STRATFORD upon Avon Literary Festival celebrates its 15th anniversary with a line-up of writers and thinkers, and a new home.
The festival, which runs from May 3 to 8, will take place at the Crowne Plaza Hotel on Bridgefoot, together with fringe events around the town.
Leading a packed programme with be the acting legend Sir Derek Jacobi whose roles in Shakespeare plays have won him worldwide acclaim.
Joining him will be Booker prize winner Howard Jacobson, Yorkshire Shepherdess Amanda Owen, Women’s Prize for Fiction winner Maggie O’Farrell, and authors including Ali Smith, Tessa Hadley and Andrew Miller, whose book The Slowworm’s Song is this year’s Festival Book Club Read.
Podcast stars Jane Garvey and Fi Glover will be talking about the ‘chuff’ of life, and Jane will be in conversation with Today programme presenter, Justin Webb, on what makes a good interviewer. Justin will also be sharing his critically acclaimed biography, A Gift of a Radio.
Other stars of TV and radio include Strictly judge Shirley Ballas, and Great Pottery Throwdown judge Keith Brymer Jones.
Science will be covered by Life Scientific presenter Jim Al-Khalili, Inside Science presenter and geneticist Dr Adam Rutherford, and statistician and presenter of More or Less, Tim Harford.
Stratford’s resident motoring journalist and former Top Gear presenter Quentin Wilson will interview chemist Kit Chapman about how Formula 1 research has applications that can help support the NHS.
The festival will also welcome extraordinary people and their stories including explorer Benedict Allen, and disaster specialist Lucy Easthope.
It will also be taking on big topics including climate change with former Labour leader Ed Miliband, the future of the BBC with David Hendy and the FT’s Henry Mance, and remodelling the NHS with South Warwickshire NHS Trust chief execuive Glen Burley. Reformed gambler Patrick Foster will talk about the gambling obsession that almost ruined his life, and Parm Sandhu will tackle racism in the police.
Award-winning writer Alex Renton will share his family’s colonial past in Blood Legacy, as well as joining Food Programme presenter Sheila Dillon to talk about foods that have shaped our lives.
Social media sensation Gemma Bird, the Money Mum Official, will give tips on saving money, and Daily Mail royal commentator, Robert Hardman, will celebrate the Queen’s platinum jubilee.
There’s musical talk with Radio 3’s Tom Service and rock and pop journalists Bob Stanley and Pete Paphides.
The line-up also includes poetry with Poet Laureate Simon Armitage and spoken word poet Hollie McNish.
Shakespeare expert Emma Smith explores a love of books with journalist Mark Hodkinson, Sam Knight reveals the extraordinary story of premonitions that shaped government planning, and naturalist Tristan Gooley offers tips on how to read the weather.
Other topics will cover the menopause, art, grief, depression, comedy, corruption and power, and cricket, as well as introducing some of the finest emerging novelists of 2022.
As always the Festival will also include a series of workshops for writers, including with the Forward Prize winner Luke Kennard and best-selling author Cathy Rentzenbrink.
There will also be the chance to learn all about book and writing related craft activities including calligraphy and paper craft.
And there will be plenty to inspire young readers with free events for pre-schoolers on weekdays in partnership with Stratford Library, and a day of events for families on Sunday May 8 with Winnie the Witch illustrator Korky Paul, and author/illustrators including Yuval Zommer, Jane Newberry, Stratford writing team Brothers McLeod, Hannah Shaw and Christopher Edge. Plus the chance to take a boat trip with Gareth P Jones.
Festival director Annie Ashworth said: “The Festival has come a long way since we launched it in a tent in Avon Bank Gardens in 2008, and this year’s programme, with its line-up of best-selling writers and opinion formers, is the vision of what we had in mind all those years ago come good.
“We are so grateful to our sponsors and grant givers, old and new, who have supported us over the years, and to the amazing audience that has grown and grown. We now have three national competitions, and a strong outreach programme in schools, the community and prisons.”
Visit www.stratlitfest.co.uk for tickets and full festival details.