More than 60 events in Guernsey’s 10th anniversary Literary Festival
This year’s Guernsey Literary Festival will have more than 60 events, featuring international writers and speakers covering a wide range of fascinating subjects. Big names this year include Anthony Horowitz, Jack Dee, UK senior judge Lady Hale, Yorkshire shepherdess Amanda Owen, scientist Richard Dawkins, Poet Laureate Simon Armitage, president and founding CEO of Virgin Unite Jean Oelwang, journalist and novelist Jonathan Freedland and outdoor swimming guru Kate Rew.
Not only will it be the tenth anniversary of the Guernsey Literary Festival, but it will be the first full live festival with visiting writers and speakers since 2019 – Covid led to the cancellation of the 2020 festival and restrictions on visiting writers in 2021 meant that their talks had to be held via video-link.
But this year there is a full live programme involving a wide spectrum of speakers and writers – novelists, poets, crime and science fiction writers, authors on politics, business, history, health, food and drink, comedy, nature, music, sport and science. There is also a wealth of local writing talent.
This year’s Festival will be spread out over a longer period than previous years. Some early events are being held in the next few weeks, more are planned from 11th May, culminating in five days of events from June 22-26. Amanda Owen’s talk will be in October.
As well as Anthony Horowitz, novelists at this year’s Festival include one of the big names in modern science fiction, Adrian Tchaikovsky, rising star Nadifa Mohamed, whose book The Fortune Men was shortlisted for the Booker award, and successful crime writer Kate Rhodes, who will also be hosting a workshop on writing a crime novel.
Writers and speakers on the environment include award-winning young naturalist Dara McAnulty and insects expert Dave Goulson, who will speak about his book Silent Earth: Averting the Insect Apocaplyse.
From politics, economics and business come Baroness Hale, formerly the UK’s leading judge, who rose to fame when she delivered a judgement against the UK government on the prorogation of Parliament, and economics professor Diane Coyle, whose new book Cogs and Monsters looks at how economics needs to change.
The Business Breakfast speaker is Jean Oelwang, president and founding CEO of Virgin Unite and co-founder of Plus Wonder, who has worked with some amazing partnerships, and whose book Partnering shines a light on the core threads that weave through 60 extraordinary partnerships and collaborations, from Nelson Mandela and Graca Machel to ice-cream entrepreneurs Ben and Jerry.
Other business speakers include Guy Hands for an after-dinner talk at the St Pierre Park Hotel as he speaks about his book The Dealmaker. Guy will give a frank account of how a severely dyslexic child who struggled at school went on to graduate from Oxford and become a serial entrepreneur. Proceeds from this event will be donated to local charity GROW.
Historical writers include Giles Milton, whose latest book Checkmate in Berlin describes the early years of the Cold War, a theme spotlighted sharply by recent events.
The effect personal history can have someone’s life is addressed by broadcaster and documentary-maker Frances Stonor Saunders, who was catapulted into an unknown world when she was given an old suitcase of her father’s letters and documents. Her book is The Suitcase – Six Attempts to Cross a Border.
Jonathan Freedland, journalist, broadcaster and novelist, will recount the astonishing true story of Rudolf Vrba, whose daring escape from Auschwitz supplied the world allies with vital information that would lead to the saving of hundreds of thousands of lives.
From the world of poetry the Festival has Poet Laureate Simon Armitage and Michael Symmons Roberts, who this year is also the judge of the Guernsey International Poetry Competition.
From science comes Richard Dawkins, who this year will host two events, one on the history of flight and one on Books Do Furnish a Life, an anthology of book-related writings on topics from science to religion to science fiction, looking at some of the great thinkers of our age.
Dr Richard Shepherd, Britain’s top forensic pathologist, will speak about his lifetime close to the dead. As a medical detective, he will share details of autopsies, some very well-known cases, that span the seven ages of human existence and have taught him more about life and death.
Comedian Jack Dee has a long history of making people laugh and will bring his own brand of comedy to the Festival, talking about his book What’s Your Problem? with humour as well as seriousness.
