Broadcasting royalty at the festival

Victoria Hislop, Joan Bakewell and Jonathan Aitken are just a handful of household names descending on the Crown Hotel shortly.

Thursday, 5th October 2017, 11:30 am
Updated Tuesday, 12th December 2017, 6:58 am

The Raworths Harrogate Literature Festival, now in its seventh year, was picked by Harper’s Bazaar as “one of the UK’s best literary festivals”.

Running from October 19-22, it’s a packed programme.

Among the star guests coming to Harrogate’s Crown Hotel will be the forthright mistress of sequins who was even more formidable in the House of Commons, Ann Widdecombe.

She will be discussing her books including The Dancing Detective, a crime novel inspired by her time on BBC TV’s Strictly Come Dancing.

Food and drink lovers can indulge with EastEnders star and Celebrity Masterchef winner, Lisa Faulkner, with her book From Mother to Mother: Recipes from a Family Kitchen. Tapping into the “Ginaissance” spirits expert, Ian Buxton, promises a gin tasting complete with his dry London wit, with 101 Gins to Try Before you Die.

Journalists Douglas Murray and Mike Hume take on the future of Europe, and the presenter of Radio 4’s Week in Westminster, Steve Richards, explores the rise of political mavericks from Corbyn to Trump. Former BBC and Sunday Times Moscow correspondent Angus Roxburgh introduces Moscow Calling, a memoir of 45 years’ studying and working in Russia.

The festival features broadcasting royalty as Baroness Joan Bakewell will discuss her memoir Stop the Clocks. For history buffs, Peter Snow and his wife Ann MacMillan present War Stories.

Tom Fort promises a funny exploration of life in rural idylls with The Village News, and Amanda Owen charts a year in her life, with nine children and 1,000 sheep. Hollywood is knocking on her door after buying the rights to her book, The Yorkshire Shepherdess. Adding dramatic tension are three remarkable actors who will share a stage: Hugh Fraser, who starred in TV’s Hercule Poirot, discusses his trilogy of thrillers, Malice, Harm and Threat. George Costigan of Rita, Sue and Bob Too fame presents his debut novel, The Single Soldier. And Emmerdale star Mark Charnock joins them as he’s turned his hand to writing his first novel, Unquiet.

Marina Benjamin, author of The Middlepause: On Turning 50, will be in conversation with music journalist Miranda Sawyer, whose book Out of Time aims to guide you through the mid-life existential puzzle. Former Loose Women presenter and actress Denise Welch will discuss her warm, funny and honest debut novel, If They Could See Me Now.

Joanna Cannon’s debut, The Trouble with Goats & Sheep, set during the legendary ‘76 heatwave, was a Richard and Judy pick; Joanna will also give a special preview to her second novel, Three Things About Elsie.

Erica Wagner’s Chief Engineer is a biography of Washington Roebling - New York’s master builder behind the Brooklyn Bridge. She’ll be in conversation with Julian Glover, whose Man of Iron tells the story of Britain’s greatest civil engineer, Thomas Telford.The line-up also includes former MP Jonathan Aitken, sharing his experience behind bars with HMP Leeds prison officers and rehabilitation charity, Tempus Novo, and a Yorkshire Post Literary Lunch with mountaineer, Chris Bonington.

Tickets from £10. Book online at or via the box office: 01423 562303.