Josh Lacey

Josh Lacey

Grk and Dragonsitter

Children can be entertained by Josh Lacey at the library, author of the very popular Grk and Dragonsitter series.

–Have you got what it takes to be a Dragonsitter? What is a dragon’s favourite food? Who would win a fight between a dragon and the Loch Ness monster? Join Josh Lacey, author of the Roald Dahl Funny Prize shortlisted The Dragonsitter, and find out what happens when Eddie and Emily are left in charge of their uncle’s pet dragon.

Josh Lacey was born and has lived in London for almost his entire life. He spent his childhood immersed in books, disappearing down rabbit holes and into wardrobes, exploring unknown countries and distant corners of the galaxy. As an adult, he’s never quite managed to pull himself away from these fabulous places and into what people like to call “real life”. Instead, he’s remained absorbed by the world of books.

Best known for his Grk series, Josh Lacey has written more than twenty books, almost all intended for children, including Bearkeeper and two other series, the Misfitz and the Tom Trelawney books.

Richard Knott

Richard Knott

Courageous War Artists and Intrepid Correspondents

Richard Knott will also be talking about his book ‘The Sketchbook War’ and his latest book, ‘The Trio’.

The Sketchbook War tells the story of nine courageous war artists, Edward Ardizzone, Edward Bawden, Barnett Freedman, Anthony Gross, Thomas Hennell, Eric Ravilious, Albert Richards, Richard Seddon and John Worsley, all travelled abroad into the dangers of war to chronicle events by painting them.  Portraying how war and art came together in a moving and dramatic way, this is the true story behind the war artists who fought, lived and died for their art on the front line of the Second World War.

The Trio tells the story of three war correspondents in the Second World War. Alan Moorehead, Alexander Clifford and Christopher Buckley became so close that their colleagues dubbed them ‘The Trio’, sometimes out of disgruntled rivalry.

Richard is a researcher and writer of modern history who has also worked as an actor, English teacher and management consultant. He has written several books on the Second World War and articles for the Independent and The Times Educational Supplement.

Nick Channer & Philippa Lewis

Nick Channer & Philippa Lewis

Where Stories Live

Join us for a lively discussion about houses, what they have meant to people and how they have contributed to the literary world.

Nick Channer is the author of ‘Writer’s Houses: Where Great Books Began’, which explores the homes behind some of the great works of English literature, from the abbey where Byron partied to the house where Agatha Christie tested out her whodunnits. Part armchair travel, part reference, this is a journey into Britain’s impressive literary and architectural heritage and an exploration of how beloved authors drew inspiration from their homes.

He will be joined by Philippa Lewis talking about her book ‘Everyman’s Castle : The Story of Our Cottages, Country Houses, Terraces, Flats, Semis and Bungalows’. This is a social history of how people lived in houses, as well as giving a side helping of the history of domestic architecture. It takes us from the primitive huts at the time of the Domesday Book to Thirties suburbs. It paints the grandeur of great country houses and chronicles the development of urban squares and terraces. It escorts us to the slums, in which those who toiled for our 19th-century wealth were compelled to live and die; and it ends with a glorious chapter on bungalows.

Nick Channer is an author, BBC radio broadcaster and local speaker on the subjects of walks and the countryside. He has written many local walks guides for Countryside Books, AA 50 walks and Crimson Pathfinder series – the most recent being Thames Valley and Chilterns walks.  He has contributed to the Francis Frith books of old photographs, focusing mainly on local titles. ‘Newbury Living Memories’, published in 2004, was very popular in the series.

Local author Philippa Lewis has written several acclaimed historical books about English architecture and gardens including ‘House: British Domestic Architecture’ and ‘Everything You Can Do in the Garden Without Actually Gardening’.  ‘Everyman’s Castle’ has had wonderful reviews from all the major newspapers.

Join us for what is sure to be a most enlightening event for all literary and architectural enthusiasts. After the talk the authors will take questions from the audience and sign copies of their books.


Sponsored by:

Sarah Jackson

Tim Dee

Unfortunately, we have had to cancel this event. Please contact Emma via The Hungerford Bookshop if you have any enquiries.
Sir Max Hastings

Sir Max Hastings

SOLD OUT

“As gripping as any spy thriller, Max Hastings’ account of intelligence in the Second World War is the best yet on the subject.” Sunday Times

‘The Secret War’ links tales of high courage ashore, at sea and in the air to the work of the brilliant ‘boffins’ at home, battling the enemy’s technology. Most of the strivings, adventures and sacrifices of spies, Resistance, Special Forces and even of the codebreakers were wasted, Hastings says, but a fraction was so priceless that no nation grudged lives and treasure spent in the pursuit of jewels of knowledge.

The book tells stories of high policy and human drama, mingled in the fashion that has made international bestsellers of Max Hastings’ previous histories, this time illuminating the fantastic machinations of secret war.

Max Hastings examines the espionage and intelligence machines of all sides in World War II, and the impact of spies, code-breakers and partisan operations on events. Here are not only Alan Turing and the codebreaking geniuses of Bletchley Park, but also their German counterparts, who achieved their own triumphs against the Allies.

