Michael Palin, Billy Bragg, Cressida Cowell and Diana Evans to headline Greenwich Book Festival 2019


Greenwich Book Festival returns for the fifth year from Thursday 13 to Sunday 16 June with its “strongest line-up yet.” This summer’s programme for book lovers young and old is shaped by the themes of social activism, different perspectives and women’s voices.

Headliner Michael Palin will deliver a globe-trotting presentation about his extraordinary book Erebus: The Story of a Ship; activist and musician Billy Bragg will discuss what actions we can take to protect democracy; while former Children's Laureate Malorie Blackman OBE and Women's Prize shortlistee Diana Evans join a panel celebrating the launch of New Daughters of Africa Anthology.

Working class activist Kerry Hudson is in conversation about Lowborn; gender equality campaigner Caroline Criado Perez will be interviewed about her Sunday Times bestseller Invisible Women; and LGBTQ poet Jay Bernard, winner of the Ted Hughes Prize 2018, introduces their Forward Prize-nominated first collection Surge.

The line-up for families includes: Cressida Cowell, the multi-million-selling author of How To Train Your Dragon, offering tips on becoming a writer; The Gruffalo illustrator Axel Scheffler delivering a live-drawing session themed around "kindness"; and Robin Stevens celebrating Murder Most Unladylike's fifth anniversary.

London-themed books and local authors are also showcased in the festival programme, with a tribute to Andrea Levy, acclaimed as a chronicler of the Windrush generation; there will also be a discussion with Hallie Rubenhold about her book The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper; acclaimed literary authors Joseph O'Connor, Linda Grant and Bernardine Evaristo will all be discussing new London-set novels, while conservation campaigner and author Bob Gilbert leads a Greenwich Nature Walk; and writer Caroline Crampton offers a rare perspective on London from the Thames itself with a talk on her non-fiction debut The Way to the Sea: Forgotten Histories of the Thames Estuary.

The festival is hosted by the University of Greenwich, amid the scenic Thameside buildings and grounds of the Old Royal Naval College. It is part of the Royal Greenwich Festivals initiative and will be preceded by a fortnight of outreach events taking place in libraries and schools across the borough.

Mark O'Thomas, Pro Vice Chancellor of the University's Faculty of Liberal Arts and Sciences says: "The University is pleased to present the fifth Greenwich Book festival, which is now a well-established and well-loved annual event. This year, there is a huge range of activities planned - from sessions with high-profile authors to free lectures from our professors. I am particularly excited about the poetry and play readings as well as all the family-friendly events. We are very much looking forward to welcoming book lovers and their friends and families to our beautiful Greenwich campus."

Patricia Nicol, Greenwich Book Festival Director, says: "Soon after moving to Greenwich in 2010, I was struck by the idea that these magnificent Thameside buildings would make a wonderful backdrop for a festival of words and ideas. The University of Greenwich enabled that dream to become a reality. "The aim has always been to create an event that works for all ages and backgrounds and that celebrates London, reflecting its energy, eclecticism and diversity. This is our fifth festival and it feels our strongest line-up yet, with headliners like Michael Palin and Cressida Cowell, the incisive poetry of Jay Bernard's Surge, and events ranging from Billy Bragg on activism to Axel Scheffler on kindness. "I love the Open House Weekend aspect to GBF. I'm sure most of the millions of tourists who flock to the landmark Old Royal Naval College site annually, have very little idea of all that goes on behind its elegant Wren and Hawksmoor façades. Even after five years, I still get a behind-the-scenes-at-the-museum kick from how our festival allows the public in: with events in classrooms, state-of-the-art lecture-theatres, the recently refurbished Dreadnought building, and spread out on the ORNC's majestic lawns."