Festival of Literature 2018

Our 9th annual Festival of Literature will commence on 1st February 2018 and, as usual, will feature a wonderful array of authors, writers, adventurers and some especially well known faces.  You can find out all about the different events in our programme:

We would like to thank the businesses who have given their support to the 2018 Festival - thank you, we really couldn't do it without you. Tickets for Open Events are available here. There are still some tickets for Schools Events available.

Thank you

Jeanne Willis (Schools Event) SOLD OUT

Jeannewillis byjustinestoddartDo you love writing stories? Would you like to be an author when you grow up? Join legendary author Jeanne Willis and learn about how she became one of the UK’s biggest names in picture books. Jeanne will also give an exclusive reading from her brand new picture book ‘Not Just a Book’, to be published in March 2018.

Jeanne Willis is one of the most successful children’s picture book authors in the UK. She has written many award-winning books, including Who’s in the Loo? winner of the Red House Children’s Book Award. Her books with Tony Ross include Tadpole’s Promise, which won a Silver Smarties Prize, and more recently, Chicken Clicking, a cautionary tale about the perils of misusing the internet.

Ferguson Lecture Theatre
Friday 2nd February, 2pm-3pm
An event for Year 3 pupils.
Tickets: £3.50 per pupil

Please book your tickets here.

With our thanks to Anitas Coaches for their sponsorship of the Schools Events. Anita logo

Margaret Bateson-Hill (Schools Event) SOLD OUT

Margaret bateson hillAs part of our contribution to National Storytelling Week 2018 we look forward to welcoming the amazingly talented storyteller Margaret Bateson-Hill.

Travel into the world of stories with author and storyteller Margaret Bateson-Hill. Hear how the old woman Lao Lao of Dragon Mountain makes simple paper cuts for everyone, until the greedy emperor hears about them and has her imprisoned in a tower, not realising there’s a dragon watching nearby.  Then learn how to make Lao Lao's paper cuts and discover a dragon of your own. 

Margaret has published both picture and fiction books, including Lao Lao of Dragon Mountain, her prize winning Masha and the Firebird and the Dragon Racer Trilogy. As a storyteller she has worked in a variety of settings including Buckingham Palace, the Victoria and Albert Museum and the British Museum. 

Prep School Hall
Monday 5th February 9.30am – 10.30am
An event for Year 1 and 2 pupils. Tickets: £3.50 per pupil

With our thanks to Anitas Coaches for their sponsorship of the Schools Events. Anita logo

Robin Stevens (Schools Event) SOLD OUT

Robin stevens author picture by max von seibold sharperRobin Stevens is a bestselling author of detective mysteries for children and has been writing stories all her life.

Although born in California, Robin grew up in an Oxford college, across the road from the house where Alice in Wonderland lived.  From an early age Robin read lots of detective stories, developing a keen interest in crime fiction - she wanted to be Agatha Christie when she grew up!  She completed an MA in crime fiction at university before starting work in publishing.  Her first book, Murder Most Unladylike, won the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize (Younger Fiction), and her bestselling series about the Detective Society’s exploits received critical acclaim.  Robin will be inviting her audience to become detectives too, as well as talking about the latest edition to this series which will be published in February.  Robin lives in London with her husband and her pet bearded dragon, Watson.

Ferguson Lecture Theatre
Monday 5th February 2.00pm – 3.00pm
An event for Year 6. Tickets: £3.50 per pupil

With our thanks to Anitas Coaches for their sponsorship of the Schools Events. Anita logo

Joseph Coelho (Schools Event) SOLD OUT

Join award-winning performance poet, playwright and author Joseph CoelhoJoseph coelho in a fun and explosive poetry session. See, hear and sing poems and leave with the tools to become a great poet.

Joseph will be sharing tips and tricks from his debut non-fiction book, How To Write Poems, and perform from Sunday Times Book of the week, Overheard In A Tower Block, his latest collection of poems.  A writer and performer, Joseph is also co-founder of the Word Pepper Theatre Company, fusing poetry, illustration and pop-ups to create theatrical, interactive experiences. His poems have been published in several anthologies, and his debut collection Werewolf Club Rules won the CLIPPA 2015. Joseph has been a guest poet on CBeebies Rhyme Rocket where he was beamed up from the Rhyme Rock to perform his bug poem. He is also an ambassador for the 2017 National Poetry Day.

Ferguson Lecture Theatre
Tuesday 6th February 2.00pm – 3.00pm
Tickets: £3.50 per pupil. An event for Year 5 pupils

With our thanks to Anitas Coaches for their sponsorship of the Schools Events.  Anita logo

Marcus Alexander (Schools Event)

Marcus low resJoin Marcus for a fun and action-filled event as he talks about his young adult fantasy series, Keeper of the Realms.  Inspired by his own travels and adventures across the globe, from free running to outracing avalanches on a snowboard in the Alps and sandboarding in the Sahara, Marcus has written the perfect adventure series for children and young adults.  Keeper of the Realms follows a brave and feisty heroine and her wise and funny companions, as they battle an evil enemy in the magical world of Bellania.

