Following last May's exceptionally successful eleventh Festival, plans are now well underway for the twelfth Swindon Festival of Literature, 1st to 15th May 2005. Authors and speakers already booked to appear include established names not only from the world of literature but also from politics, entertainment, and television. (It looks like the word is out and authors are saying: I'm a celebrity! Get me into the Swindon Festival of Literature!)
Among those coming to town in May, with new books and celebrity looks, will be Swindon boy made good, Julian Clary, left, with his autobiography A Young Man's Passage; trigger-happy television trickster Dom Joly, with his mischievously-titled book Look at Me Look at Me; outspoken politician Clare Short; BBC news correspondent Fergal Keene; a QC who dares see what's right and wrong with the Law Helena Kennedy; columnist Max Hastings; bright-tied newscaster and author Jon Snow; brain expert Professor Steven Rose; and Michael Buerk, man of moral mazes, televisual 999 calls and the historic TV report from Ethiopia 20 years ago which sparked off the Band Aid movement.
Also appearing at the Festival will be a good number of literary thoroughbreds. These include, all the way from Canada, Orange Prize Winner Anne Michaels; revered veteran artist, writer, and thinker John Berger; prizewinning novelist and television personality David Baddiel; sports and birds-writing man of letters Simon Barnes; bookish professor Lisa Jardine; Guardian life-guide Guy Browning; and columnist and sometime philosopher Michael Bywater. Also likely to appear at the Festival (negotiations still underway) are novelist Nick Hornby, ex-Mirror media man Piers Morgan, astronomer royal Sir Martin Rees, film maker John Pilger; impressionist Alistair McGowan; columnists and man about town Simon Hoggart; and, by way of something completely different, founder of the Glastonbury Festival with a book on its history, Michael Eavis.
Of course, in true Swindon Festival of Literature tradition, it will not just be famous names that make this a highspot on the town's cultural calendar. During the 15 days of the Festival, described by Mo Mowlam as 'the best-organised festival in the country,' there will also be the seventh Clive Brain Memorial Lecture, the eighth Poems & Pints, the now nationally-famous Swindon Performance Poetry Slam competition, a Children & Families Day, plus a wide range of literay talks, discussions, and readings at main theatres, arts venues, libraries, schools, pubs, parks, and even an old railway museum!
Festival frolics will begin high on that beautiful ridge in Lawn Woods, overlooking Queens Drive, at 5.30am on Sunday 1st May, with the ever-popular Dawn Chorus, where earlybirds gather for a spring carnival of poetry, song, storytelling, dance, and hot breakfasts, plus a good deal of mayday morning mischief!
Festival Director Matt Holland says, "The Festival's profile and reputation continue to grow. Each year it attracts bigger names and a larger following. At every level, it has become a fantastice celebration for Swindon of things well written and things well said. People of all ages and backgrounds have a very good time. They get together, meet authors, join in lively talk, explore new ideas, and even have a laugh! It is all very exciting!"
The 2005 Swindon Festival of Literature has been made possible by funding from the Arts Council of England, South West, whose support represents recognition of what has been achieved in literature development in Swindon. Financial support is also provided by Dominic Winter Book Auctions, Swindon Borough Council, the University of Bath in Swindon, Swindon Learning Partnership, and Lower Shaw Farm. Support in kind is also received from numerous other local and national organisations and individuals. It is heartening that all these people see the value of a festival of literature in Swindon.
The full Festival programme will be published in March. To go on the Festival mailing list, telephone 01793 771080 or e-mail email@example.com