Announced: Guests at The Richmond Literature Festival
The borough’s annual book bash returns for its 21st season next month – and once again The Richmond Magazine is involved as both participant and promoter
Thursday November 29 sees Richard Nye, Editor of the magazine, chair a panel discussion on the role of the media in contemporary society. Veteran broadcaster Sir Trevor McDonald, Times journalist and former Olympian Matthew Syed, and novelist and travel writer Sarah Tucker are among those taking part in the debate entitled Media: Friend or Foe?
Before that, watch out for two fascinating festival interviews in our November edition, with broadcaster Jonathan Dimbleby and the former Home and Foreign Secretary Jack Straw.
Both men will be speaking at this year’s festival, as part of a star-studded programme that also includes Andrew Marr, Prue Leith, legendary children’s author Judith Kerr, historian Tracy Borman (see interview in our October issue), Olympic rower Greg Searle, celebrated author and playwright Michael Frayn and the ever-popular poet Roger McGough.
The full programme is available on the Richmond Literature Festival website (richmond.gov.uk/literature_festival), but here are some of the highlights, along with details of how to book…
A Tiger’s Wedding: Isla Blair in conversation with Julian Glover
Born in Bangalore, Isla’s early years were spent in the lush, verdant hills of Kerala on a tea plantation run by her father. This warm idyll was abruptly ended when Isla’s parents sent their daughters ‘home’ to boarding school. ‘Home’ was a cold, gloomy, post-war austerity Scotland – a land of liberty bodices, chilblains, icy mornings and dank days: an alien land where for several years she nursed an astonishing secret of which only her sister, Fiona, was aware. Isla Blair writes lyrically of her beloved India, stoically of term times in spartan British boarding schools and with great humour and vivacity of the time after school when she became one of the youngest students at RADA, training alongside Anthony Hopkins amongst others and throwing herself fully into life in London in the swinging sixties. Isla has performed many times at The Orange Tree Theatre and we are delighted to welcome her back to the borough this evening in her capacity as author.
Sunday 4 November – 2.30pm
Orange Tree Theatre
Tickets from Orange tree Theatre box office 020 8940 3633
Relish: My Life on a Plate
In her revealing memoir Relish Prue Leith romps through her South African childhood under apartheid, her passion for food, her loves and losses, the adoption of her Cambodian daughter and her partner’s bi-polar condition. Along the way she founded several successful charities, chaired the RSA and the Restaurants Association and sat on boards as diverse as British Rail and Whitbread. Her triumphs included Businesswoman of the Year, a Michelin star for her restaurant, an OBE followed by a CBE and getting the rolling exhibition of contemporary sculpture on the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square. In 1960 Prue Leith started cooking lunches for directors’ dining rooms, which grew into Leith’s Good Food Limited. By 1995 when the business was sold, Leith’s employed over 500 staff and had a turn-over of £15 million. This amazing journey, recounted by Prue with such humour, makes this an event not to be missed.
Thursday 8 November – 7pm
Special £5 ticket price for Richmond Library card holders
Roger McGough: As Far as I Know
A new book of poems by Roger McGough is always an event and As Far As I Know is truly a cause for celebration. Hilarious and surreal, he is a poet of many voices. Menace and melancholy there may be, but with plenty of McGough’s characteristic wit and wordplay too. Newly elected President of the Poetry Society, Roger McGough has been honoured with a CBE for services to literature and the Freedom of the City of Liverpool for good behaviour. Lily The Pink, the Aintree Iron, Scaffold, GRIMMS, The Mersey Sound with Adrian Henri & Brian Patten, and presenter of the long-running Poetry Please. The beat goes on. ‘He is a true original and more than one generation would be much the poorer without him’ The Times For adults & young people 14+
Sunday 11 November – 7pm
Kipling & Trix
Mary Hamer in conversation with Isla Blair
Mary Hamer is the winner of the Virginia Prize for fiction (2011) and her debut novel Kipling & Trix was published by local independent publisher Aurora Metro in October 2012. Although Mary has published various works of non-fiction, this is her first novel and in this discussion with acclaimed actress Isla Blair, the author will discuss her inspiration for the story which delves into the little known life of Alice – or Trix Kipling, sister to the famous Rudyard. In Kipling & Trix Mary peeks into the shadows cast by a literary legend and explores lies, love, troubles and family secrets, set against the backdrops of colonial India, Edwardian England and Vermont. At this special event Isla will also present Mary with her award for winning the 2011 Virginia Prize for Fiction; established to promote and encourage new women fiction writers.
