Crime writers beware … Especially if you’re half of a whodunit-writing duo, appearing at a literary festival, and you’ve just killed off your successful sleuth, famous for his knowledge of poisons. Let last night’s short story on Radio 4 in their ‘The Crime Writer at the Festival’ series be a warning. ‘A Marriage of Inconvenience’, 14 Minutes, available on I-Player at http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b07m4v8n for the next 29 days.
There are three wonderful literary festivals lined up this spring, at Cambridge, Oxford and Charleston (the great Bloomsbury house near Lewes in Sussex). Lots of authors to see and listen to, and buy books from – and other famous names from the media and other worlds are on show too.
The Cambridge Literary Festival – 5-14 April
The website (http://www.cambridgeliteraryfestival.com ) says, “This year’s eclectic and vibrant line-up is bigger than ever and presents leading lights from the worlds of comedy and current affairs, history and hip-hop, finance and fiction, science and Shakespeare and poetry and politics.”
The programme includes: Akala, Sebastian Barry, Tracy Chevalier, David Hare, Horrible Science, Howard Jacobson, Jackie Kay, Ken Livingstone, Ben Miller, Alexei Sayle, Andy Stanton, Kate Tempest, Edmund de Waal and Ruby Wax.
The Oxford Literary Festival overlaps with Cambridge (either by design or accident). It’s from 2-10 April – see http://oxfordliteraryfestival.org. So you might have to decide between light and dark blue.
Among the attractions: “Award-winning actor of stage and screen Ian McKellen takes to the Sheldonian stage for talk about his life in Shakespeare – One of our greatest actors Sir Ian McKellen is to join Shakespeare scholar Professor Sir Jonathan Bate for a discussion to mark the 400th anniversary of the death of The Bard. McKellen and Bate will discuss how their lives have been shaped by their relationship to the great plays.”
Also appearing, as stated on the website: Jacqueline Wilson, Melvyn Bragg, Joan Bakewell, A C Grayling, James Naughtie, Garry Kasparov, Maureen Lipman and Michael Frayn.
The Charleston Festival follows, from 20-30 May. See www.charleston.org.uk. Highlights (taken from a Festival e-mail and the website) include:
- an appearance by Sir Tim Berners-Lee;
- Jeanette Winterson on The Gap of Time, her response to Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale. Echoing the original play, the book is a contemporary story of betrayal, paranoia and redemption. We are to expect a zestful performance;
- Lord Martin Rees, Astronomer Royal, cosmologist and space scientist, and Ian McEwan, one of our most science-savvy novelists, discuss the future of our planet;
- Award-winning author, Rose Tremain, talks about her new novel, set in the lead-up to WW2. The Gustav Sonata revolves around the relationship between two Swiss boys and follows them through to old age;
- Jane Austen versus Charlotte Brontë: who better to try to resolve the contest than Claire Harman, current biographer of Charlotte Brontë and John Mullan, Professor of English Literature and author of What Matters in Jane Austen? The audience will have the final say. Moderator Virginia Nicholson, social historian, will be entirely impartial.