Prep School Hall
Tuesday 6th February 4.00pm-5.00pm  
An event for Years 7 and 8. Tickets: £3.50 per pupil

Please book your tickets here.

With our thanks to Anitas Coaches for their sponsorship of the Schools Events. Anita logo

Jo Cotterill (Schools Event)

Jo cotterill author picJo writes books for children and young adults and is the author of the bestselling superhero series about Electrigirl.

You can expect an electrifying performance from Jo as her new superhero Electrigirl hits the town!  As well as being a writer, Jo has a background in performance and teaching, and knows just how to engage with her audience. The Electrigirl series is a unique mix of stunning comic book style visuals, and action-packed prose, featuring Holly Sparkes, a 12 year old superhero and her evil nemesis.

Ferguson Lecture Theatre
Thursday 8th February 2.00pm – 3.00pm
An event for Year 4 pupils. Tickets: £3.50 per pupil

Please book your tickets here.

With our thanks to Anitas Coaches for their sponsorship of the Schools Events. Anita logo

The Bishop's Stortford Picture Book Award (Schools Event)

Martin brown 1Presented by Horrible Histories illustrator Martin Brown.

For this fun afternoon we welcome pupils, parents and teachers from the local area to witness the presentation of this annual and coveted award - one which they have all voted for. The shortlisted authors will present their work to a rapt audience who eagerly await the outcome. A wonderful celebration of picture books!

Ferguson Lecture Theatre
Wednesday 7th February   2.00pm – 3.00pm
Open to participating schools.  Tickets: £3.50 per pupil.

Please book your tickets here.

The 2018 Bishop's Stortford Picture Book Award is sponsored, with our thanks, by Tees. Tees logo small

Literature Live

Literature Live 2017 Tee House Winners with Trophy Literature Live 2017 Robet Pearce House

Literature Live, an enjoyable and highly anticipated feature of the Festival of Literature, is a reading competition for 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 of literature, and pupils are able to select any piece of literature they wish, so expect the unexpected! Pupils compete in three different categories (junior, intermediate and senior), and the winners of these perform in the final.  This year we are very pleased to welcome poet Ian McMillan to judge the readings.  The English Department is always grateful for all of the hard work and time that pupils and House staff invest in helping to make this competition such an enormous success. 

Ferguson Lecture Theatre
Monday 5th February 5.30pm – 6.30pm
Tickets £5.00 (Free of charge for College pupils and staff)

Please book your tickets here.

Martin Brown - Open Event

Martin brown at deskHow do we draw? From cave painting to present day - Martin Brown, illustrator of Horrible Histories, gives a romp through drawing history and reveals how anyone can draw.

See Martin draw live, ask him questions and get inspired.‎ Expect some foul facts and savage stories from Horrible Histories too.  After 23 years, 70 Horrible Histories and 25 million books sold, Martin's books have become a phenomenon, expanding into the award-winning BBC TV programmes, exhibitions, games and very successful stage shows.  His illustrations for the series are known around the world for their wonderful use of colour, humour and sense of detail. 

You can book tickets here.

Ferguson Lecture Theatre
Wednesday 7th February 6.00pm - 7.00pm
Tickets: Adults £7.50; 11-18s £5
Suitable for 11+

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James Mayhew and the College Orchestra - Open Event

James Mayhew 2015Illustrator, artist and college favourite, James Mayhew will launch the 2018 Festival of Literature with our unique union of the arts; painting live to music performed by the Bishop’s Stortford College Orchestra and Choirs.   

James Mayhew is a renowned illustrator, author, artist and storyteller whose books, including the best-selling Katie and Ella Bella Ballerina series, have been enchanting children for over 25 years.  Alongside his work in publishing, James works with a wide variety of musicians, ensembles and symphony orchestras, presenting concerts that incorporate narrative with art created live on stage. He has performed at venues including, Saffron Hall, the Royal Albert Hall and the Barbican, presenting Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, Vaughan-Williams’ Pastoral Symphony, Holst’s The Planets and Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf, and many more.

You can book tickets here.

Memorial Hall
Friday 2nd February 7.00pm - 9.00pm
Ticket: Adults £7.50; 7-18s £5

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Gyles Brandreth - *SOLD OUT*

On Saturday 3rd February we look forward to welcoming Gyles Brandreth. They sayGyles brandreth with windmills all political careers end in tears.  In Gyles Brandreth’s case it’s tears of laughter as the former MP and Government Whip, regular on Just A Minute and longest surviving member of the Countdown team, takes us on a rollicking roller-coaster ride around his amazing world of words.

