Literary Festival 2022

 

Chiddingstone Castle is delighted to announce the programme for this year’s Literary Festival. Back with live, in-person events and returning to its regular slot over the first May Bank Holiday weekend Saturday 30th April – Tuesday 3rd May 2022.

 

 

Literary Festival 2022 Programme

Once again, our festival bookshop in the Castle’s Great Hall will be run by Fleur’s team from the award-winning Sevenoaks Bookshop. Each event will be followed by a signing session. Copies of the authors’ books will be available to buy throughout the festival. Check out the special Literary Festivals page on their website.

Saturday 30th April

Art Classes Kent

Saturday 30th April 6:30-8:30

Festival Drinks Party

Stonewall Park, Chiddingstone Hoath

Join us at our opening Drinks Party as we celebrate this year’s Literary Festival in the stunning setting of Stonewall Park, Chiddingstone Hoath TN8 7DG, by kind invitation of Rupert and Catherine Fleming. You will have the opportunity to meet some of our authors over a glass of wine from award-winning Yotes Court, enjoy delicious canapés and a chance to stroll through the beautiful gardens when the bluebells and rhododendrons are at their best.

£22.00 Sponsored by Yotes Court Vineyard

Sunday 1st May

Art Classes Kent

Sunday 1st May 10:30-11:30

Michael Morpurgo and Victoria Hislop

with Nicolette Jones

When Fishes Flew & Maria’s Island

Join literary legends Michael Morpurgo and Victoria Hislop in this exclusive event for all the family, as they talk to Nicolette Jones about their latest stories for children, both set on Greek islands during challenging times. This is a rare opportunity to hear two of our greatest storytellers in person, sharing their inspiration, their love of Greece and what makes them write about war, loss, stigma and heroism in a way that appeals to children and adults alike. Michael Morpurgo is the award-winning author of War Horse and over one hundred books for children. Victoria Hislop is the bestselling writer of numerous books for adults including The Island and most recently, One August Night. Maria’s Island is her first children’s book. Nicolette Jones is the Sunday Times children’s books reviewer and author of The American Art Tapes.

Baillie Gifford Marquee £9.00 adult or child. Suitable for ages 8+    Sponsored by Warners Solicitors

Art Classes Kent

Sunday 1st May 10:30-11:30

Rob Biddulph

Draw with Rob: Amazing Animals

Join award-winning author and illustrator Rob Biddulph who brings to Chiddingstone Castle a fun-packed hour for all the family. Rob helped everyone get through lockdown with his brilliant #DrawwithRob videos and now you too can join in live with one of his famous drawalongs! Learn about Rob’s journey from budding artist to award-winning picture book creator, Guinness World Record holder and now middle grade author and you can also hear about his latest book Draw with Rob: Amazing Animals. Don’t forget to bring your pencils!

Castle Marquee £9.00 adult or child. Suitable for ages 5+

Art Classes Kent

Sunday 1st May 12:00-1:00

Nina Stibbe with Cathy Rentzenbrink

One Day I Shall Astonish the World

Join Nina Stibbe, one of our most beloved comic writers, hailed as ‘the true heir to Sue Townsend’ and ‘one of the all-time greats’, as she talks to her good friend and our festival favourite, Cathy Rentzenbrink. April sees the publication of her first novel in two years; a story about the ebb and flow of female friendship over half a lifetime, exploring the mistakes, rivalries and love we all experience in life. Nina is the prize-winning author of Reasons to be Cheerful, the only novel to win both the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize and the Comedy Women in Print Award. Cathy is the author of several books including Write it All Down and her first novel Everyone Is Still Alive.

Baillie Gifford Marquee    £17.00 

Art Classes Kent

Sunday 1st May 12:00-1:00

Miranda Seymour with Julia Wheeler

With readings by Rachel Sellers

I Used to Live Here Once: The Haunted Life of Jean Rhys

Renowned biographer Miranda Seymour talks to Julia Wheeler about her intimate, surprising and profoundly moving biography of Jean Rhys, an obsessive and troubled genius, and acclaimed author of Wide Sargasso Sea. Many details of Rhys’s life emerge from her memoir, Smile Please but no biographer – until now – has researched the crucial seventeen years that Rhys spent living on the remote island of Dominica, which haunted Rhys’s mind and work for the rest of her life. This biography reveals a proud and fiercely independent artist, who experienced tragedy and extreme poverty, alcohol and drug dependency, romantic and sexual turmoil – and yet was never a victim. Miranda Seymour is a novelist, biographer and critic. Julia Wheeler is a writer, journalist and regular festival interviewer.

