Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy to appear at Saffron Walden Literature Festival

PUBLISHED: 17:40 03 September 2009 | UPDATED: 21:54 31 May 2010

WHAT do Tom Cruise, Meryl Streep, Clint Eastwood and Dustin Hoffman all have in common? They have all had their life stories written by biographer-to-the-stars Iain Johnstone - soon to be appearing at the Saffron Walden Literature Festival. A film critic

WHAT do Tom Cruise, Meryl Streep, Clint Eastwood and Dustin Hoffman all have in common?

They have all had their life stories written by biographer-to-the-stars Iain Johnstone - soon to be appearing at the Saffron Walden Literature Festival.

A film critic for The Sunday Times, Iain Johnstone is one of many exciting speakers on the bill for this year's festival which is titled 'Life in Words' and runs from September 18 to October 22.

Organiser Jo Burch said: "Life stories, both fact and fiction, are at the heart of this autumn's literature festival.

"Our regular festival-goers may be starting to recognise our predilections - travel-writing, biography and poetry - but I make no excuses for this autumn's selection of speakers as they are all superb."

Headlining the festival is Poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy, who is coming to Saffron Walden after sell-out performances at the Edinburgh Festival.

Duffy is performing twice: she will read from her poetry, including her new collection, on Friday September 18 and she is also performing an intriguing piece for children, based on her book, The Princess's Blankets, with musician, John Sampson. This is an event for schools hosted by Friends' School in conjunction with Harts Events.

Broadcaster and writer Libby Purves talks about her life, her writing and how parenting has changed since she wrote her parenting classic, How Not to be a Perfect Mother. Her latest novel, Shadow Child, about the loss of a beloved son echoes Libby's own experience (Libby's son, Nicholas, committed suicide three years ago at the age of 23).

91-year-old Diana Athill, co-founder of publishing house Andre Deutsch, will recount her memoirs with considerable candour.

Also appearing is Jill Dawson, who specialises in writing fictional life stories of actual historical figures and Jane Robinson, whose book, Bluestockings, was recently read as Radio 4's Book of the Week.

Gabriel Woolf, another well-known Radio 4 voice, recounts Betjeman's life and Penguin novelists, John Preston, Jeremy Page and Jim Kelly, will all discuss why the East Anglian landscape has influenced their writing so creatively.

Festival speaker and travel writer, Andrew Eames, regularly appears in national newspapers and is the author of 8.55 to Baghdad.

Tickets and full details of all the festival events are available from Harts Books at Shire Hill, online at www.hartsevents.co.uk, by telephone on 01799 523456 or from the Saffron Walden Tourist Information Centre on the Market Square.

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