Alison Steadman, Michael Morpurgo, Radio 1’s Gemma Cairney and The Girl on the Train author Paula Hawkins are among the latest names confirmed for this autumn’s Henley Literary Festival, which takes place at venues across the riverside town from 2nd-8th October.
Also added to the line-up for the 11th Festival, supported by Baillie Gifford, are Roy Hattersley, bestselling young adult and children’s author Holly Smale and highly rated debut novelists Paula Cocozza and Laura Kaye.
Two unique family events will feature Olivier-winning actress Alison Steadman and former Children’s Laureate Michael Morpurgo. Steadman, best known for Abigail’s Party and Gavin & Stacey, comes to Henley with her first children’s book Spider! while Warhorse author Morpurgo returns after a schools event in 2015 – the most popular in the Festival’s history – for a special public event in the week that Greatest Magical Stories is published.
Events director Harriet Reed said: “This is shaping up to be our best line-up yet, after a record-breaking 10th Festival last year. It is wonderful that Michael Morpurgo – rated as one of the best speakers we have ever had – is coming back and the whole team is excited to welcome Alison Steadman, Gemma Cairney and Paula Hawkins to the Festival for the first time.”
Hawkins will be in conversation about both The Girl on the Train, which has so far sold over 15 million copies worldwide, and her much-anticipated new thriller Into the Water, which comes out next month. Cairney, host of Radio 1’s advice show The Surgery, whose book Open: A Toolkit For How Magic And Messed Up Life Can Be has made a big splash since its publication last month, will appear alongside Geek Girl author Smale, who will also be doing a schools event at the Festival.
Lord Hattersley returns to Henley after two previous full-house events with his well-received latest history book The Catholics. Debut novelists to be featured at the Festival include Paula Cocozza and Laura Kaye, who grew up outside the town, while journalist Mihir Bose will tell the story of Silver AKA Bhagat Ram Talwar, the only quintuple spy of the Second World War.
They join previously announced speakers Sir Chris Bonington, Jess Phillips, David Baddiel, Vince Cable, Samantha Shannon and Imran Mahmood. Tickets go on sale in July, with many more authors to be announced in the coming months. The Festival last month launched its third short story competition for adults and children in partnership with Dragonfly Tea.