 2015 headliners include: global best-selling novelists Louis de Bernieres and Sebastian Faulks; Brit Award ‘Critics Choice’ longlisted George the Poet; TV adventurers Ben Fogle and Steve Backshall; and the biggest selling female historian of all time, Alison Weir.


Headlining the Children’s programme are poet Michael Rosen; actress and conservationist Virginia McKenna and, back by popular demand, the Wombles singalong!  We will be celebrating the 150th anniversary of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland with a Mad Hatter Storytelling event; and fans of Sean the Sheep will be able to learn how to make their own models with Aardman Animations.

Events for schools include Steve Cole, Josh Lacey and performances by the Hip Hop Shakespeare Company and George the Poet.

The Festival also includes an eclectic programme of film screenings, live music, workshops and the popular comedy on Wimbledon Common event headlined by Seann Walsh.  Sports fans won’t want to miss Brian Moore and friends talking about the upcoming Rugby World Cup and David ‘Bumble’ Lloyd discussing his cricketing memoir with John Inverdale.

Ben-Fogle-and-Storm_smSet on glorious Wimbledon Common, a specially commissioned Big Tent seating up to 500, and an intimate William Morris themed marquee, provide the focal point for the festival. With Wimbledon Village on the doorstep, Wimbledon BookFest is one of the most appealing festivals in London today.

Festival Director, Fiona Razvi said: “Wimbledon BookFest is continuing to build on its reputation as a leading London book festival. This year we’re broadening the scope of our programme to include more music, film and performance based events but at the heart of the festival there will be a full range of writers and novelists talking about topics as diverse as Magna Carta to Brit Pop Culture.”

Other programme highlights include:

  • Wimbledon’s very own resident tennis superstar Boris Becker discussing his career and love of Wimbledon (outside Festival dates.)
  • New BookFest partner, Hotel du Vin, Cannizaro House will host two events: Vogue editor Alexandra Shulman in conversation with Penny Vincenzi and an evening of perfume with Lizzie Ostrom.
  • Doctor and broadcaster Ben Goldacre talking ‘Bad Science.’
  • Go back in time with Sir Max Hastings, Tessa Dunlop, Tom Holland and Dan Jones.
  • SAS hero Andy McNab and psychologist Professor Kevin Dutton talking about how to use your ‘inner psychopath’ to get what you want out of life.
  • Discuss politics with Vince Cable, Chris Mullen and Charles Moore.  Plus Stella Duffy will talk about the soon to be launched Women’s Equality Party.
  • A day long writing course at historic Southside House with David Harsent, winner of the TS Eliot Prize for his poetry collection ‘Fire Songs’ and Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Roehampton.
  • Politician and daughter of poet Vera Brittain, Shirley Williams and Paul O’Prey, Professor of Modern Literature, University of Roehampton discuss women’s war poetry.
  • Film Screenings include ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ and the Wimbledon International Film Shorts Competition.

Tickets available at

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Book Festival News Update August 2015

See below for our latest round up of Book festivals for the late Summer and Early Autumn. Click on the links below or scroll down to find out more.

Beyond Borders International Festival of Literature and Thought – Scottish Borders 22-23 Aug

Bewdley Book Week – Worcestershire 7 – 13 Sept

The International Agatha Christie Festival –  Torquay, Devon 11-20 Sept

Bloody Scotland – Stirling 11 – 13 Sept

Budleigh Salterton Literary Festival – 17 – 20 Sep

Henley Literature Festival – 28 Sept – 4 Oct


Beyond Borders International Festival of Literature and Thought Traquair House, August 22-23

First Ministers Past and Present Gather at Traquair House

Beyond-Borders-LogsmBeyond Borders Scotland has launched the programme for its sixth International Festival of Literature and Thought – held at Traquair House on August 22 & 23 – welcoming three First Ministers, past and present, to the platform to share their personal experiences and future hopes for Scotland in the UK and the wider world.

Mark Muller Stuart, Executive-Director of Beyond Borders said; “We believe there is something for everyone in this year’s programme. Whether you are interested in politics, literature, art, music or spellbinding stories from around the world, Traquair House and its beautiful grounds offer the perfect setting for a weekend of vibrant public debate, walks, rides and food tasting. We urge everyone to come and travel beyond borders.”

