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Festival features literally the best
THE Oxford Literary Festival is in full swing, with some of the world’s best writers spotted strolling the city’s streets.
The festival, which began on Saturday and runs until Sunday, features 300 speakers at 250 events.
Among them was the author of the worldwide bestseller No 1 Ladies Detective Agency Alexander McCall Smith.
He and Oneworld Radio presenter Paul Blezard discussed the series at the Sheldonian Theatre on Saturday.
Audiences at the opening weekend also heard from BBC Countryfile presenter Julia Bradbury.
She battled the elements to reach Corpus Christi College at noon on Sunday to speak about her work.
She said: “As I was leaving London it turned from being a nice day to a very snowy one.
“There was obviously a cold snap which enveloped Oxford – that was quite a shock.
“But there was a full house which was very good, and the audience was very receptive and responsive.
“It was a pleasure to be there, a real honour. My dad and mum were there too and my Dad is a Cambridge man. So he had to sit and admit that it is true – Oxford is a beautiful city.
“I spoke about my book, Wainwright’s Walks: Coast to Coast, and different things I have done in my career – about the diversity of a job like mine and what it is like to be a broadcaster.”
Oxford’s own His Dark Materials author Philip Pullman spoke about his favourite Brothers Grimm fairy tales, which he recently adapted in his own style, at the Sheldonian on Sunday.
A topical note was struck by journalists Peter Hitchens and Simon Jenkins who discussed the war on drugs at the theatre that day.
Mail on Sunday writer Mr Hitchens voiced a hardline policy with his recent book The War We Never Fought: The British Establishment’s Surrender to Drugs.
Former editor of The Times Mr Jenkins said the Government should legalise drugs, and test and regulate their supply.
Among the speakers over the weekend was Liverpool poet Roger McGough, reading some of his latest adult poems at the Sheldonian Theatre on Saturday and poems for children at Corpus Christi College on Sunday.
A topical note was struck by journalists Peter Hitchens and Simon Jenkins who discussed pros and cons of legalising drugs drugs at the Sheldonian Theatre on Sunday.
Actor Tim Pigott-Smith introduced the premiere yesterday of a new BBC drama about PG Wodehouse’s fall from grace when he was interned in Germany during the Second World War and became an unwitting pawn in a propaganda war.
For full details of everything that’s on this week, go to oxfordliteraryfestival.org
HIGHLIGHTS THIS WEEK
- Sunday Times chief sports writer David Walsh on his 13-year pursuit of cycling dope cheat Lance Armstrong, 10am, Sheldonian Theatre.
- Iain Sinclair discusses his Olympic-themed book Ghost Milk in the Bodleian Library, Convocation House, at noon.
- Sue Townsend reflects on her most famous work, The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, noon, Sheldonian Theatre.
- Andrew Dilnot looks into social care costs for the elderly, noon, Bodleian Library, Divinity School.
- Chocolat author Joanne Harris speaks about the third of her trilogy, Peaches for Monsieur Le Cure, 10am, Sheldonian Theatre.
- Tracy Chevalier discusses her novel The Last Runway, 6pm, Bodleian Library, Divinity School.
- Anthony Beevor on his book The Second World War, 2pm in the Sheldonian Theatre.