Full programme announced for The Times and The Sunday Times Cheltenham Literature Festival 2014

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The full programme for the 65th The Times and The Sunday Times Cheltenham Literature is now available at Running from 3 – 12 October, this year’s spectacular programme is led by Guest Directors Shami Chakrabarti, Omid Djalili, Amit Chaudhuri, Sophie Hannah and Michael Rosen.

The theme of this year’s Festival, Brave New Worlds, influences a series of events which will ask big questions such as: Is democracy at risk? Is technology changing our brains? What future for words? What does the next century hold? Speakers include Will Self, Caitlin Moran, India Knight, Camila Batmanghelidjh, Russell Kane and Educating Essex’s Stephen Drew.

For lovers of fiction, the Festival boasts one of the most remarkable line-ups of writing greats that you’re likely to see. With over 500 events, the Festival touches upon subjects as diverse as history, politics, sport, food and fashion. 

Members’ Priority Booking: From 12 noon Tuesday 26 August

Public Booking: From 12 noon Monday 1 September

This year, we’ve introduced Wish Lists – a quicker, easier way of booking. In order to buy tickets on the first days of Members and Public booking, you will need to have created a Festival Wish List in advance. Visit for full details and to create your Wish List today.


Programme highlights include:

  • A remarkable line-up of writing greats, including: Salman Rushdie, Kazuo Ishiguro, Hilary Mantel, Kate Atkinson, Martin Amis, Margaret Atwood, Ian McEwan, Edward St Aubyn, Howard Jacobson, Richard Ford, David Nicholls, Rose Tremain, Colm Toíbín, Mark Haddon, Will Self, Sarah Waters, Ben Okri, David Mitchell, Michel Faber, Victoria Hislop, Kate Mosse
  • The Festival will also celebrate new writers, such as Emma Healey and Costa winner Nathan Filer, with The Sunday Times ‘Must Read’ platform and the ‘Fiction at 6’ series of events shining the spotlight on emerging authors. Journalist and broadcaster Kirsty Wark will be presenting a debut novel, as will Andrew Marr, Caitlin Moran, Sheila Hancock and James Naughtie
  • Acting royalty Judi Dench delivers a little Hollywood glamour to the occasion, as will Brian Blessed and husband and wife team Damian Lewis and Helen McCrory, who bring to life some of the greatest love poetry of all time in the first of a new Allie Esiri Poetry Corner series, followed by what promises to be a fascinating interview. Comedy legend John Cleese will be presenting his new book So, Anyway and Richard Curtis will talk screen and song writing with his musical idol Mike Scott of The Waterboys
  • Comedians Katy Brand and Francesca Martinez join the inimitable Emma Freud for an hilarious girls’ night out in the Festival’s beautiful Spiegeltent
  • Funny men Kevin Bridges, Paul Merton, Omid Djalili and Radio DJ, journalist and screenwriter Danny Baker talk about their new memoirs
  • Grayson Perry will reflect on the ‘value’ of art and Queen guitarist Brian May and co-author Denis Pellerin will introduce The Poor Man’s Picture Gallery, a collection of 3D Victorian images. In a stunning celebration of almost a century of fashion history, Vogue’s Features Director, Jo Ellison, presents a sumptuous collection of the magazine’s most iconic gowns
  • Former England cricket captain Kevin Pietersen speaks about his highly anticipated autobiography and is joined in the Festival programme by sporting heroes Nicole Cook, Gareth Thomas, Roger Bannister, Sol Campbell, Trevor Brooking and Geoffrey Boycott
  • For Sci-Fi and Fantasy fans there’s plenty on offer, including a celebration of Marvel comics with Fantastic Four and X-Men writer Mike Carey and former editor Alan Cowshill as the brand reaches its 75th year, as well a celebration of Douglas Adams with speakers including Clive Anderson and Terry Jones. In addition, four leading voices in Sci-Fi and Fantasy, Ben Aaronovitch, Joe Abercrombie, Mitch Benn and Sarah Pinborough, join author and journalist David Barnett to celebrate the rise of the genre
  • The Festival’s spectacular Spiegeltent returns with a magnificent series of foodie events such as Lunch with the Bloomsbury Group, Afternoon Tea with The Archers, The Philosopher’s Dinner and a series of lunch and dinners including entertainment with Hardeep Singh Kohli, and a trip through the lemon groves of Italy with Helena Attlee. In addition, Award-winning chefs Tom Kerridge and Heston Blumenthal talk about their career highlights and favourite recipes, while Lorraine Pascale shares her inspiring journey from a childhood in foster care to one of the nation’s best-loved TV chefs. Rachel Allen, Valentine Warner, Madhur Jaffrey, Bill Granger, Diana Henry, Thomasina Miers and Yotam Ottolenghi are also appearing
    The ‘Dead Good’ series of crime fiction events is led by Guest Director Sophie Hannah, who introduces her new Poirot novel and discusses why we love a good mystery with Kate Mosse. Ruth Rendell celebrates 50 years of Inspector Wexford. Val McDermid and Ian Rankin present new work
  • Stanley Johnson, in an interview with daughter Rachel Johnson, will offer rip-roaring tales of his life story and family, and Ann Widdecombe reflects on her career as politician, novelist and the people who have influenced her along the way
  • Politics and Current Affairs includes Guest Director Shami Chakrabarti, along with Doreen Lawrence and Andrew Mitchell, discussing whether the police are fit for purpose, ground-breaking security correspondent Frank Gardner, social activist Naomi Klein, and Alan Johnson discussing who was the greatest PM Britain never had
  • British explorer and author Ranulph Fiennes presents a uniquely personal perspective of Agincourt, Charles Spencer reveals fascinating facts about Charles I death and broadcaster Chris Tarrant will discuss a much-loved father involved in WWII’s most significant campaigns
  • Historian Mary Beard explores frivolity, humour, wit and irony in Ancient Rome and masters of historical fiction Lindsey Davis and Simon Scarrow take an in-depth look at the history that shapes their bestselling novels, as well as Natalie Haynes standing up for the Classics
  • Amit Chaudhuri leads a series of events exploring India and Pakistan, with speakers including Kamila Shamsie and Mark Tully discussing everything from Indian reworkings of Shakespeare to assessing whether or not the ‘idea of India’ is running out of steam. Spain and its writers will also be discussed. Events include Chris Stewart talks about life in the Alpujarras, there’s an Art of Flamenco evening with live performances, and lunch with Moro’s Sam and Sam Clark celebrating the food of Spain
  • Guest Director Michael Rosen leads the stellar Book It! line up with five Children’s Laureates, including Malorie Blackman and Michael Morpurgo, alongside authors such as Judith Kerr, Mackenzie Crook, Henry Winkler, Charlie Higson, David Baddiel, Cressida Cowell, Lauren Child and Cathy Cassidy