Enjoy June days by the river meeting favourite authors and discovering new voices at one of London’s friendliest festivals.
The Greenwich Book Festival promises two packed days for readers of all ages with talks, walks, political debate, poetry, drama, children’s workshops and story-telling on Friday 15 and Saturday 16 June.
Hosted by the University of Greenwich at its glorious Old Royal Naval College campus on the banks of the Thames, guests will also find food and drink stalls, a pop-up bookshop, face-painting and roaming children’s characters.
Dolly Alderton of Sunday Times and iTunes bestseller ‘Everything I Know About Love’, novelist and poet Blake Morrison, the “new John le Carré” Mick Herron, Nina Stibbe of ‘Love, Nina’ fame, and top Young Adult novelists Angie Thomas whose The Hate U Give was inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement and Patrick Ness (A Monster Calls and Chaos Walking) head a wide-ranging programme.
Co-director Patricia Nicol, the author and journalist says: “This is a young festival reflecting the best of London with a diverse, inclusive programme which is welcoming to children, teenagers and adults alike. It is also very affordable, with open access to the site and free events.”
This year the festival extends beyond the Old Royal Naval College to the streets, riverbanks and buildings behind the books. Christopher Winn leads a walk round Victorian Greenwich, Ted Sandling takes us mudlarking on the Thames shore and Alexandra Heminsley, Jenny Landreth, Joe Minihane and Libby Page celebrate swimming writing at Charlton Lido on the eve of the festival.
Other celebrations of South London authors and settings include Diana Evans (Ordinary People) Chris Difford (of rock band Squeeze) Lucy Mangan on childhood reading (Bookworm) and Imogen Hermes Gowar whose Women’s Fiction Prize-shortlisted debut novel The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock is set in 1780s Deptford and Blackheath.
The festival starts with a party: Paula McLain, Lissa Evans and Louise Candlish who join Diana Evans and Imogen Hermes Gowar, and finishes with a ‘South of the River’ quiz.
Children can meet favourite authors including Philip Ardagh, adult and children’s author Lissa Evans and Will Mabbitt, top CBeebies Olobob creator Leigh Hodgkinson, make comics with cartoonist Neill Cameron (Mega Robo Bros) attend a host of workshops with popular author/illustrators like Fabi Santiago (Tiger in a Tutu) and Ged Adamson of Shark Dog! fame and join the dots of history with Christopher Lloyd who wrote the best-selling history of the world, What on Earth Happened?
John Crace, Tim Rose and Brexitcast’s Chris Mason look ‘Inside Westminster’; Toby Litt and Carrie Dun discuss the world of wrestling, and novelist Alex Pheby who heads Creative Writing at the University of Greenwich, leads a panel discussion on writing about real people.
Playwright and academic Ade Solanke presents rehearsed readings of her two new plays: Phillis in London about Phillis Wheatley, the celebrated poet and former slave who visited London in 1773 to publish her book; and a play to be performed at Hampton Court Palace this summer about John Blanke, an African musician in the courts of Henry VII and Henry VIII. The event, ‘Exhume Those Stories’, includes a discussion with historians Miranda Kauffman, Brycchan Carey, S.I. Martin and Michael Ohajuru.
Ade, who teaches at Greenwich, is also staging a series of plays at Greenwich Theatre as part of a Suffragette strand at the festival.
The Greenwich Book Festival is hosted and organised by the University of Greenwich in collaboration with author and journalist Patricia Nicol, and forms part of the Royal Greenwich Festivals programme.
The full programme can be found at greenwichbookfest.com