A SERIES of authors including controversial newspaper columnist Katie Hopkins will appear at this weekend’s Lewes Speakers Festival.
Ms Hopkins will be talking about her book Rude, which is part memoir and part advice for the modern woman, sharing her disasters and her biggest disappointments in her life.
Her talk will take her audience “beyond her front door and into the privacy of her home, explaining things as a mum of three, sharing things even she feels awkward saying”. She talks about Rude in an interview with Pique – read it here.
The speakers also include Peter Snow, a foreign correspondent who anchored Newsnight and famously brought general elections to life with help of his swingometer, and his wife Ann, who is the great-granddaughter of David Lloyd George and who worked for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation until 2013. They will be talking about their book War Stories: Gripping Tales of Courage, Cunning and Compassion, an account of ordinary men and women swept up in the turbulence of war.
Also appearing is Tony Blair’s former Minister for Europe Denis MacShane, whose book Brexit, No Exit (Why in the End) Britain Won’t Leave Europe argues that Brexit will not mean full rupture with Europe.
Alison Weir, the UK’s top selling female historian, will be talking about her book Anne Boleyn: A King’s Obsession, the second book in her Six Tudor Queens series.
Shrabani Basu is also appearing to discuss her book, Victoria & Abdul: The True Story of the Queen’s Closest Confidant, which has been made into the feature film starring Judi Dench and Eddie Izzard.
Former teacher Marc Rattray launched the festival in 2011, inspired after having some speakers at his school and by other festivals, such as Hay-on-Wye and Charleston. The Lewes Speakers Festival has now grown to other festivals in Chichester and Winchester.
“I always aim to get a wide variety of speakers and try to find people who are of interest,” says Marc.
“We have ministers, politicians, journalists and writers. Politically, the festival is neutral and has hosted people from Polly Toynbee, Dennis Skinner, Alan Johnson and Yasmin Alibhai Brown to Peter Hitchens, Nigel Lawson and this year’s controversial billing of Katie Hopkins.
“If there is an aim, it is to foster debate and thinking and interaction of ideas.”
Here is a full list of the speakers at the festival:
Alison Weir is the UK’s top selling female historian and a historical author who will be talking about her new novel Anne Boleyn: A King’s Obsession. It’s the second book in her Six Tudor Queens series and the author weaves new research and theories into the dark and powerful tale of Henry VIII’s second wife.
Born into a noble English family, Anne is barely a teenager when she is sent from her family’s Hever Castle to serve at the royal court of the Netherlands. There, and later in France, Anne thrives, preferring to absorb the works of progressive writers rather than participate in courtly flirtations.
Anne’s powerful family has ambitious plans for her future that override any wishes of her own. When the King of England himself, Henry VIII, asks Anne to be his mistress, she spurns his advances—reminding him that he is a married man who has already conducted an affair with her sister, Mary. Anne’s rejection only intensifies Henry’s pursuit, but the opportunity to elevate and protect the Boleyn family is too tempting for Anne to resist, even as it proves to be her undoing.
In this talk, the author will reveal how fully Anne Boleyn lived.
Alison Weir appears on Friday November 24 from 4.45pm-6pm.
Denis MacShane was a Labour MP serving in Tony Blair’s government as Minister for Europe, and in his book, Brexit, No Exit (Why in the End) Britain Won’t Leave Europe, he argues that Brexit will not mean full rupture with Europe and that British capitalism will overcome the ultra-right-wing forces of the Conservative back-bench and UKIP.
As a former MP and Europe minister under Tony Blair, and latterly as a commentator and writer on European issues, Mr MacShane has a unique insider perspective on the events that led to Brexit and the behind-the-scenes discussions that followed. Although the path to Article 50 and beyond will be fraught and tensely negotiated, Britain cannot and will not divorce itself from the continent of Europe and the European question will continue to be a defining feature of politics into the future.
Denis MacShane appears on Friday November 24 from 6.30pm-7.45pm.
Victoria & Abdul: The True Story of the Queen’s Closest Confidant by Shrabani Basu, formerly a journalist for The Times of India and The Telegraph, has been made into a feature film currently showing in cinemas across the UK, starring Judi Dench and Eddie Izzard.
Tall, handsome Abdul Karim was just 24 years old when he arrived in England from Agra to wait at tables during Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee. He suddenly found himself a personal attendant to the Empress of India herself, and within a year, he was established as a powerful figure at court, becoming the queen’s teacher, or Munshi. Devastated by the death of John Brown, her Scottish gillie, the queen had at last found his replacement, but her intense and controversial relationship with the Munshi led to a near revolt in the royal household.
The book explores the story of a relationship between an ordinary Indian and his elderly queen – a relationship that survived the best attempts to destroy it.
Shrabani Basu appears on Friday November 24 from 8.15pm-9.30pm.
John McHugo, an international lawyer and Arabic linguist with 40 years’ experience of the region, a member of the Council for Arab British Understanding and the British Egyptian Society and chair of the Liberal Democrat Friends of Palestine, reveals in this talk how the great divide in Islam occurred. His book, A Concise History of Sunnis and Shi’is, charts the story of Islam from the death of the Prophet Muhammad to the present day, describing the conflicts that raged over the succession to the Prophet, how Sunnism and Shi’ism evolved as different sects during the Abbasid caliphate, and how the rivalry between the empires of the Sunni Ottomans and Shi’i Safavids contrived to ensure that the split would continue into modern times.
