JEREMY SMITH checks out the highlights of this year’s Blenheim Literary Festival in leafy Woodstock

If you thought this year’s Sunday Times Lit Fest in March had satiated your literary lust, prepare to have your passion reignited.

Because the Blenheim Festival Literary Festival in Woodstock is up and running until Sunday and promises to deliver plenty of spark.

Top of my list is the intriguingly monikered Can Onions Cure Ear-ache?, kicking off today at 10.30am.

Presented by Oxfordshire writer Melanie King at Woodstock Methodist Church (£10), it extols the virtues of Scottish physician William Buchan’s 18th-century book Domestic Medicine. A sort of Dorling Kindersley guide for hypochodriacs, it offers up the kind of panacea which were fashionable around that age. Cow dung for instance to alleviate everyday ailments.

Next up on anyone’s must-see list is the talk The Woman Reader: Reading Practices Across Cultures and Centuries (today at noon, again at the Methodist Church, and again £10).

Presented by Belinda Jack, a tutorial fellow at Christ Church, Oxford, she considers if men and women boast a different approach to reading, though I’d have thought that obvious considering the runaway success of Fifty Shades of Grey.

For historians, a quick poke of the head around the door of Sir Barry Cunliffe’s talk Britain Begins: Who Were Our Earliest Ancestors? might reveal some surprises (4pm today at the Methodist Church, £10).

Sir Barry who is Emeritus Professor of Archaeology at Oxford, follows in the footsteps of those hunter-gatherers who followed the retreating ice north 12,000 years ago and by doing so, promises to turn many of our assumptions about our distant kith and kin on their head.

However, for those of you who like a bit of beefcake with your literary aspirations, why not drop in on Paddy Ashdown’s talk A Brilliant Little Operation: The Cockleshell Heroes and the Greatest Raid of WWII (this evening, 6pm, St Mary Magdalene Church, £10), or chef Ken Hom’s imaginatively titled An Evening with Ken Hom (tonight, 7.30pm, Feathers Hotel and Restaurant, £95).

The following day, Friday, Sept 14, it might be nice to spend a while in the company of Lucinda Lambton with her brilliantly headlined talk Palaces for Pigs: Animal Architecture and Other Beastly Buildings (Blenheim Palace, The Indian Room, 10.30am, £12 with coffee and cakes).

In Inspired by Bees: Poet’s Muse and Lessons For Life (tomorrow, Benheim Palace, The Orangery, 1.30pm, £12 including a glass of wine) beekeepers Steve Benbow and Sean Borodale take a look at one one of our best loved insects but from two different points of view.

Benbow in his The Urban Beepkeeper offers a practical guide to beekeeping while Borodale chronicles the lives of bees via a series of poems. Pure honey.

Same day but a million miles removed is Mary Robinson’s Everybody Matters (The Orangery, Blenheim Palace, 3pm, £10).

The first woman President of Ireland, Robinson will discuss her vision and determination and how she helped to legalise contraception in a staunchly Catholic Ireland.

If you can dig that deep, Day of The Jackal author Frederick Forsyth will be delivering the keynote speech at the festival’s literary dinner (tomorrow, Blenheim Palace, 7pm, £120).

And finally, two events that somehow go hand in hand – The 10 Secrets of Healthy Ageing (Sept 16, Blenheim Palace, 10.30am, £12) and Finding My Voice with singer Elkie Brooks (same day, Blenheim, The Orangery, 4pm, £10).

Medical journalist Jerome Burn claims there is much we can do to age better while Ms Brooks...well, she’ll simply dazzle and be the living proof.

As for me, my personal highlight will be Chris Goodie on why he gave up his job to fulfill his dream of spotting all 32 species of the elusive Pitta bird in a single year (The Oxfordshire Museum , 4pm, £10).

Weird, yes, but strangely comforting...