Only a few tickets remain for David Starkey’s evening at the Words in Walden Festival on March 1 – and there has been huge interest in all the other Festival events on offer.

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Festival director Jo Burch said: “We’re absolutely delighted that all our speakers for the Spring Festival are proving so popular. Chris Beardshaw’s new book, 100 Plants that almost Changed the World is both fascinating and very funny so I’m really looking forward to him talking about that (February 28); and Andrew Motion reading from the much-loved work of the War Poets, as well as from his own series of poems on war, will be a wonderful, deeply moving and unique treat at Saffron Hall (March 21) – we’ve specially booked him as our commemoration of the centenary of the outbreak of the first world war.”

Karim Samuels on Street Art (aka ‘graffiti’) on March 11, and performance poet Luke Wright on March 18, bring a new strand of exciting and slightly less ‘establishment’ voices to the festival.

More reflective and calming will be Cambridge Botanic Garden’s writer-in-residence Kate Swindlehurst in conversation with the garden’s development director Juliet Day on the inspiration of the world-renowned garden (March 16).

Ms Burch added: “I met Kate and Juliet last week to discuss the event and came away brimming with delight. I think the audience will love listening to them.”

Another contrast to round off the festival, celebrated cook, Ursula Ferrigno, demonstrates the delicious best of Sicilian cuisine (already sold out) and then for those with a strong stomach, in ‘Don’t Look, Don’t Touch!’, Dr Valerie Curtis discusses with gusto the science behind the universal human response of disgust (March 28).

Meanwhile, Andrew Sachs has withdrawn from all his immediately forthcoming engagements, including his Words in Walden date, following an operation.

A special discount for school groups is being offered for the Andrew Motion event, which will provide invaluable insights for students studying the first world war poets. Schools in the area have received details but anyone interested in bringing a party of students should call 01799 523456.

Tickets for Luke Wright’s Saffron Walden Poetry Shed at the Kings Arms are only available on the door on the night.

All other Festival tickets can be bought online at hartsevents.co.uk, by phone 01799 523456, at Harts Book Room on Shire Hill, or at Saffron Walden TIC.

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