Stratford Literary Festival unveils 2019 line-up

News - Festivals Friday, 15 February 2019

Ali Smith, Patrick Gale, John Lanchester, Tessa Hadley and Ben Okri are some of the authors on the programme

The Stratford Literary Festival has revealed its 2019 line-up of speakers and events. The eight day festival, returning for its 12th year, begins on 28 April. Speakers will debate science and ideas, mental health and women's issues, medicine and there will also be a focus on fiction.

The festival will showcase writers including Ali Smith, John Lanchester, Tessa Hadley and Booker-prize winner Ben Okri, and welcome back classicist Natalie Haynes and best-selling novelist, Patrick Gale (pictured).

Current affairs will be covered by Newsnight anchor Emily Maitlis talking about life behind the headlines, and Radio 4's Paddy O'Connell who will be celebrating radio with Charlie Connelly and newsreader, Corrie Corfield.

Classic FM's John Suchet, pianist Lucy Parham and leading conductor, Jane Glover will cover music, while Real Marigold Hotel's Rosemary Shrager will be sharing her thoughts on food and globetrotting, and leading medics Henry Marsh, Richard Shepherd and Angela Gallop will be sharing their expertise.

Front-line doctor Dr David Nott will be talking about his experiences in delivering trauma surgery in some of the world's worst war zones, and war photographer Lalage Snow will "marvel at the gardens that blossom in the most treacherous parts of the world."

Veteran comedy writer Barry Cryer will reminisce about his friendship with Stratford writer, JB Priestley, and comedy professional Maggie Irving will show the audience how to make writing amusing, with Guardian cartoonist Harry Venning unlocking everyone's inner cartoonist.

Speakers on mental health include crime writer Nicci Gerrard discussing the impact of dementia, and writers Ella Risbridger and Laura Freeman will share the moments and meals that saved them. Historians headlining the Festival will be Alison Weir, Damien Lewis and Tracy Borman, and best-selling crime writers include Mark Billingham and Elly Griffiths.

Children can enjoy the multi-million bestselling writers Jacqueline Wilson and Francesca Simon and illustrators Lydia Monks and Nick Sharratt, plus stage shows of The Rainbow Fish and Aliens Love Underpants. Children's events launch on 28 April with a drop-in craft session to help build a giant Elmer, to celebrate the famous patchwork elephant's 30th anniversary, and pre-schoolers can help create a rainbow every weekday morning with craft and story-telling. Children's Day this year rounds off the Festival on 5 May.

The festival is adding this year a dedicated Writers' Day for people wanting to find the best route to being published and featuring literary agents and editors, and include the opportunity for attendees to have a short one-to-one session with an agent to discuss their work.

Annie Ashworth, festival director, said: "We are really excited by this year's line-up. Our growing audiences have shown that they love a variety of events to choose from and this year we've included a very wide buffet of choices. I'm especially pleased that the programme includes some light-hearted, late-evening events to enjoy with a glass of wine, including our Live Lit evening which showcases emerging local writers. It will be fun to be working with the team at the Play House again. There will be a café, pop-up stalls to browse and a story-telling machine to dispense a story just for you. We're confident they'll find something to enjoy and broaden the mind and, whilst we can't guarantee Brexit won’t be mentioned, we promise a wonderful escape from it!"

Full details can be found at

Also on BookBrunch

Featured Video


more charts »