With 300 authors and 250 events to host at this years Oxford Literary Festival, founder Sally Dunsmore is understandably busy.
Delighted the festival is back at full strength after Covid, Sally is raring to go with an ambitious programme running from March 25-April 2, aimed at making the Oxford Literary Festival its most accessible yet.
Expect an extensive children and young people’s programme, a focus on the environment and our countryside, global authors, prizes, awards and new events, ensuring that the world’s experts and top authors are within reach.
“We want everyone one to come and enjoy The Oxford Literary Festival, including young people and children, which is why this year we are working with local schools – Cherwell, Oxford Academy and Greyfriars,” Sally adds.
“Holding the festival in Oxford naturally reflects the spirit and tone of the University – where big ideas can be discussed, making the festival high bar whilst at the same time friendly and welcoming.”
A great line-up then? “We are exceptionally lucky because people want to come and speak at the festival. Along with the well-known, we are committed to showcasing those who have made a difference to our lives yet may not be familiar or recognised,” Sally says.
To provide a platform for dialogue and free speech is a great privilege
“To provide a platform for dialogue and free speech is a great privilege – and important in our celebrity obsessed world.”
Here are Sally’s Top Tips on What to See at 2023’s Oxford Literary Festival:
- HISTORY: Command: How the Allies Learned to Win the Second World War. Al Murray. Friday March 31. Sheldonian Theatre. The well-known stand-up comedian and television personality talks about his love of military history and WW2 as expressed in his first history book. https://oxfordliteraryfestival.org/literature-events/2023/march-31/command-how-the-allies-learned-to-win-the-second-world-war
2) DEBATE: New for this year the Oxford debates which include politics, climate change, freedom of the press, drugs, the paranormal, poverty and war. Start with You Ask the Questions on Wednesday March 29 at 2pm at The Sheldonian, where Gary Younge, Deborah Meaden and Kenan Malik try to answer, chaired by Yasmin Alibhai-Brown. https://oxfordliteraryfestival.org/literature-events/2023/march-29/oxford-debate-you-ask-the-questions
3) SPANISH SERIES: Prizewinning Spanish novelist Antonio Munoz Molina talks about his Medici Prize-winning work, To Walk Alone in the Crowd as part of the Spanish programme. Interviewed by Boyd Tonkin on Sunday April 2 at 12 noon in the Bodleian: Divinity School. https://oxfordliteraryfestival.org/literature-events/2023/april-2/to-walk-alone-in-the-crowd
4) FOOD: A Table Full of Love: Recipes to Comfort, Seduce, Celebrate and Everything Else in Between. Food writer and journalist Skye McAlpine is interviewed by Gwenan Edwards Skye and shows how home cooked food can be used to nourish our loved ones as well as ourselves, offering some tastings by way of example. Wednesday, March 29. 12pm. Exeter College Marquee. https://oxfordliteraryfestival.org/literature-events/2023/march-29/a-table-full-of-love-recipes-to-comfort-seduce-celebrate-and-everything-els
5) CRIME: Famous crime writer and Oxford resident Mick Herron Interviewed by Chris Patten on Wednesday March 29, 6pm. Sheldonian Theatre in the Chancellor’s Lecture: A Life of Crime. The first of Herron’s award-winning Slough House novels, Slow Horses, has just been adapted into an Apple TV series starring Gary Oldman and Kristin Scott Thomas and a further two series have been commissioned. https://oxfordliteraryfestival.org/literature-events/2023/march-29/chancellors-lecture-a-life-of-crime
6) Paterson Joseph Interviewed by Suzi Feay. The actor, writer and new Chancellor of Oxford Brookes University talks about his debut historical novel, The Secret Diaries of Charles Ignatius Sancho, based on the true story of the man born on a slave ship who went on to be a writer, leading abolitionist and the first Black Briton known to have voted in an election. Friday March 31. 12 noon. Exeter College Marquee https://oxfordliteraryfestival.org/literature-events/2023/march-31/the-secret-diaries-of-charles-ignatius-sancho