Saturday 10 November – 3pm
The Coach House,
Orleans House Gallery
Poet, playwright, perfumer: The unexpected history of a Richmond sporting club in the Great War
On the eve of Remembrance Day Stephen Cooper will tell the story behind his new book, The Final Whistle: the Great War in Fifteen Players; an account of fifteen men killed in the First World War. All played rugby for one Richmond club; none lived to hear the final whistle. Founded in 1879, the club has no Great War memorial. An old 1919 press cutting in the Richmond & Twickenham Times gave numbers – 350 served, 72 died – but no names. So began a quest to rediscover these men and capture their lives; from their vanished Edwardian youth to the war they fought and how they died. They came from Britain and Empire to fight in every theatre and service, among them a poet, playwright and perfumer. Some were decorated and died heroically; others fought and fell quietly. Between them their stories paint a panorama in miniature of the entire War.
Saturday 10 November – 7.30pm
Richmond Lending Library
Special £5 ticket price for Richmond Library cardholders
John Suchet: Beethoven – The Man Revealed
You know the music… but do you know the man? In his new book, Beethoven, The Man Revealed, John Suchet brings a new understanding to the difficult and complex character of the world’s greatest composer. It is perhaps more true of Beethoven than any other composer that if you know what is going on in his life, you listen to his music through different ears. Ludwig van Beethoven’s life – his dramas, conflicts, loves and losses; his deafness coupled with continuous health problems, his epic struggle with his sister-in-law for sole custody of her son, his nephew – are all played out in his music. Now John Suchet has portrayed the real man behind the music in this compelling biography of a musical genius. He reveals a complex character, struggling to continue his profession as musician despite increasing deafness; alienating friends with unprovoked outbursts of anger one moment, overwhelming them with excessive kindness and generosity the next and living in a city in almost constant disarray because of war with France. John Suchet hosts Classic FM’s flagship morning show. The author of five previous books on the subject, he is also recognised as a leading authority on Beethoven.
Monday 12 November – 7pm
Fellowship Hall, Duke Street Church
Simon Hoggart: House of Fun, 20 Years of Parliamentary Sketches
Simon Hoggart of The Guardian is generally regarded as the sharpest and funniest of all parliamentary sketch writers. In his new book, House Of Fun, he draws on events he has witnessed over the past 20 years – some sombre and serious, others completely mad and frequently hilarious. Follow parliament from John Major through to today’s coalition, with a few startling guest appearances by Margaret Thatcher. This event at the American University is sure to amuse and delight.
Thursday 15 November – 7.30pm
Tracy Borman: The Ring and the Crown – A History of Royal Weddings and Celebrations
2012 has been an extraordinary year. Not only has Great Britain hosted the Olympics and (almost) had a Wimbledon winner, but Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee was celebrated in June with truly awe-inspiring pomp and pageantry. To mark the passing of one of the most remarkable years in this country’s history, Tracy Borman will bring her passion for detail and dramatic narrative to this special event on 1,000 years of royal weddings and jubilees. She will couple her discussion of the history of royal weddings, from the great public occasions to the many that took place in private chapels, parishes and even in secret, with reflections on the history and significance of royal ceremony, pomp and celebration. Tracy will also draw on her extensive knowledge of British history to bring us up to date with some reflections on Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee; the first since Queen Victoria’s in 1897. In partnership with Historic Royal Palaces Adult Learning programme of talks, tours and workshops.