Castle Marquee   £17.00  Sponsored by Slightly Foxed

Art Classes Kent

Sunday 1st May 2:00-3:00

Fi Glover and Jane Garvey

Did I Say That Out Loud: Notes on the Chuff of Life

In this time of constant uncertainty, join BBC radio legends Fi Glover and Jane Garvey to hear the wisdom of two women who haven’t got a clue what’s going on either. Their hilarious and perceptive podcast Fortunately…with Fi and Jane has grown from a cult following to become one of the nation’s most loved and celebrated shows. In their book they riff together exchanging random thoughts, occasional pleasantries, fatuous double-entendres, real-life challenges, and often sudden bursts of something approaching wisdom. Fi and Jane join writer and editor Rowan Pelling to share their insights into some essential questions and skills for the 21st century. From pet deaths to the importance of hair dye, why you should always decline the offer of limoncello and is Christmas a hereditary disease passed down the maternal line? Find out from two of the wittiest broadcasters at work today.

Baillie Gifford Marquee   £17.00  Sponsored by Berry & Lamberts

Art Classes Kent

Sunday 1st May 2:00-3:00

Philip Mansel

King of the World: The Life of Louis XIV

Philip Mansel is one of Britain’s leading historians of France and the Middle East. His recent book King of the World is the first full biography in English of the great Sun King of France for twenty years, and winner of the Franco-British Society Book Prize. Drawing on all the latest research, Philip will paint a convincing and compelling portrait of this hypnotic, flawed man who, three hundred years after his death, still epitomises the idea of le grand monarque. Louis XIV was the great friend and protector of the Stuarts. Denys Bower was fascinated by the Stuarts and the Jacobite cause, and his passion for the subject resulted in a fascinating, varied collection consisting of several high-quality portraits, many prints and original royal documents, as well as numerous interesting relics and medals which are on display inside the Castle.

Castle Marquee   £17.00  Sponsored by Buzzacott 

Art Classes Kent

Sunday 1st May 3:30-4:30

James Fox with Julia Wheeler

The World According to Colour: A Cultural History

Broadcaster and art historian Dr James Fox looks at our relationship with colours and uncovers the meanings we attach to them and the ways they have shaped our culture and imagination. He takes seven primary colours and finds a root idea behind each one that’s common to all societies, allowing us to see milestones in the history of art in a new way: from Bronze Age gold-work to Turner, Titian and Yves Klein. Colour, he argues, also tells the history of the world from the black nothing that preceded existence to the colour that embodies the environmental crisis of today. James Fox is an art historian at Cambridge University and a BAFTA nominated broadcaster best known for his BBC television documentaries The Art of Japanese Life and Age of the Image. Julia Wheeler is a writer and journalist and regular festival chair.

Baillie Gifford Marquee  £17.00 

Art Classes Kent

Sunday 1st May 3:30-4:30

Toby Wilkinson

Tutankhamun’s Trumpet: The Story of Ancient Egypt in 100 Objects

In his new book, published to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the moment that Howard Carter and Lord Carnavon broke open Tutankhamun’s tomb, acclaimed Egyptologist Toby Wilkinson takes a unique approach by examining the objects buried with the king as the source material for a wide-ranging, detailed portrait of ancient Egypt – its geography, history, culture and legacy. In this illustrated talk Toby Wilkinson delivers surprising insights, unusual details, vivid descriptions and, above all, remarkable objects, for all those fascinated by the Egypt of the pharaohs. Make sure you leave time to visit the Castle’s wonderful collection of Egyptian artefacts including the mummy on the landing.

Castle Marquee   £17.00

Art Classes Kent

Sunday 1st May 5:00-6:00

Keith Brymer Jones with Nicolette Jones

Boy in a China Shop: Life, Clay and Everything

Keith Brymer Jones is the celebrated judge of Channel 4’s The Great Pottery Throw Down, but his new book is about so much more than pottery. In his memoir he reveals how he went from a North London boyhood to global success; training as a ballet dancer, leading an almost famous rock band and how dyslexia impacted his early years. Keith will share tales of his life in front of and behind the throwing wheel with writer and Sunday Times reviewer Nicolette Jones, telling stories inspired by an object (usually a pot!) that has been significant in his life. ‘During downtime on the pottery throwdown Keith made my hair curl with some of his tales - he’s a great raconteur and recounts his story in this book as he does in real life - with joy, charm & mischief.’ Sara Cox, DJ, TV presenter and author.

