The 2020 Guernsey Literary Festival has been cancelled. Full story Donate


Feb 10, 2020

The Festival line-up is announced

Professor Richard Dawkins, probably best known for his books The Selfish Gene and The God Delusion, will talk about his latest book, Outgrowing God; a Beginner’s Guide. Impressed by the beauty and complexity of living things, Richard Dawkins initially felt certain they must have had a designer. Learning about evolution changed his mind. Now one of the world’s best and bestselling science communicators, Dawkins has given his readers the same opportunity to rethink the big questions of belief. Both Ben Fogle and Richard Dawkins will be speaking at St James.

This year’s Festival, the island’s eighth, attracts a number of speakers from a wide range of disciplines, from fiction and poetry to politics, from history to sport, from the environment to food, from biography to travel. As in past years, there will be a full education and community programme, and workshops for local writers with top visiting authors. The events will be mostly centred around St Peter Port, including at St James, the Festival Hub in Market Street and the Guille-Alles Library.

The comprehensive list of speakers includes Cerys Matthews, musician and presenter and now food writer, the very funny Dom Joly, and one of the architects of the 2015 Paris Climate Change Agreement, Tom Rivett-Carnac. 

Cerys Matthews MBE programmes and hosts the BBC Radio 2 Blues Show and her award-winning Sunday show on BBC 6 Music. She was the founder member of the multi-million selling band Catatonia and author of the bestseller, Hook, Line and Singer. Her book Where the Wild Cooks Go is a ‘folk cook book’. Its pages are brim full of generations-old nuggets of wisdom, as well as stories about the Catatonia touring days and other escapades, plus over a hundred recipes and cocktail ideas.

Dom Joly is an award-winning comedian, journalist and travel writer, and the creator of Trigger Happy TV. Join Dom for an exploration of the rich history of Lebanon, told with his trademark humour, as well as tales of his other travels and his comedy. His event is sponsored by OSA Recruitment. 

In their book The Future we Choose, Tom Rivett-Carnac and Christiana Figueres tackle the most urgent challenge humankind has ever faced, the changing climate and fate of humanity, and the options for change. Tom’s talk is sponsored by The International Stock Exchange. 

Lifestyle and environmental writer Lauren Bravo will talk about her book How to Break up With Fast Fashion, an industry which, she argues, is bad for the planet and bad for our brains and bank balances. There is another way - and this from someone who admits that she loves clothes almost more than anything.

Christie Watson’s career was in nursing, from paediatric intensive care in large NHS hospitals to resuscitation officer involved in teaching and clinical work on hospital-wide crash teams. Her best-selling book The Language of Kindness: A Nurse’s Story, takes us from birth to death, from A and E to the mortuary, and is an astonishing account of a profession defined by acts of care, consideration and kindness. The book was a number one Sunday Times best-seller. The talk is in partnership with Health Connections.

As well as talking about and reading his work, Poet Laureate Simon Armitage will be judging the Festival’s International Poetry Competition, which is sponsored by Guernsey Post.

One of the most popular and respected poets in the UK, Simon Armitage was Oxford Professor of Poetry. He has published 28 collections of poetry, including his latest, Sandettie Light Vessel Automatic, and his acclaimed translation of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.
Award-winning performance poets Anthony Anaxagorou and Tony Walsh are also coming to take part.

Joanne Harris sprang to fame with her novel Chocolat, which sold more than a million copies in the UK alone and was made into a successful film starring Juliette Binoche and Johnny Depp. She will be talking about her new book, The Strawberry Thief, a Sunday Times best seller.

Platform Seven is Louise Doughty’s ninth novel. Her previous book, Black Water, was published in 2016 to critical acclaim in the UK and US, where it was nominated as one of the New York Times Notable Books of the Year. Her Top Ten bestseller Apple Tree Yard sold over half a million copies in the UK alone and was adapted for BBC One as a four-part series starring Emily Watson. Her talk is sponsored by Browns Advocates.

Best-selling crime novelist Ruth Ware will be talking about her work at an event sponsored by Appleby. Her thrillers In a Dark, Dark Wood, The Woman in Cabin 10, The Lying Game, The Death of Mrs Westaway and The Turn of the Key have appeared on bestseller lists around the world, including the Sunday Times and New York Times. 

From current affairs and politics comes Professor Danny Dorling, who will talk about his book Rule Britannia: Brexit and the End of Empire, and from history comes Giles Milton, whose most recent book is D-Day: the Soldiers’ Story, a remarkable insight into what it was like to live through the momentous first day of the landing.

Michael Burleigh examines the state of the world today in The Best of Times, The Worst of Times: A History of Now. His talk is sponsored by Rawlinson & Hunter.

Political journalist Steve Richards will be the speaker at this year’s Business Breakfast, sponsored by Butterfield, at the OGH Hotel. His book The Prime Ministers looks at leadership and how it has been shown in the recent holders of the UK’s top political job.

TV star John Nettles, himself a historian of the Occupation of the Channel Islands, and a popular speaker, will talk about The Ord Diaries, an important record of those difficult years. His talk is sponsored by Investec.

From sport comes football lawyer Daniel Geey, whose book Done Deal looks at every aspect of the multi-million pound industry that is football transfers and the world of agents.
Adharanand Finn’s latest book, The Rise of the Ultra Runners, shortlisted for the William Hill Sports Book of the Year, delves into the fascinating world of one of the fastest growing – and toughest – sports on the planet.

From health comes Megan Rossi, whose latest book Eat Yourself Healthy discusses how looking after your gut is one of the most effective ways to enhance health and wellbeing.
The Festival’s honorary chairman and one of its greatest supporters, Terry Waite, will be returning to the Festival and will be recalling engaging moments from his life through some of his readings and poetry with illustrative music played by pianist Matthew Rickard.

The Festival also organises a full programme of events in local schools, sponsored by Rothschild & Co, involving 12 children’s authors, including Andy Riley, Onjali Rauf and Neal Layton. The Santander International children’s event programme features authors Andy Stanton, Emily Grossman and Dr Dilly and his show “You Wouldn’t Want to be an Egyptian Mummy”. Our ever popular Tea Party, sponsored by Specsavers, also returns to the festival with an Alice Through the Looking Glass theme.

There are many more speakers and entertainers at the 2020 Guernsey Literary Festival and more information can be found on the Festival’s website, The Guernsey Literary Festival is supported by the Guernsey Arts Commission. Tickets will go on sale to members today (note to editor: 5 Feb) and to the general public on Monday 10 February. A printed programme will be delivered to all island households in March.


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