If you have not been to a festival of literature, you may be missing out on a treat. A visit is the perfect way to supplement the work you do in English or History on your distance learning course with Oxford Home Schooling or Oxford Open Learning. It gives you the chance to get close to people who are experts in their field and who exude a love for their subject which can be contagious.
May is the month for literary festivals.
From 3rd – 25th May you can visit the Brighton Festival and see famous names such as Irvine Walsh, Tony Parsons and Polly Toynbee. (http://brightonfestival.org/whats_on/books%20and%20debate)
The Swindon Festival of Literature from 5th to 17th May includes Nigel Jones speaking about The First World War and Anne Widdecombe on penance and penitence. Kate Adie and Simon Heffer also appear. Find out more at http://www.swindonfestivalofliterature.co.uk.
11th May is Children and Families Day including a drawing workshop with Korky Paul and a Q&A session with Jacqueline Wilson.
Hanif Kureishi opens the Asia House Festival on 6th May. Topics for discussion include British Asian Humour and India’s contribution to the Great War.
In Scotland, there is the Ullapool Book Festival. Details can be found at http://www.ullapoolbookfestival.co.uk/index.htm. In the words of President James Robertson, it is “a short but rich immersion course in contemporary Scottish writing.”
Charleston, the Sussex house once frequented by the Bloomsbury Group, hosts Alan Bennett, Michael Morpurgo and Jung Chang, running for 10 days from May 16th. See http://www.charleston.org.uk/whats-on/festivals/the-charleston-festival.
And then, 22nd May sees the start of The Hay Festival – the ‘Daddy’ of them all (https://www.hayfestival.com/wales). This year there are appearances from Helen Fielding, Robert Harris and Carol Ann Duffy among many, many others.
The First World War is a subject featured widely: Kamila Shamsie, Helen Dunmore, Jeremy Paxman, Ffion Hague, Sebastian Faulks, Max Hastings and Niall Ferguson are amongst those who speak on the theme.
If you love Shakespeare, on 24th May Abigail Rokison explores adaptations of Romeo and Juliet, aimed especially at young people and on June 1st Richard Eyre discusses Shakespeare’s history plays.
From May 31st the Australia and New Zealand Festival of Literature & Arts runs in London (http://ausnzfestival.com) with an appearance from Kathy Lette.
Other places hosting festivals in May include Chipping Campden, Surrey Heath and Fowey.
Why not go along to one and be inspired?