Top comedy writers and performers will bring a fresh look to the 8th Chiswick Book Festival, alongside many of Britain’s biggest-selling novelists, non-fiction writers and children’s authors. Andy Hamilton, Shappi Khorsandi and Mark Watson will talk about their new novels, while the creators of the phenomenally best-selling ‘How It Works… Ladybird Books for Grown-Ups’ series, Joel Morris and Jason Hazeley, will preview their latest books due out this autumn.
Dame Jacqueline Wilson and Cressida Cowell head the Children’s Book Festival line-up, talking about their bestsellers and introducing their latest books. Children will also be entertained by Jonathan Meres (World of Norm), Rob Biddulph (Odd Dog Out ), James Nicol (The Apprentice Witch) and the Really Big Pants Theatre Company.
There really is something for everyone – book your tickets now and make a long weekend of it!
Thursday 15 September
The Festival opens in grand style on the evening of Thursday 15 September at 6.00pm with a special event about Queen Victoria in the Burlington Pavilion in the splendid surroundings of Chiswick House and Gardens, which Queen Victoria visited and wrote about in her diary. A.N. Wilson, author of the critically acclaimed biography Victoria: A Life, and Daisy Goodwin, writer of the forthcoming ITV series Victoria starring Jenna Coleman (above), explore the surprising contrasts between the Queen’s public and private lives. Chaired by Festival director Torin Douglas.
Friday 16 September
Former Children’s Laureate Dame Jacqueline Wilson is one of the nation’s best-loved children’s writers, known for her characters such as the feisty Tracy Beaker and the irrepressible Hetty Feather. Children are in for a treat on Friday 16 September at 5.00pm when she will be talking about some of her most popular stories and giving a sneak preview of her forthcoming book Clover Moon. Chaired by Rebecca Jones, BBC arts correspondent.
The Festival has the crème de la crème of crime writers appearing this year; on Friday evening at 7.30pm, Paula Hawkins and SJ Watson will be discussing the transition of their critically acclaimed bestselling novels from page to screen. Can the film of The Girl on the Train which will be released in October starring Emily Blunt, replicate the box office success of Before I Go to Sleep , starring Nicole Kidman and Colin Firth? Chaired by Joe Haddow, producer of the BBC Radio 2 Book Club.
Saturday 17 September
11.15am: Brush up Your Shakespeare! Join the Guardian’s parliamentary sketch-writer John Crace and Professor John Sutherland for an hour of laughter and irreverence, as they present Incomplete Shakespeare, a witty take on some of the Bard’s greatest plays, digested to a few thousand words.
11.15am: Bestselling author Cressida Cowell talks about How to Fight a Dragon’s Fury, the LAST book in her hugely popular, How to Train Your Dragon series, and gives some top tips on becoming an author or illustrator, behind-the-scenes details about how the books became films, and a lesson in Dragonese. At 12.15pm Cressida will present the prizes for the Chiswick Book Festival Young People’s Poetry Competition. Now in its 6th year, the competition attracts entries from many local schools, and is supported by ChiswickW4.com.
12pm – 2pm: Quick Pitch. Aspiring authors should not miss this amazing opportunity! Book a 10 minute slot and pitch your novel to Luigi Bonomi one of the UK’s leading literary agents. Luigi will use his long experience to tell you if your book has a chance – and how you can make it more appealing. £10 per appointment, visit www.chiswickbookfestival.net for further details of how to book. At 2.00pm there’s another Quick Pitch session with children’s and YA agent Louise Lamont, of LBA, who will help demystify the process of finding an agent and getting your work published.
12.45pm: The feast of crime continues with Queens of Crime: Agatha Christie v Patricia Highsmith. Jill Dawson’s latest novel The Crime Writer weaves the biography of Patricia Highsmith with a tantalising tale of mystery and madness. Sophie Hannah continues the legacy of super-sleuth Hercule Poirot by penning novels in Agatha Christie’s name. Together they debate which of the two is the real Queen of Crime. Chaired by author Colette McBeth of Killer Women.
12.45pm: As the dust settles on the referendum result and the British public comes to terms with life outside the EU – what next for our Parliament? Investigative journalist Martin Williams (Parliament Ltd), parliamentary sketch-writer John Crace (I Never Promised You a Rose Garden), biographer Sonia Purnell (Just Boris) and former Shadow Foreign Secretary Hilary Benn MP, discuss the likely short and long-term changes to British politics.
2.00pm: In a world gripped by turmoil and uncertainty, the flag has become ever more significant as an instrument of patriotism, unity and difference. Author and former Sky News diplomatic editor Tim Marshall explores the power of flags and their role in driving and sustaining global conflict.
2.00pm: A showcase of some of this year’s hottest debut novels as Cathy Rentzenbrink talks to authors Janet Ellis (The Butcher’s Hook), Joanna Cannon (The Trouble with Goats and Sheep), and Barney Norris (Five Rivers Met on a Wooded Plain), about their hotly anticipated bestsellers and why they should be on your must-read list for 2016.
