Final Headliners Announced for 2023 Literary Festival

Rick Stein, Robert Peston, Elif Shafak, Rob Biddulph, Sara Pascoe, Simon Schama and many more are announced for September & October Henley Literary Festival events today.

A passenger from the original Windrush, a record-breaking illustrator and the only movie villain to take on Indiana Jones, James Bond and Luke Skywalker will join comedians, poets, sporting heroes, TV stars and local authors at this autumn’s festival.

Tickets go on sale this month for the Festival, supported by Baillie Gifford, which offers some 130 conversations, performances and talks for adults and children from 30 September – 8 October.

The latest big names announced include Rick Stein, novelists Sebastian Faulks and Elif Shafak, comedians Sara Pascoe and David Baddiel, historian Simon Schama, make-up expert Hannah Martin, and Oscar-winning filmmaker Neil Jordan. Sport will be covered by international football icons Liam Brady and Pat Nevin, Phil Tufnell and rugby star Martin Bayfield. And some of the UK’s most respected journalists will be speaking, including Robert Peston, Louise Minchin, and Gary Younge. They join previously announced speakers including Theresa May, Judy Murray, Ben Okri, Jacqueline Wilson, Timothy West, Emily Gravett and David Olusoga.

Julian Glover, famed for playing the bad guy in Indiana Jones & The Last Crusade, The Empire Strikes Back and For Your Eyes Only, will reflect on a unique 60-year
career. With the 75th anniversary of the Empire Windrush arriving in the UK this year, Alfred Dalrymple Gardner – one of just two surviving passengers and a WW2 veteran – will share his extraordinary story. Events for children of all ages will include magician and TV host Stephen Mulhern, Draw With Rob sensation Rob Biddulph, Rizzle Kicks musician Jordan Stephens, author-illustrator Sophy Henn and writer-actor Ben Miller. And with the Festival once again coinciding with National Poetry Day three of the country’s biggest spoken word stars will be reading: Salena Godden, Nikita Gill and George the Poet. Local speakers this year include restaurateur David Williams, novelist Christina Hardyment, historian Peter Stothard and actors Simon Williams and Lucy Fleming.

In addition to events at Phyllis Court, Henley Town Hall, the Kenton Theatre and The Relais Henley during the nine-day Festival, there are also pop-ups at the Christchurch Centre and the Town Hall. These begin with Sara Pascoe on September 20 and continue after the Festival with Rick Stein, Phil Tufnell, Liam Brady, Philippa Gregory and James O’Brien.

Tickets go on sale to Friends of the Festival on Monday 10 July and on general sale a week later on 17 July, via and on 01491 575948.

The majority of events will also be available to watch online. Visit the website for information on becoming a Friend of the Festival for priority booking and other benefits.


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