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Running from October 26th to November 2nd is the 2019 Wantage Literary Festival offers, as always, a veritable variety of talks and events ranging from the charming to the challenging. Opening the Festival will be Lord David Owen with his thoughts on America’s Hubris – The Road to Donald Trump. Followed by an array of 35 further events over 8 days including legendary local racehorse trainer, Henrietta Knight, revealing How Jockeys Become Champions. If you fancy something a little more out-of-the-ordinary how about a history of angels, a drag queen, writing workshops for all ages, modern fiction discussions and both gin and whisky tastings, all topped off by comedian Katy Brand carrying a watermelon and watching Dirty Dancing!

Wantage Literary Festival

As always, the Festival team have pulled out all the stops with their historical talks. Whatever your favourite period there is bound to be something to appeal. Tracy Borman is making a welcome return to Wantage, this time discussing the Gunpowder Plot; for those more interested in modern history Giles Milton will be telling tales of the ordinary people involved in the D Day landings. Local festival stalwart Gary Sheffield will be talking about Field Marshal Haig’s less well-known cousin, General Hugo de Pree and Air Commodore Iain McCoubrey will be speaking about his experiences as a medical officer during some of the more memorable conflicts of recent years.

Moving to science, TV personality Johnny Ball and his Wonders Beyond Numbers will undoubtedly be hugely popular with young and old and the softer sciences are well represented by Tristan Gooley explaining Wild Signs and Star Paths (also hosting a free outdoor discovery sessions) and Jonathan Copley taking us to the depths in his Diary of an Ocean Explorer.

Pam Ayres is making a welcome return to Wantage, but for anyone who would rather perform themselves, local poet Elaine Baker will be hosting a poetry slam, as well as judging an under-16s writing competition.

Thanks to support from local businesses, Wantage Town Council and supermarkets, the Festival’s 2019 Schools Outreach Programme, will involve 15 local schools including Lambourn and Chaddleworth St Andrews. Notable historians Sam Willis, James Daybell, Peter Francopan and ‘Grandma Dangerous’ author Kita Mitchell will be visiting the schools, but don’t worry if you don’t get the chance to attend one of these events, there are also several free family events taking place throughout the week including a ‘Training Your Dragon’ activity day at the Vale & Downland Museum.

Somehow the organisers have managed to cram more into a week than there is room to write. Check out the festival website at www.wantageliteraryfestival.co.uk or pick up a brochure. It has to be the perfect way to avoid Halloween…