The wonder of words to wow audiences at 10th Bishop’s Stortford College Festival of Literature
One of the audiences at the 10th Bishop’s Stortford College Festival of Literature – which opens on Friday (Feb 1) – is in for a rude awakening!
Historian Dr David Starkey, famed for his waspish wit and wily words, will show exactly why he was dubbed "the rudest man in Britain" by The Daily Mail.
His return to the school's Ferguson Lecture Hall is just one of the highlights of this year's festival featuring some of the country’s finest literary luminaries.
The 2019 event runs from February 1 to 14 and comprises an exciting and eclectic mix of authors, illustrators, poets and wordsmiths for members of the public at large as well as students at all the town’s schools eo enjoy.
To mark the college’s 150th anniversary, there are more events and speakers than ever before, including a number of returning festival favourites.
The open events begin on the evening of Friday, February 1 with music and narrative art as Chris Riddell, the UK Children's Laureate and a political cartoonist for the Observer, through the power of live drawing, illustrates his interpretation of a musical programme performed by Bishop’s Stortford College Orchestra and choirs.
On Saturday, February 2, award-winning authors Gillian McClure, Pippa Goodheart and Rosemary Hayes will discuss their best tips and tricks for writing children’s books.
On the Sunday evening (Feb 3), comedian Robin Ince – best known for presenting BBC Radio 4 show The Infinite Monkey Cage with physicist Brian Cox – will attempt to examine the human condition through the prism of humour.
What’s in a name? Shakespeare fans will be blown away on Monday, February 4 by Debs Newbold’s imaginative and passionate retelling of classics such as King Lear and Romeo and Juliet.
On Tuesday February 5, author and horsewoman Claire Lomas MBE will inspire her audience to live life to the full as she shares her story of courage, strength and determination to rebuild her life following a riding accident in 2007 at the age of 27 which left her paralysed from the chest down.
On the same evening, wildlife author, photographer and cameraman Dr Michael Leach will entertain with a lively, informative and thought-provoking talk about his wild adventures.
On Wednesday, February 6, award-winning children's writer and illustrator Sarah McIntyre will discuss her love of drawing and passion for her #PicturesMeanBusiness campaign.
The evening continues as former journalist and bestselling novelist Fiona Barton discusses her three crime novels, including her latest, The Suspect, which was published in January.
Each year, the festival provides an opportunity to celebrate poetry, and on Thursday February 7 the college welcomes back Essex’s Luke Wright, who has been called “one of the funniest and most brilliant poets of his generation”.
Since 2006, he has written and performed nine spoken word shows and two verse plays, has won numerous awards, including a Fringe First Award, and launched his tongue-in-cheek campaign to become the new Poet Laureate with his award-winning show at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2018.
On Friday, February 8, the Maze Green Road campus welcomes leading art critic and broadcaster Andrew Graham-Dixon as he explores the hidden meanings and inspiration behind many of his favourite paintings, including the work of wartime artist Paul Nash, to a sell-out audience.
On Saturday, February 9, chef, presenter and Indie food columnist Saira Hamilton, a TV MasterChef finalist in 2013, will cook up a storm for a capacity crowd.
Dr David Starkey, historian, TV and radio presenter and all-round contrarian, appeared at the festival in 2015 and is returning to give an analysis of the ever-changing marriage customs of the British monarchy, including that of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, in what promises to be a Saturday evening not to be missed.
Illustrator and author Jackie Morris will bring the festival to a close on Thursday, February 14 as she brings to light the beauty of nearby nature through words and imagery, so often overlooked and taken for granted.
In addition to the rich variety of the college’s open events, younger audiences will share in a variety of schools events starring children’s authors. This year’s line-up includes the likes of Chitra Soundar, Philip Reeve and Paul Cookson.
Another local schools’ favourite is the Bishop’s Stortford Picture Book Award, voted for by pupils from across the region, which will be presented by the very first winner, Sarah McIntyre.
■ Tickets are still on sale for most events. For full programme details, including dates, times and ticket prices, see www.bishopsstortfordcollege.org/11658/festival-of-literature-2019