Festival of literature at Althorp

Althorp House. Taken August 2008 by Joni Ager
Althorp House. Taken August 2008 by Joni Ager

Heavy weight writers of the literary and entertainment worlds are gathering for the 10th Althorp Literary Festival.

It will take place from Thursday, June 13 to Saturday, June 15 held in the grounds of Althorp House.

Monty Python star and travel presenter Michael Palin appears alongside former MPs Paddy Ashdown and Ann Widdecombe among the star names appearing at the literary festival.

The former leader of the Liberal Democrats Lord Paddy Ashdown will be there on the festival’s first day from noon. He will be talking about his career in politics as well as about his new book entitled A Brilliant Little Operation: The Cockleshell Heroes and the Most Courageous Raid of World War 2.

Former minister and Strictly Come Dancing contestant Ann Widdecombe follows Ashdown from 2pm. She has been established as a novelist having written books since 2000 and will talk about her new book called Strictly Ann.

From 3.30pm, the much-loved comedian Sandi Toksvig will talk about her career as a presenter and writer and her novel Valentine Grey.

The creator of the ITV series Downton Abbey Julian Fellowes will be on the stage from 5pm talking about the creation of the hit drama, currently on its fourth series.

The first day will be rounded off with a talk from Ken Dodd about his long career on the stage for an event called An Evening of Conversation, Candour and Comedy, running from 6.30pm.

Music and Monarchy is the name of the talk from historian David Starkey. He will start proceedings off on the second day from noon.

He will be followed at 2pm by Tom and Henry Herbert who make up Channel4’s cookery show The Fabulous Baker Brothers who will talk about their latest book Glorious British Grub.

Also on at the same time is a talk about The Drama of the Great Reform Bill 1832 which will see Antonia Fraser in conversation with Charles Spencer.

The dad of London mayor Boris Johnson will appear at 3.30pm. Stanley Johnson will be speaking about his political career and work with the World Bank. His novel is called Where the Wild Things Were; Travels of a Conservationist.

Closing the second day is Michael Palin, from 6.30pm. The actor and comedian whose travel programmes have taken him around the globe, will share his reminisces with the audie nce.

On the final day of the festival, novelists Clive Aslet and Artemis Cooper will be talking about their books from 10.30am.

Aslet will be speaking about the novel War Memorial while Cooper will speak about Patrick Leigh Fermor: An Adventure.

Author of the The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series of books Alexander McCall Smith will be at the festival on the final day from 2pm to 3pm.

From 3.30pm, writer Wilbur Smith will be looking back at his career over the past 50 years.

It promises to be a magical three summer days in the inspiring setting of one of England’s best loved historic homes.

Tickets are available from £15. It is recommended to book tickets in advance as many are selling out.

For further details about the festival including the full programme and to book tickets, visit www.spencerofalthorp.com.