First preview: Top authors and journalists lead programme at Ham&High Literary Festival 2014

08:50 09 June 2014

Best-selling author Penny Vincenzi

Best-selling author Penny Vincenzi


The final touches are being made to this year’s Hampstead & Highgate Literary Festival programme celebrating writers and literature of all kinds, right on Hampstead’s doorstep.

Economics commentator Alex BrummerEconomics commentator Alex Brummer

More than 80 authors, journalists and commentators will gather for the annual lit fest at the London Jewish Cultural Centre’s Ivy House in Golders Green, held once again in partnership with the Ham&High.

This year the festival is from Sunday, September 14 to Tuesday, September 16 and confirmed writers ­appearing include Orange Prize-winner Linda Grant, historian and broadcaster Saul David, best-selling author Penny Vincenzi, historical writer Charles Spencer, the brother of Princess Diana, and Ben Judah, who last year published a new analysis of the Putin-era in Russia.

Revered cookery writer Claudia ­Roden will also take to the rostrum, while journalists ­including economics commentator Alex Brummer, American parliamentary sketchwriter and ­author Ann Treneman, and acerbic columnist Julie Burchill will talk about their ­careers and writing.

There will be more than 70 events during a packed three days in addition to three creative writing workshops for aspiring authors and some special events for young readers.


This year Waterstones Hampstead has come on board and will be running a bookshop at Ivy House, where visitors can browse and purchase books for authors to sign after each event. The lit fest season begins two weeks earlier with a special event for families on Tuesday, September 2.

As the sun sets, Jeanne Willis, local author of Daft Bat, and community education officer for Hampstead Heath, Grace Rawnsley, will lead a Bat Walk from Ivy House into Golders Hill Park.

Intrepid walkers will hear stories about bats and see them fly in their natural habitat.

Carolyn Black, festival director at the LJCC, said: ‘‘Each year, since we launched the festival in 2009, we have introduced new elements to the mix to interest and excite new audiences. This year, in addition to a fantastic line-up of speaker events in a variety of literary genres, we are welcoming LBA literary agents on the Monday of the festival to run two ‘speed pitching’ sessions for budding authors.

Finding the Plot author Ann Treneman. Picture: Chuck HauptFinding the Plot author Ann Treneman. Picture: Chuck Haupt

“Each writer will be given just five minutes to pitch their idea and the first few pages of their book to the professionals to receive some invaluable advice.

“We believe that writers need encouragement and this is a wonderful opportunity for them to hear from the experts.

“We are also introducing Book Bite sessions to enable visitors to hear an excerpt of a book they may not know or have heard of before being read aloud, as a taster for an event later in the day.”

Events will be uploaded to the literary festival website this month, ready for online booking to begin on July 1.

Cookery writer Claudia RodenCookery writer Claudia Roden

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