This year the Scottish political landscape takes centre stage with panels uncovering the lives of some of Scotland’s foremost politicians. Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Alex Salmond MP join the Festival on different days to discuss the impact of the Referendum and the General Election as well as what it means to be the First Minister of Scotland, while Lord Jack McConnell reveals what happens when you lose high office in ‘What Jack did Next: Life after Politics’.

Looking further afield, 20 years on from the tragic events in Srebrenica, Scottish Conservatives leader Ruth Davidson MSP goes back to her roots in journalism to interview veteran foreign correspondents Janine di Giovanni and Allan Little about reporting from international conflict zones in ‘Srebrenica Remembered’. This panel will be accompanied by all-day screenings of Srebrenica Survivors, a documentary film directed by Bosnian Samir Mehanovic, which tells the stories of those who survived the genocide.

Other international talks feature Magnus Linklater on the rise of Islamic State, veteran UN diplomat Staffan de Mistura on the search for peace in Syria, and Indian politician Shashi Tharoor on the future of India.

The programme also encompasses numerous literary talks from celebrated poet Blake Morrison, novelist Rachel Cusk, Palestinian writer Raja Shehadeh, as well as historical tales from William Dalrymple about “Mughals in Kilts” and Andrew Duff on a Buddhist Himalayan Kingdom. Away from the main stage, Stuart Kelly talks to Murray Pittock in the Traquair Chapel about the Jacobite Uprising, while Mary Kenny takes walkers on a Jacobite romp, and food writer Fiona Bird goes foraging with local writer Fi Houston.

On a more light-hearted note Steve Richards returns for a satirical look at the UK’s political classes with Sir Menzies Campbell, while Yasmin Alibhai-Brown performs her Fringe show ‘Promiscuous England.’ Other theatrical performances include Guy Masterson’s award-winning rendition of Under Milkwood, and Gerald Gifford plays a unique collection of 18th century pieces on the Traquair Rucker’s harpsichord.

Richard Demarco, Director of the Demarco European Arts Foundation, who will speak about his life in the arts in celebration of his 85th birthday, said of the Festival, “This Festival puts Traquair on the international map and gives a new and dynamic beating heart to international arts festivals.”

The full Beyond Borders Scotland Summer Events Programme and Box Office is available online at Tickets: Weekend Pass £45/Day Pass £24/Individual Events £9/Walks and Cycle Rides £6. For more information, email or call 0131 557 7775.



Bewdley Book Week 7-13 September 2015

Poet Laureate Star of Bewdley Book Week

Bewdley logoIn what is a major coup for a literary festival of its size, Bewdley Book Week has secured an appearance by Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy.

The week-long festival of writing is only in its fifth year but the appearance of the internationally recognised wordsmith this September marks a step-change in its growth. In this eye-catching event, Carol Ann Duffy will perform her work in a distinctly informal setting in tandem with traditional music from Worcester-based band Bitterroots. There’s support from Malvern-based poet Michael Woods. The show is on Friday 11th September and tickets (only £12) are on sale now. It’s bound to be a sell-out so the organisers are encouraging everybody to book early to avoid missing out on what promises to be a lively and stimulating evening.

There’s something for everyone in the eclectic Book Week 2015 programme from a philosopher talking about life from the point of view of death (Raymond Tallis – Monday 7th September) to a music biographer talking about shady goings on in the world of pop music (Clinton Heylin – Wednesday 9th September). Somewhere in between, a BBC foreign affairs producer lifts the lid on his turbulent relationship with the BBC’s World Affairs Editor, John Simpson (Oggy Boytchev – Tuesday 8th September.)

Another event that is already proving to be hugely attractive, the Saturday afternoon event ‘Tea and Cake with Katie, Jo and Rachel’, Heart FM’s breakfast show co-presenter Rachel New, herself an aspiring author, will moderate a conversation with bestselling romantic novelists Katie Fforde and Jo Thomas.

There’s lots more besides and the full programme can be found at Tickets can be purchased on-line from this website. Alternatively, they’re available from Bewdley’s Tourist Information Centre 0845 607 7819.


Fresh insights into the life, literature and legacy of the world’s best-selling author are promised to visitors of all ages when the expanded 125th anniversary edition of the International Agatha Christie Festival (IACF) takes place in her home town of Torquay in Devon, from September 11-20.

Upwards of 10,000 people are expected to be drawn in by the festival’s nine days of talks, tours, book launches, exhibitions, theatre, films, writing workshops, vintage entertainments and by a celebrity guest list which includes broadcaster Kate Adie; novelists Martin Edwards, Sophie Hannah, Bonnie MacBird and Ali Sparkes; Christie scholar John Curran, theatre expert Julius Green and artist Tom Adams, among many others.

