Festival of Literature 2020

The Festival of Literature 2020 launches on Thursday 6th February with Harry Potter Night and will run until Friday 14th February.  You can view a precis of our line up below and book tickets for each event.  All tickets can be booked here.

You can review the wonderful line-up of authors, poets and storytellers who headlined the 10th Festival in 2019 by clicking here

Schools Events

Throughout the Festival Week we will be holding a number of events to which we invite local schools. Please see the details below.  Our Schools Events are brought to you in association with Tees Law to whom we are very grateful for their support. Tickets for all events can be booked here. Please note that there are no physical tickets for these events so please just turn up on the day!

Friday 7th February 2.00pm – 3.00pm 

Steve Cole

Thumbnail Steve Cole 2015Expect an out-of-this-world afternoon with self-confessed “slightly crazy and highly frantic” author, Steve Cole, as he discusses his best-selling novels.  

Steve Cole is the author of the hugely successful Astrosaurs and Cows in Action series for younger readers, as well as titles for older readers including Tripwire and Doctor Who; his books have sold over three million copies. Steve will be talking about his new series of books featuring superhero Adventure Duck; will he complete his mission to prevent the evil Power Pug from taking over the world? Join Steve for an egg-ceptionally funny, action packed session.

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An event for Year 3 pupils
Tickets: £3.50 per pupil

Please click here for tickets


Monday 10th February 9.30am – 10.30am

Paul Jackson 

Paul jackson festival of literature 2020Be prepared to round off National Storytelling Week 2020 with an event from the amazingly talented and much-loved storyteller, Paul Jackson.

Paul will enchant and delight with the stories he tells from many different cultures. Listen, laugh and gasp as his intriguing stories unfold. Paul blends music into many of his tales; the soothing sounds of the African harp, the humour of the mouth harp or sometimes the mystery of the Tibetan singing bowl, all of which bring a flavour of culture and a sense of place to his stories.

An event for Year 1 and 2 pupils
Tickets: £3.50 per pupil 

Please click here for tickets


Monday 10th February 2.00pm – 3.00pm

Brian MosesBrian Moses

Don’t miss out on the opportunity to hear one of the UK’s most accomplished performance poets who was especially commissioned to write a poem for the Queen’s 80th birthday!  

Brian Moses has been labelled “one of Britain’s favourite children’s poets” by the National Poetry Archive and has worked as a professional poet since 1988. He performs his poetry and percussion show around the world, and will demonstrate how poetry is not something that just sits on the page. Rather, it can be brought to life using a variety of voices, movements and instruments.

Did you know that Brian’s poem ‘Walking with my Iguana’ is one of the most often performed poems in schools?

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An event for Year 5 pupils
Tickets: £3.50 per pupil 

This event has no SOLD OUT.


Tuesday 11th February 2.00pm – 3.00pm

Elizabeth Laird Liz Laird (c) Anne Mortensen

Award-winning author Elizabeth Laird, will provide a powerful afternoon of words as she shares extracts from her novels based on her travels around the world.  

Elizabeth Laird is a multi-award-winning author of several much-loved children's books, including The Garbage King, The Prince Who Walked with Lions and The Fastest Boy in the World. Elizabeth’s stories are often inspired by the places she has travelled to, and the people whose stories she hears there. Following the success of her novel Welcome to Nowhere, based on her time spent in Jordanian refugee camps, Elizabeth Laird returns with a powerful story set amidst the Syrian refugee crisis. In her talk, she will discuss the themes of family, hope and redemption found in A House Without Walls, which follows a young girl attempting to rebuild her life after being driven out of her country by civil war. 

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An event for Year 6 pupils
Tickets: £3.50 per pupil 

This event has now SOLD OUT


Tuesday 11th February 4.00pm – 5.00pm

Sita Brahmachari

Sita Brahmachari photoExplore the very real issues of climate change through the power of words and storytelling with Sita Brahmachari.  

