The 15th Aldeburgh Literary Festival 2016

The 15th Aldeburgh Literary Festival

Thursday 3rd – Sunday 6th March 2016

All events take place in the Jubilee Hall, Aldeburgh

Thursday 3rd March 

Event 1      SOLD OUT     6.00 pm          Jonathan Dimbleby - The Battle of the Atlantic

The Battle of the Atlantic was crucial to victory in the Second World War. If the German U-boats had prevailed, the maritime artery across the Atlantic would have been severed. Mass hunger would have consumed Britain, and the Allied armies would have been prevented from joining in the invasion of Europe. There would have been no D-Day.

Through fascinating contemporary diaries and letters, from world leaders and from the sailors on all sides, Jonathan Dimbleby creates a thrilling narrative that uniquely places the campaign in the context of the entire Second World War.

Jonathan Dimbleby is a writer, journalist  and broadcaster with credits including both books and made programmes about the  Second World War including the book Destiny in the Desert: The Road to Alamein which was followed by the programme Churchill’s Desert War  and The BBC at War. One of the first documentaries that he made was about the Ethiopian famine of the 1970s which won a BAFTA award.  He is the chairman of the BBC Radio 4’s weekly Any Questions programme.

Friday 4th March

Event 2          10.00 am      LAST FEW TICKETS STILL AVAILABLE   Christopher Frayling - Inside the Bloody Chamber: on Angela Carter, the Gothic and other weird Tales

In this unique literary memoir, leading cultural historian and broadcaster Sir Christopher Frayling reflects on gothic themes in literature, art and popular culture, through the lens of his friendship with Angela Carter during her formative ‘Bath years’, when she wrote most of her key works, The Bloody Chamber, The Sadeian Woman, and The Passion of New Eve.  Since her untimely death in 1992 Angela Carter’s fiction has risen to become one of the most influential and highly-regarded bodies of work in contemporary British literature, blending feminism, Gothic horror and magical realism.  


Sir Christopher Frayling has made it his crusade to broaden the notion of culture.  He has been a champion of the popular arts, writing on a range of subjects from spaghetti westerns to vampires, werewolves and horror movies.  He was Chair of the Arts Council, and Rector of the Royal College of Art from 1996 to 2009.  He is now Chancellor of the Arts University of Bournemouth and a Fellow of Churchill College Cambridge.  When knighted in 2001 for Services to Art and Design Education he chose as his motto: ‘Perge scelus fecit mihi diem perficias’.


Event 3        11.30 am       LAST FEW TICKETS STILL AVAILABLE  Frances Wilson: ‘Episodic Lives:  Biography without Memory'


Biographers tend to assume that their subjects had perfect recall, but what if they don't? And what if biographers themselves have no sense of living in a historical continuum?  Is it possible to have episodic biography?

Author Frances Wilson will talk about lives without narrative, with particular reference to two of her own award-winning works on Bruce Ismay and Dorothy Wordsworth.   

When Wilson’s book, How To Survive the Titanic; or The Sinking of J Bruce Ismay won the Elizabeth Longford Prize for Historical Biography in 2012, the judges praised her ‘acute psychological insight, the ability to balance conflicting evidence, a judicious sense of empathy with a dislikeable subject, and a powerful but disciplined historical imagination—as well as the ability to find and pursue “fascinating sources”.’  Her previous books, Literary Seductions: Compulsive Writers and Diverted Readers, The Courtesans's Revenge: Harriette Wilson, the Woman Who Blackmailed the King, and The Ballad of Dorothy Wordsworth (Winner of the British Academy’s Rose Mary Crawshay Prize) take the same imaginative approach to her subjects.  Her forthcoming book Guilty Thing, on the life of opium-eater Thomas de Quincey, will be published in April.


