The Blenheim Palace Literary Festival launches 2014 programme

Blenheim Palace

Blenheim Palace - Credit: Archant

The 2014 programme for the Blenheim Palace Literary Festival has been announced. The festival, which takes place in the grand surroundings of Blenheim Palace and Woodstock from September 25 – 28, will feature writers and public figures from the fields of music, history, food and drink, politics and literature.

Blenheim Palace

Blenheim Palace - Credit: Archant

This year, the festival will host five time Grammy-award-winning opera singer Ms Jessye Norman, who will speak about her forthcoming book Stand Up Straight and Sing. Norman, who is flying in from the US to be at the festival, sang at the inaugurations of Presidents Reagan and Clinton, as well as at the Queen’s 60th birthday.

This year marks another first as the festival has announced a new partnership with ITV. The celebrated broadcaster will be hosting a special programme of events at the palace; Julian Fellowes, creator of the hugely successful Downtown Abbey, will be speaking on his new ITV film Great War House on September 26. Kate Brooke, writer and executive producer of ITV’s period drama Mr Selfridge, will be joined by cast members including Trystan Gravelle and Amy Morgan on September 28 to discuss writing for television and how these words are turned into popular performances by the actors.

Further highlights for this year include the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord George Carey, discussing some of the major moral dilemmas of the 21st century. World-renowned scientist Richard Dawkins will talk about the early influences on his life and work accompanied by the Orchestra of St John who will perform some of his favourite pieces of music live.

Other musical events include leading Jazz Poet Jeremy Robson introducing his new collection of poetry with readings by the celebrated actress, Maureen Lipman (The Pianist, Coronation Street) as well as a performance from well-known jazz singer, Jacqui Dankworth who has worked with Paloma Faith and Gregory Porter.

The world famous chef Ken Hom will discuss the connection food has with family, heritage, storytelling, health and good living with one half of BBC2’s Incredible Spice Men, Cyrus Todiwala. Leading scientist, Alice Roberts, best-known for presenting TV series’ Coast and Prehistoric, will also feature at this year’s festival to talk about her book, The Incredible Unlikeliness of Being. Other leading figures taking part this year include former defence secretary DR Liam Fox MP, Sir Roy Strong, and rock musician Steve Hogarth.

Once again the festival opening dinner will take place in Blenheim Palace’s Orangery which this year will see actor, television presenter, writer, doctor and director, Sir Jonathan Miller talking about his writings over the last 60 years.

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Prior to the festival, on Saturday September 13, global bestseller Professor Deborah Harkness will take part in a special preview event to talk about the final instalment of her All Souls Trilogy, The Book of Life.

Sally Dunsmore, Festival Director said: “These four days offer visitors a chance to hear from and meet their favourite writers, join in intimate debates and savour the most fantastic surroundings of the palace and the town. In conjunction with our new partners ITV, we look forward to welcoming guests to these special events.”

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