The 7th Aldeburgh Literary Festival 2008

Full details of the 2008 programme below. 

The Seventh Aldeburgh Literary Festival
29th February - 2nd March 2008

Presented by The Aldeburgh Bookshop 


Writers appearing include:
Charles Allen : Julian Barnes : Craig Brown : James Buchan : A.S. Byatt
Carmen Callil : Kate Drayton : Garth Fowden : Julia Fox : John Guy : Rosemary Hill : Irene Noel-Baker : Eamonn McCabe : Adam Phillips : John Preston : Libby Purves : General Sir Michael Rose : Will Self : Posy Simmonds

Throughout the weekend

Eamonn McCabe, the renowned and award-winning photographer, will be showing an exhibition of his pictures.  Now freelance he is the former Guardian Picture Editor, was four times Sports Photographer of the Year, then News Photographer of the Year and six times Picture Editor of the Year.  He is currently publishing a series on Writers’ Rooms, illustrating the working environments of novelists, biographers and poets, which will be collected in book form in July 2008.

Entry free, at The Aldeburgh Cinema Gallery, opening times to be announced.

Friday 29th February

10.00 am to 11.00 am    Garth Fowden : ‘The Koran’s one God and his prophet Jesus’

Garth Fowden is a historian who lives on the Aegean island of Euboea.  His latest book, Qusayr Amra, explores how a bunch of dancing girls dressed in not much more than bangles and body chains managed to get painted on the walls of an early Muslim bath house in the Jordanian desert.  Pursuing the related (but bigger) question of how Persian and Greek culture helped mould early Islam, Fowden will look at a few basic concepts (God, prophecy) which help us relate the Muslim faith to its present-day context as well.  He will especially emphasize the rationality of Islam, as revealed in the Koran’s inimitable, mysterious, poetic prose.

£8.00 in the James Cable Room at The White Lion Hotel.  Coffee will be available.

11.30 am to 12.30 am    Kate Drayton on the Brontes and childhood: ‘Our fiery Catherine was no better than a wailing child’ (Wuthering Heights).

Kate Drayton is a lecturer at the University of East Anglia.  Her research focuses on late 18th and early 19th century literature and medicine.  This talk will consider the representation of childhood in the novels of the Brontes, child psychology in the Victorian period and Mrs Gaskell’s influential biography of her ‘dear friend’ Charlotte Bronte, which has shaped the way we think about the childhoods of Charlotte and her sisters.

£8.00 in the James Cable Room at the White Lion Hotel.  Coffee will be available.

2.30 pm to 3.30 pm    Irene Noel-Baker : Unravelling Plato

Irene Noel-Baker’s ‘amusing, accessible and learned’ new free verse translations fromThe Republic and The Phaedrus aim to bring Plato back to the people and to his poetry.  ‘It is not until you can read Plato as a poet that you are able to see that rationality is only a means to an end ... Translations which ignore his poetry leave us with only half of the argument’.  Irene comes to her reading of Plato as a clinical psychologist and a poet, having studied first ancient Greek and English Literature then Psychology at university. 

£8.00 in the James Cable Room at The White Lion Hotel.  Afternoon tea will be available.

5.00 pm to 6.00 pm        Charles Allen : Kipling Sahib: India and the Making of Rudyard Kipling    SOLD OUT

This long overdue reassessment of Rudyard Kipling and his time in India could not have been written by a more appropriate biographer.  Author of Plain Tales from the Raj and Soldier Sahibs, Charles Allen’s great grandfather gave Rudyard his first job, as assistant editor on Lahore’s Civil and Military Gazette.  ‘With delicious detail and an unfailing command of his material’ (wrote Ferdinand Mount in The Spectator), Allen examines the brief but intense years in which Kipling wrote his best work culminating in the remarkable novel Kim.  He contrasts the youthful, exuberant and exhilarating writer who so electrified Victorian society with the later image of the public poet of patriotic verse. 

£11.00 in The Jubilee Hall, Aldeburgh

6.30 pm to 7.30 pm    Will Self  SOLD OUT

Novelist and journalist Will Self is one of the most innovative and individual authors writing today, a brilliant writer of darkly comic fiction.  Self was hailed as one of Granta’s Best British Novelists in 1993.  He has now published six novels, short stories, journalism and essays, as well as appearances on TV, most memorably in Grumpy Old Men.  Self’s most recent novel, The Book of Dave, has been his most successful yet.  ‘Funny, frightening, moving, its premise is that the unhinged and misogynistic rantings of a London cabbie are unearthed in a future capital (by then just a series of islands)’ and are used as a sacred text (Daily Telegraph).  Self lived in Suffolk a few years ago, and will read from some of his work connected with the area, see for example his new collection, Psychogeography, written in collaboration with the illustrator Ralph Steadman).

£11.00 in The Jubilee Hall, Aldeburgh
Saturday 1st March

10.00 am - 11.00 am    Rosemary Hill on Pugin, God’s Architect: Pugin and the Building of Romantic Britain  SOLD OUT

Pugin was one of Britain’s great architects and his short career one of the most dramatic in architectural history.  Born in 1812, at fifteen Pugin was working for King George IV at Windsor Castle.  By the time he was twenty-one he had been shipwrecked, bankrupted and widowed.  Nineteen years later he died, insane and disillusioned, having changed the face and the mind of British architecture.  God’s Architect is the first full modern biography of this extraordinary figure and Rosemary Hill’s remarkable work has received huge acclaim.  ‘A superb study ... It is scholarly, but intimate, warm and readable too, immediately becoming the standard work’ (Stephen Bayley, The Observer).

