It’s fitting that a city as steeped in academic and literary history as Oxford should be home to what many consider to be the country’s leading literature festival. Percy Bysshe Shelley, W.H Auden, T.S Eliot, John Betjeman and Philip Larkin are just a few of the famous poets who found inspiration among Oxford’s dreaming spires. Oxonian authors range from the highbrow like Iris Murdoch, Margaret Forster and Graham Greene to the more commercial such as Bridget Jones creator Helen Fielding. Also, the popular chick-lit writer Louise Bagshawe and the spy master John le Carre. Of course Oxford is always a fascinating place to visit, but the events, authors and atmosphere of the Oxford Literary Festival make it a must-visit for all keen readers.
Oxford’s academic atmosphere is greatly enhanced by the Oxford Literary Festival.
About the Festival
The exact dates of the Oxford Literary Festival change from year to year, but this much anticipated week-long event in Oxford’s cultural calendar always starts in either late March or early April, just as the city is starting to come to life with spring colours and the weather is usually warming up. The Georgian splendour of Worcester College is the festival’s current home and provides a magnificent setting for the programme, with its lovely gardens and lake adding to the overall experience. Those planning on visiting are strongly advised to book through the brochure or website as all of its in-demand events tend to sell out well in advance.
Every year the Oxford Literary Festival attracts a huge range of authors from the worlds of fiction, non-fiction, history, art, science, health, biography and more. The biggest names sell out first, but even if you get tickets to hear you favourite writer speak, it’s worth making time for some of the more niche talks too. The festival is all about discovering new passions within the world of books as well as deepening understanding and enjoyment of the writers we already admire. Recent writers at the festival include Sir Ian McKellan, Joan Bakewell, Louis de Bernieres and Julian Clary. The speaking schedule also includes special events where authors are introduced or interviewed by experts. Including the acclaimed author Mary Beard being interviewed by the academic Richard Ovenden.
The Oxford Literary Festival for Children
Whether your child has an insatiable appetite for reading, or is a more reluctant reader who needs a bit of help discovering the wonderful world of books, the Oxford Literary Festival has something to spark young imaginations and instil a love of reading and writing. Famous names from the world of children’s writing to recently speak at the festival include Tracey Beaker and Hetty Feather creator Jacqueline Wilson, Charlie and Lola author Lauren Child and CBeebies favourite Cerrie Burnell who discussed her book, Harper and the Scarlet Umbrella. There are also opportunities to become the star of the show with confidence-boosting writing and acting workshops where children get the chance to explore the creativity that they might not previously have realised they possess.
Be the Next Bestselling Author
As the old saying goes, everyone has a book in them. If you’re one of the few people who is determined to take the dream of seeing your name in print from a dream to a reality, the creative writer’s course at the Oxford Literary Festival will prove to be an enriching and educational experience. The format can vary from year to year but the day is designed to appeal to both aspiring authors and readers who just want to gain a deeper insight into the literature they love, so you don’t need a polished manuscript in order to attend. In 2016 author and professor of creative writing Jem Poster chaired as Chocolat author Joanne Harries, Captain Corelli’s Mandolin creator Louis de Bernieres and acclaimed biographer D J Taylor provided their expert advice and invaluable insights.