Budleigh Salterton Literary Festival


An exciting lineup of well-known authors and speakers will feature at September’s Budleigh Salterton Literary Festival.

Now in its 15th year the festival, from September 20-24, will also feature special tributes to its late honorary president, Dame Hilary Mantel.

 The programme is packed with a mixture of well-known names, emerging writers, and panel discussions, as well as sessions for children and families.

Headlining the inspiring programme are author, poet, playwright, and broadcaster, Lemn Sissay; one of the UK’s most prolific storytellers Alexander McCall Smith; comedian broadcaster and author David Baddiel and political commentator and Guardian journalist Polly Toynbee. Writer and political strategist Alastair Campbell; acclaimed author Kate Mosse and Radio 4 presenter Natalie Haynes. Charlie Higson and Kim Sherwood will be talking about taking on the legend that is James Bond.

The festival is featuring three tributes to Dame Hilary Mantel. The first will bring together her agent Bill Hamilton, her lifelong friend Anne Preston, and the actor Ben Miles (Thomas Cromwell in the acclaimed stage production of Wolf Hall) in a unique event that shares memories of her as a friend, colleague, and inspiration. The second will feature Ben Miles and his photographer brother George Miles who will talk about their experience working with Dame Hilary on the making of the Wolf Hall Picture Book where they spent many years exploring the locations Thomas Cromwell visited and inhabited.

Anton Lesser will perform in a tribute to Hilary Mantel

The third event will be a moving tribute, in which pianist Katherine Rockhill performs the original music created by Debbie Wiseman for the BBC series Wolf Hall. She’ll be joined by the celebrated actor Anton Lesser, who played Sir Thomas More, who will mesmerise with extracts from the novel.

In current affairs, Tatton Spiller, founder of Simple Politics, will join MP and journalist Chris Bryant and journalist Lord Danny Finkelstein to talk about the politics of the last few years. Baroness Catherine Ashton, the EU’s first High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security, will explore modern-day diplomacy and why it still takes place behind closed doors.

Journalist Luke Harding will share insights into the war on Ukraine and Ben Riley Smith, political editor of the Daily Telegraph, gives us the full story of what has happened in British politics over the last decade. Charlotte Lydia Riley and Arianne Shahvisi will explore culture wars and cancel culture.

Luke Harding will share insights on the war on Ukraine

Journalist and bestselling author Sathnam Sangera will be talking to new president Cathy Rentzenbrink; you’ll be able to hear from one of the biggest names in British fiction, Lisa Jewell; as well as acclaimed authors Suzanne Heywood, Kate Strasdin, Christopher Somerville, Robert Goddard, Anne Wroe, Linda Grant and Amanda Craig.

Dr Jonathan Kennedy, author of Pathogenesis will reveal how infectious diseases have fundamentally altered the course of human history and Daniel Finkelstein will share from his memoir Hitler Stalin Mum and Dad.

Historian Marc Morris will explore the Anglo Saxons and Diane Purkiss will take us on a People’s History of English Food, whilst cultural historian Hannah Rose Woods explores Britain’s perennial fixation with its own past, and bestselling historical novelist Alison Weir gives us a new take on Henry VIII. Renowned historian Tom Holland will share insights from his work Pax: War and Peace in Rome’s Golden Age.

Kate Mosse will interview three of the most exciting debut novelists of 2023 in the Hilary Mantel Emerging Writers Event and this year’s Festival Read is Queen of Dirt Island from the award-winning, Booker longlisted author by Donal Ryan. This is a searing, jubilant novel about four generations of women and the love and stories that bind them.

The East Devon Writers group will share its latest works, students from local schools will take part in a Poetry Slam and there will be a number of workshops, including bookmaking, and Cathy Rentzenbrink delivering an interactive workshop about how to start writing.

There is a full programme for families, headlined by world-famous illustrator Axel Scheffler, who took Julia Donaldson’s wonderful stories and brought them to life through illustration. Learn to draw some of your favourite characters alongside Axel at this event.

New president Cathy Rentzenbrink will run a writing workshop

Wren Music return with workshops for youngsters and festival favourite Kristina Stephenson will be welcoming little ones to the wonderful world of Sir Charlie Stinky Socks in a fully interactive show. There will be a comic art masterclass with Kev F, whilst scientist and BBC presenter Madeleine Finlay will be talking about Brilliant Bugs for Breakfast. The Festival will also be celebrating 30 years of Horrible Histories throughout the weekend, including hearing from illustrator Martin Brown.

The Festival takes place in venues across the town and has a hub marquee with a café and pop-up Waterstones bookshop.

Tickets are on sale via www.budlitfest.org.uk


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