Line-Up Announced for this Year’s Festival

Joanna Lumley, Jeffrey Archer, Tom Bradby, Sophie Ellis-Bextor, Ed Miliband, Candice Brathwaite, Michael Morpurgo and many more come to Henley this October…

International bestsellers and Children’s Laureates join stars of stage, screen and social media at this year’s Henley Literary Festival – 2nd October – 10th October – in our most varied line up yet. We will be going on sale next month – to Friends of the Festival on 12th July and on general sale on 19th July – initially on a distanced basis, with over 50 events also streamed live online. Please consider becoming a Friend of the Festival for 2021: in addition to priority booking and special offers from us and our partners you will be providing vital support to the Festival.

Henley Literary Festival returns this October in-person and online with over 130 events for adults and children including Jeffrey Archer, Joanna Lumley, cricketing hero Michael Holding, Jack Dee, Sophie Ellis-Bextor, Michael Morpurgo, food writer Grace Dent, Nikesh Shukla, Elizabeth Day, Twitter poet laureate Brian Bilston, Candice Brathwaite, Line of Duty creator Jed Mercurio and Gavin and Stacey co-creator and star Ruth Jones.

For 15 years, the Festival has covered many different topics, but in a unique event this October, two of the leading scientists behind the Oxford AstraZeneca Vaccine, Dame Sarah Gilbert and Dr Catherine Green will share the inside story of this era-defining achievement. Health, both physical and mental, will also be covered by doctors Rachel Clarke, Alex George, Lucy Pollock and Emma Hepburn.

Speakers from the entertainment world attending include singers Sophie Ellis-Bextor and Tracey Thorn, Oscar-winner Hayley Mills, Harry Potter star Evanna Lynch and Hamilton Olivier-winner Giles Terera as well as comedians Rob Beckett, Tom Allen, Ruby Wax, Robert Webb, Jack Dee and Mel Giedroyc.

There will be plenty of opportunities to discuss current affairs and politics with Ed Miliband, William Waldegrave, Alan Johnson, Vince Cable, Theresa May’s chief of staff Gavin Barwell and Ed Balls appearing on the line-up alongside broadcasters Jon Sopel, Fortunately hosts Fi Glover and Jane Garvey, Simon Mayo, Tom Bradby, How To Fail podcaster Elizabeth Day, James O’Brien and John Simpson. Lord Heseltine, who served as Deputy Prime Minister and Secretary of State for Defence, Environment and Trade, will be in conversation with Financial Times Whitehall editor Sebastian Payne.

After John Grisham’s appearance last year, the title of bestselling ever author at the Festival is taken by Jeffrey Archer, with an estimated 300 million sales. Other novelists featured include Alexander McCall Smith, Women’s Prize nominee Brit Bennett, Jill Mansell, Costa-winner Monique Roffey, Sebastian Faulks, Rodham writer Curtis Sittenfeld, Kate Mosse, Jane Fallon and debut authors Naomi Ishiguro, Neema Shah and Salena Godden.

Speakers with local connections include Dame Stephanie Shirley, BBC weather presenter Carol Kirkwood, Death in Paradise creator Robert Thorogood, Royal expert Ingrid Seward, scientist Richard Fortey and novelists Susanna Beard, James Scudamore, Rachel Edwards and Jenny Quintana. History will be covered by Max Hastings, Jeremy Paxman, Lucinda Hawksley and more.

In a unique post-Festival pop-up event, national treasure Joanna Lumley comes to Henley on 28th October to talk about her new book A Queen for All Seasons in celebration of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee next year.

Events for younger readers include the much-loved former Children’s Laureates Michael Morpurgo, with a special event surrounding Carnival of the Animals, and Chris Riddell, who also designed this year’s programme front cover, as well as Rob Biddulph, who kept audiences entertained during lockdown with his #DrawWithRob illustrations and returns to Henley after achieving a Guinness World Record. All the family are welcome at events with broadcaster Clare Balding with her first non-fiction children’s book Fall Off, Get Back On, Keep Going: 10 Ways to Be at the Top of Your Game and Stuart Lawrence, brother of Stephen Lawrence, offering inspiring words for young people as he discusses Silence is Not An Option: You Can Impact the World for Change.

