Marlborough Literary Festival 2013
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The fourth Marlborough Literary Festival was a cracker, if we say so ourselves. Fay Weldon opened proceedings on Friday night with some sharp observation and witty anecdotes about her literary career. The next morning there was a wonderful discussion on writing about Palestine between journalist Bidisha and novelist Selma Dabbagh, and then Bidisha hosted an event with Bernardine Evaristo who spoke about creative writing and her latest book Mr Loverman. Historian AN Wilson appeared twice, discussing Dante with translator JG Nichols, then talking about his newest book on the subject of his ancestor Josiah Wedgwood.
For our younger audiences there was an event for primary schools with author Rob Lloyd Jones who spoke about writing and his novel Wild Boy, and another fantastically funny author, Jeremy Strong, enthralled the children with stories about the process of writing in his blue shed with a fridge full of chocolate and fruit.
Later we heard from the very entertaining Marina Lewycka, author of several very successful novels including Various Pets Alive and Dead and A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian. Malcolm Gluck’s audience enjoyed a glass of wine whilst hearing him discuss his new book Chateau Lafite 1953 and Other Stories. Alison Moore, the winner of the McKitterick prize, was insightful, and Saturday finished with biographer Claire Tomalin telling us fascinating tales about Dickens and Queen Victoria.
Beautiful weather on the Sunday seemed appropriate for a day full of poetry including workshops for children and adults, the poetry café and an open mic event in The Green Dragon which was very well attended. The Hiscox Young Authors’ event gave Peter Hobbs and Sarah Butler a chance to discuss their wonderful novels and the writing process, whilst playwright David Edgar spoke about the poetry of plays in an inspiring theatre masterclass. Crime-writers Laura Wilson and Andrew Martin had their event in The Merchant’s House, which seemed fitting, and they were followed by two wonderful story-tellers, Michèle Roberts and Jo Baker.
Poet and novelist Jackie Kay hooked her audience at the start with vivid readings from Red Dust Road and then drew them in with her warm and immensely likeable style. Writer and broadcaster Kevin Jackson wrapped up events at The Merchant’s House with sketches of the people and events that made 1922 such a pivotal year in modern history. Finally we were honoured to have the Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy close the festival with readings from her work accompanied by musician John Sampson in the stunning setting of the Marlborough College Memorial Hall.