The Isle of Wight Literary Festival


To commemorate the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, there will be a strong focus on drama at the Isle of Wight Literary Festival, Thursday 13th October to Sunday 16th October. Friday of the Festival will open with the authors of the Incomplete Shakespeare series, John Crace (The Guardian Parliamentary sketch writer) and John Sutherland (Emeritus Professor of English at UCL) presenting their irreverent and wonderfully witty parodies of Shakespeare’s plays. Saturday evening sees The School of Night theatre troupe staging an ingenious, hilarious and completely improvised Shakespeare play based on suggestions from the audience. On the Sunday Sam Hodges, the dynamic Director of the Nuffield Theatre in Southampton, will be crossing the Solent to talk to theatre critic, Michael Billington, author of “The 101 Greatest Plays”.

The sixteenth century features again when S J Parris talks about “Conspiracy”, the number one bestseller and fifth in the series of historical thrillers featuring Giordano Bruno and, in an event sponsored by Hampshire and Isle of Wight Area NADFAS, Sarah Dunant, bestselling author of five novels set within the Italian Renaissance including “Blood and Beauty” and “In the Company of the Courtesan”, gives an insight into the art of high class prostitution in Renaissance Italy in her talk on “The Creative Courtesan”.

With an eye to the island’s history of links to the monarchy, A N Wilson will talk about his biography of Queen Victoria while unique insights into the life of the present Queen and her family will be provided by Ingrid Seward, writer, broadcaster and leading expert on the royals, as she discusses her book, “The Queen’s Speech”.

In a year of momentous political change and in the wake of the Chilcot Report, the much acclaimed and controversial biographer, Tom Bower, will present his book about Tony Blair “Broken Vows: Tony Blair, The Tragedy of Power”. Then, looking back to the end of WW2, General the Lord Dannatt traces the history of the British Army since 1945.

Marking the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charlotte Bronte, Juliet Barker, author of the highly acclaimed biography “The Brontes” and “The Brontes, A Life in Letters” tells the story of one of the most famous and best-loved families of English Literature and in an event celebrating the Island’s literary heritage, historian and writer, Lucinda Hawksley, great-great-great granddaughter of Charles Dickens, will talk about “Charles Dickens and His Circle”.

Michael Portillo, writer, broadcaster and former politician, will be talking about ”Life: A Game of Two Halves” and we will be hearing from Rosamund Lupton, best-selling author of “Sister” and “The Quality of Silence”.

In a year of great political significance there will be events looking at European history including Jonathan Fenby on his book “The History of Modern France” and Nicholas Jellicoe, grandson of Admiral Sir John Jellicoe, on “Jutland: The Unfinished Battle”.  In addition, Alan Johnson, MP and former Home Secretary, will be talking about “The Long and Winding Road”, the third volume of his memoirs.

On a lighter note, we will be taking a literary and artistic tour of Paris with long-term Paris resident John Baxter, author of “The Most Beautiful Walk in The World”, and hearing about life in modern Denmark from Helen Russell, author of “The Year of Living Danishly”.

For those captivated by the world of espionage, Gordon Corera, BBC Security Correspondent and author of “Intercept: The Secret History of Computers and Spies”, will be addressing the issue of cybersecurity and the story of the melding of technology and espionage from the Second World War to the internet age. The story of spy Guy Burgess will be told by Andrew Lownie, author of the hugely successful biography “Stalin’s Englishman: The Lives of Guy Burgess”.

DJ Taylor, biographer, novelist and critic discusses “The Prose Factory: Literary Life in Britain since 1918” and classicist and biographer Daisy Dunn, author of “Catullus’ Bedspread: The Life of Rome’s Most Erotic Poet” rediscovers the story of Gaius Valerius Catullus, Rome’s first “modern” poet, against the turbulent backdrop of the late Roman Republic.



The Isle of Wight Literary Festival and generous donations from organisations and individuals support IWLFSCHOOLS, the Literary Festival’s schools programme.

The IWLFSCHOOLS programme brings exceptional writers and performers into local primary schools and colleges. We want local young people to be a part of this unique literary event that gives the very special opportunity to talk about books with real live authors and to enjoy and take part in performance workshops. We aim to involve children in creative writing and to raise interest in reading for pleasure.

In 2015 more than 5,000 children and young people in over 15 schools were inspired by well known writers or performers. Many pupils took part in writing workshops or entered competitions on a Gothic theme with outstanding quality of entries all round.

Now in our third year, we are bringing an exciting array of writers and performers to even more children and young people across the Isle of Wight. We feature authors of picture books, comics and tales of adventure to young adult fiction, spoken word and fringe theatre. There will be something for everyone.

All IWLFSCHOOLS events are delivered free to young people in participating schools and colleges. Events start on the Thursday and Friday before the Literary Festival weekend at Northwood House and other selected venues.

For further information email

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