Keep­ing it fresh

Cather­ine Larner pre­views this year’s Alde­burgh Lit­er­ary Fes­ti­val: vet­eran au­thor and Alde­burgh Lit Fest head­liner Pene­lope Lively and the eclectic Andy Ker­shaw

EADT Suffolk - - Inside -

CHOOS­ING a favourite from this year’s line up at the Alde­burgh Lit­er­ary Fes­ti­val can­not be done, says or­gan­iser, Mary James. “I like them all equally, it’s like one’s children!” Fes­ti­val-go­ers will have the same dilemma, of course. There are 18 events, tak­ing place over four days, in a long week­end of en­ter­tain­ing and en­light­en­ing pre­sen­ta­tions.

Speak­ers in­clude lit­er­ary roy­alty. Dame Pene­lope Lively will be talk­ing about her book on gar­dens. There will be fa­mil­iar faces, like broad­caster Nick Robin­son, who is in­ter­view­ing Sir Jeremy Green­stock about the Iraq war. Much-loved bi­og­ra­phers Jenny Uglow and AN Wil­son will present their stud­ies on Lear and Dar­win re­spec­tively, and James Hamil­ton will present his lit­er­ary por­trait of Gainsborough.

There will be a dis­cus­sion be­tween award­win­ning nov­el­ists Fran­cis Spufford and Lucy Hughes-Hal­lett, and there will be re­spected aca­demics such as Mar­garet MacMil­lan, talk­ing about the end of the First World War, and Pa­trick McGuin­ness on Proust.

“The in­tel­lec­tual level this year is very good,” says Mary. “We have the very best peo­ple to speak on par­tic­u­lar sub­jects.” Dave Goul­son will be talk­ing about bees, Ni­cholas Crane will ex­plore The Mak­ing of the Bri­tish Land­scape, and Wil­liam Blacker will present his book on Ro­ma­nia. With world af­fairs very much a con­cern, Ann Pet­ti­for will talk about the econ­omy and the power of the bankers, and philoso­pher Roger Scru­ton will out­line his re­sponse to the Brexit vote.

“From a lo­cal point of view, it’s nice to be able to cel­e­brate the work of friends,” says Mary. “Peo­ple like pho­tog­ra­pher Ea­monn McCabe and satirist Craig Brown, who will be talk­ing about his new book, Ma’am Dar­ling: 99 Glimpses of Princess Mar­garet.”

This is the 17th year of the fes­ti­val or­gan­ised by Mary and John James, the own­ers of Alde­burgh Book­shop. Each year brings a new chal­lenge as they en­deav­our to of­fer some­thing fresh while main­tain­ing the ex­cep­tion­ally high stan­dard for which the fes­ti­val has gained a rep­u­ta­tion.

“It’s never easy,” says Mary. “It’s like a jig­saw puzzle, so we have a chart on the wall and we move speak­ers around as we hear from them, and can fit them in.” A late ad­di­tion to the pro­gramme this year is a one-man show by broad­caster Andy Ker­shaw on Sun­day, and there will be a book launch of The Nat­u­ral Baker, by Hen­ri­etta In­man, in the book­shop on Satur­day af­ter­noon. The 17th Alde­burgh Lit­er­ary Fes­ti­val, March 1-4. Con­tact the Alde­burgh Book­shop for more de­tails www.alde­burgh­book­shop.co.uk. Tel: 01728 452389

Top: Fes­ti­val or­gan­is­ers Mary and John James Left: Nick Robin­son ap­pear­ing at the fes­ti­val

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