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Stratford upon Avon Literary Festival celebrates its 15th anniversary with a superb line-up of leading writers and thinkers.


Taking place between 3rd and 8th May the packed programme includes acting legend Sir Derek Jacobi, whose roles in Shakespeare plays have won him worldwide acclaim, Booker prize winner Howard Jacobson, Yorkshire Shepherdess Amanda Owen, Women’s Prize for Fiction winner Maggie O’Farrell, and top literary fiction authors Ali Smith, Tessa Hadley and Andrew Miller, whose book The Slowworm’s Song is this year’s Festival Book Club Read.


Fortunately podcast stars Jane Garvey and Fi Glover will be talking about the ‘chuff’ of life, and Jane will be in conversation with Today programme presenter, Justin Webb, on what makes a good interviewer. Justin will also be sharing his critically acclaimed biography, A Gift of a Radio. Other stars of TV and radio include Strictly judge Shirley Ballas, and Great Pottery Throwdown judge Keith Brymer Jones.


Science will be covered by Life Scientific presenter Jim Al-Khalili OBE, Inside Science presenter and geneticist Dr Adam Rutherford, and statistician and presenter of More or Less, Tim Harford OBE. Local celebrity Quentin Wilson will interview chemist Kit Chapman about how Formula 1 research has applications that can help support the NHS.


The Festival welcomes extraordinary people and their stories including explorer Benedict Allen, and disaster specialist Lucy Easthope. It will also be taking on big topics including climate change with former Labour leader Ed Miliband, the future of the BBC with David Hendy and the FT’s Henry Mance, and remodelling the NHS with the Chief Executive of South Warwickshire NHS Trust, Glen Burley. Reformed gambler Patrick Foster will talk about the gambling obsession that almost ruined his life, and Parm Sandhu will tackle racism in the police. Award-winning writer Alex Renton will share his family’s colonial past in Blood Legacy, as well as joining Food Programme presenter Sheila Dillon to talk about foods that have shaped our lives. Social media sensation Gemma Bird, the Money Mum Official, will give tips on saving money, and Daily Mail royal commentator, Robert Hardman, will celebrate the Queen’s platinum jubilee.


There’s music to your ears with Radio 3’s Tom Service and rock and pop journalists Bob Stanley and Pete Paphides. The line-up also includes some of our leading poets with Poet Laureate Simon Armitage CBE and spoken word poet Hollie McNish. Shakespeare expert Emma Smith explores our love of books with journalist Mark Hodkinson, Sam Knight reveals the extraordinary story of premonitions that shaped government planning, and naturalist Tristan Gooley teaches us how to read the weather.


In a programme that features something for all ages and interest, other topics will cover the menopause, art, grief, depression, comedy, corruption and power, and cricket, as well as introducing some of the finest emerging novelists of 2022.


As always the Festival will include a series of workshops for writers, including with the Forward Prize winner Luke Kennard and best-selling author Cathy Rentzenbrink. You can also upskill with book and writing related craft activities including calligraphy and paper craft.


There will be plenty to inspire young readers too with free events for pre-schoolers on weekdays in partnership with Stratford Library, and a day of events for families on Sunday 8th May with Winnie the Witch illustrator Korky Paul, and author/illustrators including Yuval Zommer, Jane Newberry, Stratford writing team Brothers McLeod, Hannah Shaw and Christopher Edge. Plus you can take a boat trip with Gareth P Jones.


The Festival also has a new riverside home for its birthday year, the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Bridgefoot.  In addition, fringe events will take place around the town.


‘The Festival has come a long way since we launched it in a tent in Avon Bank Gardens in 2008,’ says Festival Director Annie Ashworth, ‘and this year’s programme, with its line-up of best-selling writers and opinion formers, is the vision of what we had in mind all those years ago come good. We are so grateful to our sponsors and grant givers, old and new, who have supported us over the years, and to the amazing audience that has grown and grown. We now have three national competitions, and a strong outreach programme in schools, the community and prisons.’


Headline sponsors in 2022 continue to be Baillie Gifford, and lead sponsors are Lodders Solicitors, Knight Frank Estate Agents, A-Plan Insurance, Inspired Villages and Rathbones Folio Prize.


Tickets start at £12 and £6 for children’s events, and go on sale on 1st March from



Image: Jim Al-Khalili will be at Stratford Literary Festival 2022