Ellis to headline inaugural Chiddingstone Castle lit fest

Ellis to headline inaugural Chiddingstone Castle lit fest

Two former publishing professionals have teamed up to launch a new literary festival at Chiddingstone Castle.

Chiddingstone Castle Literary Festival is set to take place between 1st and 3rd May 2016 and is the brainchild of Victoria Henderson, previously publicity manager at John Murray and current literary festivals coordinator for recommendation site Love Reading.

Henderson approached Mark Streatfeild, who recently retired from the position of international sales director at Orion Books and is chairman of the trustees at historic Chiddingstone Castle, about the festival.

The programme includes prize-winning authors, in addition to drama, story-telling, children’s theatre, music, illustrations and performance poetry, and refreshments including cakes and cocktails.

Highlights will include appearances from Blue Peter presenter-turned-writer Janet Ellis; an account from the grand-daughter of Vita Sackville-West, Juliet Nicolson; prize-winning historians Antony Beevor and Antonia Fraser; Andrew Lownie in conversation with John le Carré biographer Adam Sisman; veteran broadcaster Sandy Gall on the war in Afghanistan with Major Richard Streatfeild; debut novelist and former BBC Radio 4 Today editor Peter Hanington; David Lough revealing the secrets of Churchill’s finances in conversation with Francis Beckett, author of Blair Inc; sports writers Ed Caesar and Mihir Bose on pushing the boundaries in sport; and a performance of The Song of Lunch by Christopher Reid with Robert Bathurst (of Downton Abbey and Cold Feet fame).

As well as poetry and percussion with Brian Moses, other performances will include The Tailor of Gloucester by Pericles Theatre Company to celebrate Beatrix Potter's 150th anniversary and a Roald Dahl storytelling from a professional voiceover artist, Rachel Sellers, to celebrate Dahl's 100th anniversary.

Children’s Laureate Chris Riddell will meanwhile invite children to 'Ask the Laureatre' questions, which he'll then "illustrate".and Christopher Lloyd will take onlookers on an "epic adventure" through the history of Britain with his 8m-long What on Earth? Wallbook and "coat of many pockets".

There will also be literary walks around the castle grounds with local historians Penny Harris and Chris McCooey and an "espresso theatre stall" which specialises in "brewing" freshly-made individual plays from London’s Royal Court Theatre. 

Other events include a short story competition for schools; the winning entries will be read out on Bank Holiday Monday by Geoffrey Streatfeild from the Royal Shakespeare Company/ National Theatre, whose family previously owned Chiddingstone Castle. Tickets are available online.