Chiswick Book Festival

Photographs clockwise: Joanna Trollope, Anthony Horowitz, Julian Clary, Charles Spencer with Torin Douglas, Max Hastings, Kate Mosse

2018 Book Festival, 13 – 17 September

The Chiswick Book Festival is celebrating its tenth year with a stellar line-up of authors: Anthony Horowitz, Kate Mosse, Joanna Trollope, Max Hastings, Charles Spencer, Charles Cumming, Roger McGough and Julian Clary amongst others. Over the ten years since it started it has grown exponentially in size and reputation, with festival programmes full of household names talking about a wide variety of genres. The Chiswick Book Festival takes place every year over a long weekend in September. Most of the events are held in St Michael & All Angels Church, either in church itself or the Parish Hall, with others in nearby venues such as Arts Ed and the Tabard Theatre. The launch event is held at Chiswick House.

In recent years the festival has welcomed:

2017: Jeremy Vine, Clare Balding, David Baddiel, Hunter Davies, Jo Malone, Nicholas Crane, Maggie O’Farrell, Oz Clarke, Elizabeth Buchan, Peter Hennessy, Robin Lustig, Anne Sebba, Sarah Outen, Martine Wright, Harry Mount, John O’Farrell, Jill Dawson, Marcel Theroux, Craig Oliver, Shrabani Basu.

2016: Andy Hamilton, Shappi Khorsandi, Janet Ellis, Dame Jacqueline Wilson, Cressida Cowell, Daisy Goodwin, AN Wilson, Paula Hawkins, SJ Watson, Andrew Gimson, Alison Weir, Hugh Sebag-Montefiore, Rebecca Rideal, Jancis Robinson, Hugh Johnson, Mark Lawson.

Thanks to the Chiswick Book Festival for allowing us to use their lovely images


Among the books which have been discussed:


Jo Malone My Story

2017 Fragrance entrepreneur Jo Malone talked about My Story which describes how she had to hold her family together growing up, with a father who was a gambler and a mother who suffered from depression. Written off at school because she was dyslexic, My Story tells how she learned how to make fragrances and creams from her mother and went on to make a fortune with her own company.

Maggie O’Farrell I Am, I Am, I Am

2017 Somerset Maugham and Costa Prize winning novelist Maggie O’Farrell recounted the remarkable number of times she has come close to death in her memoir I Am, I Am, I Am.

Hunter Davies OBE The Co-op’s Got Bananas

2017 Journalist and broadcaster and author of many books Hunter Davies OBE discussed his autobiography The Co-op’s Got Bananas, from his carefree childhood in postwar Britain to his relationship with the Beatles and his career in journalism.

Mary Portas Shop Girl

2015 Mary Portas is the founder of the creative communications agency Portas, which creates award-winning campaigns for some of the world’s leading brands. Her career in retail and on television has been stellar but growing up in the 1970s her home life involved hardship and tragedy as well as love. Mary Portas talked to Jane Garvey, presenter of BBC Radio 4′s Woman’s Hour, about her memoir.


Craig Oliver Unleashing Demons

2017 Craig Oliver was Director of Politics and Communications for David Cameron’s prime ministership, having previously edited the BBC’s News at Six and Ten and been Controller of the World Service and Executive Editor of ITV’s flagship news programmes. He talked about his book Unleashing Demons.

John O’Farrell Things Can Only Get Worse

2017 John O’Farrell appeared at the Chiswick Book Festival. His first book was a bestselling memoir, Things Can Only Get Better. Since then he has published five novels: The Man Who Forgot His Wife, May Contain Nuts, This Is Your Life, The Best a Man Can Get and most recently There’s Only Two David Beckhams. He has also written two best-selling history books: An Utterly Impartial History of Britain and An Utterly Exasperated History of Modern Britain, as well as three collections of journalism from his Guardian columns. His books have been translated into over twenty-five languages and have been adapted for radio and television. A former comedy scriptwriter for such productions as Spitting Image, Room 101, Have I Got News For You, Murder Most Horrid and Chicken Run, he is founder of the UK’s first daily news satire website NewsBiscuit and more recently co-wrote the Broadway musical Something Rotten!

Andrew Biswell The Real Life of Anthony Burgess

2015 Andrew Biswell, director of the International Anthony Burgess Foundation and Professor of Modern Literature at Manchester Metropolitan University, discussed his biography The Real Life of Anthony Burgess with Professor Graham Holderness.