Speaking as the full programme was published online, Dr Anna Farthing, director of the 2015 festival, said: “As well as being the world’s best-selling author, its most translated novelist and the UK’s most successful woman playwright, Dame Agatha Christie was a fascinating character, whose work was shaped by her life and times and whose enduring impact reaches much further than her writings. In programming this 125th anniversary festival, my aim has been to fully reflect this breadth and depth by supplementing favourite and familiar stories with new viewpoints and fresh insights – some of them never made public before – in ways that will appeal as much to younger people and newcomers as they will to lifelong fans.”

More than 100 events will be on the festival menu with each day taking a special theme, starting on Saturday 12 September with a Family Day of children’s author-led workshops, trails, stories and an outdoor show on the lawns where a young Agatha herself performed. The week then continues with focuses on the First World War years; Miss Marple; the Golden Age of Detective Fiction, International Agatha, Agatha & Theatre and Agatha For Everyone.

At the heart of the programme will be a birthday party on September 15 at the festival’s main venue, Torre Abbey, while other highlights and locations will include:

  • an exhibition of previously unpublished photos from the Christie family’s private archives;
  • book talks and launches by, among others, Kate Adie (discussing Agatha & WW1); Sophie Hannah (whose new novel A GAME FOR ALL THE FAMILY was written while she was also working on her recent Poirot best-seller), crime writer Martin Edwards sharing episodes from his factual account, THE GOLDEN AGE OF MURDER and Julius Green, whose latest title CURTAIN UP, explores Agatha Christie’s output as the world’s most successful female playwright;
  • French cookery writer Anne Martinetti, author of a series of recipe books linked to writers/film-makers, preparing food from Christie stories in the kitchen at Agatha’s long-time Devon home: Greenway on the river Dart, near Brixham;
  • John Curran leading an illustrated Q&A with the artist Tom Adams, 90 next year, who between 1963 and 1975 designed around 100 covers for Christie’s paperbacks
  • daily workshops led by leading authors and publishers
  • a series of vintage and social occasions – among them a vintage fair, a tea dance, a cocktail party and a grand ball at Greenway
  • an introduction to poisons by A IS FOR ARSENIC author Dr Kathryn Harkup and a guided tour of the potent plants garden at Torre Abbey
  • A resident company of professional actors giving pop-up performances and readings
  • Events linked to the BBC’s new David Walliams and Jessica Raine series, PARTNERS IN CRIME, based on Agatha Christie’s Tommy & Tuppence stories plus a rare silent film featuring the same characters showing with a live piano accompaniment
  • A gala evening marking the 80th anniversary of the RNIB’s Talking Book for the Blind service and its choice of Christie’s THE MURDER OF ROGER ACKROYD as its first work of fiction.

For full programme details, including venues, ticket prices and bookings, please see:


BLOODY SCOTLAND 11-13 September in Stirling

Bloody-Scotland-smAs the literary world celebrates Agatha Christie’s 125th anniversary, this year’s Bloody Scotland festival pays homage to crime writing past, present and future. Martina Cole, Linwood Barclay, Ian Rankin, Arne Dahl, Val McDermid, Lindsey Davis and Ann Cleeves are amongst the major names confirmed to attend the most star-studded edition of the Stirling-based crime writing festival to date.

The festival, which showcases the best of Scottish and international crime writing in the historic and ancient town centre of Stirling, will run from 11 – 13 September this year. The science behind crime writing comes to the fore in a number of events, some of the most famous crime authors in the world are coming to Stirling to talk about their books, and the festival joins in the Agatha Christie celebrations with an extra special event.

In a huge coup for the festival, Martina Cole, one of the biggest names in international crime fiction, whose books have sold over ten million copies in the UK alone, will offer Bloody Scotland audiences an exclusive sneak preview of her soon-to-be-published novel Get Even, in conversation with Guardian columnist Erwin James.
Linwood Barclay, author of thirteen novels including the international best-sellers Trust Your Eyes, A Tap on the Window and No Time for Goodbye, comes over from Canada for a UK exclusive event, to close the festival in style. Lindsey Davis, the phenomenally popular creator of Roman dectective Falco, is guaranteed to fill Stirling’s Albert Halls as she introduces her new novel Deadly Election. Arne Dahl, possibly Sweden’s most famous crime fiction export, returns to Bloody Scotland following the huge success of his series about the Intercrime Unit on BBC4. Ian Rankin teams up with Philip Kerr, author of the Bernie Gunther novels, to discuss what happens when your lead detective becomes even more popular than you are. Ann Cleeves will not only be appearing at the festival, but will be taking a group of readers on a trip to Shetland immediately after the festival proper finishes for a tour of the landscapes that inspired her Jimmy Perez novels and the hugely-acclaimed BBC TV series. Denise Mina teams up with award-winning South African-based novelist Belinda Bauer to discuss the creations of intelligent, character-driven fiction.