Event 4          2.00 pm        SOLD OUT       Richard Davenport-Hines on Universal Man: the Seven Lives of John Maynard Keynes

In this accessible biography, Richard Davenport-Hines explores the extraordinary and idiosyncratic man behind the economics.  We see Keynes as prodigy, connoisseur, intellectual, economist, administrator and statesman, a man equally at ease socialising with the Bloomsbury Group as he was when influencing the policies of Presidents.  By examining the desires and experiences that made Keynes think as he did, or compelled him to innovate, Davenport-Hines explores why this Great Briton’s ideas continue to instruct and encourage us seventy years after his death.

Richard Davenport has written histories of sex and drugs, biographies of Auden and of Proust, Ettie – the Intimate Life and Dauntless Spirit of Lady Desborough, Titanic Lives: Migrants and Millionaires, Conmen and Crew, An English Affair: Sex, Class and Power in the Age of Profumo.  His biography of Edward VII: the Cosmopolitan King is to be published in the Penguin Monarch Series in February.  He has been elected as a Visiting Fellow at All Soul’s College, Oxford during 2016.


Event 5          SOLD OUT            3.30 pm                      Edmund de Waal on The White Road: a Pilgrimage of Sorts

A handful of clay from a Chinese hillside carries a promise: that mixed with the right materials, it might survive the fire of the kiln, and fuse into porcelain – translucent, luminous, white.

Acclaimed writer and potter Edmund de Waal sets out on a quest - a journey that begins in the dusty city of Jingdezhen in China and travels on to Venice, Versailles, Dublin, Dresden, the Appalachian Mountains of South Carolina and the hills of Cornwall to tell the history of porcelain. Along the way, he meets the witnesses to its creation; those who were inspired, made rich or heartsick by it, and the many whose livelihoods, minds and bodies were broken by this obsession. His history of porcelain spans a thousand years and reaches into some of the most tragic moments of recent times.

In these intimate and compelling encounters with the people and landscapes who made porcelain, Edmund de Waal enriches his understanding of the ‘white gold’, the material he has worked with for decades.

Edmund de Waal is an artist whose porcelain is exhibited in museums and galleries around the world. His bestselling memoir, The Hare with the Amber Eyes, won the RSL Ondaatje prize and the Costa Biography Award and in 2015 he was awarded the Windham-Campbell Prize for Non-Fiction by Yale University.

Event 6             SOLD OUT         5.00 pm          David Nicholls.  Interviewed by Nick Sayers

David Nicholls’ latest novel, Us, is, quite simply, brilliant.  A description of the plot—a rather stuffy middle-aged man trying to save his marriage, taking his wife and teenage son on a Grand Tour of Europe—makes the book sound gloomy.  But it is, as one reviewer put it, ‘a delightful, joyous experience’.  It is comic and heart-breaking, particularly in the portrayal of the relationship between father and son.  It is subtle and sensitive, wincingly accurate and acutely wry.


Nicholls is a screenwriter and novelist.  He has also had a successful acting career, having won a scholarship to study acting at the American Music and Dramatic Art Academy in New York after graduating from Bristol.  He spent three years at the Royal National Theatre, where he began to write scripts for TV and film.  His TV credits include The 7.39, an updated version of Much Ado About Nothing, for which he was nominated for a BAFTA and Tess of the D’Urbervilles.  He was responsible for the film adaptations of Blake Morrison’s memoir, And When Did You Last See Your Father, Dicken’s Great Expectations and, most recently, Far From The Madding Crowd.  In fiction he has written four novels including Starter for Ten, The Understudy, One Day and Us, which are among the biggest-selling British novels of recent time.  Two of them have been made into feature films.  

Nick Sayers is David Nicholls’s publisher at Hodder and Stoughton, and has long been recognised as one of the best fiction editors in the industry. Previous to his decade at Hodder, he was Publishing Director at HarperCollins.  

Event 7       SOLD OUT   6.30 pm          Is Intervention Justified?   Sir Simon Jenkins and Lieutenant General Sir Simon Mayall in discussion chaired by William Sieghart

Simon Jenkins’ new book, Mission Accomplished?  The Crisis of International Intervention presents a provocative and wide-ranging survey of the history of?and the arguments surrounding?intervention in Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria.  Sir Simon Jenkins will debate the topic with Sir Simon Mayall,.  The session will be chaired by William Sieghart.