Friday November 16 – 7pm
The Weston Room,
Hampton Court Palace
Poet in The City: Alexander Pope event
This event forms part of the English Heritage Winter Events programme. Poet in the City presents a celebration of the great poet, satirist and iconic Twickenham resident, Alexander Pope. Featuring acclaimed contemporary poet and biographer Lachlan MacKinnon, this special event will be held at Marble Hill House, where Pope was a regular visitor to his dear friend, Henrietta Howard. Lachlan MacKinnon is a highly acclaimed poet and academic. His first collection of poems, Monterey Cypress, was published in 1988, followed by The Coast of Bohemia (1991) and The Jupiter Collisions (2003). He has also written two critical studies: Eliot, Auden, Lowell: Aspects of the Baudelairean Inheritance (1983) and Shakespeare the Aesthete: An Exploration of Literary Theory (1988), as well as a biography, The Lives of Elsa Triolet (1992). History and poetry – a fantastic celebration of the life and work of a local literary genius.
Saturday 17 November – 3pm
Marble Hill House
Andrew Marr: A History of the World
Andrew Marr, journalist, broadcaster and author of two highly acclaimed and bestselling histories of Great Britain, now turns his attention to the entire history of human civilization. A History of the World takes readers from our origins in Africa, through global colonization, the emergence of farming, religion and philosophy; from the rise of empires, brutal wars, revolutions and astonishing discoveries and inventions: a ferociously ambitious project, but an eminently important one. Join Andrew at this exciting event as he draws surprising and exciting parallels and makes fascinating connections, focusing on a key person or incident to tell a larger story in the way that has become his trademark. Lively, engaging and enjoyable, prepare for a global journey through the history of mankind alongside this eminently persuasive orator. Andrew Marr has enjoyed a long and distinguished career in journalism, working for the Scotsman, the Independent, where he was Chief Political Commentator and then Editor, the Economist, the Express, the Observer and the Daily Telegraph, winning numerous awards along the way. From 2000 to 2005 he was the Political Editor of the BBC and he now presents The Andrew Marr Show on BBC1 and Start the Week on BBC Radio 4. He is the author of My Trade: A Short History of British Journalism, A History of Modern Britain and The Making of Modern Britain, all of which were bestsellers and the latter two of which were accompanied by award-winning BBC television series.
Sunday 18 November – 7.30pm
Tickets from Richmond Theatre box office 0844 871 7651
Greg Searle: If Not Now, When? One man’s extraordinary quest for Olympic glory
On Wednesday 1 August 2012 Greg Searle made an incredibly moving comeback in Team GB’s men’s rowing eight, winning a bronze medal at the London Olympics. This came two decades after his memorable gold medal win at the Barcelona Olympic Games. At the age of twenty, he became one of the youngest ever recipients of an MBE. By the time he had reached his mid-thirties his glorious career as an international athlete was over, or so he thought. When Greg Searle came out of retirement to go for gold again at the London Olympics he took a risk where so many sportsmen play it safe and rolled the dice one last time in a bid to complete his sporting journey in an Olympic final in front of his home nation. If Not Now, When? is a book about teamwork and loyalty; about the struggle to deal with disappointment and the will to win. But above all, it is a book about obsession about the drive to be the best you can be, whatever your age. The emotion and the drama of the final race is brought back to life in the climatic chapter of the book and in this talk Greg Searle reveals whether or not it was worth the gamble.
Monday 19 November – 7pm
450 Hall, Hampton School
Jack Straw: Last Man Standing – Memoirs of a Political Survivor
As a small boy in Epping Forest Jack Straw could never have imagined that one day he would become Britain’s Lord Chancellor. As one of five children of divorced parents he was bright enough to get a scholarship to a direct-grant school, but spent his holidays as a plumbers’ mate for his uncle to bring in some much-needed extra income. Yet he spent 13 years and 11 days in government, including long and influential spells as Home Secretary and Foreign Secretary. This is the story of how he got there. Jack’s memoirs offer a unique insight into the complex, sometimes self-serving, but always fascinating world of British politics and reveals the toll that high office takes and, more importantly, the enormous satisfaction and extraordinary privilege of serving both your constituents and your country. Straw’s has been a very public life but he reveals the private face too and offers a vivid and authoritative insight into the Blair/Brown era and indeed, the last forty years of British politics.
