After a challenging year for the arts sector, Marlborough LitFest returns in 2021 from 30th September – 3rd October in a hybrid live/online format with a varied programme of events for different ages and genres, including fiction, non-fiction and poetry events, its 10th Golding Speaker and the annual Big Town Read.

LitFest also has a new lead festival sponsor on board – Sarah Raven, the Online Garden Store, which has its headquarters in Marlborough. The 2021 line-up includes: Elif Shafak, Colm Tóibín, Sathnam Sanghera, Mick Herron, Jonathon Porritt and Gill Hornby, covering themes from memoir, nature, climate change, politics and history, and culminating in a festival finale from LitFest patron, Sir Simon Russell Beale. The box office opens on 2nd September, for more information, visit the website.

Festival highlights include:

· LitFest’s 10th Golding Speaker is Booker-nominated British-Turkish author, Elif Shafak, talking about her new novel, The Island of Missing Trees.

· Festival finale with LitFest patron, Sir Simon Russell Beale: sit back and enjoy a series of pre-recorded readings by Sir Simon to celebrate Richard Davenport-Hines book, A Night at the Majestic: Proust and the Great Modernist Dinner Party of 1922.

· Acclaimed Irish writer, Colm Tóibín, will be talking about his new book The Magician.

· The Big Town Read book is the literary thriller, Three Hours, by Rosamund Lupton; local book groups are encouraged to come to a Q&A with the author to discuss the book.

· Bestselling spy thriller author, Mick Herron, called the heir to John le Carré; will be discussing his latest thriller, Slough House.

· Local novelist, Gill Hornby, will be illuminating the life of Jane Austen, in her latest novel, Miss Austen.

· The annual Hiscox Debut Authors slot will champion the emerging writing talent of Natasha Brown with her novel, Assembly, and Hafsa Zayyan with We Are All Birds of Uganda.

· In ‘Climate Change: Getting the Message Across’, renowned environmentalist Jonathon Porritt will discuss the climate emergency with writer Jessie Greengrass, whose novel The High House explores the same theme.

· Delving deep into Russian politics will be the Guardian foreign Luke Harding talking about his latest book, Shadow State: Murder, Mayhem and Russia’s Remaking of the West.

· Journalist, broadcaster and previous LitFest Big Town Read author, Sathnam Sanghera will discuss identity and the imperial past of modern Britain in his book, Empireland: How Imperialism Has Shaped Modern Britain.

· Prize-winning author, conservationist and rewilder Benedict Macdonald celebrates the abundance of wildlife in England’s ancient orchards in Orchard: A Year in England’s Eden, co-written with Nicholas Gates.

· New for 2021, local bird expert Charlie Corbett will run two Bird Walks into the North Wessex Downs around Marlborough to listen out for the birdsong of our native birds, based on his book, 12 Birds to Save Your Life: Nature’s Lessons on Happiness.

· Dr Alison Baverstock, Professor of Publishing at Kingston University, will lead a workshop on ‘Getting Published’.

· Bookbinding with Lori Sauer (a Fellow of Designer Bookbinders) at The White Horse Bookshop.

· The annual Collectable Books Roadshow with local rare book expert Chris Gange at Katharine House Gallery.

· Poetry in the Pub returns to The Green Dragon pub with the popular open mic poetry event for poets of any age.

2021 Children’s Events:

· Over 100 local schoolchildren will be entertained by award-winning children’s author, Tom Palmer, as part of LitFest’s annual free schools programme.

· Local children’s author, Eileen Browne will talk about her latest book, Handa’s Noisy Night, for younger children.

· Award-winning children’s author and ‘the Queen of Historical Fiction’, Emma Carroll, will share tips for writing with her audience as well as her new historical adventure, The Week at World’s End.

· Sixth Formers from St John’s Academy in Marlborough will also hold a literary-themed debate at the Town Hall during the festival.

Marlborough LitFest Chair, Genevieve Clarke, said: “It’s brilliant to be back with an exciting line-up of big literary names, first-time novelists, hard-hitting non-fiction, workshops and children’s activities. We’re also making 13 events available online so that we can reach a wider audience.”

Festival programmes are available from The White Horse Bookshop in Marlborough, or view online here. The box office opens on 2nd  September. Marlborough LitFest has partnered with Swindon-based video creative agency, StreamWorks, in order to livestream events from the Town Hall so that the festival can reach as wide an audience as possible. Please check the festival brochure for details of each event.