With the Chipping Campden Literature Festival beginning next week, artistic director Vicky Bennett tells us about the many highlights, including horror galore…
TO celebrate the bicentenary of the publication of Frankenstein, Chipping Campden Literature Festival, which runs from 8th to 12th May, has taken horror and superstition for its main themes fear,.
This has given us the opportunity to cover a wide variety of topics from the Imperial War Museum’s oral historian, Peter Hart, drawing on the experiences of both generals and ordinary soldiers in the final crucial eight weeks of WWI, to former Bishop of Edinburgh, Richard Holloway, exploring the many important lessons we can learn from facing death, and Gaby Doherty outlining what it was like living in North Kensington before and after the Grenfell Tower fire.
Fiona Sampson and Miranda Seymour each present their outstanding 2018 #MeToo biographies: Fiona’s on the remarkable Mary Shelley, the teenage author of Frankenstein, and Miranda’s on the lives of Annabelle Milbanke, mathematician and wife of Lord Byron, and their daughter, Ada Lovelace, who in the 1830s predicted the dawn of our modern computer age.
Dr Kathryn Harkup uncovers the science behind Frankenstein’s monster, and Professor John Sutherland scrutinises the fine and not so fine points of Bram Stoker’s gothic masterpiece, Dracula. Lynn Shepherd, author of The Pierced Heart, and Laura Purcell, author of The Silent Companions which was the BBC Radio 2 Book Club choice for Halloween, examine the enduring popularity of gothic fiction with former BBC TV Crimewatch broadcaster Sue Cook.
Other events include the nightmarish rebuilding of the gothic Houses of Parliament; our fear of ancient woodlands; and the Japanese fear of kasa-obake, the umbrella ghost, and the umbrella’s role in fiction from Mary Poppins to Howards End; witches; the presence of the ghost in art and literature; and houses in fiction from Walpole’s Strawberry Hill to Waugh’s Brideshead. Henry Hemming tells the story of Maxwell Knight, MI5’s greatest spymaster.
The four-star luxury Cotswold House Hotel is hosting a literary lunch with Sunday Times bestselling thriller writer Rory Clements. His latest novel, Nucleus, tells of the foiling of the Nazi attempt to discover the secrets of Cambridge’s Cavendish Laboratory.
For practical book lovers there is a letter-press book cover workshop, and for film buffs a screening of the 1975 film adaptation of the Australian gothic novel Picnic at Hanging Rock, now enjoying TV and theatre remakes.
Poetry lovers can rediscover Milton’s Paradise Lost with one of our greatest living academics, Professor John Carey, and enjoy the work of the outstanding lyrical poet and guitarist, Paul Henry, who entertains with his latest collection, The Glass Aisle. Paul is also running a workshop at which new and experienced poets can develop their writing in a supportive atmosphere.
Dame Harriet Walter discusses her acting career and why she has played male roles in Shakespeare, with Sam Walters, former director and founder of the Orange Tree Theatre Richmond.
Audience participation is positively welcomed as Sue Cook’s Big Book Group read The Lost Girl, which draws on novelist Carol Drinkwater’s own experience as a young #MeToo actress. Carol is best known as Helen, the wife of James Herriot in the BBC television series All Creatures Great and Small. Social historian, Jane Robinson, marks #Vote100 with Hearts and Minds, her nonfiction account of the suffragists’ Great Pilgrimage.
2017 Nobel Prize winner for Literature, Kazuo Ishiguro, Father Brown actor Mark Williams, and journalist and educationalist Lindsay Mackie share their passion for book collecting. And finally, on Saturday evening, we relax at the event run in conjunction with Chipping Campden Music Festival, at which pianist Lucy Parham and actor Henry Goodman tell the story of the exiled Rachmaninoff.
For full programme and tickets see www.campdenlitfest.co.uk
The Chipping Campden Music Festival, run by Vicky’s husband Charlie, follows on from the literature festival from 12th to 26th May, see www.campdenmusicfestival.co.uk