Vince Cable The World Economy and Britain’s Economic Future

2015 the former Business Secretary Vince Cable, one of the key figures in British politics of the past two decades, gave his unique perspective on the state of the global financial markets and how the British economy has fared since 2008, offering his vision for the way the UK economy should be steered into the future.


Shrabani Basu Victoria & Abdul – and a Game of Thrones

2017 Shrabani Basu, the author of the book which inspired the film Victoria & Abdul spoke about her book Victoria & Abdul – and a Game of Thrones.

Andrew Gimson Kings and Queens: Brief Lives of the Forty Monarchs since 1066

2016 writer and journalist Andrew Gimson whirled us through the lives of our monarchs – from 1066 and William the Conqueror right up to Queen Elizabeth II and the present-day – to tell a tale of bastardy, courage, conquest, brutality, vanity, vulgarity, corruption, anarchy, absenteeism, piety, nobility, divorce, execution, civil war, madness, magnificence, profligacy, frugality, philately, abdication, dutifulness, family breakdown and family recovery.

Alison Weir Katherine of Aragon: The True Queen

2016 In Katherine of Aragon: The True Queen, the first in her Six Tudor Queens series, acclaimed historian Alison Weir tells the dramatic and poignant story of Henry VIII’s first wife, set against the backdrop of a world of splendour and brutality. In 2016 she took us on an engrossing journey, drawing on new research to offer an intimate psychological perspective on this indomitable, courageous and principled woman.

Hugh Sebag-Montefiore Somme: Into the Breach

2016 One hundred years on, the enduring impression of the Battle of the Somme is of the tragic loss of life and the heroic stoicism of troops who walked towards their death. Hugh Sebag-Montefiore brought a different perspective to the Somme by showing the extent to which the Allied armies were in fact repeatedly able to break through the German front lines, weaving a remarkable portrait of life at the Front.

Rebecca Rideal 1666: Plague, War and Hellfire

2016. 1666 was a watershed year for England. An outbreak of the Great Plague, the eruption of the second Dutch War and the catastrophic Great Fire of London all struck the country in rapid succession and with devastating repercussions. 350 years on, historian Rebecca Rideal shed light on this crucial turning point in English history and an unprecedented period of terror and triumph.

Sir Max Hastings The Secret War: Spies, Codes and Guerrillas 1939-45

2015 Sir Max Hastings commenced a nationwide tour about his latest book, The Secret War: Spies, Codes and Guerrillas 1939-45 at the Chiswick Book Festival. His meticulous research uncovered previously unknown back channels and double dealings that still have the power to surprise and shock.

Sonia Purnell First Lady: The Life and Wars of Clementine Churchill

2015 Without Winston Churchill’s inspiring leadership Britain could not have survived its darkest hour and repelled the Nazi menace. Without his wife Clementine, however, he might never have become Prime Minister. By his own admission, the Second World War would have been ‘impossible without her’.

Sonia Purnell talked about her new research on the woman behind Churchill.

Ferdinand Mount The Tears of the Rajas

2015 Former columnist at The Spectator, Daily Telegraph and The Sunday Times, editor of the Times Literary Supplement and author Ferdinand Mount examined his own family history. The Tears of the Rajas is a sweeping history of the British in India, detailing the real life experiences of the Lowe family who survived mutiny, siege, debt and disease everywhere from the heat of Madras to the Afghan snows.

Crime writing

Colette McBeth The Life I Left Behind, Erin Kelly The Ties That Bind and Jane Casey After the Fire

2015 Members of the acclaimed new writers’ group Killer Women – Colette McBeth, Erin Kelly and Jane Casey discussed the recent trend in crime fiction of the ‘killer twist’ and what it means for the genre and its writers today.

Paula Hawkins The Girl on the Train SJ Watson Before I Go to Sleep

2016 Paula Hawkins and SJ Watson have both received critical acclaim for their bestselling crime novels. In 2016 The film of The Girl on the Train was just about to be released starring Emily Blunt. Paula Hawkins talked about the experience of seeing her novel made in to a film with SJ Watson, who had also witnessed his book Before I Go to Sleep being made into a successful film starring Nicole Kidman and Colin Firth.


Jeremy Vine What I Learnt

2017 Jeremy Vine’s book What I Learnt covers his ‘showbiz’ career as the presenter of the award-winning Jeremy Vine Show on Radio 2, one of the BBC’s longest-running quiz shows Eggheads and his time on Strictly Come Dancing. His previous book It’s All News To Me After covered his training in journalism at the Coventry Evening Telegraph and his career in news at the BBC as a reporter in Westminster and on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, the correspondent in South Africa and one of the presenters of Newsnight.

