The Dulwich Literary Festival takes its theme from the Anthony Trollope novel The Way We Live Now. First published in book form in 1875, Trollope’s novel was inspired by the financial scandals of the early 1870s. The author had returned to England from Australia and sought to express his shock and disgust at the extent to which greed and corruption had become systemic in the spheres of politics, commerce, journalism and diplomacy. In 2016, as the world trains its gaze towards the centenary of the Russian Revolution of 1917, it seems fitting to re-examine Trollope’s exposé of British society, rich in satire and drama, and to compare and contrast it to how we live today.
With some of UK’s best-known names in politics, fiction, poetry and history on the adult programme, they also have a series of children’s events to entertain and delight.
Friday 11 November
Called to Account
7pm. The George Farha Auditorium, Dulwich College. £15. Harriet Harman and Margaret Hodge: two women who have given exceptional public service to the UK discuss a crucial aspect of contemporary life, the way in which corporations and governments intersect. Can national governments in the 21st century ever exert sufficient power to rein in global corporate interests? Can the Treasury maximize tax revenue as multi-nationals battle to minimize tax liability? Can economies of scale ever realistically be achieved in the public sector? Margaret Hodge has unique insights from her time as Chair of the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee 2012 – 2015. Book online here.
8pm at Dulwich Books, 6 Croxted Road. Tickets £5 including a glass of wineChaired by Michael Schmidt, three leading poets, Kate Miller who lives locally, Joey Connolly and John Clegg, all published in Carcanet’s volume New Poetries VI, will read from their latest work and discuss the place of poetry in contemporary Britain. Come along and enjoy the poetry and a glass of wine. Book online here.
Saturday 12 November
Dulwich Books Saturday morning Story Time comes to Dulwich College
Come and meet the author of one of our booksellers’ favourite picture book characters, the famous Sir Charlie Stinky Socks. Kristina Stephenson will read from her books and animate the stories for the children in the audience. 11am at Old Library, Dulwich College. Age: 4+. £5 for one child, £7.5 for two children and £10 for three children. All children must be accompanied by an adult who will be responsible for them for the duration of the event.
Concerning multitudes, our predecessors and those within us
12pm. The George Farha Auditorium, Dulwich College. £10. Ed Yong has written a fascinating book, I Contain Multitudes, about the billions of microbes to which we are hosts. Adam Rutherford’s new book, A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived, about the landscape of genetics, is similarly ambitious in scope. Join these two outstanding, expert writers for a sparkling, wide-ranging discussion of two scientific areas making an outstanding contribution towards our understanding of the way we live now.
The Girl Who Saved Christmas
3pm. Last year Matt Haig’s delightful book for children, A Boy Called Christmas, topped the charts for weeks and he enchanted our younger readers in the shop as part of his whistle-stop Sleigh Bell Tour. We are privileged this year that he is returning with the wonderful illustrator of both books, Chris Mould, and he’ll be reading from his book and talking about both titles, as Chris animates the session. Old Library, Dulwich College Age: 4+. £5 for one child, £7.5 for two children and £10 for three children. All children must be accompanied by an adult who will be responsible for them for the duration of the event.
5pm. If you choose to live in a commune and to abide by its rules, does that make you bound and beholden? What if you realise you are committed to a project that is against your best interests? Can you affect the outcome in any case? Come and hear two of the UK’s best writers of fiction and poetry, Kei Miller and Joe Dunthorne. Kei’s exceptional A Cartographer Tries to Map a Way to Zion won the Forward Poetry Prize in 2014 and his new novel confirms his talent; Joe wrote the novel Submarine, which was turned into a funny, poignant and moving film of teenage life, and followed it up with Wild Abandon, about a brother and sister in a crumbling commune in Wales. The George Farha Auditorium, Dulwich College. £7.50.
