Spotlight on our brilliant interviewers
Hephzibah is currently a columnist at Prospect magazine, feature writer for BBC Culture and Fiction Editor at the Mail on Sunday and she’s a regular contributor to The Observer and BBC Culture. She’s judged the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize, the Jewish Quarterly/Wingate Award, the Author’s Society’s Betty Trask Award and the PEN New Voices Prize. She’s moderated numerous events at the Southbank Centre, the London Book Fair and Jewish Book Week.
Hannah worked in television as a producer and commissioning editor for the BBC, Channel 4 and the Discovery Channel USA before becoming a full-time author and journalist. She is a book critic and features writer for a range of publications including the Observer, the Financial Times Weekend Magazine and the Sunday Express, and is a regular chair at literary festivals and publishing events across the UK. She has been a judge for numerous book prizes including the Costa Book Awards. Her debut novel, The Dead Wife’s Handbook, was published in 2014, and her second novel If Only I Could Tell You was published in early 2019.
Leah is a TV present and journalist who started out in radio before working her way onto the small screen where she worked on BBC Breakfast, BBC Sport, Stargazing Live and Newsround. Her and her husband, fellow presenter Rickey Boleto, met while working on Newsround and give full credit to Festival speaker John Craven for bringing them together, as without him, Newsround would never have existed and their paths would never have crossed.
Alistair is the Defence and Security correspondent for Sky News, covering global security and diplomatic issues from conflict to counter-terrorism. He regularly reports from the frontlines in Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen and North Korea. Alistair has been given unprecedented access to some of the UK’s most secretive establishments: GCHQ, the Trident nuclear deterrent, the country’s highly secure air command bunker and the UK’s covert drone base in the Middle East. He has covered key elections in Pakistan and Turkey, the Eurozone crisis across the continent and humanitarian disasters in South Sudan and the Philippines. He also writes a regular “Letter from…” column for the London Evening Standard on international affairs.
Cindy has been a journalist for over 30 years and for the past ten she has written the editorial for Henley Life Magazine, a bespoke monthly magazine for Henley covering most subjects. She regularly hosts and interviews for Henley Literary Festival events, and for eight years she also ran shows and presented on Regatta Radio specifically for Henley Royal Regatta, and all things rowing. Cindy studied journalism at NYU (New York University), and lived in Bristol for many years where she worked with the street homeless for Shelter, and on the DFEE government training schemes for young people and unemployed adults.
Writer and broadcaster, Sue has presented a range of programmes and documentaries for radio and television – hosting Crimewatch,The Chelsea Flower Show and Children in Need. She is currently writing her third novel.
Stephanie has ghostwritten two Sunday Times Top 10-bestselling memoirs. She currently reviews fiction for the Daily Mail, and has previously reviewed for the Observer and Daily Telegraph. Other publications she has written for include BBC Countryfile magazine, the Independent on Sunday and the Times Literary Supplement. She is a writer-in-residence for the literary charity First Story, and a freelance editor and mentor.
Steph left a career in brand and marketing to start thoughtful gift company Don’t Buy Her Flowers in 2014. Originally set up as gifts for new mums, the business now caters for many different occasions from birthdays to bereavement and any time someone needs some TLC. Steph regularly writes and talks honestly about motherhood and relationships, believing that we’re all in it together as none of us really knows what we’re doing.
Gerry has been a broadcast journalist for more than 35 years. The bulk of his career has been at Westminster. When it comes to chairing events , Gerry is highly versatile . He’s interviewed novelists, comedians, playwrights, mountaineers , philosophers, historians, musicians , palaeontologists, sports stars and fellow broadcasters. The BBC’s John Simpson called him , ‘Prince of Interviewers’. Channel 4’s Nick Hewer said he’s ‘a master interviewer who made it great fun’. Best selling author, Sophie Kinsella remarked ‘he was a joy to talk to’ while Julie Myerson said ‘she would beg organisers to book him’. His website is www.gerryfoleytv.com
Dame Katherine Jane Grainger, to give her her full title, is a British rower and with five Olympic medals is Great Britain’s most decorated female Olympian. She is a 2012 Summer Olympics gold medallist, four-time Olympic silver medallist and six-time World Champion, and since 2015 she has been chancellor of Oxford Brookes University.
In 2017 Katherine was appointed Chair of UK Sport and is a serving board member of International Inspiration, a charity that promotes access to sport, play, and physical exercise for low and middle income families with children around the world.
