Big names at this year’s Guernsey Literary Festival will include broadcasters and journalists David Dimbleby and Jon Snow, lexicographer Susie Dent, TV and radio presenter Dan Walker, novelist Georgina Moore, Children’s laureate Joseph Coelho and acclaimed poet and novelist Jackie Kay.
This year’s Festival, which runs from 2-14 May, will have more than 65 events, including 15 in schools, featuring international writers and speakers covering a wide range of fascinating subjects. The first week features local writers and this year’s Festival’s has its biggest ever community programme, taking writers into the prison and care homes. Events will be held in a number of local venues, including St James, Les Cotils, the Guille Alles Library, the OGH and St Pierre Park Hotel.
It will be a family meeting for David Dimbleby, who will talk about his new book Keep Talking: A Broadcaster’s Life, because his son, Henry, himself a writer on food and the environment, will be here with co-author Jemima Lewis to talk about their new book Ravenous: How to get ourselves and our planet into shape.
Full details of the programme are available on the Festival website, guernseyliteraryfestival.com. Tickets for the events will be available to members from 27 February and to the general public from 10am on 4 March. Festival members have priority booking and there are details of how to become a member on the website. A printed copy of the programme will be delivered to island households by Guernsey Post in early March.
Festival Director Claire Allen is ‘delighted with the writers and speakers we’ve been able to attract. Local audiences will be able to listen to and question well-known names on a wide spectrum of subjects based on the speakers’ books.
‘Our programme covers media and news, health, poetry and the novel, the environment, business and economics, history, sport, music and social issues. I’m especially happy with our education programme, which takes writers into schools, and the community programme, which has expanded this year.’
The media is heavily represented in May. As well as the Dimblebys, Jon Snow, Susie Dent and Dan Walker, International Editor for the BBC Jeremy Bowen will talk about his new book The Making of the Modern Middle East – A Personal History.
In his book The State of Us – The Good News and the Bad News about our Society, veteran journalist Jon Snow traces how the life of the nation has changed across his five-decade career. He shows how the greatest problems at home and abroad so often come down to inequality and an unwillingness to confront it.
Susie Dent’s new book An Emotional Dictionary – Real Words for How we Feel, from Angst to Zwodder looks at some of the real –and rarely used – words that can pinpoint exactly how we feel, and journalist and presenter Dan Walker, will talk about his book, Standing on the Shoulders – Incredible Heroes and How They Inspire Us, which celebrates the nation’s quiet heroes.
Jackie Kay heads the poets and novelists’ section. The highly regarded poet will judge the Festival’s Guernsey International Poetry Competition, read from her work and lead a poetry workshop. Novelists are well represented, with Georgina Moore talking about her book The Garnett Girls, set to be one of the biggest debuts of the year, and LizHyder, whose book The Gifts, is a rich gothic mystery and follows her award-winning YA novel Bearmouth. Abigail Burdess will talk about her new novel, the thriller Mother’s Day, which has been described as ‘completely gripping and quite terrifying’.
Memoir is well represented. Gail Simmons will talk about her book Between the Chalk and the Sea, which chronicles a walk along a long-forgotten pilgrimage route from Southampton to Canterbury, and Edward Chisholm’s book A Waiter in Paris – Adventures in the Dark Heart of the City takes you beneath the surface of one of the most iconic cities in the world and reveals its dark secrets. Gail will also be holding a writing seminar.
Historian Anthony Seldon set out from the Swiss-French border to the Channel along the Western Front to learn more about World War I, and about himself. His book The Path of Peace, Walking the Western Front Way will form the basis of his talk.
Emily Kenway became a carer for her elderly mother and her experience and that of the carers she got to know and speak to make her question whether carer treatment could be improved. She will speak about her book Who Cares?
Inspirational speaker Mim Skinner’s journey into alternative societies led to her book Living Together – Searching for Community in a Fractured World will be the subject of her talk, and activist Kim Samuel looks at the importance of connectedness in her book On Belonging – Finding Connection in an Age of Isolation.
Manni Coe’s book brother.do.you.love.me started when he received this desperate message from his brother. Manni knew everything had to change. He immediately left his life in Spain and returned to England, moving his brother Reuben out of his care home and into an old farm cottage in the countryside. The book and talk will follow their journey.
For sports fans, the Festival has football writers Phil McNulty and James White, a Scouser and a Manc in a rare collaboration, whose book Red on Red addresses the divide between Liverpool and Manchester United by talking to those involved in 10 seminal football matches. Phil is BBC Sport’s chief football writer.
Laura Kennington is a British adventure athlete, author and speaker with a passion for the endurance capability of the human body talks about her adventures. Her book Kairos includes her adventures in Guernsey and features its wonderful open water swimming community.
From business, politics and economics, Jamie Susskind will talk about his book The Digital Republic – On Freedom and Democracy in the 21st Century and asks how can freedom and democracy survive in a world of powerful digital technologies. Jamie will talk at the Festival’s Business Breakfast.
Professor Danny Dorling has been looking at Finland, often voted the happiest country in the world, and in this talk and his book Finntopia will be asking if the claims are true and if so, whether other countries can emulate the Finns. BBC journalist Richard Fisher will talk about his book The Long View – How the World needs to Transform its View of Time, which questions how we can counter the short-termism in political and economic decision-making to really address the major problems of the modern world.
