IT is one of the biggest literary events of the year, attracting scores of acclaimed authors, celebrities, TV presenters and anyone with a new book to flog.

The Oxford Literary Festival is a popular fixture on the city’s calendar, with bookworms packing out the Sheldonian Theatre, Bodleian Library and Worcester College to hear writers talking about everything from climbing Everest to the science of astronomy and the art of ballet.

This year’s 23rd instalment, which finished yesterday, was a vintage year with a host of familiar names, including the explorer and adventurer Sir Ranulph Fiennes, dancer and Strictly Come Dancing judge Darcey Bussell, Oxford environmentalist George Monbiot, BBC stalwarts Martin Bell and Kate Adie, former Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger and television historians Lucy Worsley, Diarmaid MacCulloch and Simon Schama.

Also sharing their thoughts with fans were Nobel prize-winning novelist Sir Kazuo Ishiguro, former Children’s Laureates Michael Morpurgo and Michael Rosen and comedian Jo Brand.

Oxford Mail:

Marcus de Sautoy

Scientists were also well represented with popular mathematician Marcus de Sautoy, Astronomer Royal Martin Rees, fertility treatment pioneer Robert Winston, and Nobel Prize-winning biologist Venki Ramakrishnan enlightening audiences.

Leading speakers from the world of fiction included thriller writer Robert Harris, Chocolat author Joanne Harris, who received the festival’s honorary fellowship, and crime writer Val McDermid.

All had books of their own to discuss, sign and sell.

A highlight of the festival was the presentation to Sir Kazuo of the Bodley Medal – the Bodleian Library’s highest honour for his outstanding contribution to literature.

Oxford Mail:

Simon Schama

The author, whose novel The Remains of the Day was turned into a film starring Anthony Hopkins, spoke about his life and work in conversation with Richard Ovenden, Bodley’s Librarian.

Mr Ovenden said: “Sir Kazuo Ishiguro is one of the greatest living novelists whose work has made a major contribution to literature and culture. He has formed a highly original, distinctive and compelling literary voice, one which brings to the fore major themes of inner conflict, the challenges of memory, the struggles between modernity and the past, and the realities of human emotion. We are delighted to honour him.”

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Sir Kazuo said: “Libraries play a crucial role in shaping our memory of who we are and the narratives that determine who we’ll become. In this sense, writers and libraries share a common – and solemn – responsibility. I’m especially moved and proud, then, to receive this rare honour from Oxford University’s Bodleian Libraries – an institution that can claim to be not only one of the greatest in the world, but in western history.”