Amanda Jennings writes psychological suspense and is the author of Sworn Secret, The Judas Scar, In Her Wake, and, most recently, The Cliff House. Amanda is a regular guest on BBC Berkshire’s weekly Book Club and enjoys meeting readers at libraries, book clubs and literary festivals. Amanda lives just outside Henley with her husband, three daughters and an unruly menagerie of pets, and is currently writing her fifth book.
Jessica is a journalist and is the co-founder of new online homes and lifestyle magazine The Home Page. Jessica has been an editor at The Sunday Times; Net-a-Porter and Matches Fashion and has written for The Sunday Times Magazine and the paper’s News Review, Home and Travel sections; The Daily Telegraph; Stella and Harrods Magazine. She has sat on the judging panel at the British Press Awards and chairs the literary events at Calcot Manor. This is her third year at the Henley Literary Festival.
Cesca is a writer and vlogger. Cesca has written three novels – her debut The Silent Hours set during WWII was described as a “moving debut” by Women and Home magazine and The Times called Major “a talent to watch.” Her third novel The Other Girl, to be published by Thomas and Mercer in 2020, is a historical thriller perfect for members of a book club. It is set in an asylum in 1940s New Zealand and is inspired by a terrible true story. As an ex-TV presenter Cesca is also comfortable in front of the camera and has vlogged for Novelicious.com and the Writers and Artists website. Cesca also writes feel-good women’s fiction under her pseudonym Rosie Blake. Cesca lives in Berkshire with her husband, son and twin girls.
Harry Mount is the editor of The Oldie. He is the author of eight books, including the bestsellers Amo, Amat, Amat and All That and How England Made the English.
Biographer, journalist and speech writer, Stephen writes for a wide range of publication and clients in the UK and beyond. Feature writer for The Mail, Spectator and Tatler, Stephen also reviews books for The Sunday Times.
Jon worked in national newspapers – the Daily Mail, Mail on Sunday and Sunday Telegraph – for 35 years as reporter, news editor, features editor and sports editor. He been involved in the Literary Festival since its inception.
Rosalind is a journalist and co-founded online homes and lifestyle magazine The Home Page with fellow Festival interviewer Jessica Jonzen. Rosalind was previously the Editor of edition magazines portfolio, and has written for national newspapers. She has also appeared as a regular talking head on regional and national TV shows and was on the voting panel for the BRIT Awards for a number of years.
Sunny is a London based writer, academic and literary activist. She is the author of three critically acclaimed novels: Nani’s Book of Suicides, With Krishna’s Eyes and Hotel Arcadia. Her first non-fiction book, Single in the City: The Independent Woman’s Handbook, is a first-of-its-kind exploration of single women in contemporary India. She has published short stories in prestigious international literary journals including The Drawbridge, The Good Journal and World Literature Today. She also writes for newspapers and magazines, in Spanish and English, across the globe. Her latest book, published by the British Film Institute, is a study of the Indian superstar Amitabh Bachchan. Singh is the current chairperson of the historic Authors Club and founder of the Jhalak Prize for Book of the Year by a Writer of Colour.
Beverley is a regular face on TV and radio and until recently spent five years hosting her own LBC phone-in show. She writes regularly for The Times, The Daily Telegraph and The Mail and has a monthly column in City Kids. She has written three books of quite diverse interests! In 2004, The Pits, The Real World of F1 cemented her reputation as a rigorous journalist, unafraid to lift the lid on the murky world of motorsport. In 2011, she published Touching Distance, a harrowing but humorous account of helping her then-husband rower, James Cracknell recover from a traumatic brain injury. And in 2017, she released The Happy Birth Book, a go-to-guide for pregnant couples which accompanies her business The Happy Birth Club.
Kate is an author, social historian and broadcaster. She fell in love with history whilst studying for her BA and DPhil at the University of Oxford and has MAs from Queen Mary and Royal Holloway. She is a Professor of History and appears regularly on television – on programmes from The Great British Bake Off to election coverage and comedy panel shows. She has written five historical biographies and a series of historical novels, and loves nothing more than a spending her time in dusty archives.
Simon is an English actor known for playing James Bellamy in the period drama Upstairs, Downstairs. Since 2014, he has played the character of Justin Elliott in the long-running BBC Radio 4 series The Archers, and recently appeared in Alan Bennett’s Allelujah! at The Bridge Theatre, London. Simon also writes a weekly column for the Telegraph.