The Way We Live Now: from Anthony to Joanna Trollope
7pm. Who better to address the theme of our festival than a descendant of the writer Anthony Trollope, his namesake Joanna Trollope? A vivid chronicler of contemporary life, Joanna address key issues – parenting, caring, entrepreneurship, friendship, family, the Church, industry – and makes them her own, in a style that has won her hundreds of thousands of readers worldwide. In this exclusive address she will examine in particular the role of women and how they live now, taking in other themes from the original novel along the way. Great Hall, Dulwich College. £15 including a glass of wine.
Sunday 13 November
Come & learn how to write a story as good as The Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow – prizes to be won
10am. Writing Mysteries Workshop with Katherine Woodfine. Enter a world of bonbons, perfumes and mysteries around every corner. Join Katherine Woodfine on an Edwardian adventure through London’s most prestigious department store, Sinclair’s. Katherine talks about her writing process and her inspirations, gets the children to help her solve a mystery or two and brings dastardly villains to justice. Old Library, Dulwich College. Age: 8+. £5.
Remembrance Sunday verses from the Home Front
10.15am. Introduced by Ruth Padel and Neil Astley. Join us for readings from poetry on the theme of women left behind in contemporary war. In a year when the battles of the Somme and Verdun have been attracting so much media attention we bring you a different perspective, that of women and war today. Two poets, Bryony Doran and Isabel Palmer, both mothers of young British soldiers who have served in Afghanistan, will be take part and the event will culminate with a minute’s silence at 11:00 to commemorate lives lost in war. Old Library, Dulwich College. Free entry (although booking required), collection for Care for Casualties charity.
Brilliant brain teasers, perplexing puzzles and nimble numbers
12pm. Alex Bellos is a brilliant, funny communicator with at least two passions – Brazilian football and maths. Although he could probably answer any question you may have about the former, this time he’s here to speak about numbers, logic and associated challenges. Is that a problem? Old Library, Dulwich College. Age group: early teens and upwards. £7.50.
Harry Potter: Celebrating the Magic
3pm. One of the Professors at Hogwarts is running late – but thankfully his fabulous assistant is on hand to take his classes. A must for all Harry Potter fans, come and join in the excitement! A highly interactive, hands on magic lesson in the wonderful new auditorium of the science block of Dulwich College, featuring potions, Quidditch, small gifts to take home and much more. The George Farha Auditorium, Dulwich College. Age: 9+. £10.
3pm. Rachel Holmes is the author of Eleanor Marx: A Life. Eleanor was the daughter of Karl Marx and a brilliant orator, campaigner and thinker in her own right. Following the spread of regimes inspired by Marx’s thought in the early 20th Century, Hester Vaizey shows us what happened in 1989 when the people of the GDR decided to rejoin the capitalist West. This event gives us insight into ordinary lives affected by the great 19th century political economist and philosopher. Old Library, Dulwich College. £10.
What is in the National Interest?
5pm. Secrecy and geography; the two intersect in the interests of national security, and there is a constant tug of war between our rights as citizens and our leaders’ desire for control of information. Is Britain unique in this balancing act? How does one’s country of birth affect one’s relation to the state, and dictate the shape of our lives? Ian Cobain and Tim Marshall, two of the UK’s most distinguished and internationally-experienced journalists debate the power and politics of the hidden hand of the nation state and its symbolic representation, the national flag. The George Farha Auditorium, Dulwich College. £10.
A Coalition of the Willing
7pm. Two of the most influential members of the Coalition Cabinet, Ken Clarke and Nick Clegg, have both this autumn published accounts of their time in government.
Join them for an unmissable finale to the Festival weekend as they discuss the way we lived then, with Arifa Akbar, former literary editor of the Independent newspaper. Great Hall, Dulwich College. £15.
Dulwich College Dulwich Common London SE21 7LD
Dulwich Books 6 Croxted Road London SE21 8SW
To book tickets visit dulwichliteraryfestival.co.uk or in person through Dulwich Books, 6 Croxted Road, SE21 8SW.