John McHugo appears on Saturday November 25 from 11.45am-1pm.
Former war reporter Damien Lewis, whose books Zero Six Bravo and War Dog (The Dog Who Could Fly in the USA) are both being made into films, tells the explosive true story of the day in 1942 when the SAS donned Nazi uniforms to perpetrate the most audacious and daring mission of the war in his last book SAS Ghost Patrol: The Ultra-Secret Unit That Posed As Nazi Stormtroopers.
It was the longest mission ever undertaken by Allied special forces, an epic of daring, courage, tragedy and survival that remains unrivalled to this day, and which rightly became a foundation stone of Special Forces legend.
Damien Lewis appears on Saturday November 25 from 1.30pm-2.45pm.
In this talk, Andrew Monaghan, director of Research on Russia and Northern European Defence and Security at the Oxford Changing Character of War Centre at Pembroke College, Oxford, explains the Russian leadership’s strategic agenda and illuminates the range of problems it faces in implementing it.
His book, Power in Modern Russia, offers a new and unique lens through which to understand how Russia works and how Russian domestic and foreign politics are intimately linked.
The Russian official and expert community often use the term ‘mobilisation’ to describe the measures that Moscow is increasingly resorting to in order to implement its ideas. Mr Monaghan explores what this means, and concludes that many of the terms used in the Western debate about Russia both misdiagnose the nature of the challenge and misrepresent the situation in Russia.
Andrew Monaghan appears on Saturday November 25 from 3.15pm-4.30pm.
Retired physician Theodore Dalrymple practiced in a British inner-city hospital and prison and for more than a quarter of a century, he has treated and examined many more murderers than most as a prison doctor, psychiatrist, and court expert in some of Britain’s most deprived areas.
In his book, The Knife Went In: Real-Life Murderers and Our Culture, he delves deep into his life of personal encounters with the murderous ‘underclass’ to determine what has changed over time and what has not. His unique portrait of modern criminals is at the same time a parable of dysfunction in our own culture. Through his experiences, he exposes today’s vicious cult of denial, blaming and psychobabble that hides behind a corrosive sentiment of caring. Illustrated with scores of eye-opening, true-life vignettes, this talk is in turn hilariously funny, chillingly horrifying, and always unexpectedly revealing. Taken together, this lifetime of experience is a clear and unsentimental mirror in which we view modern progress without its varnish.
Theodore Dalrymple appears on Saturday November 25 from 5pm-6.15pm.
Love her or hate her, Katie Hopkins is impossible to ignore, and this hilarious and revealing talk – part memoir, part advice for the modern woman – is the same.
Laughing through the chapters of her life in her book Rude, she shares her disasters and her biggest disappointments. From being kicked out of the army for being epileptic, to firing little Lord Sugar; from her first husband leaving her in the maternity ward for his secretary, to the reality behind Celebrity Big Brother, she has plenty of surprises to share and lessons she thinks we should learn.
Listeners be warned however: Katie doesn’t sugar-coat anything, and neither does she hold back. But this is an introduction to a quieter Katie too, one people seldom see. She takes us beyond her front door and into the privacy of her home, explaining things as a mum of three, sharing things even she feels awkward saying.
Katie Hopkins appears on Saturday November 25 from 6.45-8pm.
Dr David Lewis
Dr David Lewis explores the massive social, political and moral changes that transformed the country during the 1960s in his book The Way It Was – A Pictorial History of Britain in the 60s.
In pictures and in text, the photojournalist describes the world of 60s education and observes the lives of Irish children caught up in the Troubles. There are sections on medicine, the military, technology, air crash investigations and underwater exploration. Images of famous British eccentrics; the nation’s occasionally bizarre relationships with animals; the abolition of theatre censorship and of the stunt men and women who risked, and in one case lost, their lives to entertain the public in the days before video games and social media.
The pictures of Dr Lewis were published by magazines such as Paris Match, Stern and Life and Britain’s national press. Later, he obtained D. Phil from the University of Sussex and after lecturing there in clinical psychology and psychopathology, he founded independent research consultancy Mindlab International and is its chairman.
Dr David Lewis appears on Sunday November 26 at 11.45am-1pm.
Why would a young educated British woman actively choose a life behind a ‘burqa’? For her book, The Making of a Salafi Muslim Woman: Paths To Conversion, Anabel Inge gained unprecedented access to Salafi women’s groups in the UK, where she conducted fieldwork for more than two years.
Often converts or from less conservative Muslim backgrounds, these women are embracing Salafism’s strict regulations, including heavy veiling, wifely obedience and seclusion from non-related men. But they also face many personal dilemmas as they try to reconcile the difficult demands of their faith with life in a liberal, secular society.
Th author, who obtained her PhD from the Department of Theology and Religious Studies at King’s College London, has taught courses on Islam and the Anthropology of Religion at SOAS (University of London) and King’s College London.
