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Pam Ayres is among the impressive headliners announced for Stratford Literary Festival’s Winter Weekend in November - with Hugh Bonneville, Craig Brown, David Dimbleby...




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As autumn turns to winter in Stratford, it will be time to cosy up with some literary leisure time. The Stratford Literary Festival is perfectly timed to help with that when it celebrates its 15th anniversary with a superb line-up of leading writers and thinkers for its Winter Weekend of events.

The festival, which runs from 11th to 13th November, will take place once again at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Bridgefoot, with a small but perfectly formed programme of speakers.

Pam Ayres (59318835)
Pam Ayres (59318835)

Headlining the Winter Weekend will be the Downton Abbey and Paddington star Hugh Bonneville, the International Editor of BBC News Jeremy Bowen, national treasure Pam Ayres and leading satirist and Baillie Gifford Prize winner for his book on the Beatles, Craig Brown. Former Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt MP will be laying out his vision for the NHS, and leading brain surgeon Henry Marsh will share his moving personal experience of what happens when doctor becomes patient. Antiques Roadshow expert Ronnie Archer-Morgan has tales from his fascinating career, and former Home Secretary-turned successful writer Alan Johnson explores the undercover policing scandal and where politics and fiction blur with novelist Clare Clark.

David Dimbleby (59318807)
David Dimbleby (59318807)

The chatelaine of the real Downton Abbey, the Countess of Carnarvon, will be talking about the famous 5th Earl who discovered the tomb of Tutankhamun 100 years ago this year, and American studies expert Sarah Churchwell will question the alternative historical truth that was the epic novel Gone with the Wind and the impact it has had on division in the US today. The Festival also welcomes Dame Steve Shirley, leading philanthropist and businesswoman, whose recounts her extraordinary life story. The leading neuroscientist Dr Hannah Critchlow will also be looking at why two heads are better than one while barrister Sam Fowles questions legality in government and whether democracy is vanishing. Dr Shahed Yousaf will bring harrowing stories of being a prison doctor in a system that is critically under-resourced.

Families can enjoy two of the country’s leading writers, former Children’s Laureate and How to Train Your Dragon author, Cressida Cowell, and best-selling author and illustrator Rob Biddulph. The amazing Riverside Theatre Company return to the Festival with the charming story of The Velveteen Rabbit to delight younger children, and all ages can get stuck in to a Christmas workshop creating brilliant decorations for the tree from old books.

As always the Festival will include a series of workshops for writers, including with the leading editor Flora Rees and award-winning writer and storyteller Cat Weatherill, and the Festival rounds off with a wine tasting with expert Ed Dallimore to guide you through the best wines from British vineyards.

Hugh Bonneville (59318828)
Hugh Bonneville (59318828)

There’s a very special bonus event this year. On 30th November at Warwick Arts Centre the broadcasting legend David Dimbleby will be talking about his book Keep Talking: A Broadcasting Life which charts his extraordinary career and takes us behind the scenes of some of the biggest moments in British news - from election nights to the royal funerals and state occasions.

Headline sponsor in 2022 continues to be Baillie Gifford, and lead sponsors are Lodders Solicitors, Knight Frank Estate Agents, A-Plan Insurance, Inspired Villages and Rathbones Folio Prize.

‘There is so much gloom in the news at the moment and it is going to be a difficult winter,’ says Festival Director Annie Ashworth. ‘We have worked hard to keep our ticket prices low so that everyone can come along and enjoy some entertainment, some fascinating discussions and some pre-Festive cheer!’

For full details of the programme line up and tickets go to Stratlitfest.co.uk.

Pam Ayres (59318838)
Pam Ayres (59318838)

Hedgerow

It’s autumn bounty, spread the news!

To native birds, and voles and shrews,

Come now, make a winter store,

Fatten up, and carry more,

To bramble, burrow, crevice, lair,

For when the winter boughs are bare…

Extract of poem Hedgerow from Pam Ayres new collection, Who Are You Calling Vermin?



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