The science of crime comes under the microscope this year. The festival celebrates Agatha Christie’s anniversary with an exciting event looking at the grande dame of crime fiction’s obsession with poisons. Dr Kathryn Harkup, author of the book A is for Arsenic, and Christie expert Ragnar Jonasson, who has been Christie’s Icelandic translator since he was seventeen, will discuss the art of chemistry Christie used to kill the vast majority of her ‘victims’. Leading authors Val McDermid and Lin Anderson discuss the science of forensic evidence: Anderson’s Rhona MacLeod novels show her years of research into forensic and scientific detection, while McDermid has recently published a fascinating non-fiction work, Forensics: An Anatomy of Crime.

As ever, Bloody Scotland includes lots of events that don’t quite conform to the standard book festival template. After its huge popularity in 2014, the festival restages its Scotland vs. England all-crime-writers football match, with team captain Ian Rankin and star strikers Chris Brookmyre and Doug Johnstone already confirmed for the Scotland squad.   Whose Crime Is It Anyway? sees comedian Hardeep Singh Kohli and a live audience force authors Caro Ramsay, Kevin Wignall and Chris Brookmyre to improvise the plot of a novel live onstage. The festival will also be taking over Stirling’s famous Curly Coo pub for a night of song and comedy hosted by a number of authors.

Scottish crime writers including William McIlvanney, Doug Johnstone, Craig Robertson and Neil Broadfoot look at what make Glasgow and Edinburgh such distinctive settings for noir fiction, while a special true crime event looks sees Tom Wood, one of the leading officers in Edinburgh’s notorious World’s End Murders case, in conversation with journalist Bob Smyth, who covered the case extensively.

There are also a number of events celebrating crime fiction’s next generation. Bestselling author Alex Gray presents her choice of the best new crime books around (and their authors); highly acclaimed debut novelists Lucy Ribchester (The Hourglass Factory) and Not The Booker Prize-winner Simon Sylvester (The Visitors) make first-time appearances with their alternative takes on the genre, and the Pitch Perfect event offers new writers the chance to pitch their novels and get advice from a panel of publishing experts. The festival also teams up with other established crime writing organisations, including Nordic Noir, Brighton’s Dark & Stormy Festival and the authors’ collective Killer Women.

Finally, the festival will also include the fourth annual Bloody Scotland Crime Book of the Year Award – a gala dinner in the company of major crime writers. Last year’s winner, Peter May, will be opening the festival in conversation with Val McDermid.

Tickets are on sale from or at the Box Office in the Tolbooth, Stirling, from Tuesday – Saturday (10-6am) on 01786 27 4000. Free standby tickets are available to the unemployed or those on a low income, on the day of the event if there is good availability. Proof of eligibility is required: visit


budlitfest_logo_colourThis year’s festival reveals a diverse selection of critically acclaimed, award-winning authors who are set to descend on the East Devon seaside town for the festival’s 7th consecutive year.

Appearing on Thursday afternoon will be celebrated children’s author and artist, Judith Kerr, creator of iconic books such as The Tiger Who Came to Tea, When Hitler Stole the Pink Rabbit and the Mog series. Judith will be discussing Creatures: A Celebration of the Life and Work, which celebrates her impressive 45 year career.

Also making an appearance on Thursday afternoon will be British actress, comedian and writer Helen Lederer who will discuss her debut novel Losing It, and her colourful career. Returning to the festival line-up is double Man Booker Prize winner and long-standing Honorary Festival President, Dame Hilary Mantel DBE, who will give an account of the literature that has shaped her life and writing, in an event entitled My Life in Books, the first of two appearances over the four days.

On the Friday, acclaimed biographers Ruth Scurr and Rachel Holmes will discuss their weighty biographies of 17th century English gentleman John Aubrey and radical feminist, campaigner and biographer Eleanor Marx.

