Stratford prepares for the 2012 Literary Festival

PUBLISHED: 12:28 18 April 2012 | UPDATED: 21:13 20 February 2013

Stratford prepares for the 2012 Literary Festival

Stratford prepares for the 2012 Literary Festival

A glittering array of stars of stage and screen line up for Stratford's Literary Festival

The Stratford-upon-Avon Literary Festival celebrates its fifth year with its most exciting line-up yet, including literary favourites and a glittering array of well-known faces from stage and screen.

The 2012 Festival, which runs from April 22 to May 7, features headline speakers which include the journalist and Newsnight presenter Jeremy Paxman, Womans Hour presenter Dame Jenni Murray, Adrian Mole creator Sue Townsend, international bestselling thriller writer Iain Banks, BAFTA-nominated film maker Ben Anderson, and the cook and novelist Prue Leith.

Prue Leith will also be appearing with the great P.D. James and Dr Simon Thurley, Chief Executive of English Heritage, in an event about the role of the Rectory in English literature, chaired by former Daily Telegraph Editor, Charles Moore.

This year the Festival has a distinctly international flavour too. Not only is it featuring Maziar Bahari talking about his harrowing experiences in an Iranian gaol, Lindsey Hilsum, international editor of Channel 4 news, will be discussing her book on Libya and the Arab Spring. The Festival is also working with The British Council to bring one of Chinas most prolific writers, Mo Yan and the academic Lu Jiande to the Festival to talk about China and what it means to be writing in a country that is slowly opening up to the West.

In another partnership, The Festival is collaborating with The Churches Conservation Trust whose exhibition, and thereby hangs a tale, is on display in Holy Trinity Church, Stratford upon Avon, from April 18 to May 17. The exhibition explores the varying stories about where William Shakespeare married Anne Hathaway and, for the first time, brings all the evidence together. To raise awareness of the exhibition, the Festival welcomes the current Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy on April 26, wholl be reading from her collection The Bees, followed by her predecessor, Sir Andrew Motion, wholl be reading extracts from Silver, his much acclaimed follow-up to Treasure Island.

Poetry lovers can also work with the award-winning poet Simon Armitage in a special workshop, and fans of the hilarious Oddsocks Theatre Company will be delighted to see them in the line-up with a nod to the golden age of radio. To celebrate the Jubilee, Sarah Bradford will be talking about the research behind her book on the Queen.

There is much in the programme to appeal to those wanting to become writers themselves, with workshops with novelists Julia Crouch and Mavis Cheek wholl be full of ideas and advice of getting over the first hurdles. Theres also the chance to hear about the experiences of two of the most exciting debut authors of 2012: SJ Watson, whose book Before I Go To Sleep is a Sunday Times Bestseller, and Rachel Joyce, whose novel The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, is set to become one of the bestsellers of the year. An expert team will also be contemplating the future of publishing in a digital world ideal whether you are a writer, web designer or Kindle owner.

Theres comedy too as the Festival plays host to a recording of the hilariously funny BBC Radio 4s Im Sorry I Havent a Clue at Warwick Arts Centre on May 6 with tickets already sold out for this.

Since the Festival began in 2008, it has been involved with projects within schools and the community, with support from Stratford Town Trust, and this year is no exception. As well as a poetry competition open to all ages, the winning entries for which will be published in a Festival book, there is the opportunity for author/illustrators to have their work developed into an interactive book for iPad. The Festival has a week of events for schools, and throughout 2012 will also be working with Age UK Warwickshire, The Alzheimers Society and the charity Kissing it Better on a reading project with older people in the community.

We are really excited by the line-up this year, especially to be welcoming two such high profile Chinese writers to Stratford, says Festival Director Annie Ashworth. The range of names and events we have this year is incredible and were sure theres something for everyone, of any age.

Well be rounding off the Festival with a bang! says co-director Natasha Roderick-Jones. Our Family Fun Day on Bank Holiday Monday May 7 is at KES school and will be packed day with craft-making workshops, entertainers and author events including MacKenzie Crook star of The Office and Pirates of The Caribbean, who has written and illustrated his first book for children.

Tickets for the Festival, which is working in Media partnership with The Week magazine and Warwickshire Life, are on sale on 01789 207100 or on line at The full programme is available at

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