For Royal watchers and historians, celebrated royal biographer Robert Hardman will talk about his book Queen of Our Times – The Life of Elizabeth II. And historian Peter Conradi looks at the darker side of politics with his book Who Lost Russia? analysing a series of mistakes and misunderstandings in the years following the end of the Soviet Union.
On the environment, the Festival has physicist and science broadcaster Helen Czerski, who will speak about the critical importance of the oceans and her book Blue Machine – how the Ocean Works.
John Wright will be talking about his book The Observant Walker – Wild Food, Nature and Treasure on the Pathways of Britain. What if, instead of just admiring the view when we take a walk, we slowed right down and looked closely at every living thing – every plant, fungus, lichen, hoverfly or spider?
Music journalist and author Paul Sexton has been interviewing all of the members of the Rolling Stones for 30 years. Now he’s written the acclaimed, authorised biography, Charlie’s Good Tonight, of the Stones’ late drummer Charlie Watts, the band’s timekeeper and backbone.
This year’s Festival Service is being held at St Peter’s church where the Festival’s Honorary Chairman Terry Waite CBE will be preaching on the theme of freedom.
There is plenty this year for the family and young people, with events like Draw with Rob, led by popular illustrator and author Rob Biddulph, and live drawing and music with Tom Percival (Milo’s Monster, Perfectly Norman, Ravi’s Roar).
Onjali Q. Raúf (Hope on the Horizon) shares her top ways for finding hope, creating change and making a difference and, of course, there will be the Festival Tea Party, which this year features Elmer the Patchwork Elephant, one of the most iconic book characters of all time, created and illustrated by renowned children’s author and artist, the late David McKee. The tea party will be led by Andrew Hislop.
There will also be an exhibition by artist Šárka Lee to view the original illustrations from her books The Bear Truth about Goldilocks and The Kingdom of Deep Sleep, with the opportunity to purchase the original illustrations
For YA readers, there is a treat. Honoured by the International Board of Books for Young People, Waterstones award-winning author Sita Brahmachari explores the rewilding storytelling, environmental and human rights inspirations behind her bestselling novel Where the River Runs Gold.
The Festival’s extensive education programme in local schools will feature many of the writers and illustrators already mentioned, in addition to Children’s Laureate Joseph Coelho, M G Leonard and local author Penny Dawes.
There are plenty of books and talks to enjoy with local connections or by Guernsey writers. Guernseyman, distinguished soldier and civil servant Sir Donald Banks (1891-1975) had an amazing life which he set about documenting in the 1960s. The book Across the Channel – Memoirs of Sir Donald Banks will form the basis of a talk by publisher Steve Foote and Sir Donald’s daughter Dawn Smith.
Jules Mountain had an adventure which brought him to a great tragedy. Diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer, following a major operation and six months of chemo Jules set himself the challenge of trying to climb Everest. Unfortunately he chose 2015, the year of the greatest ever disaster in the history of mountaineering on Everest. The book which came out of this was Aftershock – One Man’s Quest and the Quake on Everest.
One Flew Over the Puffin’s Nest is Paul Sherman’s second collection of stories set in Herm and his event will feature a walkabout from Herm Harbour.
Photographer Marco Tersigni’s latest book – in collaboration with Occupation historian Simon Hamon – focuses on rare and previously unpublished photographs from the Occupation, together with modern-day comparisons ‘from the exact spot’. The book is called Occupied Guernsey Past and Present — From the Exact Spot.
Jag Sherbourne’s book Clouds in My Guernsey Sky – a Memoir of Love, Truth and Hope is a fascinating account of the legacy of Guernsey’s wartime past, and the power it holds to influence the lives of future generations.
The Festival’s first event features three very different Guernsey writers, Mya Roberts, Nick Rowe and Jilly Chadwick in conversation. Mya will talk about her novel Song of the Sea, Nick about his new poetry/photography ebook and Jill about her latest novel Sing Out!
The Outreach and Community Programme will see events in Les Nicolles Prison, Maison de Beauvoir Care Home, Russel’s Day Care Centre, Le Grand Courtil, Guernsey Cheshire Home and the Guernsey Alzheimer’s Carers’ Group.
There will be presentation events for the winners of the Festival’s Guernsey International Poetry Competition and The WriteStuff competition for young Bailiwick writers.
The Guernsey Literary Festival is a not-for-profit organisation planned, organised and run by a team of volunteers.
The Guernsey Literary Festival is kindly sponsored by: Butterfield, BWCI Group, Carey Olsen, Dorey Financial Modelling, Guernsey Arts, Guernsey Post, Health Connections, Hiscox, Investec, John Ramplin Charitable Trust, Julius Baer, Praxis, Rawlinson & Hunter, Rothschild & Co, Specsavers, Spring Insure Guernsey, St Pierre Park Hotel, Spa & Golf Resort, TPA, Vive La Vallette, Walkers, Walter Property.
Full details of the programme are available on the Festival website, guernseyliteraryfestival.com. Tickets for the events will be available to members from 27 February and to the general public from 10am on 4 March. Festival members have had priority booking and there are details of how to become a member on the website. A printed copy of the programme will be delivered to island households by Guernsey Post in early March.