Tuesday November 20 – 7.30pm
Clarendon Hall, York House
Jonathan Dimbleby: Destiny in the Desert
Jonathan Dimbleby is a writer, broadcaster and filmmaker. He presents Any Questions? and Any Answers? for BBC Radio 4 and presented ITV’s flagship weekly political programme This Week for over ten years. In 2008 his five part series On Russia was broadcast by BBC 2 accompanied by his book, Russia – A Journey to the Heart of a Land and Its People. Other books include Charles: the Private Man, The Public Face and The Last Governor. His 2010 series An African Journey and 2011 series A South American Journey were both broadcast on BBC2. Jonathan’s latest book, Destiny in the Desert is a thrilling historical account of the Battle of El Alamein. Describing the political and strategic realities that lay behind the battle he charts the nail-biting months that led to the victory at El Alamein in November 1942. It is a story of high drama, played out both in the war capitals of London, Washington, Berlin, Rome and Moscow and at the front, in the command posts and foxholes in the desert.
Thursday 22 November – 3pm
Duke Street Church
Michael Frayn: Skios
An opportunity to hear Michael Frayn speak about his hilarious new novel, Skios which represents a return to farce and portrays the agitation of an ordered world thrown into chaos. This time the multiple cases of mistaken identities and situations are set in a sunny and exclusive Greek resort. Skios was longlisted for this year’s Man Booker prize. Michael Frayn is a renowned playwright, novelist, translator and travel writer. His plays include the extremely popular Noises Off, Copenhagen and Democracy, while his novels include Headlong and Spies, which won the Whitbread Novel Award and has featured in the national curriculum for schools. Among his latest works are Stage Directions, about his career in the theatre, Constructions, a work of philosophy, and most recently the Costa Award shortlisted My Father’s Fortune: A Life. His many awards include a Whitbread Award, two Laurence Olivier Awards and a Commonwealth Writers’ Prize.
Sunday 25 November – 2.30pm
Orange Tree Theatre
Tickets from Orange tree Theatre box office 020 8940 3633
Media: Friend or Foe?
Journalist Panel with Sir Trevor McDonald, Matthew Syed & Sarah Tucker
Is the media primarily a force for good or ill? Is it the guarantor of a free society, holding the big beasts of politics and finance to account? Or do revelations of phone hacking and other scandals suggest a culture of corruption at its heart? Does the press have too much power to shape opinion and dictate the political agenda? Or has its influence been fatally weakened by the rise of social media and the web? Do celebrities and public figures receive sufficient protection from media intrusion, or too much? To discuss these and other related issues, a panel of experienced media figures enter the moral maze. Sir Trevor McDonald OBE doyen of British news broadcasting, formerly the face of News at Ten and knighted for services to journalism in 1999. A vastly experienced correspondent in a wide range of fields, he has won more awards than any other British broadcaster in history. Matthew Syed former Commonwealth Table Tennis Champion, now a highly respected journalist on The Times. Sports Feature Writer of the Year in 2008 and Sports Journalist of the Year in 2009, he is also a regular radio and TV pundit on politics, culture and sport. Sarah Tucker award-winning travel journalist, novelist and broadcaster, whose novel The Playground Mafia was shortlisted for Good Housekeeping Book of the Year 2007. She devised and presented the Jazz FM Travel Guide, reported for the BBC Holiday Programme and anchored I Want That House on ITV. Join the panel for what promises to be a lively analysis of one of the dominant themes of our age. This event is devised and chaired by Richard Nye, Editor of The Richmond Magazine.
Thursday November 29 – 7.30pm
Clarendon Hall, York House
Booking events is easy. Just visit The Richmond Literature Festival website booking page, call 020 8831 6494 Monday-Friday 10am to 4.30pm, or go in person to Orleans House Gallery, Riverside, Twickenham, TW1 3DJ, Tuesday-Saturday 1pm to 4.30pm or Sunday 2pm to 4.30pm.