Sir Simon Jenkins is a newspaper columnist, editor and author. He was the Editor of both The Times and Evening Standard newspapers and now writes for The Guardian. He was appointed the Chairman of the National Trust in 2008.

Sir Simon Mayall was the British Government’s Defence Senior Adviser for the Middle East and the Prime Minister’s Special Envoy to Iraq and Kurdistan.  He has extensive experience in the Middle East, and was formerly Assistant Chief of the Army and Deputy Chief of Defence Staff responsible for operations worldwide.  His book Turkey: Thwarted Ambition was published in 2005.  One of his recent publications is the article ‘Al’Qaida, Jihad and the “Surge”’ in the collection of Twenty-First Century Jihad: Law, Society and Military Action, ed. Elisabeth Kendall and Ewan Stein (2015).

Philanthropist and entrepreneur, William Sieghart is founder and Chairman of Forward Thinking, a London-based NGO founded in 2003. Forward Thinking works with the leadership of all parties on both sides of the divide in the Israel/Palestine conflict.


Saturday 5th March

Event 8              SOLD OUT        10.00 am         Jenny Uglow: In These Times: Living in Britain through Napoleon’s Wars 1793-1815

For 22 years Britain was at war with its closest neighbour.  Napoleon knew that the British coast lacked real defences—this was when Aldeburgh’s (and other) Martello Tower was built.  Everyone lived with the threat of invasion and ‘everyone shared in the war’.  Masterly historian Jenny Uglow sets out to find out what it was like for those ordinary people at home—‘waiting, working, watching’.  It’s a ‘crowd biography’ touching on every aspect of people’s lives—just as the war did.  Some of the accounts are—with hindsight—comic, such as the abortive invasion on the Pembrokeshire coast where the local housewives in their red flannel petticoats rounded up the enemy with pitchforks.  But the darker side of the home front is portrayed: food riots, press gangs, fortunes made and livelihoods lost.

Jenny Uglow is an author, critic, historian, editor and consultant.  Her books include Elizabeth Gaskell; Hogarth;  The Lunar Men;  Nature's Engraver: A Life of Thomas Bewick, A Gambling Man: Charles II and the Restoration and The Pinecone: The Story of Sarah Losh.  She's also editor of the Palgrave Macmillan Dictionary of Women and The Vintage Book of Ghosts, and author of short studies of George Eliot and Henry Fielding, as well as A Little History of British Gardening and Words & Pictures, a look at relationships between writers and artists, from the illustrators of Milton and Bunyan, to Dickens and Phiz and Lewis Carroll and Tenniel.

Event 9            SOLD OUT     11.30 am         Andrew Solomon – Far From The Tree: Parents, Children and the Search for Identity

Andrew Solomon is a writer and lecturer on psychology, politics, and the arts; and an activist in LGBT rights, mental health, and the arts.  Winner of the Wellcome Prize in 2014 and the National Book Critics Circle Award, Far From The Tree is a moving and life-affirming examination of parental love and how families accommodate children with physical, mental and social disabilities and differences.  Love, no matter what, is the message of hope and humanity from this book in which Solomon interviewed over 500 parents of deaf, dwarf, autistic and transgender children.

Solomon’s first book, The Noonday Demon, was a ground-breaking examination of depression in personal, cultural, and scientific terms.  It won the US National Book Award. 

Event 10               SOLD OUT      2.00 pm                      Peter Frankopan on The Silk Roads.   Interviewed by Robert Butler

For centuries, fame and fortune was to be found in the west – in the New World of the Americas. Today, it is the east which calls out to those in search of adventure and riches. The region stretching from eastern Europe and sweeping right across Central Asia deep into China and India, is taking centre stage in international politics, commerce and culture – and is shaping the modern world.


