ESSEX: Art critic Brian Sewell heads literature festival Line-up

PUBLISHED: 16:21 12 July 2010

Brian Sewell

Brian Sewell


TWO instantly recognisable media figures will head the eighth Saffron Walden Literature Festival.

Michael Wood

The box office opens this week for Classic Words, organised by Harts Events, which takes place in October.

Headliners for the event will be controversial art critic, Brian Sewell, with his sharp wit, encyclopaedic knowledge of fine art, and a tendency to break every PC taboo; and much-loved TV historian, Michael Wood (once dubbed ‘the thinking woman’s crumpet’) whose programmes such as In the Footsteps of Alexander the Great and In Search of the Trojan War kindled a passion for history in many of his viewers.

Two heads of Cambridge University Colleges will also be speaking at the festival.

Professor Christopher Andrew is 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.

Jane Austen, and why, unexpectedly, she was hated by 19th century Americans is the topic for the other Cambridge University speaker. Professor Janet Todd, who is general editor of the Cambridge edition of Jane Austen’s works.

Also in the line up is award-winning Asterix translator Anthea Bell, on translating the famous French comic-strip puns into appalling English jokes.

The Jerome K Jerome Society president and broadcaster, Jeremy Nicholas, will talk about the author and read from his comic masterpiece, Three Men in a Boat, over tea and cakes.

Playwright Terence Frisby, whose comedy There’s a Girl in my Soup became the longest running comedy in the history of the West End, is talking about his life in the theatre and the law courts, and about his recent book, Kisses on a Postcard, drawn from his autobiographical award-winning radio drama about his childhood experience as a World War Two evacuee.

Tea and cakes will again be served when Joanna Toye, scriptwriter for Radio 4’s The Archers, comes to talk about the Archers archives.

And, in an event jointly hosted by Harts Events and Dame Bradbury’s School, parenting guru, Elizabeth Hartley-Brewer will explain children’s friendships and how to make sense of them.

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: we think we’re in for a fascinating and very entertaining October - and we hope that everyone will find a speaker they’d like to come and listen to.”

The full festival programme can be seen at

Tickets are available online from the website or can be bought from

Harts, Shire Hill, Saffron Walden, the Saffron Walden Tourist Information Centre, or from Harts Books on 01799 523456.

Copies of the programme can be found at various outlets in Saffron Walden.

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