The festival of books returns

The festival of books returns

The world’s first literature festival makes its welcome return to Cheltenham this week.

Starting on Friday 08 October and running through until Sunday 17 October The Times and The Sunday Times Cheltenham Literature Festival is the place to be if you are a lover of books.

No matter what genre pushes your buttons there is bound to be something in the huge line-up of authors, celebrities and literary stars attending this year’s festival that will be just up your street. The programme this year spans history, food, travel, poetry and spoken word, art, sport, faith, philosophy, fashion, psychology, science, nature, business and much more.

And for the first time this October will see the launch of a major new three-year theme for the Festival: “Read the World”. A greater range of international writing will be profiled, offering an incisive guide to key issues on the global stage. With the Festival’s new digital capabilities developed for the FutureBook award-winning hybrid edition in 2020, this year’s programme will see writers and thinkers appearing from across the globe and reaching audiences around the world. “Read the World” themed sessions can be found in every event strand: whether that’s celebrating world cuisines in Lifestyle, tracking the cultural influence of international writers and artists in Classic Literature and Art & Design; the History and Current Affairs strands covering global events or the Family programme introducing younger bookworms to issues and stories from around the world.

Celebrating a major world book shop for each of the three years of the theme, the festival will first take us to Paris and the legendary Shakespeare and Company. The journey will includeg an exclusive interview with owner Sylvia Whitman live from the bookshop and a live panel of UK based writers for whom Paris has played a key part in their literary lives featuring Sebastian Faulks, Lauren Elkin and Alex Christof.

Fiction of course features heavily at the festival this year as it does every year with year’s Fiction programme bursting at the bookish seams. Leading literary names joining to discuss their new books include Jonathan Franzen, Leïla Slimani, Elif Shafak, Colm Tóibín, Ruth Ozeki, Sebastian Faulks, Katherine Heiny, Lauren Groff, Sarah Hall and Jeanette Winterson.

Meanwhile the bestselling and multiple award-winning Maggie O’Farrell will be this year’s Desert Island Books Castaway and will reflect on the six books that have shaped her reading and writing life whilst guest Curator Bernardine Evaristo will be reflecting on her three decades as a trailblazing writer and activist through to Booker Winner in Manifesto.

Comedy is particularly well represented at the festival this year with appearances from the likes of Jack Dee with some tongue-in-cheek problem solving; Katherine Ryan offering her intimate observations of life; Phil Wang reflecting on his experience of race and belonging; Josh Widdicombe celebrating the TV shows that shaped his childhood; Julian Clary on the bond between man and dog; Michael and Hilary Whitehall discussing how to avoid the pitfalls of family holidays; Rob Beckett examining the conflict between his working class roots in South London and the middle class world of TV; Mel Giedroyc and Marian Keyes exploring the connection between comedy and novel writing; and Sanjeev Bhaskar reflecting on a life both on screen, and behind the camera.

And if that’s not enough for you then you can hear Strictly’s Shirley Ballas reveal how she danced her way from the Wirral to the glamorous world of ballroom, whilst Joan Collins will give an uncensored glimpse into the pages of her outrageous diary. Ian Hislop will mark the 60th anniversary of Private Eye whilst national treasure Gyles Brandreth also attends.

To find out more, the full calendar of events and to book tickets go to the festival website.