The 8th Aldeburgh Literary Festival 2009

Thank you to all who came to The 8th Aldeburgh Literary Festival.  Read more about it in Charles Moore's article in the Daily Telegraph on 11th March: Writers thrive on their trip to the seaside.

Details of the Events are listed below

The 8th Aldeburgh Literary Festival took place on Friday 6th to Sunday 8th March, with an extra event at The Aldeburgh Cinema on Monday 2nd March. 

The Eighth Aldeburgh Literary Festival
Monday 2nd & Friday 6th – Sunday 8th March 2009

Monday 2nd March at The Aldeburgh Cinema

Event 1: Alexander McCall Smith

Alexander McCall Smith has charmed and delighted us with his tales of the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency.  Tea Time for the Traditionally Built will be the 10th book in the series, and he will talk about the journey Mma Ramotswe has taken over the last ten years, illustrated by scenes from the Anthony Minghella TV adaptation.  He will also be talking about his standalone novel, La’s Orchestra Saves the World, set in Suffolk and written as a tribute to the RAF in their 90th anniversary year.

£11.00 in The Aldeburgh Cinema

The following events are in The Jubilee Hall:

Friday 6th March 2009

Event 2: 10.00 – 11.00 am    Irene Noel Baker in conversation with Harry Eyres: ‘How Plato makes us think’

Harry Eyres is a poet and essayist.  His poetry collection Hotel Eliseo was published in 2001.  He writes the weekly Slow Lane column, about the poetics of everyday life, in the Saturday edition of the Financial Times.  He wrote the Beginner’s Guide to Plato’s The Republic in Hodder & Stoughton’s Beginner’s Guides to Great Works series.  He is also the author of several books about wine.  Irene Noel-Baker comes to her reading of Plato as a clinical psychologist and a poet, having first studied Ancient Greek.  Her ‘amusing, accessible and learned’ free-verse translations from The Republic and the Phaedrus aim to bring Plato back to the people and to his poetry.  She has written songs set to music by Anthony Powers and is translating novels from Modern Greek.  Together they will celebrate the joys of Plato's poetical and fanciful writing and try to redeem him from some of the dogma and obfuscation that have beset his lengthy and difficult, but rich and rewarding dialogues. They will be discussing how Plato, in dialogues such as The Republic and the Phaedrus, is concerned not so much with indoctrination as with helping the reader to think--for himself or herself.  He leads us on a journey of enlightenment and clarification--a journey which has as much to do with love as with knowledge.     

£11.00 in The Jubilee Hall

1.00 – 2.00 pm    Aldeburgh Music Lunchtime Concert: The Doric Quartet playing Beethoven and Debussy.  Ring Aldeburgh Music Box Office for details and tickets: 01728 687110.

Event 3: 3.30 – 4.30 pm     Paul Binski: Mysteries of Medieval Art in East Anglia

Paul Binski is Professor of the History of Medieval Art at Cambridge University. His prize-winning book Becket's Crown, Art and Imagination in Gothic England 1170-1300 (2004) reflects his interests inmanuscript, panel and wall painting, sculpture and architecture, patronage, and the relationship of art and ideas.  His first book, The Painted Chamber at Westminster, appeared in 1986.  He collaborated on Age of Chivalry (1987), the catalogue of the memorable exhibition at the Royal Academy which he co-edited with Jonathan Alexander. His book Westminster Abbey and the Plantagenets (1995), was a winner of the Longman's-History Today Prize.  A charismatic speaker, in the last few years he has delivered the British Academy Aspects of Art Lecture, 2001; the Paul Mellon Lectures, and was Slade Professor at Oxford University, 2006-7.

