IT’S Oxford’s most literary time of year, when book fans from around the globe get ready to descend on the city.

The hotels have been booked, together with the coveted tickets, for seats in historic venues like the Sheldonian Theatre.

And the well-known authors, who return year after year to promote their new titles, are back once more to guarantee big audiences, from Saturday, March 30 to Sunday, April 7.

Once Blackwell’s Bookshop marquee has opened in the shadow of the Sheldonian Theatre, visitors know the festival, sponsored once again by FT Weekend, has truly begun.

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There is always a positive vibe inside the tent and an air of expectation as festival goers book tickets and browse the wide range of titles by speakers at more than 300 events.

Zool Verjee, deputy manager of Blackwell’s Bookshop in Broad Street, said: “It’s a wonderful time of year for book fans - the sun is out and hundreds of well-known speakers are arriving in Oxford.

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“The marquee is a good place to come because it really is the hub of the festival.

“All the festival titles are on sale, the box office is there and there’s a festival coffee shop, and lots of free events.

“It’s right next to the Sheldonian as well, where some of the biggest events are taking place and some authors come into the marquee for book signings.”

Mr Verjee said he was a ‘huge fan’ of Nobel prize-winning novelist Sir Kazuo Ishiguro, the author of The Remains of the Day, among a host of leading speakers announced for the 2019 festival.

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The author, who last visited the festival in 2015, will speak about his life and work on Wednesday, April 3, and receive the Bodley Medal, the Bodleian Library’s highest honour, for his outstanding contribution to literature.

“I love The Unconsoled - that’s my favourite,” Mr Verjee added.

Oxford Mail:

He said that there were lots of events for children, and his son Ismael, two, was looking forward to the visit of Judith Kerr OBE, as he was a fan of The Tiger Who Came to Tea

The author and illustrator will be at the Sheldonian on Saturday, April 6 at 4pm, with fellow author Benji Davies, to speak with Nicolette Jones about Creating Children’s Classics.

Speakers who have visited in previous years love to return.

Historian and broadcaster Lucy Worsley has described the festival as ‘intellectual viagra’.

Other leading speakers from the world of fiction include thriller writer Robert Harris, who gives the Chancellor’s Lecture, Chocolat author Joanne Harris, who receives the festival’s honorary fellowship, and crime writer Val McDermid.

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Comedian Jo Brand talks about her darkly funny guide to life as a woman, and explorer and adventurer Ranulph Fiennes talks about his life.

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Leading journalists speaking include former BBC stalwarts Martin Bell and Kate Adie, former Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger, and the environmentalist and activist George Monbiot.

Science is represented by Astronomer Royal Martin Rees on the future of humanity, by broadcaster and fertility treatment pioneer Robert Winston, and by Nobel Prize-winning biologist Venki Ramakrishnan.

Historians Simon Schama and Diarmaid MacCulloch appear, and former ballerina now Strictly Come Dancing judge Darcey Bussell talks about her life and career.

One of the world’s leading legal minds and former official in the Obama administration, Cass Sunstein talks about social change, and former President of Ireland Mary Robinson makes a case for justice on climate change.

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Michael Morpurgo and Judith Kerr head another great line-up of events for children and young people at this year’s festival.

Mr Morpurgo talks about the creation of a children’s laureate 20 years ago and there have now been 10 of them.

Other authors in the children and young people programme include historian Lucy Worsley, Murder Most Unladylike author Robin Stevens and cultural historian Janina Ramirez with her first children’s book.

Tickets are on sale now through this website or by telephoning the box office at 0333 666 3366 (a booking fee of £1.75 applies to purchases made through the telephone box office).