Spring line-up announced for 'top tier' literary festival's third lockdown event

Mel Giedroyc is taking part in the Cambridge Literary Festival.

Mel Giedroyc is taking part in the Cambridge Literary Festival. - Credit: Laurie Fletcher

An innovative literary festival has announced its lockdown line-up for its spring return next month.

A year ago, Cambridge Literary Festival had to close its doors to live events due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Last April it delivered a scaled down online alternative, The Listening Festival, and in November a full-scale virtual event.

With a new CLF website and two festivals delivered, organisers are ready to do it again from April 21 to April 25, with the line-up featuring award-winning authors, politicians and well-known TV personalities.

Douglas Stuart, author of 2020 Brooker Prize winner Shuggie Bain

Douglas Stuart's debut novel Shuggie Bain was awarded the 2020 Brooker Prize. - Credit: Clive Smith

Among those taking part are former Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow, TV presenter Mel Giedroyc, Booker Prize winning debut novelist Douglas Stuart, and Green Party MP Caroline Lucas.

Festival director Cathy Moore said: “The past 12 months has seen CLF take its place in the top tier of UK literary festivals.

"We are the first festival in the UK to deliver three online festivals and our growing reputation for excellence allows us to attract literary heavyweights and to stage world-class conversations that don’t happen anywhere else."

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Showcasing the best in new fiction, comedy, art, music, current affairs, politics, climate and the environment, the Cambridge Literary Festival's third lockdown event will deliver A World of Inspiration, with writers joining in from across the globe.

Key conversations include Russian poet, essayist and journalist Maria Stepanova, joined by her translator Sashsa Dugdale, discussing her award-winning book In Memory of Memory.

Former Canon Chancellor of St Paul's Cathedral, Giles Fraser, shares his story of discovery in new book Chosen: Lost and Found Between Christianity and Judaism.

Maggie O'Farrell is one of the novelists taking part in the online Cambridge Literary Festival.

Maggie O'Farrell is one of the novelists taking part in the online Cambridge Literary Festival. - Credit: Murdo Macleod

Maggie O’Farrell, Women’s Prize for Fiction 2020 winner, presents her flawless Hamnet, while Douglas Stuart, author of Booker Prize novel Shuggie Bain, shares his Glasgow experience with fellow Glaswegian Jackie Kay.

Jon McGregor, Jessie Greengrass, Lucy Jago, Monique Roffey, Carys Bray, and Salena Godden also join the fiction line-up.

Keen to consider the natural environment, Scott Weidensaul joins Helen Macdonald to talk about A World on the Wing.

Our feathered friends also feature when Tim Dee and Springwatch’s Stephen Moss focus on bird migration.

The Green Party's Caroline Lucas MP

The Green Party's Caroline Lucas MP will be taking part in the Cambridge Literary Festival. - Credit: JJ Waller

The Green Party’s Caroline Lucas MP talks to Mike Berners-Lee on how to stop the unfolding climate disaster.

Former The Great British Bake Off favourite Mel Giedroyc talks about her debut novel, The Best Things, and Grace Dent, one of the UK’s best known restaurant critics, discusses her memoir Hungry.

Food critic and author Grace Dent 

Food critic and author Grace Dent is taking part in spring's online Cambridge Literary Festival. - Credit: Supplied by Cambridge Literary Festival

Media partners the New Statesman will for the first time offer up a live debate online to consider whether the pandemic will change the way that we live for the better.

The New Statesman Global Review will address political events on an international stage.

"Whilst online has swiftly become the new normal, we have not forgotten the joy and spontaneity of our live events," said Cathy Moore.

"In their absence we are thrilled to be able to host speakers and welcome audiences from around the world.

"I am delighted to be welcoming back the much-awaited New Statesman Debate in an online format and am privileged to be sharing with you some of the most talented writers and thinkers of our times.”

Former Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow.

John Bercow, the former Speaker of the House of Commons, will discuss Parliament as part of the online Cambridge Literary Festival. - Credit: Stefan Rousseau / PA Wire / PA Images

Former Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow, will be in conversation with Melissa Benn and will candidly steer us through his memoir, unveiling the reality of the inner workings of Parliament.

For an equally frank discussion, investigative journalists Jonathan Calvert and George Arbuthnott join forces with their timely and shocking new book, Failures of State: The Inside Story of Britain’s Battle with Coronavirus.

Not shying away from social issues, Nikesh Shukla’s Brown Baby explores themes of racism and parenting, and Katherine Angel interrogates desire, consent and sex in the post #MeToo era.

The issue of homelessness is brought to the fore by Maeve McClenaghan, whose book No Fixed Abode offers the first comprehensive picture of homelessness in contemporary Britain.

Lovers of art and culture will be particularly interested in an event with Charles Saumarez Smith, former director of the UK’s National Gallery and National Portrait Gallery, discussing the art museum in modern times.

Martin Gayford will share conversations with his friend David Hockney.

Mike Berners-Lee will be taking part in the Cambridge Literary Festival.

Mike Berners-Lee will be taking part in the Cambridge Literary Festival. - Credit: Phil Rigby

Polly Samson will reimagine Leonard Cohen’s time spent on the sultry Greek Island of Hydra among a wild circle of poets, painters and musicians, and Greek music journalist Pete Paphides shares his passion for 70s and 80s pop with Miranda Sawyer.

Online events will remain available to watch for seven days.

Tickets go on sale Wednesday, March 17 at www.cambridgeliteraryfestival.com

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