More big names line up for Ilkley Literature Festival

Further famous names, including seafaring heroine Dame Ellen MacArthur, have been added to the line-up for this year's Ilkley Literature Festival.

The round-the-world yachtswoman has been confirmed in the final programme for this year's event, which will host more than 200 talks, readings and workshops over 17 days.

Iranian-born comedienne Shappi Khorsandi has also been booked to entertain as well as newsreader George Alagiah, who will talk about the global food chain. Festival favourites such as Louis de Bernieres, Will Self and Gervase Phinn are set to make a return.

Broadcasting legend Sir Michael Parkinson has already been named as a highlight of the festival, alongside Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy, columnist Polly Toynbee, comics Alexei Sayle and Jenny Eclair and broadcaster Peter Snow. Fatima Bhutto, the niece of Benazir Bhutto, authors Roddy Doyle and Audrey Niffenegger and Indian media figure Kishwar Desai were also announced last month.

This year's themes aim to explore a range of ideas, from what it means to be British, to how science affects us, the history of famous people and places, and myths and truths behind environmental issues.

General appearances will include Culture Show and Sunday Telegraph art critic Andrew Graham-Dixon, who will talk about his new book on the Italian artist Caravaggio. And Keighley's own spin doctor Alistair Campbell is back to reveal further secrets following the publication of the first volume of his diaries, Prelude to Power.

Best-known for creating sitcom hero Reggie Perrin, David Nobbs will talk about his new book Obstacles on Young Love and Barbara Trapido, who wrote the critically acclaimed Frankie & Stankie, will discuss her seventh novel.

Eminent academics hoping to educate audiences will include Iraqi-born British historian Avi Shlaim, Professor of International Relations at the University of Oxford, who will examine the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, astronomer Professor Paul Murdin and BBC4's Science and Islam presenter Professor Jim al'Khalili.

Journalists Stephen Grey and James Fergusson will give a talk from a foreign correspondent's perspective about reporting from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Local input will come from, among others, community archaeologist Gavin Edwards and Ilkley Brewery have even brewed a special beer for the occasion.

Festival director Rachel Feldberg said: "The festival offers a great opportunity for readers to discover new writers, encouraging them to try unknown events in the programme as well as the more well-known and established speakers.

"Audiences who enjoy listening to Dame Ellen MacArthur's talk on giving up sailing to work on saving the environment might also enjoy Charles Emmerson's talk on the arctic and global economy; those who like Louis De Bernieres' short stories should try Helen Simpson's and fans of Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy could discover a taste for Kate Fox's talk on news poetry."

The full programme will be available in print and on-line from Saturday, August 14. For details and to register on the mailing list, visit ilkleyliteraturefestival.org.uk.


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