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News on the agenda at Campden’s tenth Literature Festival

Alan Rusbridger
Alan Rusbridger

The Chipping Campden Literature Festival this year celebrates its tenth anniversary and runs from 7th to 11th May. Festival director Vicky Bennett talks Herald arts through some highlights from the programme.

‘News’ is this year’s main theme. On the opening day of the festival, on 7th May at Toke’s Bar, former editor of the Guardian, Alan Rusbridger presents his book on Breaking News: The Remaking of Journalism and Why it Matters Now; and Ed Vulliamy, Observer foreign correspondent, shares his book on When Words Fail: A Life with Music, War and Peace, with Charlie Bennett, director of Chipping Campden Music Festival.

On 11th May at Chipping Campden School, Professor of American Literature at the University of London Sarah Churchwell (at 2pm) argues that, in the age of Trump, the meanings and history of the terms The American Dream and America First need to be understood afresh so that the true spirit of America can be reclaimed; and (at 3.30pm) Women’s Hour presenter Jenni Murray celebrates the lives, struggles and achievements of extraordinary women from around the globe.

To mark the 70th anniversary of the publication of Nineteen Eighty-Four former Home Secretary Alan Johnson talks to Professor John Sutherland about how George Orwell’s writing influenced his political career (11th May, noon, Toke’s Bar). Before that, at 10.30am at Toke’s, and Gill Bennett, chief historian of the Foreign Office 1995-2005, presents her book The Zinoviev Letter – which delves into a ‘fake news’ story from 1924 that tried to bring down the then Labour government.

Texan-born Kelleigh Greenberg-Jephcott, whose debut novel is long-listed for the 2019 Women’s Prize, relates the tragic story of Truman Capote and the beautiful, wealthy women he called his Swans – at Chipping Campden School on 10th May at 7pm.

Images and sport play a vital part in selling news so on 9th May at 8.30pm (Town Hall) investigative journalist Cal McCaffrey examines the relationship, while on 10th May Terry Waite revisits his memoirs (11.45am St James’ Church).

Broadcaster Sue Cook’s Big Book Group is bigger than ever. Her author is UK editor of Vanity Fair, Henry Porter with his timely thriller FireFly that follows the refugee trail from Syria to Europe (8th May, 7pm, Toke’s Bar). Sue also has an event with Paul Willetts who has written the bizarre true story of grifter and King of Jazz Age con artist Edgar Laplante, sending #FakeNews off the scale (8th May, 11.30am, Town Hall).

Other highlights include: Nadine Akkerman details the lives of 17th century ‘She-Intelligencers’ in Invisible Agents (8th May, 10am, Town Hall); Jacqueline Riding, the historian to the Mike Leigh film Peterloo, discusses her tie-in book with journalist Lindsay Mackie (9th May, 2pm, Town Hall); and sociologist Elisabeth Schimpfossl investigates the lives of the Russians who pepper the Sunday Times Rich List in her book Rich Russians (9th May, 3.30pm Town Hall).

The Cotswold House Hotel hosts a two-course lunch at which Adrian Tinniswood relates some juicy tales about royalty from Elizabeth I to II in his book Behind the Throne (7th May, noon).

The Printers’ Wayzgoose returns on 11th May (10am to 4pm, Church Rooms). Once the day for a ‘works party’, usually involving a trip to the country, today it is meeting of letterpress printers, displaying their work and exchanging ideas.

Finally, bringing the festival to a close on 11th May (7pm, Chipping Campden School) best-selling novelist Patrick Gale reads from Take Nothing With You and discusses music education with cellist, Julian Lloyd Webber.

For the full programme and to book tickets visit www.campdenlitfest.co.uk

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