Wimbledon BookFest returns in September with Faulks, Margolyes and Rani

Wimbledon BookFest returns in September with Faulks, Margolyes and Rani

Wimbledon BookFest is returning in September for its second in-person festival in 2021, featuring more than 40 live events with speakers such as Sebastian Faulks (pictured), Miriam Margolyes and Anita Rani.

The Sunset Festival will run from 15th–19th September. In previous years Wimbledon BookFest has taken place over a 10-day period in October, offering more than 100 events in a marquee on Wimbledon Common. Last year, the festival held a reduced-capacity roof-only marquee, with open sides. This format was used again in June's Sunrise Festival and will be in place for this September too, to "ensure the comfort and safety of audiences, artists and staff". 

This year's programme sees a particular focus on memoir and life writing, with the "poet laureate of punk" John Cooper Clarke, Miriam Margolyes and Anita Rani speaking about their autobiographies. 

Novelist Sebastian Faulks will introduce his latest book Snow Country (Hutchinson), alongside talks from Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi, winner of the 2021 Jhalak Prize, and bestselling author of The Beekeeper of Aleppo (Bonnier Books UK), Christy Lefteri. 

Labour MP Jess Phillips will share the realities of the House of Commons and discuss her book, Everything You Really Need to Know About Politics (Simon & Schuster), while political journalist Robert Peston and former Labour deputy leader Tom Watson will go behind the scenes at Westminster in an event at the festival.

Philosopher A C Grayling is to examine what we know about science, history and psychology, and virtuoso cellist Steven Isserlis will discuss Bach’s much-loved Cello Suites in an event for classical music fans. 

There are also a number of workshops and participatory events this year, including an embroidery masterclass from the Royal School of Needlework, a guided meditation by Jo Bowlby, and the return of mindful pottery with Lucy Davidson. Audiences can take part in guided walks focusing on birdsong with Charlie Corbett, and a new walk by Peter Walker that shines a light on Wimbledon’s historical links to slavery. 

This year's programme also has an expanded number of events for young people, including illustrator and former children’s laureate Chris Riddell, picture book author and former model Sophie Dahl, and author Eoin McLaughlin with illustrator Polly Dunbar.  

Sunset Festival will also feature the prize-giving ceremony for the Young Writers 2021 Competition, hosted by local author Michelle Paver. This year, entries were received from 72 schools across London in 15 categories. The overall winner is Jonathan Esenga, a Year 9 pupil at Raynes Park High School, for his powerful poem about the pandemic, "My Name is 2020". Several events for school audiences will also be livestreamed.  

Festival director Fiona Razvi said: "We exceeded all our expectations with our Sunrise Festival in June, so it’s wonderful to be running another five-day event this year with such a fabulous range of writers and speakers. Audience safety remains our priority at the Sunset Festival in September, and although capacities have been increased, we are continuing to run on reduced levels in open-sided marquees to ensure everyone feels safe.” 

Tickets for Sunset Festival go on sale to BookFest Friends on 30th July 2021, and to the general public on 6th August 2021.