Dame Hilary Mantel will appear at online Devon literature festival

PUBLISHED: 15:08 09 July 2020 | UPDATED: 15:09 09 July 2020

Dame Hilary Mantel, whose final Cromwell book The Mirror & the Light was published this year, will be interviewed by James Naughtie at the Budleigh Salterton Literature Festival. Author photo: Els Zweerink

Dame Hilary Mantel, whose final Cromwell book The Mirror & the Light was published this year, will be interviewed by James Naughtie at the Budleigh Salterton Literature Festival. Author photo: Els Zweerink

Author photo: Els Zweerink

Authors will give live talks online as Budleigh Salterton Literary Festival rises to the coronavirus challenge

Broadcaster and GBBO presenter Sandi Toksvig on the No. 12 bus. Photo: Debbie ToksvigBroadcaster and GBBO presenter Sandi Toksvig on the No. 12 bus. Photo: Debbie Toksvig

Determined to deliver an event this year despite distancing guidelines, Budleigh Literary Festival has embraced technology with a superb line-up for its 2020 festival.

Between 16 and 20 September, audiences will be able to access, free of charge, an extensive programme of events online from home, on the road, or wherever they are on holiday, and listen to and interact with acclaimed authors, and engage in challenging topics and lively panel discussions.

Despite its very wide reach, the Festival will remain steeped in the unique location that makes it so special, with a real sense of Budleigh and its stunning Jurassic coastal setting, and there will be extra local content available to add to the sense of place, with a few events filmed in Budleigh and in front of an audience if restrictions allow.

Headline speakers include Festival patron Dame Hilary Mantel, who will be talking in person to BBC special correspondent James Naughtie in her first face-to-face interview since lockdown about The Mirror and the Light, her hugely-acclaimed finale to the Booker prize-winning Cromwell trilogy. She’ll also be sharing details of her new book of reflective essays, Mantel Pieces, for the first time.

Blue Peter Award winner Onjali Q. Raúf on life as a refugee. Photo: Rehan JamilBlue Peter Award winner Onjali Q. Raúf on life as a refugee. Photo: Rehan Jamil

James Naughtie will also be delivering the annual Susan Ward Lecture about his book On the Road, which reflects on a career spent reporting on the United States, and considering the state of the country ahead of November’s Presidential elections.

Writer, QI presenter and former Great British Bake Off compère Sandi Toksvig will be taking us along the Number 12 bus route and musing about life, thoughts shared so brilliantly in her memoir Between the Stops.

International highlights include former US Ambassador Sir Kim Durroch speaking for the first time about his explosive book, Collateral Damage, on the realities of working with Trump’s White House.

Acclaimed investigative journalist Luke Harding will be back to talk about his revealing new exploration of Russia’s global influence today, and in a time of diplomatic conflict, broadcaster and documentary maker, Michael Wood, takes us to China to explain its history and influence today.

TV presenter Kate Humble on a year spent living simply. Photo: Budleigh Literary FestivalTV presenter Kate Humble on a year spent living simply. Photo: Budleigh Literary Festival

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Closer to home, the Poet Laureate, Simon Armitage, will be giving an exclusive reading from his shed in the Pennines, and author Raynor Winn will be talking about her new book, The Wild Silence, and about life after the best-selling Salt Path.

2020 YA Awards winner Juno Dawson. Photo: Jack Latham2020 YA Awards winner Juno Dawson. Photo: Jack Latham

Nature broadcaster Kate Humble will be looking at the concept of happiness after a year lived simply, and the author of The Last Act of Love, Cathy Retzenbrink, will reveal the books that have influenced her life. Local writers Graham Hurley and Mark Diacono, winner of the Guild of Food Writers Award, will give an insight into their work and their love for East Devon.

Great writing comes in the form of literary fiction with Sarah Moss and Salley Vickers, and Sunday Times best-sellers Peter James and Mark Billingham will be celebrating their stellar careers in crime writing. Midsomer Murders creator Anthony Horowitz will reveal the twists and turns in his latest crime novel, Moonflower Murders.

The Festival will confront head-on the issues of identity and racism with speakers Pragya Agarwal, questioning unconscious biases, and influential Chief Prosecutor Nazir Afzal, who will talk about facing racist violence. Masterchef winner Irini Tzortzoglou and restaurateur Ravinder Bhogal will share recipes that they cherish from their own cultural roots.

Award-winning Alex Wheatle speaks on discovering books in prison. Photo: Kim GibbonAward-winning Alex Wheatle speaks on discovering books in prison. Photo: Kim Gibbon

Other events will look at our digital footprint that remains even after we die, epic cycle journeys, the reach of soft power, and the legacy and impact of caring for those you love.

Devon Life is pleased to be this year’s Festival Media Partner. Artistic Director Annie Ashworth says: “Despite restrictions, it was unthinkable not to hold the Festival when it is such an important part of the town’s calendar. We’ll be hanging out the bunting and banners as always and bringing some superb headline writers to our local audience, as well as welcoming people online who might never have discovered this beautiful corner of Devon.

“We aim to be flexible and to open up the Festival as much as possible depending on guidelines, but of course the safety of our team and audiences will be paramount. We can’t wait for September and to bringing the pleasure of the Festival back to Budleigh.”

Getting them reading!

Young people won’t miss out - an online programme of events embracing diversity and a wide range of topics includes award-winners Onjali Q. Raúf, Juno Dawson, and Crongton series author Alex Wheatle OBE.

New York rapper Devon Glover will be taking Shakespeare’s sonnets into a new dimension, and Emma Carroll will be reading chapters from The Somerset Tsunami. Horrible Histories illustrator Martin Brown will bring his Lesser Spotted Animals to life, and Matt Oldfield and twice winner of the CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal, Emily Gravett, will delight younger children with stories and drawings.

How it works

Events are free to watch and released here between 16 and 20 September. Viewers will be asked to make a donation to support the Festival’s costs and outreach work, and the Festival will also be donating to the Society of Authors’ Emergency Fund to support writers whose livelihoods have been affected by the pandemic.

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