Legendary artist and textile designer Kaffe Fassett will share his love of colour and bold patterns, whilst former cricketer turned cricket commentator David ‘Bumble’ Lloyd will talk about his forthcoming memoir and thoughts on the game. Debut authors Paula Hawkins and Renee Knight will also wax lyrical about their exceptional and bestselling, debut thrillers, The Girl on The Train and Disclaimer.

Following the success of her debut novel Tigers in Red Weather, former New York Times journalist and Sunday Times bestselling author, Liza Klaussman will be discussing her latest book Villa America. Set on the French Riviera in the 1920s, the novel focuses on Gerald and Sara Murphy; the couple that inspired Tender is the Night, and the distinguished guests that visited them, including Ernest Hemingway, Scott Fitzgerald and Pablo Picasso.

Friday evening closes with an exciting event that celebrates the BBC’s television adaptations of Winston Graham’s much loved Poldark. His son Andrew Graham will discuss the process of bringing the characters, stories and rugged Cornish Coast to life with the series scriptwriter Debbie Horsfield (Making Out, Cutting It, Sex, Chips and Rock’n’Roll). There’s also a strong possibility that members of the cast or crew will join this event.

Also on Saturday is acclaimed British dramatist David Hare who will be making a special appearance at the Festival to talk about his exceptional life writing for theatre, film and television. A BAFTA winner, he will be discussing his forthcoming memoir, The Blue Touch Paper, with Observer writer Rachel Cooke.

British-Chinese writer and Radio presenter Xinran will be talking about her thoughts on China and her eye-opening new book Buy Me The Sky: the Remarkable Truth of China’s One-Child Generation. Eminent philosopher John Gray will be discussing free will and pondering the timeless question: Do human beings want more choice in their lives…. Or do they really dream of being free from the burden of choice altogether?

Robert Douglas-Fairhurst will celebrate the 150th anniversary of Alice in Wonderland and explore what makes Lewis Carroll’s magical tale of Alice so unique and distinctive, whilst Bookclub favourite Patrick Gale will talk about the mysterious family history that inspired his wonderful new novel, A Place Called Winter.

Dame Margaret Drabble will discuss her fantastic latest novel, The Pure Gold Baby and her thoughts on storytelling and great literature, whilst Man Booker Prize winner Ben Okri will wax lyrical about creativity, transformation and his first new novel in seven years, The Age of Magic. Bringing the festival to a close on Sunday afternoon will be much loved author Sarah Waters who will read and talk about her acclaimed latest novel, The Paying Guests.

The Festival will also feature three local authors. Christine Lee will discuss her relationship with her sister Jennifer Worth (author of Call the Midwife) and her debut novel The Midwife’s Sister. Budleigh author and artist Jed Falby will talk about his debut graphic novel, Le Train de Michel, with renowned comic expert and author Paul Gravett. And Peter Nasmyth will share his passion for the Literature and Landscape of East Devon with an illustrated talk.

For information and to purchase tickets visit . Tickets can be booked in person or by phone from The Tourist Information Centre: 01395 445 275.

HENLEY LITERARY FESTIVAL 28 September – 4 October

Actors, adventurers, comedians, cooks, politicians And sports stars join bestsellers  at Henley Literary Festival

Henley Literary festival_1This autumn’s Henley Literary Festival is the biggest yet with 170 talks, Q&As, performances and workshops with speakers including Brian Blessed, Jane Hawking, Lynda La Plante, Sue Perkins and the Archbishop of York.

Henley Literary Festival, in association with Baillie Gifford, takes place at venues across the picturesque riverside town from September 28 to October 4, including one of the UK’s oldest theatres, a boat on the Thames and the historic Fawley Court, which is opening its doors to the public for the first time in 175 years for a special event with Downtown Abbey writer Jessica Fellowes. Jane Hawking will discuss her memoir, which formed the basis for Oscar-winning film The Theory of Everything. Adventurers Ranulph Fiennes and Ben Fogle will be returning to Henley after sell-out events in the past, while the world of religion will be represented by Cormac Murphy O’Connor, former Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks and the Archbishop of York, John Sentamu.

Fiction events range from international bestsellers Louis de Bernieres, Lynda La Plante, SJ Watson, Deborah Moggach and Sex & The City creator Candace Bushnell to newer talents including Emma Hooper, Sunny Singh, and Vaseem Khan. Festival favourites Rachel Johnson, Melvyn Bragg, Gill Hornby and Princess Michael of Kent will also be discussing their latest novels.

