Julia Donaldson and Rupert Everett to Headline 2024 Literary Festival

Henley Literary Festival returns this autumn with headliners Julia Donaldson and Rupert Everett.

The Festival, now in its 18th year, will take place from 28 September to 6 October with over 100 conversations, talks and performances for adults and children.

With over 45 million books sold Julia Donaldson, creator of The Gruffalo, Room on the Broom and Stick Man, is one of the most popular authors of all time; she appeared at the very first Henley Literary Festival in 2007 and now returns for the first time since with another fun-packed event for children (and grown-ups) of all ages. Stage and screen star Rupert Everett heads back to Henley after his full-house 2012 event with The American No, a collection of short stories that range from Oscar Wilde in Paris to a talent agency in LA.

Also among the first names revealed for Henley Literary Festival 2024 are novelists David Nicholls, Lynda La Plante and Elif Shafak. One Day author Nicholls’ new novel You Are Here has just gone straight to No.1 in the book charts; La Plante will discuss her long-awaited memoir Getting Away with Murder and latest thriller Accused; and two-time Booker Prize nominee Shafak returns after last year’s sell-out with There are Rivers in the Sky.

In this Olympic and Paralympic year the Festival welcomes two Team GB heroes to Henley: former relay world champion Iwan Thomas with his autobiography and two-time Paralympic gold winner Jonnie Peacock with his inspiring book for children You Can Do Anything!

Also appearing at the Festival for the first time this year are Dame Zandra Rhodes with her memoir Iconic: My Life in Fashion in 50 Objects, rising star poet and YA author Laura Dockrill with her debut novel for adults I Love You, I Love You, I Love You and award-winning dancer turned Strictly judge Shirley Ballas with Dance to the Death.

And in addition to the public children’s events with Julia Donaldson and more, the ever-popular schools programme returns, including Waterstones Children’s Laureate Joseph Coelho and two of his predecessors, Jacqueline Wilson and Cressida Cowell, as well as Maz Evans, Hannah Gold and illustrator Petr Horáček.

Festival director Harriet Reed-Ryan said: “Our 2023 Festival was our best-ever, and it has been a tall order to programme a line-up that can rival that of last year; however we have some truly remarkable names with books spanning all categories and we’re confident the mix of events will inspire and entertain our audiences of all ages. We’re looking forward to sharing more names soon!”

Many more speakers will be announced in the coming months, ahead of tickets going on sale to Friends of the Festival w/c July 8 and general sale dates to be confirmed soon. Friends membership is available via henleyliteraryfestival.co.uk and on 01491 575948 (10am-2pm Monday -Thursday).

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