Charleston Festival features a fantastic line-up of speakers

Kamila Shamsie. Picture by Zain Mustafa
Kamila Shamsie. Picture by Zain Mustafa

Charleston Festival opens today (Friday, May 18) with a line-up of speakers, which includes novelists Ali Smith and Alan Hollinghurst; Turner prizewinner Lubaina Himid and former MP turned director of the V&A Tristram Hunt.

There’s a last-minute release of a handful of tickets for previously sold-out events.

Visit Charleston.org.uk/festival or call 01323 815150 for details.

Other key festival attractions include a glimpse behind the scenes of the Man Booker Prize – now in its 50th year – and a chance to take part in the debate. Join former judges Erica Wagner, A.C.Grayling and Ellah Wakatama Allfrey in action, presided over by Gaby Wood, Literary Director of the Booker Prize Foundation (May 24 at 12.30pm).

Short-listed for the prestigious Women’s Prize is Kamila Shamsie for Home Fire, her ambitious contemporary re-imagining of Sophocles’s Antigone. She will discuss with Catherine Taylor, freelance critic and journalist, whether or not fiction can interpret the turbulent times in which we live (May 25 at 3pm).

There’s a double bill of sublime classical music and art with award-winning violinist Clemency Burton-Hill, presenter of the Proms and Young Musician of the Year, and James Hamilton, whose biography of Gainsborough was the art book of the year (May 22 at 5.30pm).

From puberty to tattooing and gender transition, Gavin Francis’s book Shapeshifters could not be more timely in this transgender age. Mixing factual case studies with myth and magic, history, art and literature, he discusses medicine and human change in today’s world (May 27 at 12.30pm).

What happens when a literary executor suddenly discovers shocking and previously concealed facts about a deceased poet friend? This is the dilemma at the heart of Blake Morrison’s new novel The Executor. He will discuss the responsibilities of executors and biographers with Hermione Lee, biographer of Virginia Woolf. Blake’s work includes the memoir When Did You Last See Your Father? and As if – a study of the James Bulger case (May 20 at 5.30pm).

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