Baillie Gifford Marquee   £17.00  Sponsored by Sevenoaks Bookshop

Art Classes Kent

Sunday 1st May 5:00-6:00

Cathy Renzenbrink with Julia Wheeler

Write It All Down: How to Put Your Life on the Page

Why do we want to write and what stops us? In her latest book, bestselling author Cathy Rentzenbrink shows you how to tackle putting your life on paper, by helping you discover the pleasure and solace found in writing, the satisfaction of wrestling a story onto a page and seeing the events of your life transformed by the experience of writing the self. Perfect for beginners, habitual diarists, seasoned writers and everyone in between, Cathy will share the highs and lows, joys and doubts, benefits and fears all writers feel, with journalist, writer and former BBC correspondent Julia Wheeler. ‘A gentle, wise and witty book that will take you by the hand and guide your words onto the page - I truly wish I’d read it before I began to write.’ Raynor Winn, author of The Salt Path.

Castle Marquee   £17.00

Monday 2nd May

Art Classes Kent

Monday 2nd May 10:30-11:30

Robert Hardman with Rowan Pelling

Queen of Our Times: The Life of Elizabeth II

 Robert Hardman’s new biography of Her Majesty, based on a wealth of exclusive new material, brings us the full story of one of our greatest and best-loved monarchs as she celebrates her Platinum Jubilee. In conversation with journalist Rowan Pelling, Robert will share new insights from family, friends, staff and world leaders plus unseen photographs and papers, including diaries and letters from the Royal Archives. This is the life story of the most famous woman in the world, revealing hidden wartime secrets; the true inside story of historic royal reforms; untold highs and lows of family life; striking new insights into the Queen’s relations with her ministers and fellow world leaders and her strategy when confronted with family and constitutional crises from the early years right up to the dramas of the present day.

Baillie Gifford Marquee   £17.00  Sponsored by Ibbett Mosely

Art Classes Kent

Monday 2nd May 10:30-11:30

Simon Parker with Julia Wheeler

Riding Out: A Journey of Love, Loss and New Beginnings

 Simon Parker tells Julia Wheeler the remarkable, inspirational true story of how he battled grief and anxiety, one pedal stroke at a time, on a 3,500-mile adventure cycling around Britain in March 2020, as we first entered lockdown. His life had fallen apart; his travel journalism career vanished overnight, and his close friend had died. With an anxiety disorder starting to rear its head, he turned to the only therapies he knew and trusted: travel and exercise. From Shetland to the Scillies, Dover to Durness, Simon met hundreds of resilient Britons, who were all riding out the storm just like he was. His is a story of optimism and hope, and a ground-level portrait of Britain as it transforms from a country in crisis to a nation on the mend. “A truly inspiring journey that celebrates the healing power of adventure. A must-read” Levison Wood. Julia Wheeler is a writer and regular festival chair.

Castle Marquee   £17.00

Art Classes Kent

Monday 2nd May 12:00-1:00

Katherine Rundell

with readings by Geoffrey Streatfeild

Super-infinite: The Transformations of John Donne

 In her new biography, novelist and academic Katherine Rundell reveals the myriad lives of John Donne, the poet of love, sex, and death. Often seen as the greatest love poet in the English language, Donne was also at various times a scholar of law, a sea adventurer, a priest, and an MP. He converted from Catholicism to Protestantism, was imprisoned for marrying a 16-year-old without her father’s consent and struggled to feed a family of ten children. Katherine Rundell is a Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford and is best known as the award-winning author of children’s novels. Actor Geoffrey Streatfeild will read from John Donne’s poems. ‘Crackling with gusto and sympathetic intelligence, Super-infinite places John Donne fairly and squarely in his own times, while making those times feel contiguous with our own.’ Andrew Motion

Baillie Gifford Marquee   £17.00

Art Classes Kent

Monday 2nd May 12:00-1:00

Marian Boswall and Lulah Ellender

with Sarah Salway

Sustainable Garden and Grounding: Finding a Home in a Garden

 Those who work with the earth know there’s a miraculous quality to gardening, it isn’t just a hobby, it’s a vital space for cultivating our mind, health, and wellbeing. Writer Lulah Ellender and landscape designer Marian Boswall both write about the way the land can heal and connect us on all levels and show how a garden can become a safe haven in uncertain times. After losing her mother, Lulah turned to her garden to find solace, finding inspiration from visits to Charleston, Great Dixter and Sissinghurst. Marian writes about wellness and sustainable design and in her new book has created a stylish, inspirational and practical guidebook for the eco-conscious gardener. In conversation with poet and writer Sarah Salway, they will look at what gardens really mean to us.

