In something of a literary coup, JK Rowling makes her only public appearance to promote her new, and first, work of adult fiction, The Casual Vacancy, at the Lennoxlove Book Festival.
Of course, this goliathan publishing event has attracted huge attention, the book sold 124,000 in its first week, going straight in at No1 in the fiction bestsellers without much promotional effort at all. As JK Rowling herself said back in 2005, “The first thing I write post-Harry could be absolutely dreadful and, you know, people will buy it.” Not just because we all loved Harry Potter but also because we’re fascinated at the personal transformation of Jo Rowling: from single mother living on a shoestring to success and wealth beyond her own, and anyone else’s dreams. We want to know more about what goes on up there inside her head.
No surprise then that within hours the event at Lennoxlove was sold out and the festival’s facebook page has been awash with ticket pleas ever since. Still it’s possible to satisfy a little of our curiosity from the comfort of our homes. In the video below JK Rowling shares a bit of herself with Decca Aitkenhead.
And there are plenty of other authors to get excited about. See the Lennoxlove Book Festival programme for full details and delight in our selection of the highlights below:
Friday 2 November
6.00PM / £13, £11(C)
Satisfy your curiosity about another literary great, this time the prolific author of War Horse and a staggering 130 novels. Michael Morpurgo appears with his biographer Maggie Ferguson, to promote a book that tells of his dream to become an army officer, of his sadness and regrets, and of his transition from teaching children to writing for them. The biography is unique, as each of the seven biographical chapters is echoed by a new story from the pen of Michael Morpurgo.
Saturday 3 November
7.30PM / £13, £11(C)
What is it about culinary women? It’s not so long since Artemis Cooper’s biography of Elizabeth David – which was subsequently dramatised by the BBC, revealed the doyenne of modern British food to be an over-sexed boozer. And here, Prue Leith, who we all thought was the respectable lady who taught posh gals cordon bleu at her famed cookery school in London reveals that she too has something of a racy past. Expect shockwaves in the Home Counties.
Sunday 4 November
1.30PM / £13, £11(C)
Political memoirs are famed for their revelations and the new light they cast on the recent past. So far we’ve learned from Jack Straw’s contribution that John Smith was dependent on alcohol and that Jack Straw regards dreariness to be a political weapon worth cultivating and one with which to beat persistent Paxmanesque newshounds. So not a personality flaw as we’d all previously thought. Critics are unexpectedly roused in their positive response to Jack Straw’s book.
Other big names appearing are; the delightful and charming Neil Oliver, from whom we expect no shocking revelations just further historic enlightenment, this time on The Vikings; also the professionally irascible, but much loved actor Richard Wilson and purveyor of heart-warming tales inspired by the everyday, Alexander McCall-Smith.