Authors Bernardine Evaristo and Joan Bakewell, and actor Russell Tovey are among a line-up of guest curators for the Times and the Sunday Times Cheltenham Literature Festival.
The festival will run from 8th to 17th October, open to live audiences at all its venues, with highlights curated for the CheltLitPlayer. The theme, "Read the World", will draw on the festival’s international connections as well as digital technology, to showcase new voices in fiction and poetry, alongside literary stalwarts and high-profile speakers and thinkers.
Evaristo will headline the the opening weekend with an event reflecting on her "career of creative rebellion". She will also develop events around her Penguin Writing Back series, rediscovering novels by Black writers for Black Britain, as well as panels discussing queer writing, African feminism and LatinX poetry.
She said: "Curating for this festival has been a brilliant opportunity to gather together some of the most exciting and trailblazing storytellers, soul explorers and mind-expanders; word-travellers and world-builders; people-connecters and community champions; everyday philosophers and psychological investigators—all otherwise known as writers. Welcome to their perspectives, welcome to our worlds."
Author, journalist, broadcaster and member of the House of Lords Joan Bakewell returns as the festival’s first guest curator to reprise the role, overseeing a series that reflects on a woman’s lifetime and the passing of time, history, memory and home.
Bakewell said: “Oh, what a joy to be back in Cheltenham. Not only a beautiful place, with fine buildings and green spaces, but at its heart one of the country’s greatest literary festivals. Something for all, and easily accessible. Look at the variety of books and authors you can meet. I’m thrilled to be curating a weekend of events that focus on a woman’s lifetime: a look back to the early 1960s, when Britain stood on the cusp of social and cultural revolution; a discussion about the often fraught relationships between mothers and daughters; and my own musings on the process of moving forward to the next slice of life and downsizing from my dear home of 50-odd years. I can’t wait to get the conversations going, please come and join me.”
Creators of the "Talk Art" podcast –Tovey and gallerist Robert Diament – will bring their show to Cheltenham with a yet to be disclosed special guest.
Tolly Shoneye, Milena Sanchez and Audrey Indome, hosts of the chart-topping "The Receipts" podcast, will be solving dilemmas and having open conversations around dating, love, race, culture and how to be loud, authentically yourself and empowered in your own skin.
The team at the Week Junior are collaborating with the festival to expand the hugely popular current affairs and non-fiction events and workshops for younger audiences, presenting facts and exploring ideas that will inspire curious young minds.
Meanwhile, writer and editor Ann Morgan will be appearing as the inaugural literary explorer in residence, developing a range of talks, panels and interactive sessions around international writing, literature in translation and how to broaden your reading horizons and habits.
Nicola Tuxworth, head of the programming team, said: "Cheltenham wouldn’t be Cheltenham without our guest curators, they are key to keeping our programme fresh and original each year. We are honoured and delighted to welcome this extraordinarily talented group to work with us, giving generously of their time and their creativity and lending their unique perspectives and insights to the programming process."
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