£11.00 in The Jubilee Hall

Event 4: 5.00 – 6.00 pm    Frances Spalding on John and Myfanwy Piper

Frances Spalding is an art historian, critic, and biographer. Her new book, John Piper, Myfanwy Piper: A Biography, to be published by Oxford University Press in September 2009, offers the first comprehensive account of his dynamic and far-reaching career while also telling the story, for the first time, of Myfanwy Piper's life and work.  If John Piper has become a household name, owing to his far-reaching influence in many fields, Myfanwy is famous as ‘Golden Myfanwy’--Betjeman's muse--and, of course, as the librettist who worked with Benjamin Britten on three of his best known operas.  Both Pipers also played important roles in the development of the avant-garde in English art during the 1930s.  Their creative partnership encompasses not only a long marriage, but also a genuine legacy of lasting achievements in the visual arts, literature and music as well as shedding new light on the story of British art in the early twentieth century.

£11.00 in The Jubilee Hall

Event 5: 6.30 – 7.30 pm    Anthea Bell on translation

Anthea Bell is the foremost and most versatile exponent of the unsung art of translation, with over 200 titles to her credit, translated from the French, German and Danish language.  Her award-winning work ranges from Goscinny’s Asterix to W. G. Sebald’s Austerlitz, from Hans Christian Andersen to Freud and Stefan Zweig.  Books with a touch of humour are her favourite to translate, and her achievement in Asterix the Gaul of introducing innovative new puns while keeping the original French spirit intact is extraordinary.  Translation is important in encouraging us to understand other languages and cultures; translated books allow ideas to be shared despite the barriers language can impose.  Anthea Bell believes she picked up the lateral thinking abilities essential in a translator from her father Adrian Bell, Suffolk author and the first Times cryptic crossword setter.

£11.00 in The Jubilee Hall

From 7.30 pm     The Aldeburgh Cinema Gallery

Event 6: Book Launch of Laurence Edwards’ book The Creek Men and opening of ‘Studio Works’, an exhibition of new work straight from the studio. 

Laurence Edwards is a talented figurative sculptor. He was born in Suffolk, and is recognized for his unique methods of bronze casting that build on his knowledge of Renaissance techniques. His sculpture is inspired by the ancient woodland, marshes and Saxon history of the coastal landscape between Aldeburgh and Sutton Hoo, especially Butley Creek where he has his studio and foundry.  In early 2007, he started working on a major series of half-ton bronze giants which were floated on a large raft and towed up the River Alde last summer to stand as timeless sentinels in the reed beds at Snape, raising and lowering with the tide. These were exhibited in the reed beds at Snape Maltings during the 2008 Aldeburgh Music Festival.

We celebrate the launch of his book, The Creek Men, which chronicles their making and their journey up the River Alde to Snape.  It is published by Clock House Arts Association, with an introduction by Christopher Le Brun RA and an essay by Laurence Edwards.

Entry free: the exhibition will be open throughout the weekend

Saturday 7th March

Event 7: 10.00 – 11.00 am    Michael Holroyd: A Strange Eventful History, the Dramatic Lives of Ellen Terry, Henry Irving and their Remarkable Families

Michael Holroyd is one of our most influential modern biographers.  His life of Lytton Strachey in 1967, hailed as a landmark in contemporary biography, was followed by Augustus John and the great four-volume life of Bernard Shaw (1988-1992).  Now in his first biography in fifteen years, Michael Holroyd’s ‘magnificently detailed and atmospheric epic’ tells the story of two theatrical dynasties--those of Ellen Terry and Henry Irving.  

Michael Holroyd will be interviewed by Joan Winterkorn, director of  archival and manuscript valuations at the antiquarian bookselling, Bernard Quaritch Ltd.

£11.00 in The Jubilee Hall

Event 8: 11.30 – 12.30 am    Anatole Kaletsky

Anatole Kaletsky, Principal Economics Commentator of The Times, will be talking about the  credit crunch and and the role of politicians in both creating and solving the problems.

£11.00 in The Jubilee Hall

Event 9: 2.30 – 3.30 pm     Sebastian Faulks

Sebastian Faulks’ novels have established him as one of Britain’s most intelligent, thoughtful and popular novelists writing today.  He is famed for fictionalising aspects of recent history in the much-loved Birdsong, Charlotte Gray, On Green Dolphin Street and his recent and compelling novel Engleby.  It is a tribute to his versatility that he was invited by the trustees of the Fleming Estate to write the new James Bond novel, The Devil May Care (2007).