Dr Anabel Inge appears on Sunday November 26 from 1.30pm-2.45pm.
Donald MacIntyre, who was The Independent’s Jerusalem bureau chief for eight years and its political editor and chief political commentator, portrays the suffering through siege and war of Gaza in his book Gaza: Preparing For Dawn.
It was a coastal civilisation open to the world, a flourishing port on a major international trading route. This was Gaza’s past. Can it be its future? Today, Gaza is home to a uniquely imprisoned people, most unable to travel to the West Bank, let alone Israel, where tens of thousands once worked, and unable to flee in wartime. Trapped inside a crucible of conflict, the surprise is that so many of them remain courageous, outspoken and steadfast.
From refugee camps to factories struggling under economic stranglehold and bombardment, Macintyre reveals Gaza’s human tragedy through the stories of the ordinary people who live and work there.
Donald MacIntyre appears on Sunday November 26, 3.15pm-4.30pm
Barney White-Spunner, Chief of Joint Force Operations for the national contingent in the Middle East in 2003 and Commander of the British Field Army in 2009, tells the story of the conflicting political, religious and social tensions in India culminated in independence from Britain and the creation of Pakistan in his book, Partition: The Story of Indian Independence and The Creation of Pakistan in 1947.
The month from January-August 1947 saw the end of 90 years of the British Raj, and the effective power of the Maharajahs as the Congress Party established itself, commanding a democratic government in Delhi.
They also witnessed the rushed creation of Pakistan and from September to December 1947, euphoria dissipated into shame and incrimination; nearly one million people died and countless more lost their homes and their livelihoods as partition was realized.
The events of those months would dictate the history of South Asia for the next 70 years, leading to three wars, countless acts of terrorism, polarization around the Cold War powers and to two nations with millions living in poverty spending disproportionate amounts on their military.
Barney White-Spunner appears on Sunday November 26 from 5pm-6.15pm.
Peter Snow & Ann MacMillan
War Stories: Gripping Tales of Courage, Cunning and Compassion by Peter Snow & Ann MacMillan is an account of ordinary men and women swept up in the turbulence of war.
These are the stories – many untold until now – of 34 people who have pushed the boundaries of love, bravery, suffering and terror beyond the imaginable, stories that span three centuries and five continents.
There is the courage of Edward Seagar who survived the Charge of the Light Brigade, the cunning of Krystyna Skarbek, quick-thinking spy and saboteur during the Second World War, the skullduggery of Benedict Arnold, who switched sides in the American War of Independence, and the compassion of Magdalene de Lancey, who tenderly nursed her dying husband at Waterloo.
This talk by Peter Snow, a foreign correspondent who anchored Newsnight and famously brought general elections to life with help of his swingometer, and his wife Ann, who is the great-granddaughter of David Lloyd George and who worked for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation until 2013, celebrates men and women whose wartime experiences are beyond compare.
Peter Snow & Ann MacMillan appear on Sunday November 26 from 6.45pm-8pm.
Defending The Rock by Nicholas Rankin, chief producer for BBC World Service for 20 years and the author of Churchill’s Wizards, has a cast of characters that includes Haile Selassie, Anthony Burgess and General Sikorski in its history of Gibraltar during war-torn Europe.
The Rock of Gibraltar, a pillar of British sea-power since 1704, looked formidable but was extraordinarily vulnerable. Though menaced on all sides by Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, Vichy France and Francoist Spain, every day Gibraltar had to let thousands of people cross its frontier to work. Among them came spies and saboteurs, eager to blow up its 25 miles of secret tunnels. In 1942, Gibraltar became US General Eisenhower’s HQ for the invasion of North Africa, the campaign that led to Allied victory in the Mediterranean.
Mr Rankin’s book sets Gibraltar in the wider context of the struggle against fascism and chronicles the end of empire and the rise to independence of the Gibraltarian people.
Nicholas Rankin appears on Sunday November 26 from 8.30pm-9.45pm.
Lewes Speakers Festival is at The All Saints Centre, Friars Walk, Lewes, on Friday-Sunday November 24-26. Tickets £12.50/two tickets for one talk £11 each/three or more tickets for one talk £10 each/festival pass £75/other festival passes £25-£70. Visit speakersfestivals.com.
Above: Brexit, No Exit (Why in the End) Britain Won’t Leave Europe by Denis MacShane
Main picture: Rude by Katie Hopkins
Below: Shrabani Basu and her book Victoria & Abdul: The True Story of the Queen’s Closest Confidant
Above: A Concise History of Sunnis and Shi’is by John McHugo
Below: SAS Ghost Patrol: The Ultra-Secret Unit That Posed As Nazi Stormtrooper by Damien Lewis
Above: The Making of a Salafi Muslim Woman: Paths To Conversion by Anabel Inge
Below: Partition: The Story of Indian Independence and The Creation of Pakistan in 1947 by Barney White-Spunner
Above: War Stories: Gripping Tales of Courage, Cunning and Compassion by Peter Snow & Ann MacMillan
Below: Defending The Rock by Nicholas Rankin
Above: Power in Modern Russia by Andrew Monaghan