Big names will discuss a life in politics

August 01 2017
Big names will discuss a life in politics

THIS year’s 25th anniversary Wells Festival of Literature will be launched in the city’s cathedral on September 29 by Simon Jenkins, journalist, author and broadcaster.

He was editor of both the Times and the London Evening Standard and he chaired the National Trust. He will be eulogising his favourite cathedral which scores five out of five in his book England’s Cathedrals.

For the main event which runs from October 13-21, the ever-popular subject of biographies will be well covered as usual. Nick Clegg is the first speaker who will be interviewed by Jonathan Rugman from Channel 4 News and one of three throughout the festival on the political stage. His new book Politics: Between the Extremes re-makes the case for multi-party governments and pragmatic compromise in an age where populists preach idealogical purities.

Alan Johnson will be discussing the third volume of his memoirs The Long and Winding Road, with Channel 4’s Jackie Long, recounting his early political skirmishes as a trades union leader and how he came to the attention of Tony Blair.

His rise from condemned slums in West London to some of the most senior jobs in politics is a testament to his hard work and determination.

As with the two former speakers, Harriet Harman’s reputation is of honesty and integrity and in her book A Woman’s Work, she discusses with Lois Rogers, an award-winning international journalist who lives in Wells, a frank account of the progress – and setbacks – of the Labour Party.

Author of 12 books, Michael Heseltine has co-written his latest, Thenford: The Creation of an English Garden with his wife Anne.

Full of passion and enthusiasm, they describe their adventurous mission to bring the wild, overgrown and often dilapidated grounds of what was a tired house and estate, back to its former glory.

Past chair of the festival, Emma Craigie, will interview two Somerset authors about their contrasting use of memoir and memory for their books. Susan Beale’s The Good Guy was shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award and Helen Stevenson draws on her family’s time in France and her personal experience of bringing up a child with cystic fibrosis in her factual memoir Love Like Salt.

Tickets can be purchased online at and in person at The Bishop’s Palace. Lines are open for telephone booking (0300 201 0211) from Wednesday to Saturday, 10am to midday.