Cheltenham Literature Festival 2017

CLC is proud to be the Strategic Partner of Cheltenham Festivals, supporting excellence and innovation in science and the arts.

The Festival is the UK’s oldest literature festival and tens of thousands of book-lovers of all ages will head to Cheltenham for 10 days of literary celebration, discussion and debate. Around 1,000 speakers will take part in more than 550 events at the family-friendly Festival Village at Montpellier Gardens, five minutes from College.

This year’s theme is 'Who Do We Think We Are?' asking key questions about British identity and celebrating Britain’s literary and cultural heritage. Headliners include: Hillary Clinton, Salman Rushdie, Alan Hollinghurst, Sarah Waters, Miranda Hart, Matt Lucas, Robert Webb, Russell Brand, Ian Rankin, Sarah Millican, Nadiya Hussain, Simon Schama, Amit Chaudhuri, Paula Hawkins, Bill Nighy, Roddy Doyle, Michael Morpurgo, Judy Murray, Harry Enfield, Alison Steadman, Michael Parkinson, Armando Iannucci, Nigella Lawson, Twiggy, Brian May, Jackie Kay, Hollie McNish, Robert McCrum, Philippa Gregory, Nikesh Shukla, Peggy Seeger, Scarlett Moffatt, June Sarpong, Charles Spencer, Ali-A and Al Murray.

At this year’s festival we are sponsoring:

  • Blood and Words: The Poetry of War – Harry Enfield and Alison Steadman read poems from "A Poem for Every Day of the Year" from Shakespeare on the Eve of Agincourt to Tennyson on the Charge of the Light Brigade, Wilfred Owen in the trenches to Simon Armitage's contemporary take on conflict
  • Tom Daley - The champion diver has learnt from the best about how to stay fit and healthy. He joins broadcaster Jill Douglas to share his secrets on staying strong and positive both in everyday life and in the run up to competitions.
  • Speeches that shape the world - The story of great speeches is the story of democracy. The Times' Philip Collins (who gave a CLC Principal's Lecture last year) travels across continents and centuries reminding us that great oratory can change the world.
  • Sarah Outen - The British adventurer discusses her latest challenge - 4.5 years to row, kayak and cycle 25,000 miles across the Northern Hemisphere.

Girls will introduce the events and we have reserved top tickets for these, as well as a number of other recommended events. There will be weekend trips for LC1 and LC2 and trips organised by the English Department. College is hosting the Opening Night Party in the Princess Hall and there is a drinks reception for parents and Guild members before the Tom Daley event.

College is sponsoring the 'Book Stand' on site at Montpellier Gardens, which is in the Bandstand and will feature a sofa area and book swap with various pop up events across the festival. The PAC will also be used for events throughout the festival.

The following Guild members are speaking at the festival this year:

Robin Stevens (2006) - Mysteries with Robin Stevens
Cherry Healey (1999) - Knackered Mums' Night Out
Emily Koch (2003) - Vintage Proof Party
Jenny Uglow (1964) - Edward Lear: A Life of Art and Nonsense
Ellie Austin (2008) - Nasty Women

A number of speakers will also be coming into College to speak to the girls.

Cheltenham Literature Festival 2016

In October 2016, we experienced another amazing ten days of international authors, speakers and debates across Cheltenham. We sponsored a number of events that were introduced by girls, welcomed world-renowned speakers into College and reserved hundreds of tickets for girls to attend events. A large number of the CLC community secured event tickets though College and then joined us for tea at the festival with the Principal, The Sunday Times Editorial Director Eleanor Mills, and other speakers.

Sponsored events included talks by the authors Sebastian Faulks and Robin Stevens (Guild 2006) and debates around the gender pay gap, Obama, justice and privacy. Each was introduced by a current girl, who had the opportunity to meet and talk with the speakers beforehand.

At College we welcomed journalist, author and advocate for women’s issues in China, Xinran, China correspondent Rob Schmitz and Beijing writer and journalist Alec Ash. Later in the week Sebastian James CEO of Dixons/Carphone Warehouse spoke to the girls, followed by a riveting insight in to modern politics BBC’s James Naughtie.

The Festival showcased artwork from our current girls, highlighting our art scholarships and the level of talent being nurtured at College.

SFC girls had access to tickets for over 30 events and younger girls were given opportunities to attend events on the impact on IT on journalism, the value of the selfie, 'wild' writers, book reviews and Marcus Sedgwick. All in all a very busy and rewarding festival.

Read about the events sponsored by College at last year's Cheltenham Literature Festival.

Cheltenham Literature Festival 2015

In 2015, College reserved tickets for 24 major events, ensuring girls enjoyed access to the pick of the Festival with excellent seats, and a further 25 events were recommended by teaching staff across various departments. In the end we distributed over 300 tickets to girls.

Leading figures at the Festival included entrepreneur Martha Lane-Fox, author Salman Rushdie, author and artist Edmund de Waal, political adviser Steve Hilton, politician Nick Clegg, poet Simon Armitage, former US Secretary of State James Rubin, author Julian Barnes, and actor Antony Sher, among others. Over 80 Lower College girls also attended events as part of their weekend programme.

As part of our strategic education partnership, College sponsored four events:

  • ‘The Gender Battles worth Fighting”, discussing where women need to fight to make a difference, between performance poet Megan Beech, activist Caroline Criado-Perez and Times journalists Polly Vernon, Katie Glass and Eleanor Mills. Gigi Gilgallon-Scoular (SFC2) introduced the event and spent time with the speakers. College hosted coffee afterwards for parents and Guild members.
  • ‘Navigating our 24/7 culture’ asked how best to utilise the internet and involved entrepreneurs and psychologists. Isabella Sheridan (SFC2) introduced this event and met the speakers beforehand.
  • ‘Merkel and the future of Germany’ reviewed Angela Merkel’s ten years as Chancellor in Germany, with a focus on immigration, and a debate from a panel of senior politicians and advisers. The event was introduced by Amy Strain (SFC2) who met with them beforehand.
  • ‘Theatre of War’ was an emotive reading of a Greek Tragedy from Sophocles by leading actors Jason Isaacs and Lesley Sharp, followed by reaction from current veterans. The Director used this play to enable veterans and those in the military to work through the trauma of war. The event was introduced by drama scholar Maddie Kenner (SFC1) who talked with the speakers.

We also hosted several major speakers into College for exclusive discussions with the girls. These included the writer and political journalist Lord Peter Hennessy, Deputy Editor of The Times Emma Tucker, the presenter of BBC Radio 4’s The World This Weekend, Mark Mardell and the founder of Mind Candy/Moshi Monsters, Michael Acton-Smith.

Feedback from the girls was excellent:

“I got to see journalism from a different perspective” - UC5 girl on Emma Tucker

“I learned a lot about the extraordinary pressures the Prime Minister is put under and how hard decision-making can be” - SFC1 girl on Lord Peter Hennessy

Girls also met with the classist Mary Beard and writer (and Guild member) Catherine Hickley. Another Guild member speaking was children’s author Robin Stevens, who plans to return to College to talk to the girls.

For more information about Cheltenham Festivals, please visit