Big names for book­worms

It’s Oc­to­ber, so that means Chel­tenham Lit­er­a­ture Fes­ti­val time! We give you a few point­ers to help you plan your visit to this year’s bril­liantly book­ish event

Cotswold Life - - COTSWOLD BOOKS -

With Hil­lary Clin­ton mak­ing a late ap­pear­ance to the Chel­tenham line-up just as we are go­ing to print, ex­cite­ment is run­ning high for this year’s The Times and The Sun­day Times Chel­tenham Lit­er­a­ture Fes­ti­val, which takes place over 10 days in Oc­to­ber (6-15)

The UK’S old­est Lit­er­a­ture Fes­ti­val (es­tab­lished 1949) brings some of the bright­est minds, most in­ci­sive com­men­ta­tors, lit­er­ary greats, fresh new voices and stars of stage and screen to Chel­tenham for 10 days of de­bate and cel­e­bra­tion of the writ­ten and spo­ken word. Un­der the um­brella theme: Who Do We Think We Are? ses­sions will cover key ques­tions about Bri­tish iden­tity and cel­e­brate Bri­tain’s rich lit­er­ary and cul­tural her­itage.

Cel­e­brat­ing a rich cast of ec­centrics and na­tional trea­sures, it will ex­am­ine cul­tural of­fer­ings from Grime to The Archers in a quest to find out what makes us what we are. Bri­tish food from Nadiya Hus­sain’s Bri­tish Food Ad­ven­ture, to Queen Vic­to­ria’s favourite fare; iconic Bri­tish fash­ion from de­signer Alice Tem­per­ley; Si­mon Jenk­ins ex­tolls Bri­tain’s best rail­way sta­tions; and we get a glimpse into the pri­vate gar­dens of Bri­tish cre­atives from Anish Kapoor to An­drew Lloyd Web­ber and Jeremy Irons to Ju­lian Fel­lowes.

But the Fes­ti­val will also look at another side of Bri­tish iden­tity and give a voice to di­verse com­mu­ni­ties: Juno Daw­son and CN Lester on trans­gen­der pol­i­tics; Sabrina Mah­fouz brings to­gether Bri­tish Mus­lim women’s voices in Things I Would Tell You; and Alan John­son and Hashi Mo­hamed dis­cuss so­cial mo­bil­ity. There’s a rare chance to see two of the coun­try’s best-loved po­ets Lemn Sis­say and Jackie Kay in a pow­er­ful dis­cus­sion about race, iden­tity and what it re­ally means to truly be­long and Inua El­lams per­forms his ac­claimed tour­ing show An Even­ing With An Im­mi­grant.

Some of the big­gest names in fic­tion will be there: Sal­man Rushdie, Bernard Corn­well , Paula Hawkins , Alan Hollinghurst, Sarah Wa­ters and Roddy Doyle and the an­nual short­list cel­e­bra­tion of the 2017 Man Booker Prize. Cel­e­brat­ing an­niver­saries are in­ter­na­tional best­selling au­thor Philippa Gre­gory, Ian Rankin marks Thirty Years Of Re­bus and Joanne Har­ris raises a glass to Cho­co­lat, the novel that cap­tured the hearts and imag­i­na­tions of book, film and choco­late lovers alike. There’s the cus­tom­ary stars of stage and screen: co­me­di­ans Matt Lu­cas, Sarah Mil­li­can and Robert Webb will talk can­didly about their lives; Richard Os­man in­vites the au­di­ence to play along with The World Cup Of Ev­ery­thing; and there’s a glimpse be­hind the scenes of Net­flix’s lav­ish royal drama The Crown. BBC Arts Edi­tor Will Gom­pertz, one of this year’s five Guest Cu­ra­tors, se­lects 10 key artists – from Blake to Banksy – through which he charts Bri­tish art and so­cial his­tory in­clud­ing the Pre-raphaelites, Gains­bor­ough, Turner, David Hock­ney, Martin Parr and Tracey Emin. Cel­e­brat­ing the ex­traor­di­nary life and work of Ce­cil Beaton are Joanna Ling, head of the Ce­cil Beaton ar­chive at Sotheby’s, cu­ra­tor Robin and style guru Lisa Im­mordino Vree­land.

