The town’s famed festival of reading, writing and thinking takes opens on Bank Holiday Monday, starting with a Dawn Chorus at sunrise and a run around Lydiard Park in the company of a young woman of many parts.
It’s the twenty-second festival and among authors already appearing from 4 to 16 May are an international novelist, a famous broadcaster, a champion of civil liberties, an academic intellectual, and even a celebrity model.
Sometime television hostess and page three girl, a latter-day Forces sweetheart, but emerging more recently as a phenomenal athlete and runner, Nell McAndrew has now written a book on how to get fit and stay healthy.
On Monday 4 May, she’ll be joining scores of Swindon parkrunners for a five kilometre run round Lydiard Park, followed by a talk about her book in the Lydiard Conference Centre.
Appearing at the Wyvern on the second day of the festival will be comic broadcaster and writer Sandi Toksvig to talk and answer questions about her book Peas & Queues. She might even reflect on her many years in the chair of BBC Radio 4s Newsquiz and the prospect of a foray into politics with the launch of the Women’s Equality Party.
On a completely different note, director of Liberty, Shami Chakrabati will be talking about civil liberties in these challenging times.
And acting as judge supremo at the festival’s unique Swindon Think Slam, where participants have three minutes to present an interesting and thought-provoking idea, and also giving a talk on public intellectualism, will be historian and author Dr Suzannah Lipscomb.
Coming to town to talk about her latest novel, Empress Dowager Cixi, which overturns conventional understanding of the Chinese ruler, is acclaimed author of Wild Swans Jung Chang.
These five splendid women authors are going to be big attractions at the festival, which will feature 50 events.
See the full line-up, including Rory Bremner, who will summarise the general election in the voices of the winners and losers, the politician who pulled away from taking a key role in a potential Labour government Alan Johnson, gay rights activist Peter Tatchell, talking about his journey from Christianity to Humanism, comedian Tony Hawkes, brain surgeon Henry Marsh who has insightful things to say about the NHS, and a ton of fascinating talks and events at:
Top, Nell McAndrew. Below, Toksvig, Chakrabati and Lipscomb