Friday, 12 August 2022

Organisers reveal their literary festival ‘picks’



Daniel Hahn, Town Hall 6.30pm

Harriet: Daniel is a great friend of the festival, hosting all sorts of events for us — fittingly, given his role as chairman of the Society of Authors. He was tasked with producing an updated Oxford Companion to Children’s Literature, over 30 years on from the previous edition, which sees Harry Potter and the Gruffalo join old favourites like Winnie the Pooh and Toad of Toad Hall. I’ve seen him speak about this in London and Oxford and this is not to be missed.

Candace Bushnell, Kenton Theatre, 8.30pm

Tom: I’m really excited to be bringing the creator of Sex and the City to Henley — the Manhattan of southern England! She is only in the UK for a few days and we were given just a few hours to pitch why she should choose us — a wonderful one-page presentation on both the town and the festival put together by my colleague Holly McCormick won her over.


The Girl With The Parrot On Her Head, Christ Church, 11am

Children’s Festival: Perfect for children aged three and up, Daisy Hirst’s beautifully illustrated book tells the story of imaginative Isabel who has a box for everything from hula hoops to wolves. After the storytelling, the children will have a chance to get creative, making their own animal-tastic headpiece.

Pam St Clement, Kenton Theatre, 6.30pm

Harriet: This should be a really fascinating insight into the pros and cons of becoming so recognised for one role. Pam has always been the first to say how grateful she is that EastEnders’ Pat became such an icon, but it will also be great to hear about her time with the Royal Shakespeare Company and her life beyond Albert Square. She will be interviewed by Sophie van Brugen, who makes these events feel like intimate conversations.

Dean Friedman, Town Hall, 8.30pm

Tom: We always try and do a few different things each year and while Dean performs around the world for much of the year I believe this is his first literary festival. I was lucky enough to see a recent gig of his at the Crooked Billet where the songs were even better than the food! Even for those not familiar with his catalogue, this is a rare chance to get an insight into songwriting from a master lyricist.


Dazzling Debuts, Town Hall, 12.30pm

Harriet: This is always such a fun event; three top new writers discussing their first novels. I’ve read — and loved — Emma Hooper’s Etta and Otto and Russell and James, so I’m looking forward not only to hearing from her but discovering more about Vaseem Khan and Rachael Ball’s books.

Anita Anand, Kenton Theatre, 2.30pm

Tom: What a story — the Indian princess (and goddaughter of Queen Victoria) who got wholeheartedly involved in the suffragette movement. That is a period that I don’t know nearly enough about, but with key anniversaries and the new film starring Meryl Streep, I will certainly be taking advantage of Anita’s event with Lucy Cavendish to improve my understanding.


Bonnie Greer, Kenton Theatre, 10.30am

Tom: We try and mark Black History Month with a special event each year. After Bonnie’s sold-out talk last year, I was delighted she agreed to come back to discuss Rosa Parks, whom she wrote a BBC radio play about, 60 years on from her brave stand against segregation.

Lisa Faulkner, Kenton Theatre, 6.30pm

Harriet: With next spring’s Henley-on-Food in mind, I’ll be sure to check out Lisa’s event. She’ll be discussing her latest book Tea & Cake with Lisa Faulkner with Kate Jenkins, maker of the best brownies in the world with Gower Cottage Brownies.


Adventuring with the Famous Five, Kenton Theatre, 11am

Children’s Festival: A real cross-generational event — who from children aged six and up to the most mature of festivalgoers is not familiar with Enid Blyton’s group of adventurers?

Barney White Spunner, Town Hall, 4.30pm

Tom: We have a few Waterloo-related events this year and this one — with Sir Barney having headed both the Household Cavalry and the British Field Army — looks at the conflict from the soldiers’ perspective. He will be talking to Alistair Bunkall, the Sky News defence correspondent.

Polly Vernon, Town Hall, 6.30pm

Harriet: I loved her event last year with Bryony Gordon, where Polly interviewed her about The Wrong Knickers. Now the tables are turned and Bryony will quiz Grazia columnist Polly about her first book, Hot Feminist.


Fergus Craig, Katy Wix and Tim Key, Kenton Theatre, 5pm

Tom: I’m really excited that we are able to bring three top young comedy talents to the Kenton stage. Fergus and Katy — best known for Not Going Out — have been before so it is a good sign they were up for coming back, while Tim is a recognisable face and voice from TV, theatre and radio.

The actual, real-life truth about motherhood, Kenton Theatre, 7pm

Harriet: As a mum to two young girls I am looking forward to a break in a busy festival week with some friends and a glass of wine (included in the ticket price!) as a panel including the novelist Adele Parks, columnist Bryony Gordon and journalist Ann-Marie Scanlon take a funny and frank look at motherhood. Have read the book already, and it is such a good read.


Samantha Shannon and Helena Coggan, Town Hall, 11am

Tom: We’re proud to be continuing our tradition of nonagenarian speakers — and also that right at the other end of the spectrum we have 15-year-old Helena and 23-year-old Samantha, two of the most exciting talents in British fiction. They’ll be speaking to local author Amanda Jennings.

Story in a Teacup awards ceremony, Town Hall, 3pm

Harriet: We’ve really enjoyed working with Dragonfly Tea on our first-ever writing competition, which has attracted hundreds of short stories for adults and children alike. So it will be great to celebrate the winners and runners-ups in the company of Story in a Teacup judge and very funny lady Helen Lederer.

Adventures in Wonderland, Kenton Theatre, 3pm

Children’s Festival: A wonderful way to spend a Sunday afternoon with all the family; readings, songs and riddles from Lewis Carroll’s classic Alice in Wonderland on stage at the Kenton.

Other events at the festival include Princess Michael of Kent, Deborah Moggach, Beast Quest, Barry Cryer and Caroline Lucas.

For more information and to book tickets, visit www.henleyliteraryfestival or call (01491) 575948.

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