£11.00 in The Jubilee Hall, Aldeburgh

11.30 am - 12.30 pm    Posy Simmonds   SOLD OUT

Author, journalist and cartoonist, Posy Simmonds is one of the finest chroniclers of contemporary manners and character.  Her witty depictions of the long running battle between Wintergreene’s (est. 1952) independent bookshop and the local branch of the vast chain Boulder Books has been cruelly documented through her Guardian columns, amongst many other literary targets gathered in her collection Literary Life.   Simmonds has taken the graphic novel to new satirical and emotional heights with her subtle, brilliantly-observed cartoonist’s eye in Gemma Bovery and the newly published Tamara Drewe.

£11.00 in The Jubilee Hall, Aldeburgh

2.30 pm - 3.30 pm        General Sir Michael Rose       SOLD OUT

General Sir Michael Rose commanded the 22 SAS Regiment during the Iranian Embassy Siege and the Falklands War and subsequently the United Nations Protection Forces in Bosnia.  He has served in Northern Ireland, Germany, Aden, Malaysia and the Gulf States and writes on peace keeping and leadership.  His latest book Washington’s War caused a stir when published last year because he drew a direct parallel between the American War of Independence and the Iraq War.  Between 1775 and 1781 the most powerful army in the world was defeated by a collection of ‘vagrants, deserters and thieves’ because the British failed to recognise the true nature of an insurgency campaign.  General Sir Michael Rose will be talking about whether the same mistake is being made again in Iraq and the implications for warfare in the new Millennium.

£11.00 in The Jubilee Hall, Aldeburgh

4.00 pm - 5.00 pm        Adam Phillips and Craig Brown    SOLD OUT

Adam Phillips is ‘the most graceful, imaginative and humane English exponent of the psychoanalytic essay’ (Kevin Jackson, The Independent).  He is a psychoanalyst and author of twelve books including On Flirtation, Going Sane, Tickling and Being Bored and most recently Side Effects.  Phillips is also general editor of The Penguin Freud Reader. Craig Brown will be interviewing him about his work. 

£11.00 in The Jubilee Hall, Aldeburgh

5.30 pm - 6.30 pm        A. S. Byatt in conversation with Carmen Callil   SOLD OUT

A. S. Byatt is internationally known for her novels and short stories and one of Britain’s most distinguished and intellectual writers.  Her novel Possession won the Booker Prize.    She was made a Dame of the British Empire in 1999.  Dame Antonia will be interviewed by Carmen Callil, founder of Virago, and later Managing Director of Chatto and Windus where she was A. S. Byatt’s publisher for over ten years.

£11.00 in The Jubilee Hall, Aldeburgh

Sunday 2nd March

10.00 am - 11.00 am    John Preston on The Dig with Libby Purves

Journalist, author and TV critic for the Sunday Telegraph, John Preston discovered by chance that his aunt had first uncovered the gold at the Anglo Saxon ship burial at Sutton Hoo, and this family connection led him to the intriguing story depicted in the The Dig.  Preston has written a remarkable, ‘immaculate’ novel, beautifully blending the story of the Suffolk excavation with the looming war of 1939.  Preston will be interviewed by Libby Purves, who has a strong affection and connection with this local Suffolk story.

£11.00 in The Jubilee Hall, Aldeburgh

11.30 am - 12.30 pm    Julian Barnes in conversation with Liz Calder  SOLD OUT

Julian Barnes’ novels have established him as one of the most intelligent, imaginative and thoughtful novelists writing today.  He will be talking about his forthcoming book, a work of non-fiction, called Nothing to be Frightened Of, part family memoir, exchange with his philosopher brother, meditation on death and its fears, argument with and about God, celebration of art, and homage to the French writer Jules Renard.  Julian Barnes will discuss his work with friend, editor, publisher and founder of Bloomsbury Books, Liz Calder.

£11.00 in The Jubilee Hall, Aldeburgh

2.30 pm - 3.30 pm        James Buchan on Adam Smith and the Pursuit of Perfect Liberty

James Buchan’s previous work, Capital of the Mind: How Edinburgh Changed the World, was a study of the circle of Smith and Hume in eighteenth-century Edinburgh.  Now in this recent biography,  Buchan has concentrated on Adam Smith himself, one of the most influential writers in recent history and one of the great thinkers of the Enlightenment.  Buchan is an award-winning novelist and historian, his work on the philosophy of money, Frozen Desire, won The Duff Cooper Award.

£11.00 in The Jubilee Hall, Aldeburgh

4.00 pm - 5.00 pm        Two Tudor Historians: Julia Fox and John Guy

Historian and former teacher Julia Fox has written a fascinating and vivid account of the ‘infamous’ and much maligned figure of Jane Boleyn, Lady Rochford, sister-in-law to Anne.  In a life of extraordinary drama, Jane Boleyn was catapulted from relative obscurity to the inner circle of King Henry VIII, but ultimately fell from grace in the treacherous Tudor court.  Julia Fox will discuss her work with her husband John Guy, also a historian of this period.  John Guy is the author of the hugely acclaimed life of Mary Queen of Scots--about which he spoke so engagingly at our 2006 Literary Festival--and a forthcoming double biography of Margaret Roper and her father Thomas More.
£11.00 in The Jubilee Hall, Aldeburgh


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