Host of Radio 4’s Wordaholics, a reporter on The One Show, a survivor on QI, Room 101 and Have I Got News for You, Gyles Brandreth has been fascinated by words since he could walk – and talk.  In his new book, Word Play, and the show that goes with it, with words to make you laugh (and even cry) and stories from his years in politics and entertainment, Gyles is coming to Bishop’s Stortford College Festival of Literature to celebrate a lifetime’s love of language.  No hesitation or repetition, but a bit of deviation guaranteed.

To book your tickets for Gyles Brandreth, please click here.

Ferguson Lecture Theatre
Saturday 3rd February 7.30pm – 9.30pm
Suitable for 16+.  Tickets £20.

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Ian McMillan - Open Event

Ian McmillanIan McMillan is a writer and broadcaster who presents The Verb on BBC Radio 3 every Friday night. He's written poems, plays, the verse autobiography Talking Myself Home, and a voyage round Yorkshire in Neither Nowt Nor Summat. He watches Darfield and Yorkshire Cricket Clubs and the only time he played cricket, at Low Valley Juniors in 1963, Mrs Hudson told him to take his balaclava off or she'd make him wear his mother's Rainmate.

Ian’s latest collection, To Fold The Evening Star - New and Selected Poems (Carcanet), was published last year. Ian was recently awarded The Freedom of Barnsley.

You can book your tickets here.

Ferguson Lecture Theatre
Monday 5th February 7.30pm – 8.30pm
Suitable for age 14+. Tickets £12.

Sarah Outen - Open Event

Tuesday evening will see two authors delight our audiences. The first, Sarah Outen MBE, is an extraordinary lady. An adventurer by land and sea, best-selling author and motivational speaker, Sarah is keen to encourage people to get outside and enable young people to access adventure. She is also a proud ambassador and patron of a number of charities. In November 2015 Sarah completed her most recent major expedition: London2London:Via the World, an attempt to row, cycle and kayak 25000 miles around the Northern Hemisphere. The journey took 4.5 years and was all the richer for not turning out exactly as planned.

You can book your tickets here.

Ferguson Lecture Theatre
Tuesday 6th February 6.00pm - 7.00pm
Tickets: Adults £7.50; 7-18s £5
Suitable for all the family

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Dan Cruikshank - Open Event - *NEW DATE*


Historian Dan Cruikshank will give us "A history of architecture in 100 buildings". Journeying through time and place, from the ancient Egyptian pyramids to the soaring skyscrapers of Manhattan, renowned architectural historian Dan Cruickshank explores the most inspirational and characterful world buildings.

Ferguson Lecture Theatre
Saturday 24th February
7.30pm – 8.30pm
Tickets £12

Suitable for all the family.

Our thanks to Taylors Service Centres for their generous sponsorship of this event.

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Tickets available here.

Chris Whitaker - Open Event

Local author Chris Whitaker will be headlining on Wednesday 7thChris Whitaker February. Chris was born in London and spent ten years working as a financial trader in the city. His debut novel, Tall Oaks, was published to critical acclaim in 2016 by Bonnier Zaffre. Tall Oaks was longlisted for the CWA John Creasey New Blood Dagger, and shortlisted for the Last Laugh Award.  A Guardian crime book of the month, Tall Oaks also featured in Crime Time’s top 100 books of 2016 and BuzzFeed’s incredible summer reads. Chris’s second novel, All The Wicked Girls, will be published this summer. He lives in Hertfordshire with his wife and two young sons.

Ferguson Lecture Theatre
Wednesday 7th February 7.30pm – 8.30pm
Suitable for 14+. Adults £7.50, 14-18s £5.00

Tickets available here.

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Laura Bates in Conversation with Hina Belitz - Open Event

For our Festival finale, Laura Bates will be sharing her thoughts onLaura Bates Everyday Sexism. Laura Bates is the founder of the Everyday Sexism Project, an ever-increasing collection of over 100,000 testimonies of gender inequality. The project has expanded into over 20 countries worldwide and become internationally renowned, featuring in media from the New York Times to the Times of India. 

Laura's first book, Everyday Sexism, was shortlisted for Waterstones' book of the year and the Political Book Awards Polemic of the Year. It was one of the Bookseller's top 10 non-fiction books of 2014. Her latest book, the Sunday Times Bestseller Girl Up, was published by Simon and Schuster in 2016.

Ferguson Lecture Theatre
Thursday 8th February 7.30pm – 8.30pm
Suitable for ages 13+. Adults £7.50, 13-18s £5.00
Our thanks to Delta2020 for their generous sponsorship of this event.  Delta logo

Tickets available here.