This region, the true centre of the earth, is obscure to many in the English-speaking world.  Yet this is where civilization itself began, where the world's great religions were born and took root.  The Silk Roads networks that linked continents and oceans together. Along them flowed ideas, goods, disease and death.  This was where empires were won – and where they were lost.  As a new era emerges, the patterns of exchange are mirroring those that have criss-crossed Asia for millennia.  The Silk Roads are rising again.


A major reassessment of world history, The Silk Roads is an international best-seller, earning rave reviews across the world, from the UK to India, from China to the Gulf. Described as ‘breathtaking’ (Daily Telegraph),  ‘magnificent’ (Sunday Times), ‘brilliant’ (Guardian), ‘dazzlingly good’ (Evening Standard), ‘epic’ (New Statesman). The Times named it as Book of the Week when it was published, saying that ‘it is difficult…to do justice, so detailed and so fascinating’.  The Silk Roads was named Daily Telegraph’s History Book of the Year 2015.


Peter Frankopan is Senior Research Fellow at Worcester College, Oxford, and Director the Centre for Byzantine Research at Oxford University. He was Schiff Scholar at Jesus College, Cambridge, before completing his doctorate at Oxford, where he was Senior Scholar at Corpus Christi College. He has lectured at leading universities all over the world, including Cambridge, Yale, Harvard, Princeton, NYU, King's College London and the Institute of Historical Research. His revised translation of The Alexiad by Anna Komnene was published in 2009 and The First Crusade was published in 2012.

Peter Frankopan will be interviewed by Robert Butler, Associate Editor, Intelligent Life, the award-winning magazine from The Economist Group.

Event 11             SOLD OUT        3.30 pm                      Dominic Sandbrook -- The Great British Dream Factory: The Strange History of our National Imagination

Britain’s empire has gone.  We no longer matter as we once did.  And yet there is still one area in which we can legitimately claim superpower status: our popular culture.  This is the story Dominic Sandbrook sets out to explore in his rich and thought-provoking book, The Great British Dream Factory.  It is the story of how, as our political and economic fortunes decline, we have reinvented ourselves as entertainers to the world.

Among other things, Sandbrook looks at the film empire of J. Arthur Rank, the rise of the country-house novel, the success of the Harry Potter books; the obsession with Coronation Street; the origins of Black Sabbath, the novels of Agatha Christie, Catherine Cookson and John Wyndham, the global appeal of Dr Who and the worldwide impact of British-made video games.  (It is worth mentioning here that Oxford University made £30m by investing in the software that powered Grand Theft Auto.)

Dominic Sandbrook is well-known for his masterful and entertaining histories of twentieth-century Britain: State of Emergency: The Way We Were, Britain, 1970-1974, Seasons in the Sun: The Battle for Britain, 1974-1979, Never Had it So Good (Suez to the Beatles, 1956-63), White Heat  (1964-70).  He is also a journalist and TV broadcaster: his series, Let Us Entertain You, the programme accompanying The Great British Dream Factory is currently being broadcast on BBC2.


Event 12            SOLD OUT         5.00 pm                      Matt Ridley in conversation with Adam Rutherford

Two scientists--with two all-encompassing titles--will discuss the origin of life, creation and evolution.

Drawing on anecdotes from science, economics, history, politics and philosophy, Matt Ridley’s latest book, The Evolution of Everything, is a wide-ranging challenge to the accepted notion that the world is run top-down.  We are taught that the world is run top down: generals win battles; politicians run countries; scientists discover truths; artists create genres; inventors make breakthroughs; priests teach morality; businessmen lead businesses.  But what if this thesis is wrong?  What if it is evolution rather than design?

Matt Ridley is the author of The Rational Optimist, Genome, The Red Queen, and The Origins of Virtue.  He has a regular column in The Times and is known as a controversial and innovative thinker.

Adam Rutherford’s latest book, Creation, is about the origin—and future—of life.  It was short-listed for the prestigious Wellcome Prize in 2013.   ‘One of the most eloquent and genuinely thoughtful books on science over the past decade ... You will not find a better, more balanced or up-to-date take on either the origin of life or synthetic biology’ (Nick Lane).

