The 2023 Dorchester Literary Festival has a glittering line-up of authors, we pick our top ten events from this year's show.

The Whalebone Theatre, Joanna Quinn

A ravishing coming-of-age debut novel set in the shadow of World War Two, The Whalebone Theatre fizzes with invention and compassion. Cristabel Seagrave has always wanted her life to be a story, but there are no female heroines to be found in the books of her family’s dusty library. For an unwanted orphan who grows into an unmarriageable young woman, there is no place for her in a traditional English manor. But from the day that a whale washes up on the Dorset beach, adjacent to the manor house, Cristabel plants her flag and claims it as her own, determined to do things differently.

Dorset Museum October 17 at 12pm

The Crash, Robert Peston

The Crash is the second novel from Britain's top political journalist, Robert Peston, who is best known as ITV’s Political Editor. The setting is London in 2007. It's summer in the City: the economy is booming, profits are up and the stock market sits near record highs. Journalist Gil Peck is a lone voice worrying it can't last. But nobody wants to hear it: not the politicians, not the bankers, not even Gil's bosses at the BBC. Kate Adie, former BBC New Correspondent and presenter of BBC Radio 4’s From Our Own Correspondent talks to Robert Peston about his gripping new thriller.

The Dorford Centre October 14 at 6pm

Desert Island Books, James Naughtie

Host of BBC Radio 4’s Book Club, and chair for the Man Booker Prize jury, James Naughtie chooses six books that have influenced and inspired him throughout his life. He also discusses the third instalment from his Will Flemyng Thrillers, woven around three brothers bound together through espionage. The Spy Across The Water, follows Will, the spy-turned-ambassador, on a dangerous journey into his clandestine past, from conflict in Ireland to the long shadows of the Cold War, in an electric story of courage and betrayal.

'A thoughtful and detailed novel of statecraft and spycraft, recommended for fans of le Carré' Ian Rankin.

The Dorford Centre October 18 at 6pm

Fearless: Adventures with Extraordinary WomenLouise Minchin

TV presenter, journalist, author and athlete, Louise Minchin competed with the GB Triathlon Team shortly after leaving BBC Breakfast. In Fearless, Minchin describes her exhilarating adventures across the world, sharing stories of the motivation and resilience of 17 incredible trailblazing women - testing herself in the process with ice-diving in the dark in Finland, swimming through sharks infested waters off Alcatraz, cycling across Argentina and more. 'To get to the heart of who these women are. I decided to do it the way that I know best, by taking part, spending time right beside them to experience the things they love.'

The Dorford Centre October 20 at 7.30pm

Food for Life: The New Science of Eating WellTim Spector

Co-founder of ZOE (Zoe Health Study and nutrition app) and Professor of Genetic Epidemiology, Tim Spector, has pioneered a new approach of how to eat – for our health and the health of the planet. In his empowering and practical book Food for Life (Times and Sunday Times Book of the Year) he draws on over a decade of cutting-edge scientific research, along with his own personal insights. Investigating everything from environmental impact and food fraud to allergies and deceptive labelling, Spector also shows us the many wondrous and surprising properties of everyday foods, something which scientists are only just beginning to understand.

Dorford Centre October 20 at 2pm

Let the Light Pour In, Lemn Sissay OBE 

Awarded the PEN Pinter prize in 2019, Lemn Sissay’s memoir My Name Is Why topped The Sunday Times bestseller list. The official poet of the 2012 London Olympics and FA Cup poet in 2015, over the last decade Lemn has composed a short poem as dawn breaks each day. Life affirming and witty, these chronicle his own battle with the dark, fuelled by resilience and defiant joy. Let the Light Pour In is a celebratory collection of these poems: ‘How do you do it?’ said night ‘How do you wake up and shine?’ ‘I keep it simple,’ said light, ‘One day at a time.’ 

Dorford Centre October 21 at 7.30pm 

Chatsworth: The gardens and the people who made them, Alan Titchmarsh

Discover Jane Austen's real-life inspiration for Darcy's Pemberley in Pride and Prejudice as gardening expert and broadcaster Alan Titchmarsh invites you into Chatsworth's irresistible world of visionaries, pioneers, heroes, villains and English eccentrics. The seat of the Duke of Devonshire since the 1700s, Titchmarsh reveals the people who shaped the history of this fine country estate in the Derbyshire Dales. His passion and knowledge of both the house and gardens, as well as his long-established relationship with the Cavendish family who live here, makes him the perfect guide to take us on a fascinating journey through five centuries of gardening and family history.

Dorford Centre October 19 at 7.30pm

The Bone Chests: Unlocking the Secrets of the Anglo Saxons, Dr Cat Jarman 

In 1642, William Waller’s Parliamentarian army stormed Winchester Cathedral. Discovering 10 beautiful 7th Century mortuary chests, containing the bones of Wessex royalty including William Rufus and Cnut the Great, they smashed them open hoping to find treasure. Instead, they found bones which were flung through the 14th-century-stained glass windows. When they had left, the clergy returned the jumbled remains of West Saxon kings, queens, saints and bishops to the six surviving mortuary chests. In 2014 these were opened for the first time, undergoing cutting-edge scientific analysis to reveal astonishing new insights. Building on this evidence, bioarchaeologist Dr Cat Jarman brings Anglo-Saxon history into technicolour.

Dorford Centre October 21 at 5.30pm

Hitler, Stalin, Mum and Dad: A Family Memoir of Miraculous SurvivalDaniel Finkelstein

From longstanding political columnist and commentator Daniel Finkelstein, comes this powerful memoir exploring his parents’ devastating experiences of persecution, resistance and survival during the Second World War. Daniel’s mother Mirjam was rounded up with her family in Amsterdam, where they had fled from Germany, and sent to Bergen-Belsen. Daniel’s father Ludwik, born to a wealthy Jewish family in Poland, was departed to Siberia to work as a slave labourer on a collective farm, surviving the freezing winters in a tiny house he built from cow dung. An unimaginable story of two ordinary families’ bravery and their extraordinary survival against the odds.

Dorford Centre October 20 at 12pm

The Future of Geography: How Power and Politics in Space Will Change Our World, Tim Marshall

Space: the new frontier, a wild and lawless place. Already central to communication, military strategy and international relations on Earth, Space is the latest arena for human exploration, exploitation – and, possibly, conquest. Bestselling author Tim Marshall reveals how what happens in Space over the next 50 years will change the face of global politics.

Dorford Centre October 18 at 2pm


Let’s Go! Dorchester Literary Festival runs from October 14- 21, there are 36 different events at this year’s event including interviews with authors, a literary walk, poetry slam, and talks on screen writing, getting published and writing your memoir. For the full line-up and to book tickets visit