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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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