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Cambridge Literary Festival returns with top line-up


By Gemma Gardner


Tony Robinson Photo: Paul Marc Mitchell
Tony Robinson Photo: Paul Marc Mitchell

An eclectic and vibrant line-up will take to the stage for a fascinating weekend of politics and poetry, fiction and finance, comedy and current affairs as the Cambridge Literary Festival returns.

Sophie Hannah
Sophie Hannah

Highlights include Lemn Sissay, Tony Robinson, Richard Coles, Margaret Drabble, Gary Younge and Ali Smith.

Festival director Cathy Moore said: “We got greedy this year and decided to pack two full days of literary delights into Cambridge’s winter agenda.

“Enthusiasm for the forthcoming festival is higher than ever and ticket sales are buoyant.

“Our Zadie Smith opener sold out in the first two weeks of ticket sales and tickets for other events, including Ken Clarke, Jenni Murray, Peter Hennessey and Charles Clarke, and Tidings, our first ever event in the beautiful surroundings of The Round Church, have all been snapped up.

Lemn Sissay Photo: Addis Ababa
Lemn Sissay Photo: Addis Ababa

“We are hugely lucky here in Cambridge to have such an eclectic cultural offering – the internationally regarded Cambridge Film Festival has recently finished, Cambridge Music Festival is in full flow and the relatively new Cambridge Jazz festival approaches – but the appetite for culture and entertainment in this vibrant city seems insatiable.

“Join us, and them, for a weekend to talk, read, think, laugh, cry and even sing.”

The festival takes place next weekend on November 26 and 27.

Politics is high on the agenda and with a plethora of political memoirs hitting the bookshops, the festival has gathered together the cream of the crop, including Ken Clarke and Alan Johnson.

Gary Younge
Gary Younge

Also on this year’s festival menu are exciting and versatile poet Lemn Sissay, award-winning campaigner Laura Bates and the razor wit of Blackadder star, Tony Robinson.

Giving a human voice to US gun violence statistics, Guardian journalist Gary Younge brings moving accounts from affected families in the USA to the Cambridge Union Chamber.

In The Round Church, Ruth Padel promises a candlelit night of poetry and carols to ease us into advent.

Other festival highlights include Cambridge resident Ali Smith discussing her latest novel Autumn which is the first truly post-Brexit novel to be published.

Ali Smith
Ali Smith

Smith was on Desert Island Discs recently and, ever surprising, introduced an element of playful anarchy with presenter Kirsty Young.

To close the festival, We Are Sound – Cambridge’s ground-breaking musical collective with 120 voices singing some of the world’s best tracks – will raise the roof of Cambridge Union Chamber.

The festival, which was launched in 2003, receives a small amount of funding so support from ticket sales and donations is key to its survival.

If you love the festival, a friends’ scheme is available from £25 and gives members priority booking and first entry to festival venues.

Cambridge Literary Festival
Cambridge Literary Festival

■ For more, visit Cambridge Literary Festival. Box office: 01223 357851 or Cambridge Live.



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