History will loom large as ever, including Max Hastings on World War Two, Peter Snow on Waterloo and Bonnie Greer on Rosa Parks. Food-writers Ella Woodward, Prue Leith, Shivi Ramoutar and Celebrity Masterchef winner Lisa Faulkner will all be appearing at the festival, as will music stars Tracey Thorn, Bob Harris and Dean Friedman.

From stage and screen there is Brian Blessed, Virginia McKenna, Sue Perkins and Pam St Clement, while sport will be represented by former England cricket coach David Lloyd and Australian Rugby World Cup winner Michael Lynagh. Politicians past and present include Vince Cable, Caroline Lucas, Charles Clarke and William Waldegrave. Other speakers over the week include columnists Polly Vernon, Bryony Gordon, Yasmin Alibhai‐Brown and Will Hutton, campaigner Caroline Criado‐Perez and raconteur Gyles Brandreth, who hosts the Festival’s first literary lunch at Henley’s Hotel du Vin.

For tickets and further information visit:

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The Times and The Sunday Times Cheltenham Literature Festival 2-11 October 2015

LOVEREADING4KIDS are delighted to announce we are sponsoring the highlight event of the children’s Book It! programme

Where My Wellies Take Me with Michael Morpurgo at The Times and The Sunday Times Cheltenham Literature Festival on Sunday 11 October

Bestselling author of War Horse, The Butterfly Lion and Kensuke’s Kingdom. Michael joins actor Natalie Walter and the award-winning acapella group Voices at the Door for an unforgettable afternoon of pastoral poetry and music, celebrating nature and the joy of language.


With the line up announced why not have a browse and use the ‘wishlist‘ to create your personal festival programme. Click here to find out more.


The Times and The Sunday Times Cheltenham Literature Festival 2-11 October 2015

cheltenham_lit_logo_350For culture lovers, there’s really only one place to be this autumn, and that’s The Times and The Sunday Times Cheltenham Literature Festival. Running from Friday till Sunday, October 2-11 in a bespoke tented village in the heart of a lively spa town on the edge of the Cotswolds, the Festival boasts one of the most remarkable line-ups of culture-shaping giants that you’re likely to see.

In its spectacular programme of more than 500 events, the Festival will also touch upon subjects as diverse as history, politics, sport, food and fashion. The Festival’s events are carefully designed to bring together highly sought-after speakers to create stimulating, surprising, and entertaining events that ignite once-in-a-lifetime conversations.

This year’s Guest Directors bring with them a wide breadth of experience and expertise from around the world. They are Pulitzer Prize-winning American novelist Jane Smiley; socially motivated spoken word artist George the Poet; multi-award winning Australian novelist (author of The Slap) Christos Tsiolkas; and German author and founder of The European magazine Alexander Görlach.


The wonderfully popular Book It! family programme also returns this year with an enviable programme that features the world’s most-popular authors for children and young people, including an event which sees current and former Children’s Laureates Chris Riddell and Michael Rosen speaking together.


Booker Prize-winning Salman Rushdie will present his much anticipated first novel in eight years: Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights, which is a tribute to One Thousand and One Nights.

Jonathan Franzen is one of the brightest stars of American letters and he’ll be at Cheltenham discussing his new novel Purity. Paula Hawkins’s psychological thriller The Girl on the Train has been 2015’s surprise bestseller on both sides of the Atlantic. She’ll be at the Festival discussing the blockbuster book.

The Booker-winning author Pat Barker will be in conversation with Anthony Beevor, discussing her new novel Noonday, which is set against the backdrop of the Blitz. Louis de Bernieres also visits a wartime setting for his new novel, The Dust That Falls From Dreams.

Pat is one of six past Booker Prize winners speaking at this year’s Festival. The other winners include: John Banville, Julian Barnes, Anne Enright, and Peter Carey.

Peter Carey will be at the Festival to receive The Sunday Times Award for Literary Excellence, which was last year presented to Kazuo Ishiguro in a completely sold out Town Hall event.

The Festival also has its now highly anticipated Man Booker Finalists event, which has become a literary landmark on the Festival scene. Last year, all six finalists read from their books and discussed their work.

Patrick Gale, author of A Perfectly Good Man, will also be appearing, as will The Time Traveller’s Wife author Audrey Niffenegger and Whitbread Prize-winning Jeanette Winterson.