Peter Hennessy Reflections and Robin Lustig Is Anything Happening?

2017 Acclaimed journalists Peter Hennessy (Times, Financial Times, Economist and BBC Radio 4 Analysis) and Robin Lustig (Reuters, The Observer, BBC Radio 4 The World Tonight) discussed the art of political interviewing.

Tim Marshall Prisoners of Geography Ten Maps That Tell You Everything You Need to Know About Global Politics

2015 Former diplomatic editor at Sky News and author Tim Marshall discussed the past, present and future of global events from a geographical perspective to offer insight into major factors that determine world history with Peter Oborne, associate editor of The Spectator.

Food writing

Oz Clarke World of Wine

2017 Oz Clarke talked about his book World of Wine. Oz Clarke is recognized the world over as one of the leading experts on wine and World of Wine is ‘an entertaining yet authoritative guide to the world of wine … In his trademark lively and opinionated prose, Oz takes the reader on a ‘grand tour’ of the great wine regions of the world, explaining the flavours behind different wines and how to find the wine you want, from Vancouver Island in the west to the coast of China in the east’.

John Torode My Kind of Food: Recipes I Love to Cook at Home

2015 John Torode is one of the UK’s best-known chefs and TV presenters – the host and judge of BBC One’s MasterChef, Celebrity MasterChef and Junior MasterChef and presenter of A-Z of Cooking on BBC Two. In 2015 he told us what the Master Chef really cooks and eats at home.

Hugh Johnson and Jancis Robinson A Life in Wine

2016 In honour of the 40th edition of Hugh Johnson’s Pocket Wine Book, acclaimed British wine critic Jancis Robinson talked to the world’s best-selling wine writer Hugh Johnson about his extraordinary career and his life in wine.

Children’s books

Clare Balding The Racehorse That Disappeared

2017 Clare Balding introduced The Racehorse That Disappeared, her second adventure story for children about her aspiring young heroine Charlie Bass.

David Baddiel Birthday Boy

2017 David Baddiel introduced Birthday Boy, the story of Sam Green, who really, really, really loves birthdays. He loves the special breakfasts in bed. The presents. The themed parties. Blowing out the candles on his cake. Everything.

Jacqueline Wilson Clover Moon

2016 Former Children’s Laureate Dame Jacqueline Wilson is one of the nation’s best-loved children’s writers, known for characters such as the feisty Tracy Beaker and the irrepressible Hetty Feather. Her books have sold over 39 million copies in the UK alone. In a welcome return to the Chiswick Book Festival in 2016, she talked about some of her most popular stories and give a sneak preview of her next book Clover Moon.

Cressida Cowell How to Fight a Dragon’s Fury

2016 The author of the ‘How to train your dragon’ series, appeared at the Chiswick Book Festival introducing How to Fight a Dragon’s Fury, the twelfth book of the series and the last in the saga of Hiccup the Viking and his very small dragon Toothless.

Facing Challenges

There is a whole genre of books in which authors describe how they overcame adversity. Some are as a result of personal tragedy, but for others the huge challenges they face are self-imposed.

Sarah Outen Dare to Do

2017 Sarah Outen talked about her decision to circle the globe entirely under her own steam – cycling, kayaking and rowing across Europe, Asia, the Pacific, North America and the Atlantic. Dare to Do is an adventure story in which she tells how she was forced to give up when storms wrecked her boat, but overcame illness and depression to start again and finish what she started.

Martine Wright Unbroken

2017 Martine Wright told her inspiring story in Unbroken of how after losing her legs in the 7/7 London bombings, she went on to compete in the Paralympics.

Matt Haig Reasons to Stay Alive

2015 At 24, Matt Haig’s world caved in. In 2015 Matt talked about how he came through crisis, triumphed over an illness that almost destroyed him and learned to live again. Reasons to Stay Alive is a moving, funny and joyous exploration of how to live better, love better and feel more alive. A bestselling memoir, this is a book about making the most of your time on earth.

“Matt Haig uses words like a tin-opener. We are the tin.” Jeanette Winterson

Cathy Rentzenbrink The Last Act of Love

2015 Cathy Rentzenbrink talked with Father Kevin Morris, Vicar of St Michael & All Angels Church, Bedford Park, about her unflinching and powerfully told memoir of an unimaginably painful family tragedy. Her bestselling account is also a life-affirming meditation on a close sibling relationship, on growing up with grief, on life and on love.


