A veritable feast of literature delights, the annual Cheltenham Literature Festival is a must for book-worms and popular culture lovers alike. The event, sponsored by The Times and Sunday Times always attracts a fantastic array of speakers, from the prime-time heavyweights to the emerging talent. This year's event (5th to 14th October 2018) is no exception, as the organisers announce a tranch of exceptional speakers.

Among those of greatest note, Cheltenham is set to provide a stage for Sir David Attenborough, Nadiya Hussein of the Great British Bake-off fame, Eric Idle (Entertainer), Sally Field (Actor), and poet Anthony Anaxagorou.


The Cheltenham Literature Festival brings together an astounding number of talented people who will launch books, run workshops, give readings, run signings, and particpate in debates. It is a festival that manages to magically combine thought-provoking work with entertaining fun, at the same time making everything accessible to the audience.


Friday 5th to Sunday 14th October 2018


The full lineup will be announced on Friday 17th August, and tickets will be made available to members at 1pm on Wednesday 29th August and to the general public at 1pm on Wednesday 5th September. Register for the newsletter to keep up to date with what's happening...


Sir David Attenborough will join Emma Freud to talk Life of Earth, Nadiya Hussein will host a lunch, Eric Idle will talk his art, life and career, Sally Field will consider highlights from her career in film and Anthony Anaxagorou will lead a poetry and spoken word showcase.

These industry stalwarts will be joined by an enviable array of influencers, with the first announcement including:

Fiction & Classic Literature

Kate Atkinson will introduce her highly anticipated new novel Transcriptions and William Boyd takes to the stage to talk about his life as a creator of many fictions, from his first to latest, Love is BlindRose Tremain will share her lauded memoir Rosie and Gail Honeyman will celebrate the extraordinary success of Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, recently crowned the British Book Awards ‘Book of the Year’, and another astounding debut novelist, Sharlene Teo, will share the inspiration behind the critically acclaimed PontiGraham Norton demonstrates his understanding of the darker side of flawed human nature as he discusses his new novel, A Keeper. In our final Festival before leaving the EU, Guest Curator Sebastian Faulks will lead a panel including Elif Shafak examining the pleasures and challenges of reading beyond our borders; and The Essex Serpent author Sarah Perry introduces the breath-taking and haunting Melmoth, as well as marking the 80th anniversary of Rebecca, Du Maurier’s gothic tale of love, secrets and jealousy, with Sarah Dunant.

Stage & Screen

Joining Sir David AttenboroughEmma Freud, Sally Field and Eric Idle in the programme will be former ballerina and BBC Strictly Come Dancing judge Dame Darcey Bussell will reflect on her life, career and new book, Darcey Bussell: Evolved. World famous conductor Jane Glover, who has conducted Handel’s work in opera houses and concert halls throughout the world, draws on her profound understanding of his music to tell the extraordinary story of Handel in London.

Poetry & Festival Lates

Anthony Anaxagorou will lead the Outspoken poetry and spoken word showcase, and shares programme time with Salena Godden is joined by Peter Coyte to present a collaboration of new poetry, fiction and music in a rousing celebration about appreciating life and the short time that we have to live it. Hollie McNish and NZ poetry sensation Hera Lindsay Bird read together in a unique double bill and leading literary nights The MothTongue Fu and Bang Said the Gun join for Cheltenham specials.

Current Affairs

Baroness Helena Kennedy introduces her new book Eve Was Shamed: How British Justice is Failing WomenLyse Doucet will be leading a panel on Syria and the wider crisis of international diplomacy; and there will be appearances by rapper, poet, and political activist Akala and BBC North America Editor Jon Sopel. Bestselling author Francis Fukuyama introduces his latest, Identity, and offers a provocative examination of modern identity politics: its origins, its effects, and what it means for domestic and international affairs of state.

History & Ancient World

Britain’s bestselling historian Antony Beevor looks into the very heart of war as he reconstructs the terrible reality of the epic clash for the bridges in 1944 in his superb new book Arnham. From Medusa to Theresa May, the incomparable Mary Beardreturns to Cheltenham to discuss_ Women and Power_, the cultural underpinnings of misogyny, and how we can change this narrative. Max Hastings will discuss the modern history of the Vietnam War as explored in his new book Vietnam: An Epic Tragedy 1945-1975 and Ben Macintyre will talk about the life of Oleg Gordievsky, the subject of his book The Spy and The Traitor.