£11.00 in The Jubilee Hall

Event 10: 4.00 – 5.00 pm        Ferdinand Mount: Cold Cream, My Early Life and Other Mistakes

Ferdinand Mount is a novelist, journalist, former head of Margaret Thatcher's prime ministerial policy unit, and former editor of the Times Literary Supplement.  In his ‘loving, lyrical, life-filled’ memoir, Cold Cream, he gives us an enjoyable portrait of English life in politics and literary life in the latter half of the twentieth century.  Self-deprecation is the tone, whether he is describing lunching with Harold Acton and Siegfried Sassoon or writing speeches for Margaret Thatcher.  Ferdinand Mount will be reading from Cold Cream and answering questions.

£11.00 in The Jubilee Hall

Event 11: 5.30 – 6.30 pm        Margaret Drabble in conversation with Carmen Callil

Dame Margaret Drabble is a novelist, biographer and critic.  As a novelist she has cast her sharp and intellectual eye on life, particularly on women’s lives, in seventeen novels from A Summer Bird Cage (1963) to the thought-provoking The Sea Lady (2007).  As a biographer she has brought the lives of Arnold Bennett and Angus Wilson to readers, and her work as an editor—notably in the authoritative Oxford Companion to English Literature—is influential.  Margaret Drabble will be interviewed by Carmen Callil, publisher, founder of Virago Press, and author of the moving work, Bad Faith.

£11.00 in The Jubilee Hall

Sunday 8th March

Event 12: 10.30 – 11.30 am            Nigel Lawson:
An Appeal to Reason, a Cool Look at Global Warming

Lord Lawson, former Chancellor of the Exchequer, was a member of The House of Lords Select Committee on Economic Affairs, which in 2005 produced a substantial report on the economics of climate change.  In his new book, An Appeal to Reason, he argues that global warming is not the devastating threat to the planet that it is alleged to be and that the remedy currently being proposed is politically unattainable and, even if it could be achieved, would be more damaging than the threat it is intended to avert.

£11.00 in The Jubilee Hall

Event 13: 12.00 noon – 1.00 pm        Edward Lucas and Mary Dejevsky: The New Cold War

The rise to power of Vladimir Putin coincided with a tenfold increase in oil prices enabling Russia to pay off her debts and restoring her power both at home and abroad.  The invasion of Georgia last summer, however, took most western commentators by surprise with many talking of a return to an era of Soviet aggression.  Edward Lucas (author of The New Cold War and Central and Eastern European Editor of The Economist) and Mary Dejevsky (chief editorial writer for The Independent and Russia specialist) will be discussing the new Russia.

£11.00 in The Jubilee Hall

Event 14: 2.30 – 3.30 pm            Justin Marozzi: The Man Who Invented History, Travels with Herodotus, through Turkey, Iraq, Egypt and Greece

Herodotus is widely known as the Father of History, but he was much more than that. He was also the world’s first travel writer, a pioneering geographer, anthropologist, explorer, moralist, investigative reporter, foreign correspondent and enlightened multiculturalist before the word even existed.  He was at once learned professor and tabloid journalist, a man of great wit and wisdom with an unfailing eye for material to inform and amuse, to titillate, horrify and entertain.

The Histories, the world’s first great prose epic, was his compulsively readable masterpiece.  In this illustrated talk, Justin Marozzi takes us back to his world with eclectic travels to Greece, Turkey, Egypt and war-torn Iraq.  The result is a sensational blend of travel and history in the spirit of the man who invented it.

£11.00 in The Jubilee Hall

The Aldeburgh Literary Festival would like to thank Yvonne Skargon for her kind permission to use her wood engraving ‘Horned Poppy at Thorpeness’ and to thank John Commander for his elegant design for this brochure.  We would also like to thank Torben Merriott, our talented technician, without whom we would neither see nor hear.