Sir Max Hastings is an author, journalist and broadcaster whose work has appeared in every British national newspaper.  He now writes regularly for the Daily Mail and Financial Times, and reviews books for the Sunday Times and New York Review of Books. ‘Catastrophe’, his previous book was a Times History Book of the Year and a successor to the international bestseller, ‘All Hell Let Loose’.


Sponsored by:

Bruce MacFarlane

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Robin Haig

Robin Haig

Knight Errant: Lord Craven and the Court of the Winter Queen

Robin Haig talks about his new book, a compelling tale of plots, intrigues, exile, battles, family quarrels, court cases – and architecture.

This is the first ever biography of Lord William Craven, a wealthy and generous supporter of Elizabeth of Bohemia, who risked his life and spent a fortune for her cause.

It’s a fascinating portrait of Elizabeth (1596-1662), the 2nd child of James I, sister of Charles I, and the intended benefactor of the ill-fated Gunpowder Plot of 1605. The book details the houses that Craven planned for the returned Queen, including Ashdown House near Lambourn (which is now a National Trust property) and Hamstead Marshall Park near Hungerford, now demolished.

Robin Haig was born in 1959. Educated at Winchester College and St Andrews University, he graduated with an MA in modern and medieval history in 1982. He is the author of A History of Theatres and Performers in Herefordshire (2002) and in 2009 was commissioned to write a series of potted histories of Cambridge colleges for Cambridge 800, a book published to commemorate the 800th anniversary of the foundation of the university.

Stephen Church

Stephen Church

King John: England Magna Carta and the Making of a Tyrant

No English king has suffered a worse press than King John: but how to disentangle legend and reality? The youngest of the five sons of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine, the empire builders of the Angevin dynasty, John had small hope of securing any significant inheritance. Then, in 1199, on the death of his older brother Richard, John took possession of the vast Angevin lands in England and on the continent. But by his death in 1216, he had lost almost all that he inherited, and had come perilously close to losing his English kingdom, too.

Drawing on thousands of contemporary sources, Stephen Church tells John’s story. In doing so, he reveals exactly why John’s reign went so disastrously wrong and how John’s failure led to the great cornerstone of Britain’s constitution: Magna Carta. Vivid and authoritative, King John: England, Magna Carta and the Making of a Tyrant is history at its visceral best.

Professor Stephen Church is professor of medieval history at the University of East Anglia, and widely acclaimed as an expert on twelfth-century kingship, especially the reign of King John. He is a member of the council of the Society of Antiquaries and is actively involved in the national commemoration of the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta in 2015.

Wild Writing Workshop with Nicola Chester

Wild Writing Workshop with Nicola Chester

Suitable for children ages 8-14 years

Nature can inspire the best writing and is growing in popularity. Whether you are interested in writing stories, poems or non-fiction, contact with nature fires the imagination. Nicola is a local naturalist, author and nature columnist for the Newbury Weekly News and writer for families and children for the RSPB. In this workshop, we will explore the autumnal wildlife of Freeman’s Marsh and the River Dunn, returning to the Newton Room at The Croft in Hungerford to have some fun with writing and see what our walk has inspired. We’ll also explore what nature writing is and look at some children’s authors that write with nature in mind.

Come dressed for a wet and muddy walk (wellies and coats), we’ll go out in all but the worst weather – in which case, we can work with ‘found’ objects provided.

Bring a notebook and something to write with (gloves, too, if it’s cold). Bring binoculars if you have them. Refreshments provided, but do bring a water bottle and snack if needed. Ages, a flexible 8-14.

For more information on Nicola’s writing or workshops, visit https://nicolachester.wordpress.com or email nicolawriting@fsmail.net


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Edward Brooke-Hitching & Martin Johnson

Edward Brooke-Hitching & Martin Johnson

A sporting chance

Edward Brooke-Hitching and Martin Johnson will be talking about their books  ‘Fox Tossing, Octopus Wrestling and Other Forgotten Sports’ and ‘Can I Carry Your Bags? The Life of a Sports Hack Abroad’ in what promises to be a lively and amusing event for all sports enthusiasts.

From Flagpole Sitting to Mumble a Sparrow, Edward Brooke-Hitching has researched through piles of dusty tomes to bring vividly back to life some of the most curious, dangerous and downright bizarre sports and pastimes that mankind has ever devised, before thinking better of it and erasing it from the memory. An intriguing, entertaining and occasionally shocking insight into the vivid imaginations of mankind across the years, Fox Tossing, Octopus Wrestling and Other Forgotten Sports is an unforgettable read.

Edward Brooke-Hitching is a writer and award-winning documentary filmmaker. The son of an antiquarian book dealer, he gained a degree in Film at the University of Exeter before entering independent film production. ‘Fox Tossing, Octopus Wrestling and Other Forgotten Sports’ is his first book. He lives in London.

‘Can I Carry Your Bags? The Life of a Sports Hack Abroad’ is an irreverent, witty memoir from one of the most renowned sports journalists in the business.

