well read - The Stratford- upon-Avon Literary Festival
Written by Karen Martin
From April 25 to May 3
the Stratford-upon-Avon Literary Festival opens its doors to the public, showing people how much fun it can be
to simply pick up a book and read.
As the birthplace of William Shakespeare, Stratford-upon-Avon has established itself as one of history’s most important focal points in the literary world. This month the town celebrates
its status with the Stratford Literary Festival where the public is invited to discover or rediscover a love of reading.
The festival started three years ago when organisers Annie Ashworth and Natasha Roderick-Jones thought it absurd that the home of ‘England’s national poet’ didn’t have its own literary festival, and took it upon themselves to start one.
However, although there is a nod to Shakespeare in the line-up, an interest in the great Bard’s work is not essential. The aim of the Stratford Literary Festival is to appeal to those who don’t usually have an interest in reading, and to make it accessible and exciting for all ages.
Headliners include BBC World Affairs Editor John Simpson, leading comedian Jack Dee, poets Roger McGough and Wendy Cope, entrepreneurial publisher and poet Felix Dennis, Booker-shortlisted author Mick Jackson, and BBC Radio 4 panellist and comedian Jeremy Hardy. Other names include Land Girls novelist Angela Huth, writer, broadcaster and comedian John O’Farrell, and bestselling author Sophie King. Other highlights include exhibitions, competitions, and street entertainment, and a children’s festival of storytelling and workshops, featuring events with Carnegie Medal winner Meg Rosoff and agony aunt and author of teenage fiction Cathy Cassidy.
The Stratford Literary Festival has also commissioned a 30,000-word novel from Birmingham writer Leila Rasheed, author of the Bathsheba Clarice
de Trop books. The novella, based on the theme
of ‘Hidden Stratford’, is aimed at both teenagers and adults and will be published in time for the festival. Set partly just after the battle of Edgehill in 1642, a civil war which took place not far from the town, and partly in the near future, the story follows teenagers who get caught up in each other’s lives even though they live centuries apart.
John O’Farrell gave up stand-up comedy in favour of comedy writing. His first non-fiction book, a number one best-seller, was nominated for several awards, and adapted for BBC Radio 4. Three collections of satirical columns he wrote for The Independent and The Guardian were published: Global Village Idiot; I Blame the Scapegoats; and I Have a Bream. In 2000 O’Farrell’s first novel – The Best A Man Can Get – was published; it became 2002’s best-selling debut novel, and was dramatised for radio. The novels This Is Your Life and May Contain Nuts followed, the latter adapted for television. In 2007, he returned to non-fiction with An Utterly Impartial History of Britain: or 2000 Years of Upper-class Idiots in Charge, which was followed by his latest work, An Utterly Exasperated History of Modern Britain: or Sixty Years of Making the Same Stupid Mistakes as Always.
How the 20th Century
Through his decades
of experience at the forefront
of journalism, John Simpson analyses how Great Britain has been transformed by its free press, how it changed the world, and changed itself over the course
of the last 100 years. He raises some searching questions, including whether the press can ever be truly free and whether we would desire it to be so.
The Widow’s Tale
A newly widowed woman
runs away from her life in London to a cottage on the Norfolk coast in an attempt
to escape her grief. But as her story unfolds we find out that her marriage was full of frustration and disappointment, as well as several secrets.
The move leads to events that help her decide what has real value and what she should leave behind.
My Family and Other Strangers: Adventures
in Family History
When stand-up comedian Jeremy Hardy decided to explore his ancestry to get a sense of how he came to be, he found himself in such diverse locations as the Croydon one-way system and the hostile waters around Malta. With his quick wit and observational humour, Jeremy takes readers on a hilarious and emotional journey into the world of family history.
Getting Mad, Getting Even
Annie Ashworth and Meg Sanders are a writing duo working under the pseudonym Annie Sanders. The latest of their six novels follows two women running a domestic agency and what happens when they get a strange request to do something beyond the pet feeding and house cleaning services they are used to – helping a woman get her own back on her husband. Will their revenge plot backfire?
Once a Land Girl
Huth’s earlier novel Land Girls was made into a feature film in 1998, starring Rachel Weisz and Anna Friel. In this follow-up, set a year after the land girls leave Hallows Farm, Prue finds a man and a marriage that protect her from the hardships of post-war Manchester. But she finds that her fresh horizons fail to give the answers she seeks, and she still longs for the life she loved as a land girl.
Two Cures for Love: Selected Poems, 1979-2006
Wendy Cope’s witty, often comical poetry has a large following as well as critical acclaim. This book is a selection
of her poems with notes, featuring the references, verse-forms, contexts, and occasions of her work, offering readers a new arrangement of the poetry as a whole. The notes also identify dates of composition so readers can observe the development of the work.
That Awkward Age
An international ambassador
for poetry, Roger McGough addresses ‘that awkward age between birth and death’ in his testament to the miraculous in the everyday. In this latest book he invites us into a world of chance encounters and embarrassing moments, of big questions and small wonders. With his unique humour and witty wordplay, Roger McGough remains one of Britain’s most treasured poets for both adults and children.
An Utterly Exasperated History of Modern Britain: or Sixty Years of Making the Same Stupid Mistakes as Always
Former comedy scriptwriter John O’Farrell takes a comical look at modern history asking “How on earth did we end up here?” An Utterly Exasperated History of Modern Britain is an informative, revealing, and funny insight into the strange events, bizarre characters, and stupid decisions that have shaped Britain’s history since 1945.
88 - The Narrow Road:
One of Britain's wealthiest self-made entrepreneurs, Felix Dennis founded his own magazine publishing company in 1973, and today Dennis Publishing remains a privately-owned company with headquarters in London and New York City. When the annual Sunday Times Rich List estimated that Felix Dennis was the 88th richest individual in the UK, he decided to put his business wisdom into 88 principles of making money, for those so motivated to get rich that they don’t have time to read page upon page on how to get there.
Connect London, England ✈ Distance: 5,219 km ✈ Flight Time: 7 hours, 50 minutes ✈ Frequency: 5 flights a day
An Evening with Roger McGough
An Evening with Felix Dennis
An Evening with Jack Dee