Once again, Cheltenham will be celebrating debut writers and this year’s Festival will see talks from rising stars including Laura Barnett, Claire Fuller, Julia Rochester, Sarah Leipciger, Francesca Haig and Helena Coggan.

The actress and playwright Meera Syal has now added novelist to her CV. She will discuss her new book, The House of Hidden Mothers, a tale of parallel lives in London and rural India.

Festival favourites Rachel Johnson, India Knight, and Laura Thompson will be digging up some historical gossip to explore the scandalous lives of Britain’s most famous society sisters, the Mitfords.

Britain’s most distinguished living satirical novelist David Lodge will talk to great American novelist and Festival Guest Director Jane Smiley about his life and career, while Kate Atkinson will talk about her new book, A God in Ruins, which is a sequel to the Costa Award winning Life after Life.

George the Poet defies stereotypes. Born on a northwest London council estate, George is a rapper with a degree from King’s College, Cambridge. Now he is redefining what poetry means to the twenty-ten generation: hear his brilliant spoken word social commentary live in Cheltenham.

George heads up an incredibly strong poetry strand, which includes talks from Les Murray, Oxford’s new professor of poetry Simon Armitage, Paul Muldoon and Wendy Cope.

This year’s big Times Debate is about Europe: Nick Clegg taking the pro-stance against MEP Daniel Hannan who wants out. Minette Batters of the NFU will also be on the panel, which will be chaired by Justin Webb.

David Cameron’s former policy guru Steve Hilton, author of More Human, will discuss his radical solutions to society’s problems, while surgeon Atul Gawande, author of Being Mortal, will talk about the future of medicine, ageing and what is a good death.

Nigel Lawson will join Gus O’Donnell and Alistair Darling to explain How to Write a Budget and James Rubin, former US Assistant Secretary of State will talk about the Cold War.

Yeonmi Park, who in 2007 aged just 13 escaped with her family from North Korea, will talk about life in the totalitarian state, the terrifying escape and her vision for the country’s future.

The last Dambuster, 93-year-old George Johnson, will talk about what really happened during the RAF’s now legendary 1943 Dambuster raids, while Max Hastings will talk about espionage and intelligence, treachery and deception — the topic of his next book The Secret War.

Antony Beevor will detail the Battle of the Bulge, the subject of his latest book, Ardennes 1944, while father and son presenters, Dan and Peter Snow will investigate the Battle of Waterloo.

Provocative historian Niall Ferguson will set out his revisionist case for America’s most controversial statesman, Henry Kissinger.

Other non-fiction names announced include Robert Macfarlane with his recent bestseller Landmarks and Shakespearean scholar James Shapiro talking about 1606; the year of King Lear, Macbeth, and Anthony and Cleopatra. Historians Robert Tombs and Ian Kershaw also join the line-up.

Celebrated choreographer Matthew Bourne will also talk about his incredible life in dance and West End star and online sensation Carrie Hope Fletcher will discuss the perils of celebrity.

Simon Schama returns to Cheltenham to tell the history of Britain through its portraits, while ceramicist Edmund de Waal tells the story of his obsession with porcelain and the inspirations for his life as an artist. Two decades on from Notes from a Small Island, Bill Bryson returns with The Road to Little Dribbling.

Suppressed by the courts till now, pianist James Rhodes will speak openly to publisher Jamie Byng about his memoir Instrumental, which details his dramatic life. This event will feature musical interludes from James.

One of the greatest stage actors of our time, Antony Sher, will talk about how you prepare for Shakespeare’s greatest roles, while Tracey Thorn and Mark Ellen, The Everything But the Girl singer and the leading music writer, will discuss pop, their favourite singers, The X Factor and more.

Mike Atherton, David Gower, David Lloyd and Richard Tomlinson come face-to-face to discuss who is the greatest ever cricketer.

Cheltenham favourite AP McCoy will also be back in Cheltenham – he’s not chasing the Gold Cup this time though, instead Tony will be talking about his book Winner: A Racing Life.

Over a sumptuous dinner, Oz Clarke will take festivalgoers on a history of wine in 100 bottles, while reigning domestic goddess Nigella Lawson will discuss her latest foodie adventures.  Rick Stein will also talk about his culinary career.