Andy Hamilton The Star Witness

2016 Legendary comedy scriptwriter and performer Andy Hamilton is known for TV shows like Power Monkeys, Outnumbered, Drop the Dead Donkey and Mock the Week and Radio 4’s Old Harry’s Game. Andy talked to journalist, broadcaster and author Mark Lawson about his debut novel The Star Witness, a hilarious story of one self-regarding man’s descent into disgrace and his journey back again.

Shappi Khorsandi Nina is Not OK

2016 One of the UK’s best known comedians Shappi Khorsandi talked about her debut novel Nina is Not OK – a dark, funny and sometimes controversial coming- of-age tale that brilliantly captures the angst and humour of teenage life.

Joel Morris and Jason Hazeley How it Works… Ladybird Books for Grown-Ups

2016 From hipsters to hangovers, and dating to mid-life crisis, the hilariously witty Ladybird Books for Grown-Ups series offers a wry and funny critique of modern life and current trends. Joel Morris and Jason Hazeley, the best-selling authors behind Ladybird’s tongue-in-cheek guides for adults, talked to journalist and LBC presenter Beverley Turner about the publishing phenomenon of these fantastically funny little books.

Helen Lederer Losing it

2015 Helen Lederer is a comedian, writer and actress who emerged as part of the alternative comedy boom at the beginning of the 1980s. She talked about her novel Losing it, which was shortlisted for the PG Woodhouse Comedy Literary Prize and The Edinburgh First Book Award 2015 with the blogger ‘Mrs Trefusis’, also known as Helen Brocklebank who runs the successful literary salon The Books That Built Me.

And the craft of writing itself

Each year there are sessions with practitioners in the publishing industry about how to write, how to pitch an idea and how to publish once you’ve written something.

Who organises the Chiswick Book Festival?

Torin Douglas is the Director

Torin Douglas was the BBC’s media correspondent for 24 years and has reported on media issues for over 40 years. He left the BBC in 2013 and now speaks, writes and chairs events for a range of media, arts and academic organisations.

Since he left the BBC he has been able to put more time and energy into directing the Chiswick Book Festival, but his involvement in arts and community events in Chiswick goes way back before he ‘retired’. He has been organising and promoting the Chiswick Book Festival, the Bedford Park Festival and events at Chiswick House, St Michael & All Angels Church, the Arts Educational Schools, the Tabard Theatre, and Chiswick Library for years. In recognition of this work he was awarded the MBE in 2013 for ‘services to the community’ in Chiswick.

Torin has lived here with his family for more than 30 years and now dedicates most of his time to raising money for charities and churches by bringing together performers, writers, arts lovers, local businesses and volunteers to enhance the social and cultural life of Chiswick.

Jo James is the Author Programme Director

Jo James has been in the book trade for more than 25 years, firstly as a bookseller and bookshop manager of an award-winning independent, and then managing the events for the bookshop chains Ottakar’s and Waterstones. She has created and produced events with speakers ranging from Bill Clinton and Tony Blair, to David Beckham, JK Rowling, Sir David Attenborough, Michael Palin, David Walliams and Jacqueline Wilson.

Jo also helps to run and programme a number of festivals, including the Times & Sunday Times Cheltenham Literature Festival, The Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, The Stratford Book Festival, the Stanfords Travel Writers Festival (part of the Destinations Show at Olympia), Live at the Hive (an arts festival in Worcester), the Cheltenham Science Festival and the Oxford Science Festival. Jo is also the Author Programme Director of the Chiswick Book Festival – 2018 will be her third year in the job.

Although now living in Chipping Campden in Gloucestershire, Jo has strong family ties to Chiswick and the surrounds, “My parents had their first home together in Chiswick, and I spent six happy years living here whilst working for Waterstones. It’s such a lovely area, with so much going on. I love it, and look forward to my regular visits.”

Helena Kelly Jane Austen – The Secret Radical

Elizabeth Buchan – The New Mrs Clifton

Hunter Davies OBE – The Co-op’s Got Bananas

Cressida Cowell – How to Fight a Dragon’s Fury

Cressida Cowell draws Hiccup and Toothless

Shappi Khorsandi – Nina is Not Ok

Harry Parker – Anatomy of a Soldier

Peter Hanington – A Dying Breed

Cathy Renzenbrink – The Last Act of Love

Santa Montefiore – Daughters of Castle Deverill

Ted Sandling – Mudlarking, London in Fragments

Janet Ellis – The Butcher’s Hook

Sally Green – Half Bad / Half Wild

150 years of Alice in Wonderland

my site my site my site