The seventh annual Marlborough LitFest (30 September – 2 October) aims to celebrate the best in good writing, whether from established best-selling authors or new emerging writers.
The 2016 programme has something for everyone, with over 30 events during the festival weekend offering fiction and non-fiction authors, as well as children’s and poetry events, creative writing workshops and a special Shakespeare celebration, all taking place in the historic market town of Marlborough.
The line-up includes one of Britain’s best-loved authors, Michael Morpurgo, author and historian Tom Holland and bestselling international crime writer, Peter James as well as 2016’s Golding Speaker, American author Lionel Shriver. Other authors include Jessie Burton on her follow up to her bestselling debut novel, The Miniaturist, plus a new spy thriller from ex-BBC Radio 4 Today programme presenter Jim Naughtie as well as an explosive new biography on Tony Blair by investigative author Tom Bower. Stephen Kelman (shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize) will be talking about his second novel, Man on Fire and anthropologist and novelist Tahmima Anam (currently a judge for 2016 Man Booker Prize) will discuss her latest novel, The Bones of Grace.
Choose from a mix of new young authors and contemporary novelists, a new biography of Guy Burgess by literary agent Andrew Lownie, an ex-soldier’s powerful debut novel of surviving an Afghanistan IED trauma or the timely description of life in a Kenyan/Somalian refugee camp from Ben Rawlence
Keen gardeners can hear about Anna Pavord’s part memoir, part history book on landscape; nature lovers will flock to Simon Cooper’s talk on a lyrical year in the life of the quintessentially English chalkstream whilst food lovers can share in Elisabeth Luard’s new food and travel memoir with anecdotes and recipes gathered from her global travels.
The annual Hiscox Young Authors event this year features debut authors Clare Fuller and Salisbury local Barney Norris in conversation. The LitFest recommended summer read for local book groups is I Can’t Begin to Tell You by Elizabeth Buchan, who is the annual Big Town Read author for 2016.
Light relief will be provided by the comedy writers and brains behind the popular new Ladybird books for adults Jason Hazeley and Joel Morris which focus on modern phenomena from hipsters to mindfulness whilst retaining the original 1960s Ladybird artwork.
The emphasis on books for good will be provided by Dr Simon McKeown discussing Rare Books at Marlborough College, Christopher Gange talking book valuations and Ella Berthoud discussing the benefits of bibliotherapy – the curative powers of the novel for ‘life’s ailments’.
Poetry-lovers both published and amateur can join in the annual open mic Poetry in the Pub event, whilst acclaimed poet, Sarah Howe, will close the LitFest on 2 October at Marlborough College.
The children’s programme features children’s author Abi Elphinstone talking about her novels in workshops with local primary school children at the Town Hall, and a talk for younger readers by acclaimed children’s author and illustrator duo, Phillip Reeve and Sarah McIntyre. Free story-telling sessions will take place at Marlborough Library and the White Horse Bookshop for the under 5’s.
Back for another year is the Big School Read with author Sally Nicholls talking about writing to local secondary school pupils hosted at St John’s Academy in Marlborough; St John’s sixth-formers will repeat their successful 2015 Panel Debate (last year focusing on library closures and gender representation in literature).
Shakespeare fans will not be disappointed by Marlborough LitFest’s celebration of the 400th anniversary of the death of the bard with one of Britain’s foremost Shakespearean actors, Simon Russell Beale, appearing at the festival on 2 October. Marlborough LitFest is also holding a Sonnet writing competition with £100 prizes for both categories of Adults and Under 19s.
For further information and to view the full festival programme, visit www.marlboroughlitfest.org. Tickets and programme catalogues are available from The White Horse Bookshop, Marlborough High Street, or Pound Arts Tel: 01249 701628 / 01249 712618 (www.poundarts.org.uk).
The Marlborough LitFest committee would like to thank sponsors ALCS Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society, Brewin Dolphin, Hiscox Insurance and Duncan Morris Solicitors for their continued support.