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Cheltenham Literature Festival

Baroness Gail Rebuck, Chair of The Times and The Sunday Times Cheltenham Literature Festival, said: “There will be a chance to meet some of the leading figures in film, art, design and food – while also discovering fresh literary voices. And Cheltenham, Britain’s oldest literature festival will also showcase millennial talent from bloggers to spoken word poets, offering up yet another year of inspired curation and intellectual challenge.”

The star-spangled line-up includes film director Oliver Stone and former Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg. Lionel Shriver, author of ‘We Need to Talk about Kevin’ will talk about her new novel ‘The Mandibles A Family, 2029-2047’. Dame Vivienne Westwood will talk fashion and environmental issues with ‘Newsnight’s’ Kirsty Wark.

Here is a personal pick of a handful of events, amongst more than 600 on offer:

1)            Literatures Sexiest Stories, Friday 7th October, 9pm

Mariella Frostrup, with her husky voice and love of literature, sounds like the perfect hostess for this close-up on steamy fiction. Actress Anna Chancellor will read the selections, while Lisa Moylett, publisher of 'Erotic Review' Magazine and Primula Bond, author of pulse-quickening novels such 'The Silver Chain', 'The Golden Locket' will help Mariella get to the heart of passion behind the covers.

2)            You Might as Well Live: Celebrating Dorothy Parker, Saturday 8th October, 8pm

In addition to investigating the current state of the union, ‘America Uncovered’ will raise a cocktail glass to the greats of American literature. This event celebrates Dorothy Parker (1893 – 1967), whose poems, screenplays and stories combined acid wit with empathy for the fragility of the human condition. Despite being placed on a Hollywood blacklist for her involvement in anti-fascist campaigns and left-wing politics, Dorothy Parker has been portrayed in films by Jennifer Jason Leigh amongst others.

American Literature Professor Sarah Churchwell, Professor of American Literature and Public Understanding of the Humanities at the University of East Anglia, will be joined by comedian, writer and actor Helen Lederer. There will be a slice of cabaret with music from Berlin poet and drummer duo Nora Gomringer and Philipp Scholz.

3)            A Long Campaign for Justice, Monday 10 October, 6.30pm

Cheltenham Ladies College hosts this event, which will be chaired by former director of civil rights group, Liberty, the newly-ennobled Shami Chakrabarti. The panel will be made up for those who know from first-hand, the tenacity required to secure justice against an uncooperative establishment. They include Doreen Lawrence, a Labour member of the House of Lords since 2013, who campaigned for police reform following the murder of her son Stephen; solicitor Gareth Peirce, who helped clear the Birmingham Six and is a recipient of Irish Presidential Distinguished Service Award. Completing the distinguished panel will be Justice for the 96, Hillsborough Campaigner Margaret Aspinall.

4)            Olympians with a Difference: Eric Liddell and Emil Zatopek, Wednesday 12th October, 1.45pm

The tension between sporting endeavour and personal convictions will be explored in this event which focuses on two books with overlapping themes. Duncan Hamilton’s ‘For the Glory: Eric Liddell’s Journey from Olympic Champion to Modern Martyr’ is about the runner whose religious objections, at the 1924 Paris Olympics, to racing on Sunday was brought to the big screen in ‘Chariots of Fire’. Rick Broadbent’s ‘Endurance: The Extraordinary Life and Times of Emil Zatopek’ , is about the long-distance runner best known for winning three gold medals at the 1952 Helsinki Olympics. As a supporter of the Communist Party’s democratic wing, he came into conflict with the hard-line communist authorities after the 1968 Prague Spring and was stripped of his rank. He was rehabilitated by Václav Havel in 1990.

5)            Sarah Howe and Rebecca Perry, Saturday 15th October, 7pm

Any good festival needs to bring future stars to the light and poets Sarah Howe and Rebecca Perry are certainly in the ascendancy.  Sarah Howe’s ‘Loop of Jade’, was the first debut collection to win the TS Eliot prize. Rebecca Perry’s ‘Beauty/Beauty’ was shortlisted for the Fenton Aldeburgh, Seamus Heaney Centre and TS Eliot prizes. They will follow in the footsteps of literary giants when the read from their new collections at the town hall.

Cheltenham Literature Festival takes place between 7th and 16th of October. Book tickets at or by phone on 01242 850270.


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