Enquiries on 01728 452587


Charles Moore described it in his Spectator diary as 'quite the nicest literary festival' (click here to see the full entry).  Charles Allen wrote that he and his wife had 'been to many literary festivals but I can honestly say that Aldeburgh's combination of bracing sea air, intimacy and intellectual sharpness puts it at the very top of our list.'

We are proud to have introduced two Nobel Literary Prize winners to Aldeburgh, Harold Pinter and Doris Lessing, as well as Michael Frayn, Alan Bennett, A. S. Byatt, Julian Barnes, Will Self, Richard Dawkins and Matt Ridley and we have heard talks on Erasmus Darwin, the Paston letters, Samuel Pepys, Wahhabism, and Vichy France, amongst many other subjects.

Thank you to all the audience who came to The Seventh Aldeburgh Literary Festival 2008 (29th February to 2nd March).  We hope you enjoyed it.  Click here to see some pictures of this year's festival.

A list of speakers at our previous festivals appears below:

The Seventh Aldeburgh Literary Festival 2008

Garth Fowden, Kate Drayton on the Brontes, Irene Noel-Baker on Plato, Charles Allen on Kipling, Will Self, Rosemary Hill on Pugin, Posy Simmonds, General Sir Michael Rose, Adam Phillips and Craig Brown, A. S. Byatt and Carmen Callil, John Preston and Libby Purves, Julian Barnes, James Buchan on Adam Smith, and John Guy and Julia Fox.

The Sixth Aldeburgh Literary Weekend 2007

Adam Crick on Henry Green, Kate Drayton on Jane Austen, Literary Lunch with Denis and Edna Healey, Jon Canter and John Walsh, Carmen Callil, Matt Ridley on Francis Crick, William Boyd, Xandra Bingley, Sir Peter Shaffer interviewed by Mark Lawson, Frank Gardner in conversation with John McCarthy, Helen Castor on The Paston Family, David Profumo and Nicholas Mosley interviewed by Craig Brown, and Libby Purves.

The Fifth Aldeburgh Literary Weekend 2006

Adam Crick on W. G. Sebald, Colin Sydenham on Horace, Nicci French, John Guy on Mary Queen of Scots, Jane Gardam, Hilary Spurling on Matisse, Claire Tomalin on Pepys, Michael Frayn in conversation with Anthony Gottlieb, Charles Moore and Barnaby Rogerson on Jihad and Crusade, Jenny Uglow on The Lunar Men, Ian McEwan, A Tribute to Willie Donaldson.

The Fourth Aldeburgh Literary Weekend 2005

Charles Allen, Beryl Bainbridge, Sally Beauman, Tony Benn, Craig Brown, Charles Clover, Adam Crick, Lady Antonia Fraser, Sue Gee, Deborah Moggach, Sam Newton, Harold Pinter, Barnaby Rogerson, Francis Wheen.

The Third Aldeburgh Literary Weekend 2004

Craig Brown, Dr. John Casey, Selina Hastings, Katie Hickman, Richard Holmes, Elizabeth Jane Howard, Pascal Khoo Thwe, David Lodge, Libby Purves, Brough Scott, Miranda Seymour, Hugh Thomas, Rose Tremain, Joanna Trollope, A.N. Wilson.

The Second Aldeburgh Literary Weekend 2003

Craig Brown, Humphrey Carpenter, Helen Cross, Richard Dawkins, William Fiennes, Aminatta Forna, Simon Hoggart, Anthony Horowitz, Doris Lessing, Hugh Massingberd, Christopher Matthew, Alexander McCall Smith, Libby Purves, Carol Ray, Jane Ridley, Matt Ridley, Salley Vickers.

The First Aldeburgh Literary Festival 2002

Ronald Blythe, Stanley Wells, John Humphrys, Paul Heiney, P. D. James, Craig Brown, Matt Ridley, Anthony Gottlieb, Esther Freud, Lavinia Greenlaw, Julie Myerson, Alan Bennett, Miranda Seymour, Humphrey Burton, Libby Purves, Clare Francis.




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