Controversial speakers and spy watchers at Saffron Walden literacy festival

PUBLISHED: 12:58 30 August 2010

Michael Wood

Michael Wood


A CONTROVERSIAL art critic will top the bill at the Saffron Walden Literature Festival this year.

Brian Sewell

Box Office tickets are now available for ‘Classic Words’, the eighth festival organised by Harts Events, which takes place at the beginning of October.

Two instantly recognisable media figures will lead the way.

Critic Brian Sewell, with his sharp wit, encyclopaedic knowledge of fine art, and a tendency to break every PC taboo, will be asking what is the point of art history?

Secondly, much-loved TV historian Michael Wood, whose programmes include ‘In the Footsteps of Alexander the Great’ and ‘In Search of the Trojan War’, will launch his latest book ‘The Story of England’.

Following the discovery of a unique archive, it tells the story of one English community over 15 centuries and will be a go on to be a six part TV series in autumn.

Also, two heads at Cambridge University Colleges will also be speaking at the festival including Professor Christopher Andrew, the official historian for MI5.

When he was asked to write ‘Defence of the Realm’ to commemorate MI5’s centenary, he was given access to the organisation’s own secret records to tell its story.

He will be talking about espionage in the 20th and 21st century.

If you fancy tea and cakes with some literacy pleasure then head for ‘An Afternoon in Ambridge’ with Chris Arnot and Simon Frith who will be talking about The Archer’s Archives – published to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the world’s longest running radio drama serial.

Festival organiser Jo Burch said: “We set out to bring to Saffron Walden some of the best of our cultural institutions and speakers of the highest calibre.

“We are enormously proud of the programme we’ve put together and we think we’re in for a fascinating and very entertaining October.

“We hope that everyone will find a speaker they’d like to come and listen to. As always, we’d recommend people buy their tickets early so they don’t miss out.”

The full festival programme can be seen at and tickets are available online from the website or can be bought from Harts, Shire Hill, Saffron Walden, the Saffron Walden Tourist Information Centre in Market Square, or call Harts Books on 01799 523456.

Copies of the programme can also be found at various outlets in the town.

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