Apr 26, 2023

History themed events at the Guernsey Literary Festival

A key theme of this year’s Literary Festival is History. Whether it is the history of Guernsey and its local people or exploring the wider world, we have speakers touching on many aspects of recent history — from fascinating real-life stories, memoirs and to fictional tales based on true events.

There’s a host of interesting discussions to attend, which we’ve gathered here for you to bookmark.

Across the Channel — Memoirs of Sir Donald Banks

When: Friday 5 May, 19:00 to 20:00
Where: Guille-Allès Library

Sir Donald Banks (1891–1975) was a distinguished soldier and civil servant and will be the latest islander to be honoured with a blue plaque, which will be unveiled on his childhood home at 43 High Street on 8 May 2023. In the 1960s he wrote his memoirs about his remarkable career, but they remained unpublished until Steve Foote, working with Sir Donald Banks’s daughter, Dawn Smith, published them in 2020. Steve will give an overview of the life of this remarkable Guernseyman, introduced by Dawn. Kindly sponsored by Guernsey Arts.

Marco Tersigni and Simon Hamon: Occupied Guernsey Past and Present — From The Exact Spot

When: Wednesday 10 May, 13:00 to 14:00
Where: Les Cotils

Marco Tersigni’s latest book, in collaboration with Simon Hamon, focuses on rare and previously unpublished photographs from the Occupation of Guernsey during World War 2, together with modern-day comparisons ‘from the exact spot’. Simon Hamon is an Occupation historian and over the years has amassed a large collection of Occupation-era photographs. Join Marco and Simon in conversation with Steve Foote. Kindly sponsored by Hiscox.

Gail Simmons: Between the Chalk and the Sea — A Journey on Foot into the Past

When: Friday 12 May, 11:00 to 12:00
Where: Les Cotils

Gail Simmons will discuss her new book, Between the Chalk and the Sea, which chronicles a walk along a long-forgotten and historic pilgrimage route from Southampton to Canterbury, rediscovered on an antique map in Oxford’s Bodleian Library. Over four seasons, Gail winds between chalk hills and the south coast, telling a story of kings and knights, peasants and pilgrims, of ancient folklore and enduring traditions, and revealing the historical, natural and cultural heritage found on our doorsteps. Chaired by Gillie Revill and kindly sponsored by Rawlinson and Hunter.

Robert Hardman: Queen of our Times — The Life of Elizabeth II

When: Saturday 13 May, 16:30 to 17:30
Where: St James

Robert Hardman, the celebrated royal biographer and commentator and author of Queen of the World, delivers the definitive account of Elizabeth II’s record-breaking tenure as the British monarch in the Sunday Times Biography of the Year 2022, Queen of Our Times, highlighting her inspirational commitment to duty and fascinating new perspectives on her life. Introduced by Lieutenant General Richard Cripwell CB, CBE.

Anthony Seldon: The Path of Peace — Walking the Western Front Way

When: Sunday 14 May, 12:00 to 13:00
Where: St James

Without a permanent home, wife or job, and with no clear sense of where his life was going, Anthony Seldon set out on a 1,000-kilometre pilgrimage from the French-Swiss border to the English Channel. The historic route was inspired by a young WWI British soldier, Alexander Douglas Gillespie, who dreamed of creating a ‘Via Sacra’ to honour the fallen. Tragically, Gillespie was killed in action, his vision forgotten until a chance discovery galvanised Anthony into seeing the Via Sacra permanently established. Touching on grief, loss and the legacy of war, The Path of Peace is a triumphant rediscovery of what matters most in life. Chaired by Gerry Foley and kindly sponsored by Walkers.

Peter Conradi: Who Lost Russia?

When: Sunday 14 May, 14:30 to 15:30
Where: St James

Why did Vladimir Putin launch his devastating attack on Ukraine in February 2022? And to what extent is the Western policy towards Russia to blame for the bloodiest war on European soil since 1945? Peter Conradi, Europe Editor of The Sunday Times, analyses the series of mistakes and misunderstandings on both sides throughout history since the end of the Soviet Union in this updated version of his critically acclaimed book. Peter will bring the story to the present day, examining the events leading to the invasion and setting out what the conflict will mean for the future of Europe. Chaired by Gerry Foley and kindly sponsored by Rawlinson and Hunter.