Castle Marquee   £17.00  Sponsored by James Millard Estate Agents

Art Classes Kent

Monday 2nd May 2:00-3:00

Tom Heap

39 Ways to Save the Planet

 We got ourselves into this. Here’s how we can get ourselves out. There’s no one better placed to offer real-world solutions to climate change than Tom Heap, the creator and presenter of BBC Radio 4’s flagship climate change podcast 39 Ways, and host of the environment series Costing the Earth. He also is a regular presenter on BBC One’s Countryfile. From tiny rice seeds and wind turbine robots, to grazing elk and floating solar farms; he describes the energy and optimism of those tackling the fundamental problem of our age. Looking at energy, nature, farming, society, transport, waste and industry, he showcases our achievements in building a better future, one solution at a time, and reveals the inspiring people behind them. ‘This book…provides the reader with optimism for our future.’ Arnold Schwarzenegger

Castle Marquee  £17.00

Art Classes Kent

Monday 2nd May 2:00-3:00

Justine Picardie

Miss Dior: A Story of Courage and Couture

Justine Picardie’s acclaimed biography Miss Dior is a story of freedom and fascism, beauty and betrayal, roses and repression, and how the polished surface of fashion conceals hidden depths. In an illustrated talk, Justine paints a portrait of the enigmatic woman behind the designer Christian Dior: his beloved younger sister Catherine, who inspired his most famous perfume and shaped his vision of femininity. Living in Occupied Paris, where Christian honed his couture skills, Catherine dedicated herself to the French Resistance, until she was captured by the Gestapo and deported to the notorious Ravensbrück concentration camp. With unparalleled access to the Dior family homes and archives, Justine shines a new light on Christian Dior’s legendary work, resulting in an exquisite and unforgettably moving book.

Baillie Gifford Marquee  £17.00  Sponsored by Berne Wine from Provence

Art Classes Kent

Monday 2nd May 3:30-4:30

Patrick Gale with Cathy Rentzenbrink

Mother's Boy

 From the bestselling author of A Place Called Winter comes Mother’s Boy, a superb historical novel of Cornwall, class, desire and two world wars. The story of Charles, a man who is among, yet apart from his fellows, in thrall to, yet at a distance from his own mother; a man being shaped for a long, remarkable and revered life spent hiding in plain sight. But it is equally the story of the dauntless mother who will continue to shield him long after the dangers of war are past. Enjoy this opportunity to spend time with one of Britain’s best-loved novelists as Patrick talks to his friend and fellow writer Cathy Rentzenbrink about this compelling new book. ‘He remains one of our very best storytellers.’ Matt Haig

Castle Marquee  £17.00

Art Classes Kent

Monday 2nd May 3:30-4:30

Adam Nicolson

The Sea is Not Made of Water: Life Between the Tides

 What happens to animals and plants on the seashore between the tides? In his fascinating new book acclaimed nature writer Adam Nicolson looks at one of the most revelatory habitats on earth – the intertidal. How do crabs understand the tides? How can the death of one winkle guarantee the lives of its companions? What does a prawn know? Adam explores the natural wonders of the intertidal and our long human relationship with it. The physics of the seas, the biology of anemone and limpet, the long history of the earth, and the stories we tell of those who have lived here: all interconnect in this zone where the philosopher, scientist and poet can meet and find meaning. ‘A remarkable and powerful book, the rarest of things, both a call-to-arms and a call-to-pause and truly look. Nicolson is unique as a writer…I loved it.’ Edmund de Waal

Baillie Gifford Marquee   £17.00 

Art Classes Kent

Monday 2nd May 5:00-6:00

Iain Dale and Tom Tugendhat MP with Andy Bell

Political Leaders: Past, Present and Future

‘Many of my predecessors were giants, some had feet of clay, all possessed human foibles.’ Boris Johnson. What better time to take a look at the inside track of our political leaders in the US and Britain with the people who know? Join radio presenter and leading political commentator Iain Dale in conversation with our local MP Tom Tugendhat, hosted by Andy Bell, political editor of ITN’s Five News. Iain Dale’s book The Prime Ministers won the 2020 Parliamentary Book Awards for Best Political Book by a Non-Parliamentarian. In this, and his book The Presidents he analyses our leaders’ successes, failures and influence, how they lose office and what they do afterwards. Tom Tugendhat MP was elected to Parliament in 2015 and is currently Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee.

Baillie Gifford Marquee   £17.00  Sponsored by Knocker & Foskett

Grateful thanks to our Friends of the Festival and our Sponsors

Many thanks to Stephen & Annabel Lark, Melissa Crawshay-Williams, A.J.P Streatfeild and all our anonymous friends of the festival supporters.

Baillie Gifford is an independent investment partnership founded in Scotland in 1908. The firm focuses on long-term growth investing, in some of the world’s most exciting companies. Baillie Gifford supports a variety of initiatives in the arts, academia and local communities close to its global offices. In the literary world, Baillie Gifford sponsors a number of UK literary festivals and is the lead sponsor of the UK’s leading non-fiction prize, The Baillie Gifford Prize for Non-Fiction