7) FAMILY FRIENDLY – Super star space scientist and presenter of BBC’s Sky at Night for eight years, Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock is back at The Sheldonian on Saturday April 1 at 12 noon with her new book, Am I Made of Stardust? and ready to answer any question thrown at her about the wonders of the universe. https://oxfordliteraryfestival.org/literature-events/2023/april-1/am-i-made-of-stardust
8) SCIENCE: Science and Innovation Award: If Science is to Save Us. Martin Rees Interviewed by Nick Higham, Monday March 27, 6pm. Sheldonian Theatre. The famous astronomer Royal Professor Lord Martin Rees talks about his life’s work and receives the festival’s science and innovation award in recognition of his contribution to our understanding of the Universe. https://oxfordliteraryfestival.org/literature-events/2023/march-27/science-and-innovation-award-if-science-is-to-save-us
9) IRISH SERIES: Three of Ireland’s most distinguished novelists, John Banville, John Boyne and Neil Jordan, come together to discuss their latest books, the common themes in their own and in Irish writing, and the place of Ireland in history and in the modern world in Voices of Ireland: Literature, History and Nation chaired by Claire Armitstead. Sunday March 26. 6pm. Sheldonian. https://oxfordliteraryfestival.org/literature-events/2023/march-26/voices-of-ireland-literature-history-and-nation
10) PULITZER: Pulitzer prize-winning journalist and writer Isabel Wilkerson talks about Caste, her international bestselling exploration of the hidden and arbitrary structures of power at work in our societies, that still divide us today. Saturday April 1, 4pm. Sheldonian https://oxfordliteraryfestival.org/literature-events/2023/april-1/american-lecture.-caste-exposing-americas-invisible-scaffolding
11) CHILDREN’S: Children’s author Robin Stevens, the Agatha Christie for young people and author of the award-winning and hugely popular Murder Most Unladylike series, discusses her new mystery series, Ministry of Unladylike Activity. Stevens will share her tips and tricks on how to write the perfect murder mystery and answer your questions. Sunday, April 2, 12 noon, Sheldonian Theatre. https://oxfordliteraryfestival.org/literature-events/2023/april-2/ministry-of-unladylike-activity
12) UKRAINE: Jeremy Bowen’s The Making of the Modern Middle East: A Personal History. Monday. March 27. 12pm. Sheldonian Theatre. The BBC international editor talks about his new book on the Middle East and about his life as a foreign correspondent including his most recent travels to the frontline in Ukraine. https://oxfordliteraryfestival.org/literature-events/2023/march-27/the-making-of-the-modern-middle-east-a-personal-history
13) BODLEY MEDAL: Celebrated Irish novelist Professor Colm Tóibín talks about his life and work with Bodley’s Librarian Richard Ovenden and receives the Bodley Medal for his outstanding contribution to literature. Thursday, March 30, 6pm. Sheldonian https://oxfordliteraryfestival.org/literature-events/2023/march-30/bodley-lecture-and-award-of-bodley-medal-life-and-work
14) ENVIRONMENT: Ravenous: Why our Appetite is Killing us and the Planet. Founder of the Leon restaurant chain and author of the National Food Strategy Henry Dimbleby explains why the food system is leading us to disaster and what we can do about it. Introduced by Philip Lymbery. Saturday, March 25. 10am. Sheldonian Theatre. https://oxfordliteraryfestival.org/literature-events/2023/march-25/ravenous-why-our-appetite-is-killing-us-and-the-planet
15) GARDENING: Finding Home in the Garden: Grounding and Spring Rain with Lulah Ellender and Marc Hamer, Writers Lulah Ellender and Marc Hamer talk about their latest books and how they both show how we use gardens as a form of solace and as a place where we can find ourselves at home. Thursday, March 30. 12pm. Oxford Martin School: Seminar Room. https://oxfordliteraryfestival.org/literature-events/2023/march-30/grounding-finding-home-in-a-garden
The Oxford Literary Festival runs from March 25 – April 2. Go to https://oxfordliteraryfestival.org for all the details.