2.00pm: Jonathan Meres introduces – in a worldwide exclusive preview – May Be Recycled, the eleventh title in his award-winning series The World of Norm.
3.15pm: Acclaimed historian Alison Weir (Katherine of Aragon: The True Queen) tells the dramatic and poignant story of the King’s first wife, in the first of her Six Tudor Queens series of novels set against the backdrop of a world of splendour and brutality.
3.15pm: Sir Alan Munro was the UK’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia from 1989 to 1993 and before that Under-Secretary of State for the Middle East and Africa. He’ll be talking about his entertaining book Keep the Flag Flying: A Diplomatic Memoir with former BBC Gaza correspondent James Rodgers, author of Headlines from the Holy Land.
3.15pm: Caroline Raphael, independent radio producer and former BBC Radio 4 commissioner, is joined by actor Daniel Weyman, Laurence Howell (Audible Books) and Rupert Morgan (RNIB Talking Books) in a discussion about the audiobook boom.
4.30pm: Roger Hermiston (All Behind You, Winston), discusses the definitive role played by those who made up Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s coalition government with Sonia Purnell, whose biography First Lady, argues that Clementine Churchill was integral to some of her husband’s most crucial decisions of war.
4.30pm: Joel Morris and Jason Hazeley, creators of How It Works…Ladybird Books for Grown-Ups series talk to journalist and LBC presenter Beverley Turner, and take a light-hearted look at the publishing phenomenon of these hilarious and nostalgic pocket-sized guides to life which have sold over two million copies in under 12 months.
5.45pm: Britain today is one of the most unequal of all rich nations, and much more divided than four decades ago. Stewart Lansley asks whether Britain can be made a more equal and inclusive nation, or do we now have to live with ever-rising inequality?
5.45pm: In honour of the 40th edition of Hugh Johnson’s Pocket Wine Book, acclaimed British wine critic Jancis Robinson talks to the world’s best-selling wine writer Hugh Johnson about his extraordinary career and his life in wine.
5.45pm: For most of his life, the founding father of the United States, Benjamin Franklin, was a loyal British royalist. In this new biography, selected as BBC Radio 4’s Book of the Week, historian George Goodwin has created an enthralling portrait of the man, the city and the age.
7.30pm: Kick off your shoes and unwind with a glass of fizz at an evening of fun with best-selling novelists Santa Montefiore, Penny Parkes, Milly Johnson, Jane Costello and Juliet Ashton who join chair Isabelle Broome in taking a humorous look at what it means to be a ‘modern woman ‘ today.
7.30pm: Legendary comedy scriptwriter and performer Andy Hamilton is well-known for TV shows like Power Monkeys, Outnumbered, Drop the Dead Donkey and Mock the Week, and BBC Radio 4’s Old Harry’s Game. He will be talking to journalist, broadcaster and author Mark Lawson (The Allegations) about his debut novel The Star Witness.
Sunday 18 September
11.15am: Join the Really Big Pants Theatre Company for a fast, fun twist on traditional tales. Help with a very special spell, ride on a flying carpet and battle some bad manners! Perfect for primary aged children.
11.15am: Associate editor of The Bookseller Cathy Rentzenbrink, Amelia Fairney, Penguin’s Communications Director, literary agent Jo Unwin, author Eva Holland (The Daughter’s Secret), and Unbound Publishing founder and author John Mitchinson, share their expertise and the many routes to publication.
12.30pm: Join Rob Biddulph, the prize-winning author of Blown Away, watch him illustrate some of his best-loved characters, play games and hear about his new picture book Odd Dog Out.
12.30pm – From seasonal cooking to unusual ingredients this expert panel of foodie authors have the answers to your culinary questions. Journalist and broadcaster Lucy McDonald (Crumbs TV, The Crumbs Family Cookbook), is joined by chef and food stylist Oliver Rowe (Food For All Seasons), food writer Joanna Blythman (Swallow This), Masterchef 2014 champion Ping Coombes (Malaysia) and Great British Bake Off finalist Holly Bell (Recipes from a Normal Mum). And there’s a place on the food writing course at Leith’s School of Food and Wine to be won!
12.30pm: Comedians Mark Watson (The Place That Didn’t Exist) and Will Smith (Mainlander) enjoy considerable success on the stand-up circuit, but in tuning their hands to fiction have proved they have a darker side. They discuss the concept of ‘the outsider’ and themes of loneliness, isolation and a lack of belonging. Chaired by writer, presenter and stand-up comedian Viv Groskop.
1.45pm: 1666 was a watershed year for England. An outbreak of the Great Plague, the eruption of the second Dutch War and the catastrophic Great Fire of London all struck the country in rapid succession and with devastating repercussions. 350 years on, historian Rebecca Rideal sheds light on this crucial turning point in English history.
