LOCKDOWN LIFE: Stratford Literary Festival forges ahead with Winter Weekend

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The Stratford Literary Festival Winter Weekend, which runs from 20th to 22nd November, has had to move all its events online due to the latest lockdown restrictions.

But those with tickets to live events are urged to rebook for the online version.

Stratford Literary Festival director Annie Ashworth

Festival director Annie Ashworth told the Herald:

“Whilst we are very disappointed by the news from the Prime Minister which means that we cannot go ahead with events live, we had anticipated another possible lockdown so our events were always going to be available online too. Ticketholders who have purchased tickets for the live events will have them refunded this week, and they can then rebook to view online over the Winter Weekend – with events available from the time that they would have taken place anyway until 25th November.”

Speaking about the impact of lockdown, Annie continued:

“This has been a difficult year for everyone, not least live events, but we have planned carefully around the restrictions and implications of them, so the festival is in a good place, and people’s support buying tickets to watch online will help ensure we are back next spring with brilliant live events.”

Major headliners include twice-Booker prize winner, Dame Hilary Mantel, talking about her acclaimed Cromwell Trilogy and her latest book of essays, Mantel Pieces. Broadcaster and best-selling author, Andrew Marr, chats to fellow BBC broadcaster Sophie Raworth about what made Britain the country it is today. Times columnist and Radio 4’s Great Lives presenter,Matthew Parris, looks at how trauma shapes great leaders and innovators and LBC presenter and political commentator, Iain Dale, discusses what separates a good Prime Minister from a bad one. The acclaimed modern historian and Reith lecturer,Margaret MacMillan, suggests that humans are programmed for war, and colonial history specialist, Michael Taylor, considers how and why the Establishment was vigorously against the abolition of slavery.

On a lighter note, the UK’s leading impressionist Rory Bremner will explain his craft, and coping in lockdown, and audiences will be inspired by two of the country’s leading poets, Roger McGough, and Lemn Sissay, who shares his best-selling memoir.

The much-loved comedian Victoria Wood will be remembered by her biographer,Jasper Rees, and the actor Duncan Preston, who acted with her in so much of her TV work including Acorn Antiques and Dinnerladies. Historian Charles Spencer will talk about a shipwreck that changed history, Claire Wilcox, curator of fashion at the V&A will talk about a life in clothes and, in a talk suited to the times we find ourselves in,  the entrepreneur Margaret Heffernan will discuss why unpredictability is actually good for us.

There’s fun for families too with the Horrible Histories illustrator Martin Brown, a crocodile collaboration between poet Roger McGough and Stratford-based BAFTA wining illustrator Greg McLeod, plus craft and storytelling workshops with artist Ros Ingrams and Kate Coleman, Stratford’s leading storyteller.

Tickets are available from stratlitfest.co.uk, on 0333 666 3366 or from the Stratford Play House Box Office.