Literary festival attracts a stellar assembly of talent

Oxford Mail: Poet Dan Holloway. Picture: OX64825 Ed Nix Buy this photo » Poet Dan Holloway. Picture: OX64825 Ed Nix

IT has gained a major reputation for hosting talks by big names in small venues.

Now thousands of book lovers are expected to buy tickets for Chipping Norton Literary Festival when they go on sale next week.

Celebrity speakers will include bestselling novelist Joanna Trollope, former Labour Home Secretary Alan Johnson, former Tory cabinet minister Jonathan Aitken, author Kate Mosse and the much-travelled journalist Kate Adie.

Oxford Mail:

Novelist Joanna Trollope

Festival founder Clare Mackintosh, 37, hopes the event will be even more successful than last year’s.

She said: “Last year we sold £3,000 worth of tickets and this year we hope to sell more than ever.

“We have something in the region of 70 authors lined up. I am really excited.”

Oxford Mail:

Former Tory cabinet minister Jonathan Aitken

The event comes to the town from April 24 to 27.

Other speakers include best-selling children’s author Lauren Child and New Statesman columnist and activist Laurie Penny.

Among writers from Oxford is award-winning poet Dan Holloway, 42, on Saturday April 25.

Mr Holloway will perform live punk poetry with fellow-writer Claire Trévien in the Chequers pub on Goddards Lane from 6.30pm.

He said: “The performance is called the Age of Absinthe.

“Claire is Anglo-Breton – half English and half French – and so she will read 19th century-inspired material that harks back to the days of the Moulin Rouge in Paris.

“We have been performing at the festival since it started, but now we are doing our own show together.

“The show is inspired by the bars in New York and that sort of counter-culture which featured beat poets like Ferlinghetti.”

“In previous years we have done the festival we have been delighted by the reaction.

“You wouldn’t think about it as being Bohemian, but the crowds absolutely loved it.”

For professional writer Ms Mackintosh, a married mother-of-three, the festival is a special moment each year.

She said: “The highlight for me is seeing the work pay off.

“Standing in the market square and seeing it filled with readers and writers, with everyone just enjoying literature – that is amazing.”

Tickets for events and talks will be available from next Monday.

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