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Cheltenham Literature Festival Guide

This year’s Literature Festival is bigger than ever, with the addition of a new literary quarter on Montpellier Gardens and four brand new venues. We’ve put together a guide, made by our readers, for our readers. crack

When putting together a guide to such an enormous event it’s hard to know where to begin; the whole September edition could have been dedicated to this cause. Luckily we managed to restrain ourselves and narrow it down to four pages – much to the delight of our advertisers! Here’s an insight into what your fellow Cheltonians are booking into this year.

Saturday 8th October

Jarvis Cocker (£15) 9pm - Celebrated Pulp front man and award-winning radio broadcaster Jarvis Cocker is widely regarded as one of the most original and memorable lyricists and performers of the last three decades. Here he joins us exclusively to discuss his new selected lyrics collection Mother, Brother, Lover, and how he cut an original dash in a rock’n’roll world often dominated by reductive cliché.

Recommended by Alli Fletcher, Jewellery Designer.

Alli says: “Jarvis Cocker to me is one of the true icons of 90s, along with being a fascinating character.”

Sunday 9th October

War Horse (£7.50) 4pm - Michael Morpurgo, the award-winning author of War Horse talks to broadcaster Clare Balding about his best-known book and the incredible journey from his original story first published in 1982 to the National Theatre’s multi award-winning play, and now the forthcoming film by Steven Spielberg due in our cinemas in January.

Recommended by Florence Hall, Actress.

Florence says: “Having read the book and seen the show I’m interested to hear how Michael Morpurgo is feeling about his words being further adapted for the screen.”

Christopher Lee & Harriet Walter (£15) 1.30pm - In a Cheltenham exclusive we hope to welcome screen legend Christopher Lee, star of the classic Hammer Horror films and more recently Lord of the Rings, and his niece Harriet Walter, admired for her roles in many RSC productions and on screen, as they look back on hugely successful, yet very different acting careers.

Recommended by John Taylor, Cinema Manager

John says: “It will be quite an experience being in the presence of a true icon, a giant of film in every sense.”

Monday 10th October

The Everyman Theatre (£7) 12pm - Coinciding with the reopening of Cheltenham’s very own Everyman Theatre, built to original designs by Frank Matcham, after recently going through major refurbishment as well as celebrating its 120th anniversary, writer Michael Hasted presents the illustrated history of what is truly A Theatre for All Seasons.

Recommended by The Cheltonian

We say: “Our very own columnist Michael Hasted is speaking about the release of his new book and the Cheltenham’s newly reopened Everyman Theatre – not to be missed.”

Tuesday 11th October

Dave Gorman (£8), 8.45pm - Comedian Dave Gorman thinks it’s a shame that adults don’t call round to ask their friends to play anymore. So he knocked on the biggest door imaginable - the Internet - and asked 76,000 people for a game. He joins us to tell the uproarious tale of what ensued, in Dave Gorman vs. The Rest of the World.

Recommended by Stephen Rackley, Cashier.

Stephen says: “I saw Dave Gorman at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and he was hilarious. When I saw he was speaking at the Literature Festival I booked tickets for me and my mates to go along.”

Thursday 13th October

Simon Garfield, Just My Type (£6) 10.30am - Garamond, Trebuchet, Palatino, Tahoma… typefaces are fascinating in their variety, and the stories behind them are often enthralling. In this richly illustrated talk, Simon Garfield, author of Just My Type, explains what the Beach Boys have in common with easyJet; why it’s okay to like Comic Sans, and much more as he takes us on a delightful tour of fonts.

Recommended by Rebecca Smith, Designer

Rebecca says: “I’m interested in font, typography and their origins; it looks like a fascinating talk.” The Birth of Rugby (£6) 7pm – In 1908 an extraordinary match was played between the England and New Zealand rugby teams: the first ever rugby international. And it took place here in Cheltenham. Joining us to tell the story of the men who made rugby history and the tragedy that befell them on the voyage home are John Haynes, author of All Blacks to All Golds; sports historian Tony Collins; and Lesley Vainikolo, the New Zealand rugby legend, now playing for Gloucester RFC.

Recommended by Brook Bailey, Hotel Concierge.

Brook says: “I’m a huge rugby fan and I couldn’t believe it when I saw the first rugby international took place in Cheltenham! I can’t wait to find out more, it sounds like a great story.”

Friday 14th October

Jonathan Ross, Turf (£12) 7pm - Famous for celebrity packed and banter-filled chat shows, Jonathan Ross is also a huge fan of graphic novels and collector of comics. In 2010 he realised a long-held dream when he published Turf, a story of gang wars between gangsters and vampires. He joins The Times’ Tom Gatti in this exclusive Festival event to discuss his consuming passion for the genre and share his experiences of making his comic-writing debut.

Recommended by Martin Smith, Writer.

Martin says: “Ross is one of the biggest and most knowledgeable aficionados of American comic books in the UK so the rare opportunity to catch him talking freely about his love for the medium is too good to miss.”

Saturday 15th October

Penelope Lively (£8) 2pm – Hugely acclaimed novelist Penelope Lively, author of the Whitbread Award-winning A Stitch in Time and the Booker Prize-winning Moon Tiger, looks back on her writing life, considers the influence of what she reads upon how she writes, and for the first time talks about her eagerly-awaited new novel How It All Began.

Recommended by Abigail Evans, Marketing Assistant.

Abigail says: “I have long followed Penelope’s career and have been one of those anticipating the release of her new novel. It will be fascinating to hear her talk about what influences her writing.”

Live Jazz (free) 7.30pm - End your Festival day in style as Cheltenham Jazz Festival takes over the Spiegeltent Bistro, presenting George Montague and his energetic mix of rock, pop, soul and blues, underpinned with vintage R&B and jazz.

Recommended by Drew Montague, proud father.

Drew says: “A throwback to the days of Ray Charles, George’s live performances have built an awesome rep – vibrant riffs & songs so catchy you’ll soon be up dancing & humming them all the way home.”
Tips from our Editor

Throughout the Festival there are some wonderful readings and hidden gems taking place that are worth including in your schedule; it is these extras that make the Festival for me. The Bonne Maman Big Read this year is Joseph Heller’s Catch 22. There are free readings from this brilliant book taking place, which will be well worth going along to. They are taking place on Saturday 8th and 15th at 3pm in Hotel Du Vin and Sunday 9th and 16th at 3pm in Montpellier Chapter.

For those of us who aspire to one day speak at the Festival there are some fantastic opportunities to improve your writing with a full programme of creative writing workshops. I would recommend Tiffany Murray’s workshop on writing convincing dialogue, taking place on Thursday 13th October from 2pm-5pm.

Tiffany long ago taught me some valuable writing lessons that will never be forgotten; I can promise you will come away a better writer.

BBC Radio 4 will be broadcasting from the Festival and if you can, book into one of these events. Many people don’t realise you can go along for free to see Radio 4 programmes recorded; it was something I regularly took advantage of when I lived in London. With such a huge number of shows being recorded over the Festival it’s worth making the most of these shows being on our doorstep – I find it helps me feel I’ve got my money’s worth out of my TV license.