The 600 tickets to hear natural history expert and broadcaster David Attenborough sold out within 24 hours of the launch of the 16th Swindon’s Festival of Literature on 17 March.
No doubt there will be many complaints from people unable to see him, but what’s to be done when nearly everyone wants to be in the prescence of a national treasure. Festival director Matt Holland has been hunting down the explorer of the natural world for over seven years to appear in Swindon and finally their paths cross.
Matt Holland with festival helpers, from left, Beth Powell, Maisey Saunders, Megan Holland
Beating off competition from other leading festivals, Matt Holland has secured some great speakers: ex-Chancellor of the Exchequer Nigel Lawson, Lord Lawson of Blaby, will talk about his controversial book on global warming, An Appeal to Reason.
Inspector Morse creator, Colin Dexter will talk about his books, his input to the televison series, and answer questions about Morse, Lewis and company.
The range of authors and events is amazing. There are talks by Charles Darwin’s descendents poet Ruth Padel and novelist Emma Darwin, former England cricket captain Marcus Trescothick talking about the great no-no in sport, mental illness, TV commentator and one time Arsenal goalkeeper Bob Wilson will reflect on letting in three at Wembley when Swindon beat his team in the League Cup 40 years ago.
Also making appearances are Swindon-boy made good Julian Clary, left, and television actor, impressionist and writer Alistair McGowan, and Rory McGrath, talking about bird watching.
In town are novelists Margaret Drabble and Josephine Hart, poet Simon Armitage, Children’s Laureate Michael Morpurgo, controversial modern artist Jake Chapman and philosopher Mark Vernon.
These are just the famous few. There will, of course, be a host of other writers, poets, performers, storytellers, workshops, talks, and discussions; and, for early-birds, the Dawn Chorus; for the young at heart, the all-action Children & Families Day and Campfire Storytelling; the brilliant Youth Poetry Slam; and the nationally-known super Swindon Slam! In other words, lots to enjoy!
Right and below, helping to launch festival 16, winners of the Swindon schools slam from festival 08, from left, Elly Smith, Eve James, Danika Sandhu, Charlotte Murphy of Commonweal School
All the details are in the festival programme available now from libraries, or online at:
Entertaining the queue waiting in the sunshine to buy tickets to hear David Attenborough
• Swindon Festival of Literature is now firmly established on Swindon and Wiltshire’s cultural calendar. It is locally loved and nationally held in high regard. – Jon Snow hailed it ‘remarkable and a real surprise’; John Major, ‘perfect and punctual’; Joan Bakewell, 'delightful'; and one Shaun B compared it favourably to making love!
It continues to thrive thanks to funding from Arts Council England, South West, whose support represents recognition of the growth of literature development in Swindon.
Other main partners and sponsors of the Festival are Swindon Borough Council’s Culture Swindon, Artswords, Arstmad, and the Adult, Community, & Family Learning Project, Dominic Winter Book Auctions, Biotechnology & Biological Sciences Research Council, Lower Shaw Farm Association, the National Union of Teachers in Swindon, Swindon Counselling Service, and Holland Handling Recycling. –
Further help and support comes from Borders and Waterstone’s bookshops, Swindon Visitor Information Centre, Acorn Press, Friends of the Festival, STEAM, Swindon Arts Centre, Wyvern Theatre, Swindon Dance, Museum & Arts Gallery, Swindon Advertiser, Link Magazine and www.swindonlink.com, Frequency Magazine, BBC Radio Swindon and Big Screen Swindon, Brunel FM, Swindon Community Radio, GWR FM, Swindon Web, plus a host of other local organisations and individuals