Welcome to the Chalfont St. Giles Literary Festival web site

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Brochure cover final-reduced

The 2016 Festival brochure - click on the cover image above to view the contents.

Preparations for the 2016 Chalfont St Giles and Jordans Literary Festival are now well-advanced, with a stellar list of a lord plus ladies and gentlemen preparing to share individual insights into either their own, or others ‘lives in words’ – this being the theme of the 2016 eclectic extravaganza.

Festivities get underway on Tuesday 10th May at 19.15 in the Memorial Hall at Chalfont St Giles, with the final chapter on Sunday 22nd May featuring the regular biennial prize-giving in the Parish Church at 20.00.

Highlights of next year’s event include Professor (Lord) Robert Winston delving into what makes us happy. Professor Winston will examine the role of brain imaging, hormone study, sexuality, child development, pharmacology and psychological research in understanding how science may help us be happier. Hurry: only a few tickets left.

Senior assistant editor of the Oxford English Dictionary, Kate Wild, will be talking about how and why the OED is revised, and describing how the First World War had a significant impact on English vocabulary with words such as ‘tank’, ‘gas mask’, ‘shell shock’, ‘strategic bombing’, and ‘home front’ entering the English language.

One-time diplomat Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles served as British Ambassador to Israel, Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan, and later as Head of the Hong Kong Department in the run-up to the handover of Hong Kong. He will talk about his experiences, and offer some views on current issues, including the Middle East. A few tickets are still available - hurry!

Barrie Tomlinson was the editor who launched the comic Roy of the Rovers. He was also editor and group editor of other comics such as the New Eagle, Tiger, Battle, Scream, Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles, Wildcat and Speed. He will be talking about his work editing Roy of the Rovers and other football heroes.

Best-selling author Anna Jacobs has written over seventy novels, has been shortlisted for several awards and is now the sixth most borrowed author of adult fiction in the UK. She will talk about the background to her writing, which comprises complex historical and modern stories set in both England and Australia.

One of Britain’s most foremost constitutional experts Vernon Bogdanor will deliver a talk on the constitutional crisis of 1936 which rocked the entire British Empire when Edward VIII proposed to marry Wallis Simpson, the divorced American socialite. HURRY! Only a few tickets left!

Capability Brown – the famous English landscape architect, who became known as England’s greatest gardener - will be the subject of a discussion between a green-fingered group including Claire de Carle from the Chalfont St Peter Garden Club, and Dr Sarah Rutherford, who as well as being involved with Bucks Gardens Trust, also happens to be writing a book about Capability Brown in association with the National Trust.

Richard Maguire will deliver a moving first-hand talk on autism. Growing up in 1970’s England, and autistic himself, he speaks with a passion and deep understanding of this condition. His says his book – I Dream In Autism - was written to help people explore autism from the inside.

One of our most distinguished readers and actors - Gabriel Woolf - will be making an eagerly awaited return when he’ll be joined by Linda Hart, a freelance writer and lecturer born in New York, who has lived in England since 1975. Together they will discuss the great American poet Robert Lee Frost who lived in Beaconsfield from 1912 to 1914 and is well known for his closely observed depictions of rural life in America.

Contemporary English poet Wendy Cope has attracted a popular following with her lighthearted, often comical, sometimes acerbic poetry, as well as achieving literary plaudits by winning two awards. She will be inviting her audience to an ‘Afternoon tea with Wendy’ poetry session.

A trio of local authors - Denise Beddows, Margaret Whittock and Catriona Troth will be discussing ‘Spooks and Spooks’ in their various guises – or even disguises. Denise Beddows will explore spooks of the spy variety – specifically looking at Buckinghamshire’s 600 year history of subversion, plots, spies and spycatchers, when Chalfont St Giles itself housed SOE agents of World War Two. Margaret Whittock will reveal the sinister circumstances in which she discovered the graves of her two great uncles at Gallipolli, and Catriona Troth will describe the inspiration and background to her book, Ghost Town, and the way The Specials’ spooky chart-topping song of that name eerily reflected the urban decay, unemployment, rioting and violence of those times. SOLD OUT.

All three authors will also take part in a Saturday morning Writers' Café and Pop-up Bookshop, when they will be answering questions and delivering impromptu advice and encouragement to would-be budding new authors.

London-based author Salley Vickers has worked as a teacher of literature and as a Jungian psychologist and has lectured widely. Salley’s first novel Miss Garnett’s Angel, published in 2000, has been described as best evocation of Venice in print today.
Her most recent book The Cleaner of Chartres tells the story of the ancient cathedral in Chartres, with its mismatched spires, stained glass and strange labyrinth, and Agnès Morel, the mysterious woman who is to be found cleaning it each morning. Salley will be discussing ‘Life, Death, Love and Art’.

Thomas Gray, the world-famous poet, is buried in St Giles’ Churchyard, Stoke Poges. He met Horace Walpole at Eton at the age of nine and they became lifelong friends.
In the year of the 300th anniversary of Gray’s birth, Ffion Hague (wife of the one time Conservative party leader, and latterly Foreign Secretary William Hague) explores the fascinating relationship between Gray and Walpole, including the events of their Grand Tour – the title of her second book.
Ffion’s interest in Thomas Gray goes back to her time at Oxford where she read English. She went on to complete a thesis on Thomas Gray at Aberystwyth.

Peter Moore is a writer and sometime lecturer whose second book The Weather Experiment charts the development of meteorological science in the nineteenth century, concluding with one of the great controversies of Victorian science. Can you forecast what that might be?

Nik Powell is a Producer, and Director of the National Film and Television School in Beaconsfield. In a long and distinguished career in the entertainment business, he has over many years been closely involved the production of a catalogue of critically acclaimed movies including Company of Wolves, Mona Lisa, Scandal, Little Voice, Ladies in Lavender and Calendar Girls.
Nik will no doubt entertain and enthral as he talks about '30 lessons of a film producer...the life and times of an entertainment business entrepreneur'.

A collection of poetry and vocal music, ‘When Spring Comes Around Again’ will take as its theme the centuries old inspiration provided by Spring, and entertain with words and songs for a May evening. The first half ranges from 14th century Chaucer to 20th century Manley-Hopkins, while part two features war poems and music. Finally the audience will have the opportunity to join in memorable songs such as ‘It’s a Long Way to Tipperary’, ‘Pack Up Your Troubles’, and ‘Keep the Home Fires Burning’.

All this, and much, much, more.

As always, there will be a themed creative writing competition - open to contestants both young and old.

You can keep up to date with all the latest news by regularly paying a visit to this website: www.chalfontstgilesliteraryfestival.org.uk

Previous festivals: for details of the 2014, 2012, 2010, 2008, 2007 and 2006 Festivals, including programmes and writing competition winners,  click the 'Past Events' link on the left, or [here]