Rutherford is a geneticist, author, and broadcaster.  He is the presenter of BBC Radio 4’s flagship science programme, Inside Science, as well as many documentaries, on the inheritance of intelligence, on MMR and autism, human evolution, astronomy and art, science and cinema, scientific fraud and the evolution of sex.  He was an editor for the journal, Nature, and is a frequent contributor to The Guardian.

Sunday 6th March

Event 13      SOLD OUT   10.00 am         Dame Penelope Lively: A View from Old Age.   Interviewed by Joan Winterkorn

Penelope Lively describes her memoir, Ammonites and Leaping Fish: a Life in Time, as ‘not quite a memoir.  Rather it is the view from old age … One of the advantages of age is that you can report on it with a certain authority; you are a native now and know what goes on here.’

It is a powerful, insightful book: a meditation on memory in which Lively reflects on her life, on history and on reading.  She is one of our most distinguished novelists, writing prize-winning novels for both adults and children.  We hope to hear more about her own writing life in this interview.

Joan Winterkorn will interview Penelope Lively.  Winterkorn is an independent valuations expert specialising in literary archives.  She has been involved with the valuation and negotiated the sales of the papers of Muriel Spark, the John Murray publishing archive, the Kenneth Tynan diaries and letters, and the first Arts Heritage Lottery Grant which funded the sale of the Churchill Papers to Churchill College, Cambridge.

Event 14            SOLD OUT         11.30 am        Andrew Lownie - Stalin's Englishman: the Lives of Guy Burgess

Guy Burgess was the most important, complex and fascinating of 'The Cambridge Spies'.  An engaging and charming companion to many, an unappealing, utterly ruthless manipulator to others, Burgess rose through academia, the BBC, the Foreign Office, MI5 and MI6, gaining access to thousands of highly sensitive secret documents which passed to his Russian handlers.

In this first full length biography, Andrew Lownie brilliantly unravels the many lives of Guy Burgess in all their intriguing, chilling, colourful, tragi-comic reality.  Andrew Lownie is a successful literary agent and has written or edited seven books, including a biography of John Buchan.


Event 15            SOLD OUT         2.00 pm          Charles Moore - Margaret Thatcher: Everything She Wants.  Interviewed by Craig Brown.


The second volume of Charles Moore’s authorized biography of Margaret Thatcher is, ‘if anything, even better than the first, a model of close research, fluent prose and impeccable judgement … It is a tribute to Moore's skill as a writer that he makes you look at her as a human being. This is, I think, one of the great biographical achievements of our times' (Dominic Sandbrook, Sunday Times).  In June 1983 Margaret Thatcher won the biggest increase in a government’s Parliamentary majority in British electoral history.  This book covers the central, triumphal years of her premiership as Britain’s first woman prime minister, from the Falklands to the 1987 election.  Moore enjoyed unrestricted access to all Lady Thatcher’s papers, including unpublished interviews with her and all her major colleagues. He has also had access to all government papers, excusing him from the 30-year-rule restriction. 


Charles Moore was a political columnist in the 1980s covering several years of Mrs Thatcher’s first and second governments.  He was editor of The Spectator, The Sunday Telegraph, and The Daily Telegraph.  The first volume of his biography of Margaret Thatcher won the Elizabeth Longford Prize for Historical Biography, The H.W. Fisher Best First Biography Prize and Political Book of the Year at the Paddy Power Political Book Awards.

Charles Moore will be interviewed by Craig Brown. He is the foremost British satirist of his generation, writing regular parodies for Private Eye.  He is a reviewer for the Mail on Sunday and his most recent books include One on One, The Lost Diaries, The Tony Years and 1966 and All That.