Battling and addressing the campaign on climate change is at the heart of Sita’s multi-award winning novels, plays, novellas and short stories. Her first novel, Artichoke Hearts, won the Waterstones Children’s Book Award and was voted as one of the Guardian’s top 50 books celebrating diversity since the 1950's. An Amnesty International Ambassador and regular school and festival speaker, Sita will discuss her latest novel, set in the near future, Where The River Runs Gold.  

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An event for Years 7 and 8 pupils
Tickets: £3.50 per pupil 

Please click here for tickets



Thursday 13th February 2.00pm – 3.00pm 

Petr Horacek and Vivian French

Petr H Vivian French

Team up with storyteller, Vivian French, and author and illustrator, Petr Horacek, as they ask you to help them create a new story, live on stage.  

Sublime storyteller Vivian French is the author of many children's favourites including Oliver's Vegetables and The Most Wonderful Thing in the World. Petr Horacek brings stories vividly to life with his beautiful illustrations. Hear them discuss their much-loved works before you help them to create a new story live on stage. Give Vivian ideas for the storyline and guide Petr's illustrations in this lively improvisation event.

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https://vivianfrench.co.uk  Twitter logo smaller clear background 
An event for Year 4 pupils
Tickets: £3.50 per pupil 

Please click here for tickets


Thursday 13th February 3.45pm – 4.45pm 

Steven Camden

Steve CamdenPoetry superstar, Steven Camden, will provide an afternoon of fun and entertainment as he shares his writing secrets and performs some of his spectacular poems.  

Steven Camden, aka Polarbear, is an author, playwright, screenwriter and performer from Birmingham who has travelled the world sharing his works and helping others create their own. From stages at Glastonbury to California, via Melbourne and Kuala Lumpar, he is one of the UK’s most exciting contemporary storytellers and spoken word artists. Steven will share poems from his latest collection, Everything All at Once, as well as giving an insight into what he describes as his “messy writing process.”

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An event for Year 7 and 8 pupils
Tickets: £3.50 per pupil 

Please click here for tickets

 Tees logo small  Sponsored by Tees Law.

The Bishop's Stortford Picture Book Award - Wednesday 12th February, 2.00-3.00pm

Picture book award logo smaller 

Petr Horacek

Presented by author and illustrator Petr Horacek, the annual Bishop’s Stortford Picture Book Award invites local schools to participate and cast votes for their favourite titles. Join us, along with Petr Horacek and the shortlisted authors and illustrators, to find out which book has won this year’s Bishop’s Stortford Picture Book Award! Tickets for the presentation event can be booked here.

The shortlisted titles are:

A little bit brave cover front 700 Dragon post Dont worry little crab

The day war came Show and tell This is a dog 509826 1

Once upon a snowstorm The hug My hair

  • A Little Bit Brave by Nicola Kinnear (Scholastic)
  • Dragon Post by Emma Yarlett (Walker Books)
  • Don’t Worry Little Crab by Chris Haughton (Walker Books)
  • The Day War Came  by Nicola Davies and Rebecca Cobb (Walker Books)
  • Show and Tell by Rob Biddulph (HarperCollins)
  • This is a Dog by Ross Collins (Nosy Crow)
  • Once Upon a Snowstorm by Richard Johnson (Faber)
  • The Hug by Eoin McLaughlin & Polly Dunbar (Faber)
  • My Hair by Hannah Lee & Allen Fatimaharan (Faber)
Wednesday 12th February, 2.00pm – 3.00pm 
Ferguson Lecture Theatre
Open to participating schools
Tickets: £3.50 per pupil

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Tees logo smallThe Bishop's Stortford Picture Book Award Presentation is brought to you in association with Tees Law who we wholeheartedly thank for their continued support of this prestigious event.


Matthew Hoggard - Friday 7th February, 7.30-9.00pm

 Matthew Hoggard

As one of The Cricketer's Top 100 Schools for Cricket we are excited to welcome former England cricketer and Leicestershire CCC Captain, Matthew Hoggard MBE, to launch the 2020 Festival of Literature. Matthew will give an enthusiastic and passionate talk about his cricket career and what the future holds.  