1.45pm: The results can be candid and inspiring, but writing an honest and revealing self-portrait can be a daunting challenge. Editor Francesca Main is joined by Nina Stibbe (Love, Nina), Cathy Rentzenbrink (The Last Act of Love), and Sali Hughes (Pretty Honest) as they discuss their markedly different approaches to writing their memoirs.
1.45pm: Join author James Nicol at The Apprentice Witch Creature Workshop; learn more about some of the fantastic animals from The Apprentice Witch and create some very magical and marvellous creatures for your own stories and drawings.
1.45pm: One hundred years on, the enduring impression of the Battle of the Somme is of the tragic loss of life and the heroic stoicism of troops who walked towards their death. But Hugh Sebag-Montefiore shows the extent to which the Allied armies were in fact repeatedly able to break through the German front lines and presents a remarkable portrait of life at the Front.
3.00pm: Searching the banks of the Thames at low tide has a long tradition. Once, small boys grubbed a living from scrap; today this pastime unearths relics of the past, from roman tiles to elegant Georgian pottery. Join author Ted Sandling (Mudlarking; London in Fragments) at this fascinating illustrated talk and discover the magic of mudlarking.
3.00pm: Novelists Jane Thynne (Faith and Beauty) and James MacManus (Midnight in Berlin) discuss their individual explorations of the attempt on Hitler’s life in 1939 and the appeal of capturing Berlin’s evocative sense of place. Chaired by Professor Adrian Stevens.
3.00pm: Victoria Hislop in Conversation with Jane Garvey of BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour. Feel the sun on your skin and the wind in your hair as Victoria Hislop, best-selling author of The Island, takes you on an enchanting visual journey talking about her latest illustrated novel, Cartes Postales from Greece.
4.15pm: Charles Cumming has been called ‘the heir to Le Carré’ and Colin Firth is to play his creation Thomas Kell on TV. Ex-BBC Radio 4 Today producer Peter Hanington has had rave reviews for his first novel A Dying Breed. Former Army officer Harry Parker (Anatomy of a Soldier) lost both legs in Afghanistan and turned the experience into a novel. Together they discuss spies, news and war and analyse what makes a great thriller.
4.15pm: One of the UK’s top comedians Shappi Khorsandi discusses her debut novel, Nina is Not Ok, a dark, funny and sometimes controversial coming-of-age tale that brilliantly captures the angst and humour of teenage life. Chaired by writer and comedian Deborah Frances-Whyte.
Monday 19 September
6.30pm: Four writers of novels set in World War II discus the powerful themes underpinning their works: Ben Fergusson, Jason Hewitt, William Ryan and Jane Thynne. Chaired by Festival Director Torin Douglas at Chiswick Library, Duke’s Avenue, W4 2AB. Tickets £3, £1.50 for Library members.
There will also be two pre-Festival events:
A Taste of Poetry: Educate your taste buds with the Stanza Chiswick Group by sampling poems on plates and in glasses, followed by open mic at The Chiswick Bookshop, Turnham Green Terrace, W4, on Tuesday 13 September at 6.00pm. Free admission and all welcome.
The Chiswick Calendar talks to Chiswick Authors: Join Bridget Osborne and The Chiswick Calendar in celebrating the wealth of literary talent that Chiswick has to offer and kick off the Festival in style at a Local Authors Party at 7.00pm on Wednesday 14 September at Waterstones, 220-226 Chiswick High Road. The first 100 people to arrive will be greeted with a complementary Sipsmith summer cocktail. Free admission, see Festival website for more details or go to www.thechiswickcalendar.co.uk.
Since 2009, the Chiswick Book Festival has raised more than £50,000 for St Michael & All Angels Church, which hosts the Festival, and its chosen charities, which support reading and literacy. This year the Book Festival will continue to support:
RNIB Talking Books Service and Books for Children, supporting blind and partially-sighted people. The Festival has sponsored the recording of many Talking Books, including The Story of My Life by Helen Keller, Mary Berry’s Absolute Favourites, Parade’s End by Ford Maddox Ford and The Invisible Women by Claire Tomalin.
InterAct Stroke Support, which commissions actors to read to stroke patients. The Festival helps to fund its work at Charing Cross Hospital, contributing some two months of reading each year.
Doorstep Library, which brings books and the magic of reading to the homes of children in some of London’s most disadvantaged areas. Its work improves not just reading skills, but confidence, social integration.
The Festival is based at St Michael & All Angels Church and Parish Hall, with other events at Chiswick House; Arts Ed’s Webber Andrew Lloyd Foundation Theatre; the Tabard Theatre, Chiswick Library and Waterstones Chiswick, who run the on-site Festival bookshop.
For full, updated programme and details of how to book tickets, visit www.chiswickbookfestival.net and follow @W4BookFest #ChiswickBookFest on Twitter for news and updates.
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