Event 16                SOLD OUT     3.30 pm          Christopher Matthew and Deborah Moggach: It’s Never Too Late to Fall in Love

Deborah Moggach’s much-loved novels have made her wildly famous.  These Foolish Things was made into the blockbuster film, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.  Tulip Fever, set against the background of seventeenth-century Amsterdam in the grip of tulipomania, is in cinemas now with screenplay by Tom Stoppard.  Moggach’s latest novel, Something to Hide, is an intricate novel of loneliness, secrets and late-flowering love. 


Writer and broadcaster, Christopher Matthew picks all the best titles.  His new collection of verse is called A Bus Pass Named Desire.  Matthew is well-known as the author of Now We Are Sixty and The Man Who Dropped The Le Creuset On His Toe.




The Aldeburgh Literary Festival are pleased to present three exhibitions which will be taking place over the Festival period.   

We would like to thank xyz for permission to use their image for the cover, and xyz and abc for the images in the brochure.

At The Aldeburgh Cinema Gallery, 51 High Street, Aldeburgh

From Friday 4th – Sunday 6th March

Open 10 am to 5 pm

Drawn to black and white



Recent works by:


Emma Buckmaster

Caroline Gibbs

Maryanne Nicholls

Cary Norman

Ruth Willis



At The Aldeburgh Gallery, 143 High Street, Aldeburgh, IP15 5AN

From Friday 4th – Monday 7th March

Open 10 am to 5 pm

Exhibition of Paintings


by Anna Bagnall and Jennie Foley


Anna Bagnall and Jennie Foley are both colourists, painting landscapes and still lives. Like many who come to Suffolk, they are influenced by the wonderful light and horizons.


For further details please contact Purdy Rubin 07770.916.860 or




At Thompson’s Gallery, 175 High Street, Aldeburgh

From Friday 4th – Sunday 6th March

Open 10 am to 5 pm

Re-imagining the Laws of England

An Exhibition celebrating the 800th Anniversary of Magna Carta

Curated by the Sidney Nolan Trust and presented by Thompson’s Gallery

Ecclesiastical Law     Jackie Morris

A local court service, whose staff now use online reference, were throwing out for pulp their 27-volume set of Halsbury’s Statutes, the accepted authoritative text for statute law of England and Wales.  The Sidney Nolan Trust rescued them and gave each volume to a different British artist to transform into a work of art exploring themes related to topics covered in that particular volume as well as ideas around legislation and society.  The result is a wonderful and imaginative collection which has been touring nationally and which can be seen at Thompson’s Gallery.


Book Launch at The Aldeburgh Bookshop

12.30 pm – 2.00 pm on Saturday 5th March

Henrietta Inman’s Clean Cakes

Local pastry chef Henrietta Inman will be signing copies of her new book, Clean Cakes, featuring delicious patisserie made with whole, natural and nourishing ingredients and free from gluten, dairy and refined sugar.  These recipes are for everyone and show that cooking healthily doesn’t have to mean compromising on flavour. 

Henrietta gained a distinction in the Professional Patisserie Scholarship at Westminster Kingsway College.  She has worked in a number of award-winning kitchens including the Michelin-starred Lanesborough Hotel.  Her recipes have been featured in the Saturday Telegraph magazine and Sunday Telegraph’s Stella magazine.  She lives in Suffolk and does baking demonstrations, runs cookery classes and sells at farmer’s markets, pop-ups and festivals.


All events are correct at the time of publication and are subject to change without notification.

Tickets are non-returnable and non-refundable.

The Aldeburgh Literary Festival wish to thank John Commander for design; Torben Merriott, Graham Lapwood and Andrew Cotton at Blackwing for technical expertise; Bridget Logan, Penny Moorby, Ellen Nall and Gillian Varley for ushing; Catriona Chase and Tracy Rogers for help with the box office; Robert Wheeler the doorkeeper; Karen Lear for flowers; Jane Austin, Harriet Bailey, Arthur Boscawen, Carol Cameron, Alison Molyneux and Judith Russell at The Aldeburgh Bookshop; and last, but certainly not least, all the customers who loyally support the bookshop throughout the year..





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