First names revealed The Times and The Sunday Times Cheltenham Literature Festival

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Dates: Friday 6 October – Sunday 15 October 2017
Venues: Montpellier Gardens, Cheltenham, UK


Early highlights for The Times and The Sunday Times Cheltenham Literature Festival (6 – 15 October 2017) are unveiled today with Salman Rushdie, Alan Hollinghurst, Sarah Waters, Miranda Hart, Matt Lucas, Robert Webb, Nadiya Hussain, Simon Schama, Paula Hawkins, Roddy Doyle, Judy Murray, Harry Enfield, Michael Parkinson, Lauren Child, Armando Iannucci, Nigella Lawson and Twiggy leading the bill.

For ten days in October (6-15), the vibrant spa town of Cheltenham sees over 1000 of the world’s finest writers, performers, politicians, poets and leading opinion-formers gather to celebrate the joy of the written and spoken word.

This year, the Festival’s theme is “Who Do We Think We Are?” and will ask key questions around British identity in 2017 and celebrate Britain’s rich literary and cultural heritage.
Five Guest Curators will bring fresh perspectives and voices to the Festival. The Guest Curators are: Will Gompertz, BBC Arts Editor; Sarah Moss, novelist, travel writer and academic; Robin Niblett, Director of Chatham House; Jess Phillips, Labour MP for Birmingham Yardley; and Nikesh Shukla, author, editor and campaigner.

As well as the very latest in Fiction, the Festival offers events covering History, Art, Classic Literature, Music, Entertainment, Current Affairs, Science, Sport, Food and Lifestyle.
The Children’s and YA programme is packed with an exciting line-up of author events, shows and workshops for toddlers to teens.

There’s a return of last year’s hugely successful Lit Crawl. Born from San Francisco’s Litquake Festival it turns a bar crawl into a fast-paced night of literary delights. And there are Festival Lates onsite providing a delicious after-hours offer of comedy, spoken word and music.


Literary giant Salman Rushdie talks about his new novel, The Golden House; and there’s an interview with bestselling author Bernard Cornwell as he steps off the plane from the US. Discussing their new books are Paula Hawkins and Roddy Doyle, while Alan Hollinghurst talks about his new novel, The Sparsholt Affair as well as celebrating The Line of Beauty. Sarah Waters is this year’s recipient of The Sunday Times Award for Literary Excellence and the Festival celebrates the 2017 Man Booker Prize with its annual shortlist event.


There’s a rare chance to see two of the country’s best-loved poets in conversation when Scottish Laureate Jackie Kay and Lemn Sissay discuss race, identity and what it really means to truly belong, plus solo performances of their new work. Leading poets John Burnside, Michael Symmons Roberts, Daljit Nagra and Pascale Petit present new collections while we welcome the top stars of the next generation: Kayo Chingonyi, Andrew McMillan, Luke Wright, Hollie McNish, Rob Auton, Inua Ellams, Anthony Anaxagorou and Sabrina Mahfouz.

Classic Literature

Robert Harris and Mike Poulton talk to Mary Beard about their adaptation of Harris’ Cicero trilogy for the Royal Shakespeare Company while Edward St Aubyn discusses his contemporary reimagining of King Lear; John Carey introduces his new version of John Milton’s Paradise Lost; and Jenny Uglow looks at the great nonsensicalist Edward Lear

Arts, Culture, Stage and Screen

Comedians Matt Lucas and Peep Show star Robert Webb talk candidly about their lives; The Archers’ Timothy Bentick reveals all about life on radio’s longest-running soap opera; Emma Freud meets swinging sixties cultural icon Twiggy; and Michael Parkinson sits on the other side of the interviewer’s chair. BBC Arts Editor Will Gompertz selects 10 key works – from Blake to Banksy – through which to chart British art and social history; Peter Brookes talks cartoons with David Aaronovitch; Armando Iannucc*i discusses classical music and *Harry Enfield and Alison Steadman perform treasured British poems with Allie Esiri.

