Wilson and Riddell to speak at Oxford Literary Festival

Wilson and Riddell to speak at Oxford Literary Festival

The FT Weekend Oxford Literary Festival has announced the line-up for this year’s children’s programme, with children’s laureate Chris Riddell, Jacqueline Wilson and this year’s Costa winner Frances Hardinge all taking part.

The festival, which will this year run between 2nd-10th April, will feature 55 events for children including talks, workshops and book readings.

Riddell will host a “meet the laureate” session, as well as take part in a panel about giving children enough time to use their imaginations with Abi Elphinstone and Alex Wheatle. Jacqueline Wilson will give attendees a preview of her new book Rent-a-Bridesmaid, which will be published by Penguin Random House Children’s later this year.

Also on the programme are Philip Reeve, David Baddiel, Lauren Child, Liz Pichon and Lucy Worsley, who will talk about her first children’s book, Eliza Rose, set in Henry VIII’s court (Bloomsbury Children's).

The Oxford Literary Festival hit the headlines last month when Philip Pullman resigned as patron over the lack of payment for authors. He announced his decision on Twitter, saying: “Because of the Oxford Literary Festival's attitude to paying speakers (they don't) I can't remain as a Patron any longer. I've resigned… They never have [paid], and I've long tried to persuade them to, but they won't. Time to go.”

The organisers later said they would consider paying authors in 2017, but 2016 speakers, including for the children's programme, would not be paid.

Alex Wheatle told The Bookseller he was considering turning down the offer to take part but has been assured authors will be paid from next year.

“It's very difficult because I'm trying to establish myself in YA fiction,” he said. “There is also the added pressure that black writers are woefully neglected at major literature festivals.”