Olivia Harrison to Make Rare Public Appearance at Literary Festival

Olivia Harrison will make a rare public appearance at the Henley Literary Festival in October this year. She has lived in the town’s iconic Friar Park for over 45 years and this year will mark 20 years since the passing of her husband, Beatle George Harrison.

She will be joined by astronaut Tim Peake, ACDC frontman Brian Johnson, Children’s Laureate Cressida Cowell, comedy icon Lenny Henry, Spice Girl Mel C, novelist Robert Harris, Floella Benjamin and Mary Berry, Irvine Welsh Harrison who will speak at 1-9 October festival.

Rock stars, TV icons, social media influencers and even an astronaut feature alongside bestselling authors at this autumn’s Henley Literary Festival, with tickets on sale next month.

Featuring over 120 events for adults and children, the 16th annual Festival will be host at venues around town and online from 1-9 October. Tickets go on sale to Friends of the Festival on July 11 and on general sale July 18.

Tim Peake, one of only seven Britons ever to go to space, visits with a special all-ages event around his first non-fiction book for children The Cosmic Diary of Our Incredible Universe. Other local famous Henley residents will be joining Olivia, Trainspotting author Irvine Welsh and Mary Berry.

His first wife Pattie Boyd will also reflect on her life as a model and muse for songs including Something and Layla. Music plays a major part in this year’s line-up, with ACDC frontman Brian Johnson, Spice Girl Mel C, First Cut is the Deepest singer PP Arnold and Deacon Blue star Ricky Ross all discussing their memoirs.

International bestsellers Robert Harris, Sarah Winman, Mike Gayle, Nina Stibbe and Jeffrey Archer appear alongside debut novelists Salma El-Wardany, Bonnie
Garmus, Jessie Cave and Abigail Bergstrom.

Comedy legends Lenny Henry and Julian Clary will be in Henley for fun-filled family events, Floella Benjamin, David Dimbleby and Justin Webb join with their
autobiographies, while Gavin & Stacey co-creator Ruth Jones, wildlife expert Ray Mears, Countdown expert Susie Dent and Peep Show star Paterson Joseph all discuss their latest books.

Anton Du Beke appears for the first time, as does his former Strictly Come Dancing partner, fashion guru Susannah Constantine. The Salt Path writer Raynor Winn, whose online event in 2020 was the Festival’s most popular adult event ever, joins in-person for the first time with Landlines and Roasting Tin chef Rukmini Iyer takes us on a culinary journey through India.

Events for children of all ages include a talk from Children’s Laureate Cressida Cowell, a draw-along with Rob Biddulph and award-winning authors Manjeet Mann and
Katherine Rundell. History and politics will be covered by Lucy Worsley, Jonathan Freedland, Andrea Leadsom, Marina Hyde and Norman Scott, recently portrayed by Ben Whishaw in A Very English Scandal.

Several writers who first made their mark on social media will be speaking, including poets the UK’s most-followed poet Nikita Gill, Unmumsy Mum blogger Sarah Turner, Tik Tok star Dr Julie Smith, ‘Twitter Poet Laureate’ Brian Bilston and Instagram influencer Florence Given.

Events will take place at the Baillie Gifford Marquee, the historic Kenton Theatre and Henley Town Hall, with almost all of them available online via live streaming.

Festival director Harriet Reed-Ryan said: “After an above-expectations return to in-person last year we are so excited to welcome audiences old and new, in Henley and online wherever they are to our most accessible and varied Festival yet.”

The Festival is once again supported by headline sponsor Baillie Gifford, the independent investment partnership. Newly on board this year as media partner is the Telegraph, the award-winning, multimedia news brand. The children’s festival is supported by Shiplake College and the schools’ programme is in partnership with the arts council.

Tickets will be available via henleyliteraryfestival.co.uk and on 01491 575948, where you can also find information on becoming a Friend of the Festival for priority booking and other benefits. Friends of the festival tickets go on sale on 11 July and general sale on 18 July.

Photo: Josh Giroux