Matthew Hoggard is regarded as one of the most successful cricketers to have played for England and was part of the inspired Ashes winning side of 2005. Having achieved 93 England caps throghout his career, Matthew was awarded Wisden Cricketer of the Year in 2006. As England's sixth highest wicket taker with 248 wickets during his 67 matches, Matthew was released from Yorkshire in 2009 and quickly instated as captain of Leicestershire CCC from the 2010 season onwards. Under his guidance and leadership, the team went on to win the Twenty20  Cup in 2011, propelling them to become the most successful short game team in England.

Having retired in 2013, life after cricket is proving to be successful and exciting for Matthew, becoming a sought-after commodity with global media and on the after-dinner speaker circuit.

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Friday 7th February 7.30pm – 9.00pm
Ferguson Lecture Theatre
Tickets £16. Suitable for 10+ 

Tickets for Matthew Hoggard can be booked here.


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Our thanks to Alexandra Wood Bespoke for sponsoring this event.

Shaun Wallace - Saturday 8th February, 7.30-9.30pm

Shaun WallaceShaun Wallace, barrister, Mastermind champion and ‘The Dark Destroyer’ on ITV’s hit show, The Chase, will put us to the test with a night of intellectual stimulation and quizzing as he discusses life as a senior criminal defence advocate and what it’s like to know everything.  

Shaun has worked as a barrister since 1986, is a member of the Criminal Bar Association and Jamaican Bar and has taken part in hearings held at both the Old Bailey and several Magistrates’ Courts located in England, Wales and Scotland. As a senior criminal defence advocate he has worked with manslaughter, serious sexual offences, fraud and firearms cases to name but a few. His passion for law has also extended into providing lectures on matters such as environmental law, health and safety and road transport regulations.  

In 2004, Shaun became a champion of the BBC general knowledge quiz, Mastermind, choosing as his specialist subject, FA Cup Finals. He has also made appearances on Fifteen to One and The Weakest Link and the first series of Are you an Egghead? 

In his autobiography, Chasing the Dream, Shaun describes how his passions have helped him turn into the man he is today: staunchly just and fair, ruthless when he needs to be, kind, fun, and a fiercely loyal friend. 

Do you have what it takes to 'Chase the Chaser'? The evening will conclude with a quiz challenge.

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Saturday 8th February 7.30pm – 9.30pm
Ferguson Lecture Theatre
Tickets £21 
Suitable for 14+

Tickets for Shaun Wallace can be booked here.

This eHDPrint logovent is brought to you, with our thanks and in association with Hertfordshire Display plc 

Jamie McDonald - Tuesday 11th February, 6.00-7.00pm

Adventureman jamie mcdonald

The start of Jamie’s life was a major challenge; he spent the first nine years of his life in and out of hospital with a rare spinal condition known as syringomyelia, combined with epilepsy and a very weak immune system.  

However, at the age of nine, his symptoms began to ease; something Jamie attributes to becoming more active. As he grew older, Jamie began a quest to give back to the hospitals which supported him through his early childhood and in 2012, he bought a second-hand bike and cycled 14,000 miles from Bangkok to his hometown, Gloucester. Just two days after finishing that gruelling journey, Jamie decided to attempt the world static cycling record of 224 hours and 24 minutes, which he beat.  

Jamie made history in 2014 when he became the first person to run the 5,000 miles across Canada from the Atlantic coast to the Pacific without the aid of a support crew. He raised more than £250,000 for sick children in the UK and Canada in the process.

At times, during these awe-inspiring journeys, he was shot at, arrested, battled temperatures of -40°C and endured a frostbitten nose, all whilst wearing a Superhero costume, The Flash. In 2018 Jamie completed yet another fundraising cross country run, a 5,500 mile solo journey across the USA, dressed as his alter ego, Adventureman 

Jamie will share stories from his adventures that will inspire and amaze in an evening not to be missed!  He will also be making a collection at the end of his talk in support of his fundraising activities.

