Returning for its 2021 Festival (30 September – 3 October) is the Marlborough LitFest’s Golding Speaker and the festival is delighted to announce this year’s speaker as the award-winning British-Turkish novelist, Elif Shafak.

Elif will be appearing at a virtual event on Friday 1st October at 7.30pm, talking about her latest novel, The Island of Missing Trees. The LitFest will be partnering with creative video agency, StreamWorks, during the 2021 festival, in order to deliver high quality livestreaming to its audience as well as live events in a Covid-safe environment.

Elif will be talking about her new novel, The Island of Missing Trees, which will be published in August. Set on the island of Cyprus in 1974, it tells of two teenagers, from opposite sides of a divided and war-torn country, in a rich, magical tale of belonging and identity, love and trauma, memory and amnesia, human-induced destruction of nature, and finally, renewal. Shafak has been called “One of the best writers in the world today” (Hanif Kureishi); The Sunday Times heralds Shafak as “passionately interested in dissolving barriers, whether of race, nationality, culture, gender, geography or a more mystical kind.”

Elif Shafak is the author of 19 books, 12 of which are novels and her work has been translated into 54 languages. She holds a PhD in political science and has taught at various universities in Turkey, the US and the UK, including St Anne’s College, Oxford. Shafak is an advocate for women’s rights, LGBTQ+ rights and freedom of speech and is a TED global speaker. Her last novel 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in this Strange World was shortlisted for the Booker Prize and RSL Ondaatje Prize; and was chosen as Blackwell’s Book of the Year. Her previous novel, The Forty Rules of Love was chosen by BBC among 100 Novels that Shaped Our World.

Marlborough LitFest hosts an annual Golding Speaker to highlight Marlborough’s long connection with the Nobel Laureate and Booker Prize winner, William Golding, at an event sponsored by the William Golding estate. Past Golding Speakers include Ben Okri, Rose Tremain, Will Self, Lionel Shriver, Louis de Bernieres, Fay Weldon and Howard Jacobson.

The LitFest is delighted that the William Golding Estate has been involved with the festival since 2012. Judy Carver, daughter of William Golding, said: “William Golding’s family have been delighted to support Marlborough LitFest for ten years. During that time, the festival has brought so many brilliant figures to Marlborough. William Golding himself would be pleased and proud of his hometown.”

The Malborough LitFest will comply with current government Covid-19 guidelines during its festival weekend and plans to offer a mix of live and virtual author events at Marlborough Town Hall and venues around Marlborough. Working with video creative agency, StreamWorks, our aim is to reach as wide an audience as possible so that people can either attend Covid-safe events in person or watch sessions online. StreamWorks, part of solo16 Ltd, based in Swindon, has extensive experience of broadcasting events to a wide range of organisations from the UN to Historic England.

Kay Newman of MarlboroughLitFest said: “All of us on the LitFest committee are so pleased to be able to offer a festival in Marlborough for 2020. We have already signed up some of the top literary names to take part, and I feel sure that people will be able to enjoy events either live, or at home, and that this year will be very special indeed.”

This year’s festival will feature a varied programme of events for all ages including fiction, non-fiction, poetry and the annual Big Town Read. The festival aims to champion new, upcoming writers as well as established names and also encourage a love of reading in children and young people with author talks, competitions and our ongoing community outreach programme. All Marlborough LitFest 2021 events will abide by the Covid-19 guidelines at the time of the festival. The full programme will be available at the end of August and tickets go on sale in early September. For more information, visit

Author photo: Oliver Hess.