As ever, there is a strong cur­rent af­fairs strand. A cast of ex­perts on Amer­ica, Rus­sia and China con­vened by Robin Ni­blett, head of the in­ter­na­tion­ally-renowned think tank Chatham House, is joined by agenda-set­ters in­clud­ing Justin Webb and Nick Robin­son cel­e­brat­ing 60 years of BBC Ra­dio 4’s To­day pro­gramme; News­night’s Evan Davis; An­drew Marr; Peter Hen­nessy and John Sergeant.

Culi­nary stars speak­ing at the Fes­ti­val in­clude Nadiya Hus­sain, Nigella Law­son, Mary Berry, Tom Ker­ridge and Hugh

Fearn­ley-whit­tingstall, and in the art deco sur­round­ings of The Daf­fodil you can en­joy the ex­pe­ri­ence of lunch­ing at Clar­idge’s with the ho­tel’s Ex­ec­u­tive Chef Mar­tyn Nail. af­ter­noon tea with Princess Michael of Kent; and din­ner with Wa­haca founder Thomasina Miers. Vic­to­ria Moore shares tips from The Wine Dine Dic­tio­nary and Damian Barr presents his pop­u­lar A Book and Bot­tle while Joel Har­ri­son and Neil Ri­d­ley give travel ad­vice on where to find the best cock­tail joints

With a Chel­tenham fo­cus Robin Oak­ley talks to former Race­course Direc­tor Ed­ward Gille­spie and trainer Martin Pipe on 60 Years of Jump Rac­ing shar­ing sto­ries of the own­ers, jock­eys and train­ers who have dom­i­nated the sport. Talk­ing about Get­ting Back in the Sad­dle and their un­shake­able love of rid­ing are jockey De­clan Mur­phy and Clover Stroud who have both sur­vived im­mense trauma.

The Fes­ti­val will give a plat­form to some lo­cal voices in­clud­ing the Chel­tenham Po­etry So­ci­ety cel­e­brat­ing 300 years of the town as a spa, the Glouces­ter­shire Writ­ers Net­work pre­sent­ing a col­lec­tion of writ­ing on the Fes­ti­val’s theme Who Do We Think We Are and five free read­ings un­der the Chel­tenham Writes ban­ner. One event that’s al­ways great fun is the Chel­tenham Booker where a panel fight it out to de­cide who would have won the Man Booker Prize had it ex­isted in 1937. This year Ernest Hem­ming­way, John Stein­beck and J R R Tolkein are among the con­tenders.

There is plenty for all ages to dis­cover on the Fes­ti­val site for free: brain teasers and live mu­sic, a daily Times crossword and a daily in­stal­ment of brainy soap­boxstyle talks. There’s the op­por­tu­nity to swap books in the cosy out­door lounge The Book­stand or see Fes­ti­val-in­spired art at the Gar­dens Gallery. New this year is the af­ter-dark Fes­ti­val Club at the cen­trally-placed Ho­tel du Vin for mu­sic, con­ver­sa­tion and late-night lit­er­ary rev­elry. For one night only (Satur­day, Oc­to­ber 7) the Lit Crawl takes over the streets of Chel­tenham for a fast-paced even­ing of quirky lit­er­ary hap­pen­ings.

The Den will be filled with free book-re­lated ac­tiv­i­ties for fam­i­lies on Satur­days and Sun­days, from help­ing Maisy Mouse cre­ator Lucy Cousins cre­ate a mu­ral to a Harry Pot­ter quiz and learn­ing to draw an­i­mals with Ab­bie Cameron. In The Wood­land Trust Wild Wood fam­i­lies can set­tle down in the pic­nic area while young­sters build a den, dress up, fol­low The Fa­mous Five story trail, lis­ten to sto­ry­tellers and meet their favourite book char­ac­ters. For more on The Times and The Sun­day Times Chel­tenham Lit­er­a­ture Fes­ti­val, visit www. chel­tenham­fes­ti­vals. com; or call the box of­fice on 01242 850270.

Alice Tem­per­ley, by Tomo Brejc

Damian Barr

Philippa Gre­gory

How Not To Be a Boy, by Robert Webb

Joanne Har­ris, by Jonathan Ja­cobs

John Sargeant

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