Food, Lifestyle & Art

Prue Leith, the new grande dame of the Bake Off tent, celebrates a lifetime of cooking for family and friends with her first cookbook in 25 years, Prue, debut food writer Nargisse Benkabbou breathes new life into Moroccan cuisine, in Casablanca: My Moroccan Food, and Nadiya Hussein hosts a delicious lunch inspired by home cooks around the UK. Comedian Ruby Wax will offer a wise, practical and funny lifeline through her new handbook How to Be Human, for the curious, or disillusioned or muddled or just plain happy, and actor Greg Wise will be joined by former palliative care consultant Kathryn Mannix to talk about how we can better talk about, understand and accept death. The New York Times bestseller Tara Westover will make her Cheltenham debut to discuss her astonishing memoir, Educated, an account of the struggle for self-invention and coming-of-age story that gets to the heart of what education is and what it offers. Guest Curator Tristram Hunt will share the story of the V&A and the place of the East in its collections, and artist and writer Edmund de Waal OBE will offer a history of porcelain, tracing its journey from China to Europe, informed by his personal experience of the decorative arts.


Shane Warne provides a brutally honest insight into some of the most challenging times in his career and one of cricket’s finest eras, Kevin Keegan shares his deeply moving and incredibly honest journey to being crowned ‘King Kev’ by his adoring fans and Sir Chris Hoy speaks about his invaluable manual How To Ride a Bike. Retired English Thoroughbred racehorse trainer extraordinaire Henrietta Knight joins Nicky Henderson to reveal what it takes to succeed in their tough and competitive industry, exploring the extraordinary characters at the heart of jump racing, and their single-minded ambition to win.

Nature, Travel & Adventure

Soldier turned journalist, historian, traveller and writer Jan Morris gives an exclusive recorded interview and Anna McNuff talks with Phoebe Smith about women in the wilderness and Cheltenham boy turned Britain’s wildest adventurer Sean Conwaypresents his latest incredible feat: becoming the first person to ever to run, swim and cycle the 4,200 miles around the coastline of Great Britain, solo and unsupported.

Family Fun

Of course it's not just the adults who'll love the literature festival. Toddlers through to teens will be entertained by some of the world's greatest storytellers and illustrators. Phillip Pullman, Jacqueline Wilson, Michael Morpurgo and Chris Riddell top the billing, while olympic cyclists Chris Hoy and Anthony Horowitz are also introducing their works. The programme so far includes:

Highlights include… unmissable events for all the family with the extraordinary Phillip Pullman, the literary legend Jacqueline Wilson on the much anticipated My Mum Tracey Beaker, and Michael Morpurgo shares his remarkable new novel Flamingo BoyChris Riddell reveals the secrets behind illustrating JK Rowling’s fairytale classic The Beedle and the Bard, with further wonder, wisdom and enchantment from Carnegie Medal winner Sally Gardner and fellow author Jessie Burton.

Olympic cyclist Chris Hoy will introduce his action-packed series Flying FergusAnthony Horowitz brings the world’s greatest teenage spy – Alex Rider – back to Cheltenham, we celebrate ten ninja-tastic years of the Young Samurai with Chris Bradford, and no superpowers are required to join Greg James and Chris Smith for an action-packed Kid Normal event.

Laughter and music will prevail with the best-selling author of Mr GumAndy StantonAstrosaurs author Steve Cole will give a ukulele accompanied masterclass of secret writing tips, and for those interested in word play wizardry, Joshua Seigal and Tongue Fu will bring their spoken word and poetry to life with dynamic, dazzling performances.

Much-loved characters will be celebrated with special storytelling sessions for PaddingtonJudith Kerr’s Tiger and Winnie the Witch, and an introduction to the all-new Little Miss InventorNick Sharratt will take the Cheltenham audience on an intergalactic adventure with his fabulous new picture-book You Choose in Space, and Enid Blyton’s much-loved detective club The Secret Severn are back in a new mystery written by award-winning author Pamela Butchart.

For some imagination training, the award-winning Spyder creator and illustrator of this year’s Family Programme brochure, Matt Carr, will reveal how to draw everyone’s favourite eight-legged agent, Tracey Corderoy will show how to make your own grumpy bear, and Chitra Soundar will be sharing her beautiful stories whilst Poonam Mistry helps children make their own stars and snowflakes.

Little ones will enjoy giggles galore with live storytelling and illustration from the super talented Polly Dunbar, some fabulous live drawing in a Tropical Terry interactive event with Jarvis, and BookTrust’s Writer-Illustrator in Residence Nadia Shireen will bring to life her latest characters in Billy and the Beast. The Cheltenham audience is also invited on an adventure with a girl, a bear and some very special shoes with Lydia Monks, the bestselling illustrator of Julia Donaldson’s What the Ladybird Heard stories.

For those interested in historical wonders, Dr Ben Garrod will use the most interactive and inspiring science to reveal amazing dinosaur discoveries, Peter Frankopan shares the fascinating story of The Silk RoadKate Pankhurst will look at the incredible women who made history and Christopher Lloyd invites us on a roller coaster ride through the history of the world using 20 everyday objects.

There is also lots on the line-up for YA fans, including a thriller panel with the best-selling US author E Lockhart and YA Prize Winner Will Hill, and Sarah Crossan and Brian Conaghan discuss We Come Apart, a novel told in verse, with fellow author Phil Earle.

Whew! We are in for one hell of a festival this year. Can't wait...




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