In nearly 25 years as a sports journalist for the Independent, Daily Telegraph, and Sunday Times, Martin Johnson has covered events all over the world, including cricket and tennis in Australia, golf in America, Formula One in Kuala Lumpur, boxing in Cairo, petanque in Gran Canaria, beach volleyball in Brazil, Olympics in Sydney, football in China, and rugby in South Africa.

It’s Hell out there, says Martin, who makes out his case for a life of hardship, deprivation, and a breathless dedication to duty in the face of overwhelming odds. Frankly, however, we still think it reads more like the Life of Riley.

Melanie Gow

Melanie Gow

Walking with Angels

Walking with Angels is the true story of Melanie’s inspirational walk with her sons, aged, 12 and 16, for 33 exceptional days over the Pyrenees and across Spain for 800kms to Santiago de Compostela

Walking with Angels is a story that begins one ordinary Tuesday night in February when a mother and her two sons sit down to watch a film called The Way, the fictional account of a middle-aged man who walks a pilgrimage. Melanie Gow’s sons turn to her as the end-credits roll and ask if she will walk with them, over the Pyrenees Mountains and across the country of Spain. There are only three things stopping her: she is nearly 50 years old and unfit, she will have to give up work to find the 33 days it will take, and the boys are only 16 and 12 years old. It turns out to be the best thing she can do for them, it is also the best thing she can do with them; the big surprise is the thoroughly profound transformation she experiences.

Melanie is a Photographic Artist and Writer – usually found in the moment. “As an artist I am asking what my connection is with any given moment. As a writer I am trying to understand the story it tells. As a speaker I hope to inspire you.”


Sponsored by:

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Piers Paul Read

Piers Paul Read

The award-winning writer talks to Lis Allen about his brilliant re-imagining of the infamous villain in Puccini’s opera.

For fans of fiction we have award-winning writer Piers Paul Read with his new book ‘Scarpia’ which brilliantly reimagines the infamous villain of Puccini’s opera, Tosca, telling a story that shines a light into the dusty corridors of history and the dark corners of the human soul.

Based on one of the central figures from Tosca, Puccini’s classic opera, Scarpia is a powerful story of love, lust and political intrigue set in Rome at the time of the French Revolution. This dramatic, sumptuous work of historical fiction will appeal to fans of S. J. Parris and C. J. Sansom, Stendhal’s The Red and the Black and Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall.

‘Marvellously comic, superbly inventive… One of the most arresting British novelists’ The Times

Piers Paul Read is best known for his book Alive: The Story of the Andes Survivors, which documented the story of the 1972 crash of Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571 and was adapted into a film. He has won a number of prizes for his fiction, including the Hawthornden Prize, the Somerset Maugham Award and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize. His latest novel was ‘The Misogynist’.

Poetry in the Bookshop with Simon Carver & Danica Trim

Poetry in the Bookshop with Simon Carver & Danica Trim

Whether you enjoy ‘messing around with words’, honing your craft, are a published poet or just enjoy listening to others, come along to a fun, informal, and probably quite cosy, evening of poetry in the bookshop.

It’s a chance to hear two local poets, Simon Carver and Danica Trim, and share a piece of your work with others (we promise there will be plenty of wine to help overcome any nerves).

If you would like the opportunity to share your poem (no more than 40 lines long) then bring it with you, and nab one of our slots by popping your name down on the door (there are only 10 slots available, so make sure you find the person with the list).

As with all forums that encourage self expression, it’s possible that some people may express themselves using language that others may find offensive. Please be prepared for the occasional expletive. The event may not be suitable for young ears or people with sensitive dispositions.

Danica Trim is a long time Hungerford resident, a singer-songwriter who has recently recorded an album of original material, before turning her hand to poetry. Her first collection of poems, titled “Mustard Children”,  will be available soon and explores the themes of faith, belief, and growth in human relationships both personal and on a societal scale.  These ingredients are enhanced with healthy doses of optimism, cynicism, and dashes of bitterness, hope and humour to create a piquant collection of poems.

Simon Carver was born in Sheffield and read English Language and Literature at the University of Liverpool. Long resident in the South and almost three decades into a life sentence in the British music industry, he has been quietly and sometimes less quietly playing around with poetry for about the same length of time.

Mid-life prompted Carver to finally publish his first collection of poems this year, entitled ‘Poitry’ and spanning his writing from what he says feels like the dawn of time to the present day, gathered and scattered in anything but chronological order. He currently lives in West Berkshire, with much of his time spent in London. You can catch up with Carver in the following places and spaces: YouTube and Daily Motion. And remember, poetry is the original rock ‘n’ roll…


Sponsored by:

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Louis de Bernières

Louis de Bernières

The Dust That Falls From Dreams

The international bestselling author talks about ‘The Dust That Falls From Dreams‘, an epic story of love and war, and of England in the first half of the twentieth century.

This magnificent and moving novel follows the lives of an unforgettable cast of characters as they strike out to seek what happiness can be built from the ruins of the old world.

Louis de Bernières lives in Norfolk. He published his first novel in 1990 and was selected by Granta magazine as one of the twenty Best of Young British Novelists in 1993. Since then he has become well known internationally as a writer, with Captain Corelli’s Mandolin winning the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best Novel in 1994.


Sponsored by:

Chilton Farms Ltd