The full Festival line-up will be announced on Saturday, August 8 at To be the first to hear Festival announcements, sign up at Booking for Cheltenham Literature Festival opens to Members at 1pm on Wednesday, August 26 and to the general public at 1pm on Wednesday, September 2. To book, you need to create a Wish List in advance here:

Further information and to book tickets visit: or phone on 0844 880 8094


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Thoughts from an Orkney Librarian

by Stewart Bain

At a time when Amazon reviews and star-ratings have become devalued, how do we come across that very special book that will stay with us for a lifetime?  Orkney Library’s Senior Library Assistant Stewart Bain says trust your local librarian.


Profile picIt is impossible to remember every detail about all the books you have read. Some you vaguely recall; it was to do with a dinner lady winning thousands on the bingo and moving abroad; or, it was quite a big book and had a picture of a hefty man standing next to a Ford Anglia on the cover.


Others books are so forgettable they will leave your memory permanently the very second you read the last word. Then there are the books in which the people and places resonate with you to such an extent that they will stay with you forever.  This is the sort of book everyone wants to read, so how do you find it?


You may read books because they have been recommended to you. If a friend tells you they have just finished an amazing novel and you must read it, you will probably give it a go. You assume your friend is telling the truth and it isn’t some devious plan to see you waste several hours of your life as you plod through chapter after chapter of poorly written nonsense.


If you are not fortunate enough to have a friend to make reading recommendations, you may seek inspiration online. The internet is awash with book reviews, but can you trust them? In the old days it was easy, you just watched Late Review and three people who were clearly brainier than you would say clever things about the new Umberto Eco novel. However, in the digital age everyone can share their opinion on a book with the entire world.


Independent review sites can be a good starting point when you are looking for your next read. LoveReading is a site by book lovers for book lovers. It features recommendations and tools to help you find the book that is right for you. All the titles featured on LoveReading have been read and enjoyed by the people who run the site. However, if you want to see a balance of good and bad comments, you may decide to wade through the online book reviews on commercial sites. Be warned though, these could leave you more confused than enlightened.


For every positive review that ranks a new novel alongside the likes of To Kill a Mockingbird, you will find a negative one from a person who wouldn’t even tear the book up to line the bottom of the birdcage. The book Brenda from Paisley thinks is a page-turner, VexedTrevor94 thinks is a stomach-turner.  This can be terribly confusing, but to make matters worse these reviews may not even be real.


CCBv56raRecently the whole sock puppet scandal revealed the practice of authors using fake online profiles to not only give glowing praise to their own work, but also to dismiss the work of other writers. So if Brenda from Paisley and VexedTrevor94 are merely characters in The Case of the Fabricated 5-star Review by A.N. Author, who do you go to for advice on what to read next?


The answer, as it so often should be, to all sorts of questions, is the library.  Library staff have years of experience in helping readers to find the right books for them. There is no ulterior motive; they aren’t on commission; it makes no difference to a librarian if you borrow the complete works of Proust or the 19th volume of autobiography by Katie Price. People who work in libraries are there to assist you in choosing books; the only sock puppetry you will get in a library is to be found at 745.59224 #DeweyBanter.


In 2015 you don’t even have to visit the building for a library to help with your choice of reading material. Back in the day the only way to seek help from a librarian outside library opening hours was to ambush them in the beige slacks aisle of M&S or at the hairdresser as they had their bun riveted in place. Now libraries are online, answering queries through websites, e-mail and social media. You can even download books online with a library membership; it’s all very modern.


If you enjoy reading, and use the internet, you will be bombarded with publishers, publicists and authors trying to persuade you that their latest titles need to be top of your reading list. By the way authors, a DM on Twitter saying ‘Hi, thanks for following. You might like my new book The Ombudsman’s Harpsichord’ is likely to get you unfollowed quicker than you can type ‘I’ve got four bairns to feed’.


Libraries give you the information about authors and new books without the hard sell. There are no commercial interests, just a shared love of reading. One of the best things about libraries is that not only can they introduce you to new book by an author you haven’t read before, but, if you enjoyed it, they can also give you access to their previous titles. For free!


Often libraries can be a real hub of the community; readers meet, swap book titles they have enjoyed, gossip about the girl from the shoe shop who had an affair with the driving instructor, and ask the staff for help finding new authors.  Social media means more people than ever before can become part of these reading communities, regardless of where they live. There are even libraries attracting quite a sizeable global following online…


Orkney Library’s Senior Library Assistant Stewart Bain is chief Tweeter @OrkneyLibrary, which has reached 18,000 followers. He’ll be appearing on the ‘Your Perfect Match’ panel exploring the murky world of online reviews at the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival, Harrogate on Friday 17 July.

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