History/Historical fiction

Distinguished historian Simon Schama introduces the second instalment of The Story of the Jews; Alison Weir reveals how historical Queens wielded and secured their power; and in the Festival Lates strand, comedian Natalie Haynes delivers a stand-up show exploring what ancient civilisations can offer modern life.

Current Affairs

A particularly strong crop of heavyweight agenda-setters include Newsnight’s Evan Davis and Victoria Derbyshire; Andrew Marr, Peter Hennessy and John Sergeant. MPs Jess Phillips and Jacob Rees Mogg discuss unlikely political friendships and the last British governor of Hong Kong Chris Patten talks about his autobiography. We hear from Gary Younge, author of Another Day in the Death of America and from Financial Times columnist Tim Harford on modern economics. Marcus Brigstocke gives a shout-out to the liberal metropolitan elite and Phillip Collins advises non-Brexiteers in What Should Remainers Do Now?

Food and Lifestyle

Culinary stars attending the Festival include Nadiya Hussain, Nigella Lawson and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall with the chance to hear them speak and taste their recipes.
Robert Crampton and Andy McNab delve into masculinity while the Knackered Mums Night Out journeys through the emotional highs and lows of motherhood with Cherry Healey, Clemmie Hooper, Hurrah for Gin’s Katie Kirby and The Unmumsy Mum Sarah Turner.
Robert McCrum and brain surgeon Henry Marsh discuss what it means to approach the ‘end game’ and Maggie O’Farrell recounts a series of near-death experiences. In The Lost Words,Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris examine how special words describing nature are disappearing from children’s vocabularies while bestselling author Amanda Owen describes her farming year as the Yorkshire Shepherdess. In sport, Olympian Tom Daley talks about his career and his new book; Judy Murray shares her inspirational story and Yorkshire and England wicket-keeper Jonny Bairstow discusses his moving memoir.


The biggest-ever line-up of newcomers, renowned children’s authors, big stars of Young Adult literature and familiar names from the realms of culture and entertainment include: new Children’s Laureate Lauren Child, Festival illustrator Jim Field, Miranda Hart, YouTuber Ali-A, Frank Cottrell-Boyce, Kes Gray, Nadiya Hussain, Robin Stevens, The Famous Five, Michael Morpurgo, Gemma Cairney, Harry Hill, Lizzy Stewart, Michael Grant and Adrian Edmondson.

Around the Site

A vibrant spa town with Regency architecture, broad avenues and a bustling high street, Cheltenham sits in an area of outstanding natural beauty on the edge of the Cotswolds: a vision of English calm with an impressive range of shops, hotels, restaurants, theatres and bars.

Perfect for families who love books, storytelling and days out, the festival is located in a pop up tented village in the centre of town, complete with family spaces like The Hive and The Den.
Around the site are dozens of free activities and pop-up performances to be enjoyed, including a chance to meet favourite writers at Waterstones’ on site book tent, plus top quality, locally sourced food and drink, with outlets across the site and beyond.

The full Festival line-up will be announced on Saturday 12 August at To be the first to hear Festival announcements, sign up at Booking for Cheltenham Literature Festival opens to Members at 1pm on Wednesday 30 August and to the general public at 1pm on Wednesday 6 September.
Further information can be found at


Press contact:
Notes to editors:

• The Times and The Sunday Times Cheltenham Literature Festival runs from 6-15 October 2017
• Tickets will be available to book online at or by phone on 01242 850270
• For more information about Cheltenham and the surrounding area, including details of local hotels and restaurants, visit

About The Times
The Times is the oldest national daily newspaper in the UK, founded in 1785. It was one of the first newspapers in the world to launch a subscription website in 2010 and now has over 430,000 members. In December 2014, Times Newspapers Limited delivered their first operating profit in 13 years. In 2015, The Times was named Newspaper of the Year for the second time in three years at the British Press Awards and scooped seven other major awards including best supplement for the Saturday magazine, best news journalist, political writer, feature writer and cartoonist of the year.

About The Sunday Times
The Sunday Times, founded in 1822, is Britain’s biggest-selling quality newspaper. It celebrated its 10,000th edition in May 2016 and has won a clutch of awards for its Insight team investigations unit, its foreign reporting and its magazine features and interviews, in particular.