Health and wellness has always featured large in the Guernsey Literary Festival and this year is no exception. Horatio Clare, one of the most brilliant travel writers of our time, will talk about his deeply personal book Heavy Light, a Journey Though Madness, Mania and Healing. Patrick Foster will talk about his book Might Bite and tell his story about gambling addiction, from rock bottom to recovery, and will discuss what needs to change to better protect the public.
In conversation with Terry Waite CBE, Sarah Sands, former editor of BBC’s The Today Programme, will talk about her book The Interior Silence. Her quest to de-stress and sleep properly led her, among other things, to a fascinating study of the lives of monks.
There is also a special food and drink event with award-winning drinks expert Rob Buckhaven as he takes you on a journey of discovery of tailor-designed beverages to appeal to the widest of taste buds. The ticket price includes a wine tasting of four different wines paired with a selection of cheese and charcuterie.
Guernsey has seen an exponential growth in sea swimming over the past couple of years and no speaker could be more relevant to local outdoor swimmers than Kate Rew, author of the best-selling Outdoor Swimmers’ Handbook.
Sunday Times bestselling author Cathy Rentzenbrink’s book Write it All Down tells us how to put our lives down on the page, how to tackle writing a memoir and discover the pleasure and solace to be found in writing.
And one of the great favourites of Guernsey Literary Festival audiences, Terry Waite, the Festival’s honorary chairman, is back to recall engaging moments from his life through some of his readings and poetry, with illustrative music played by pianist Matthew Rickard.
Every year, the Festival features local or locally-connected writers, past and present. This year there will be events with Guy Hands, writers Jason Monaghan, Tish Delaney, Ben Hinshaw, Jacquie Bloese and Jilly Chadwick. There are talks on the amazing Occupation diary of Louis Guillemette, a talk by Jeffrey H. Jackson on his book about two artists who challenged the German Occupation in Jersey, and Professor Mari Jones will speak about Guernesiais and the importance of preserving endangered languages.
Martin Morgan will present an event showcasing a new documentary about Victor Hugo, Victor Hugo and the Channel Islands – A Love Affair, and Philip Larkin expert Philip Pullen will talk about the poet and his links with the Channel Islands.
A new illustrated edition of The Book of Ebenezer Le Page is also featured, with a panel discussion involving rights holder Edward Chaney, artist Charlie Buchanan and publisher Martin Morgan. Charlie Buchanan’s paintings will be on show in a special exhibition entitled Ebenezer Le Page: Illustrated at the George Crossan Gallery.
There is a full programme of family events, with writers and performers Anthony Horowitz, author of the popular Alex Rider series, Jodie Lancet-Grant, Hannah Gold and a great friend of the Festival, Huw Lewis-Jones. The popular children’s tea party will have a Bear Hunt theme this year and will take place at Sausmarez Manor.
A full education and community programme has also been organised and features many of the visiting writers and speakers including Michael Rosen (by video link) Elly Griffiths, Emma Carroll, Francis Russell, Terry Waite, Simon Armitage, Dara McAnulty and Kate Rhodes.
The Festival programme is one which delights Festival Director Claire Allen. “With over 60 events for all interests and ages, the festival is a unique opportunity to be inspired by writers. We’ve all had a hard couple of years with Covid but now, in 2022, the festival really is back to its live best.
“As a registered charity, we are committed to offering a schools and community programme as well as a series of workshops for local writers, an international poetry competition and a writing competition for schoolchildren. It’s an absolute privilege to work with the Festival team, sponsors, partners, volunteers and you, our valued audience, who make the Festival a hugely enjoyable experience.”
This year, the Festival events are being held at Beau Sejour theatre, Les Cotils, the Princess Royal Centre and the Guille -Allès Library, with the Business Breakfast at the OGH Hotel and other events at Sausmarez Manor, the St Pierre Park Hotel, Hauteville House, the George Crossan Gallery, the Guernsey Chamber of Commerce and, for Kate Rew, the new building at the Bathing Pools.
Main picture of Jack Dee (c) Aemen Sukkar.