Cotswold Life - - COTSWOLD TOWNS -

Last year’s in­au­gu­ral War­wick Words His­tory Fes­ti­val went down a storm, with many events sold out. Now or­gan­iser He­len Meeke is aim­ing to re­peat that suc­cess with a rich and var­ied pro­gramme to­talling 40 events over 10 days, plus a few ex­tras be­fore and af­ter.

The fes­ti­val, from Oc­to­ber 1 to 10, en­com­passes talks from guest writ­ers, a Re­gency-style af­ter­noon tea with danc­ing and mu­sic, walks in War­wick and Leam­ing­ton Spa, a de­bate, a His­tory So­ci­ety Fair, a Book­start Party for un­der-fives, an evening of song, a canal ex­cur­sion, and a his­tory pub quiz.

He­len says: “Last year’s fes­ti­val was ex­tremely well re­ceived - we had a fan­tas­tic re­sponse not only from our au­di­ences but also from many lo­cal or­gan­i­sa­tions, pub­lic and com­mer­cial.

“We lis­ten to our au­di­ence, and have worked with pub­lish­ers, lo­cal his­to­ri­ans and writ­ers to de­velop a packed pro­gramme for this year, with the aim of mak­ing his­tory ac­ces­si­ble to all.”

This year’s guest writ­ers in­clude: best-sell­ing nov­el­ist Sarah Du­nant, talk­ing about her lat­est Re­nais­sance novel; au­thor and broad­caster Lucinda Hawk­sley, un­cov­er­ing aw­ful Vic­to­rian as­pects of ar­senic; his­to­rian and tv pre­sen­ter Dan Jones telling the story of the Knights Tem­plar; au­thor Alexan­der Mccall Smith dis­cussing his new col­lec­tion of short sto­ries; and bi­og­ra­pher and nov­el­ist A N Wil­son shar­ing his knowl­edge of nat­u­ral­ist Charles Dar­win.

Look­ing ahead, He­len adds: War­wick­shire is burst­ing with his­tory so we are hop­ing to in­clude more towns and vil­lages in fu­ture fes­ti­vals.”

If you can’t wait un­til Oc­to­ber there’s an early taster in the form of a pre-fes­ti­val event on Wed­nes­day, Au­gust 16, when best-sell­ing au­thor Philippa Gre­gory will talk about the last novel in her Tu­dor se­ries, The Lost Tu­dor, then the event proper gets un­der way with a His­tory Fes­ti­val Ser­vice at St Mary’s Church on Sun­day, Oc­to­ber 1, at 11am.

And while Leam­ing­ton Lit­er­ary So­ci­ety has the hon­our of host­ing the fi­nal War­wick Words talk (George Eliot & War­wick­shire, on Oc­to­ber 10), those pin­ing for more lit­er­a­ture can en­joy three au­tumn Tea Time Talks on Oc­to­ber 28, and Novem­ber 4 and 25.

Charles Spencer

Dan Jones

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