Call for stories to celebrate 70th Literature Festival

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2019 will see the world’s oldest Literature Festival celebrate its 70th birthday. Back in 1949 a group of Cheltenham book lovers came up with an innovative idea and 70 years later literary festivals take place in towns all over the world with Cheltenham at the forefront.

To mark the occasion, Cheltenham Festivals is asking for funny, sad or surprising stories for a special 70th anniversary film. Do you remember the early days or do you have a relative who does? Did romance blossom for you at a Festival or did you meet your literary hero? Were you inspired by a writer you’ll never forget……. ?

If you have an unforgettable story you want to share, Cheltenham Festivals will be filming on site both weekends of the Festival starting this Sunday 7th October. Sign up to take part on the Cheltenham Festivals website here.

Here are some great stories from the past 69 years – could yours join them?

• 1962: Guest director and novelist, Elizabeth Jane Howard, appears in an event alongside Kingsley Amis, the only writer she didn’t personally invite to the festival. Following their event they stay together late at the bar… a prelude to their love affair and marriage

• 1980: 3,000 children descend on the Town Hall during the Festival to see Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends creator, Revd Awdry, model his electric train set.

• 2005: A bizarre request for a whole cucumber causes confusion when broadcast across the festival’s internal radio system, but the catering team come good on the request and Rik Mayall’s subsequent performance with it down his trousers runs without a hitch.

• 2012: JK Rowling and Benedict Cumberbatch cause an excitement that verges on hysteria as they take part in back to back talks to a sell-out Centaur crowd (2,000 seats) one after another.

• 2014: Hilary Mantel enjoys the rare opportunity to see both her Henrys at the same time with both Damian Lewis (star of BBC Two’s Wolf Hall adaptation) and Nathanial Parker (Royal Shakespeare Company) in the Writers’ Room.

• 2017: Hillary Clinton makes her first appearance in the UK following one of the most controversial and unpredictable presidential elections in history to give her version of “What Happened”.


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