Tickets go on sale to Friends of the Festival on 12th July and on general sale on 19th July.

2021 confirmed speakers include:
Faride Abike-Iyimide, Dapo Adeola, Cecelia Ahern, Richard Aldrich, Tom Allen, Adam Andrusier, Dame Elizabeth Anionwu, Jeffrey Archer, Ashley Audrian, Clare Balding, Katya Balen, Ed Balls, Gavin Barwell, Susanna Beard, Rob Beckett, Sarah Bell, Brit Bennett, Rob Biddulph, Brian Bilston, Tom Bradby, Laura Brand, Gyles Brandreth, Candice Brathwaite, Daisy Buchanan, Sir Vince Cable, Michael Cashman, Rachel Clarke, Joseph Coelho, Rory Cormac, Archbishop Stephen Cottrell, Matthew D’Ancona, Saul David, Elizabeth Day, Jack Dee, Grace Dent, Lucinda Dickens Hawksley, Rachel Edwards, Sophie Ellis-Bextor, Jane Fallon, Natasha Farrant, Roopa Farooki, Allen Fatimaharan, Sebastian Faulks, Tracey Follows, Richard Fortey, Vanessa Frake, Antonia Fraser, Jess French, Nicci French, Mariella Frostrup, Angela Gallop, Frank Gardner, Dr. Alex George, Mel Giedroyc, Sam Gilbert, Sarah Gilbert, Salena Godden, Jane Gordon, Jodie Lancet-Grant, Catherine Green, Anna Greenland, Peter Hain, Smriti Halls, Max Hastings, Simon Heffer, Dr. Emma Hepburn, Lord Michael Heseltine, Anya Hindmarch, Wendy Holden, Michael Holding, Alex Holmes, Naomi Ishiguro, Sara Jafari, Alan Johnson, Ruth Jones, Miles Jupp, Liz Kessler, Carol Kirkwood, Rich Knight, Christina Lamb, Stuart Lawrence, Hannah Lee, Steven Lenton, MG Leonard, John Lewis-Stempel, Fiona Lumbers, Joanna Lumley, Evanna Lynch, Iain MacGregor, Jamal Mahjoub, Imran Mahmood, Jill Mansell, Simon Mayo, Gillian McAllister, Alexander McCall Smith, Amy McCullough, Jenny McLachlan, David Melling, Jed Mercurio, Zanib Mian, Lia Middleton, Ed Miliband, Catherine Miller, Hayley Mills, Kiran Millwood Hargrave, Thiago de Moraes, Michael Morpurgo, Kate Mosse, James O’Brien, Peter Oborne, Sunny Ormonde, Jenny Packham, Kate Pankhurst, Serena Patel, Jeremy Paxman, Sebastian Payne, Jenny Pearson, Liz Pichon, Jonathon Porritt, Dr. Lucy Pollock, Kjartan Poskitt, Mark Powers, David Profumo, Prasanna Puwanarajah, Jenny Quintana, Guy Parker Rees, Cathy Rentzenbrink, Margaret Reynolds, Chris Riddell, Annie Ridout, Monique Roffey, Sarah Sands, James Scudamore, Sam Sedgman, Ingrid Seward, Neema Shah, Dame Stephanie Shirley, Nikesh Shukla, Francesca Simon, John Simpson, Curtis Sittenfeld, Alice Smellie, Dr. Shini Somora, Jon Sopel, Francesca Specter, Julia Stonehouse, Gerald Stratford, Clover Stroud, Nicola Sutherland, Clemmie Telford, Giles Terera, Tracey Thorn, Robert Thorogood, Simon Thurley, Jane Thynne, Otegha Uwagba, Jeevan Vasagar, William Waldegrave, Celia Walden, Natalie Walter, Ruby Wax, Robert Webb, Marina Wheeler, David Whitehouse, Vanessa Woolf, Simon Williams, Alex Willmore.