From TV 'filth' to folk songs: Bath Literature Festival has it all
An all-star line up of some of the biggest and most popular names in publishing come to Bath over the next ten days to take part in the annual Bath Literature Festival.
Heading the list is the creator of Harry Potter JK Rowling.
Hot on her heals is double Booker Prize winner Hilary Mantel, whose scathing comments about the Duchess of Cambridge last week caused a storm of protest in the international press. Mantel said in a speech, it was claimed, that the duchess appeared to have been "designed by a committee and built by craftsmen, with a perfect plastic smile and the spindles of her limbs hand-turned and gloss-varnished".
Tracy Chevalier who wrote The Girl with the Pearl Ear Ring also comes to Bath as well as thriller writer PD James, Helen Dunmoore, Nadeem Aslam, Pat Barker, Jim Crace and AN Wilson.
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The list also includes Lindsey Davis, Aminatta Forna, Amity Gaige, Tessa Hadley, Georgina Harding, Rachel Joyce, Kate Mosse, Michele Roberts, Jennie Rooney, Sara Sheridan, Rupert Thomson, Sandi Toksvig, Kamila Shamsie and Anne Zouroudi.
Hot topics of this year's festival include pornography and a discussion about why young girls are continually portrayed as sex objects and psychopaths with a discussion that will reveal that we all sit somewhere on a 'scale of madness'.
The drugs trade is examined from the point of view that with a click of a mouse we can order every conceivable pill or powder on line. Thriller writers look at the golden age of whodunits and we learn a little about the real Jane Austen.
Remember Mary Whitehouse and her Clean up TV Campaign from the sixties? In Ban This Filth Ben Thompson argues that she might actually have been the harbinger of change and not the last of a dying breed as many people believed.
A century ago Europe was unaware of the oncoming catastrophe of war and in this year's festival organisers have gone back to 1913 for a series of connected events that provide a context for the war that would go on to shape a century.
The festival looks at what people were fighting for then and at what people are prepared to die for today. What does it mean, asks the festival, to lay down your life for your country?
The festival's artistic director James Runcie says: "We look at the way in which war and landscape have come to define our ideas of nationality and celebrate Britain's folk tradition with performances of every single ballad from The New Penguin Book of English Folk Song.
"Our principal subjects are freedom – of thought, speech, politics religion and justice. That could be with our Big Bath Read which is Elif Shafak's Honour, a landmark conversation with the human rights lawyer Clive Stafford Smith or a new production of the trial scene from Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird."
In his address to festivalgoers James reminds them that during the past 100 years the world has moved from the age of extremes to the age of information. "there's so much coming at us that at times it's difficult to tell what matters".