Tuesday 11th February 6.00pm – 7.00pm 
Ferguson Lecture Theatre
Tickets: Adults £8.00, 7-18s £5.50
Suitable for 7+  


Tickets for Jamie McDonald can be booked here.

Our tSavills logohanks go to our event sponsors Savills for their support of this event. 

Tammy Cohen & Emma Curtis - Wednesday 12th February, 7.30-8.30pm

Tammy cohen emma curtis

Join crimewriters Tammy Cohen and Emma Curtis as they are interviewed by local novelist and previous Festival speaker Chris Whitaker. They will discuss their novels, the process of writing and answer questions from the audience.  

Both Emma and Tammy are acclaimed crime writers with stacks of stellar reviews under their belts. After raising two children and working in various jobs, Emma’s fascination with the darker side of domestic life inspired her to write her acclaimed debut novel, One Little Mistake. Her latest novel, The Night You Left, has been described as ‘gripping, tense and twisty’ and will leave you gasping for more.  Originally from Brighton, Emma now lives in London with her husband. 

Born in Ibadan, Nigeria, Tammy (Tamar) Cohen began her writing career as a freelance journalist, writing features for titles including Marie Claire, The Times and The Telegraph. Tammy's latest novel is called Stop at Nothing and has been critically acclaimed. She is Writer in Residence at Kingston University, lives in London with her partner, three nearly grown-up children and one badly behaved dog. 

This event is perfect for book club members and crime enthusiasts alike.

Wednesday 12th February 7.30pm – 8.30pm 
Ferguson Lecture Theatre
Adults £8.00, 16-18s £5.50 
Suitable for 16+  

Tickets for Tammy Cohen and Emma Curtis can be booked here.

This event is brought to you, with our thanks, by  Mj warner low res

Literature Live judged by Steven Camden - Thursday 13th February, 5.30-6.30pm

Steve camdenAlways a highly anticipated event in the Festival calendar, Literature Live is a reading competition for our Senior School pupils.

Each year sees stirring performances across all age groups, with fierce competition between the Houses. There are opportunities for solo and group interpretations - pupils are able to select any piece of literature they wish, so expect the unexpected! Prior to the event pupils compete in three different categories and the winners of these perform in this final.

This year we are very pleased to welcome acclaimed spoken-word poet Steven Camden to judge the readings. 


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Thursday 13th February 5.30pm – 6.30pm
Ferguson Lecture Theatre
Adults £5.50, FOC to College staff and pupils.
Suitable for ages 13+ 

Tickets for Literature Live can be booked here.

College pupils and staff wishing to attend Literature Live should book tickets using this link.

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Clare Mulley - Thursday 13th February, 7.30-8.30pm

Clare mulley

Bishop's Stortford College, once dubbed 'The school for spies', is particularly proud to welcome award-winning author and broadcaster, Clare Mulley who will blow you away with her epic biographies of the lives of history’s forgotten female figures and the roles they played in shaping society as it is today.  

As a winner of The Daily Mail Biographers’ Club Prize, Clare could not have asked for a better start to her writing career with the launch of her debut book, The Woman Who Saved the Children. Continuing her focus on prominent female figures throughout history, Clare’s second book, The Spy Who Loved (now optioned by Universal Studios) which she will focus on during this event, led to Clare being decorated with Poland’s honorary distinction, the Bene Merito 

Clare is a regular contributor to various historical and current affairs journals, TV and radio programmes including Newsnight, the History Channel and BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour. An honourary patron of the Wimpole History Festival, Clare is a popular public speaker and has given lectures in London and Paris on wartime female special agents, given a TEDx talk at Stormont and spoken in the Houses of Parliament and the Royal Albert Hall.  

Before her writing career Clare worked for Save the Children and Sight Savers International. She lives in Essex with her husband, their three daughters and a hairy lurcher.  

Thursday 13th February 7.30pm – 8.30pm 
Ferguson Lecture Theatre
Adults £8.00, 14-18s £5.50
Suitable for 14+  

Tickets for Clare Mulley can be booked here.

Delta logoThis event is brought to you in association with Delta2020 who we would like to thank for their generous support.