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Thame Arts & Literature Festival

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11th to 15th October 2017

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Saturday PM

Suzanne Barton :  The Butterfly Dance

1.30pm : Town Hall : £4.00 (1 Adult free with each child ticket)

Caterpillars Dotty and Stripe do everything together. They play, they eat leaves and do all sorts of caterpiller-y things, and then one day, after spinning themselves into snuggly cocoons, they wake up as beautiful butterflies! But soon they realise that, for the first time ever, they look different. Should Dotty only play with butterflies that look like her? And Stripe only play with butterflies that look like him?

A stunningly illustrated story about friendship and and being happy with who you are, from the author/illustrator of Waterstones Children's Book Prize shortlisted The Dawn Chorus

Join Suzanne for an afternoon of discovery and drawing as she runs her delightful interactive workshop for children aged 3+.

Suzanne’s events are huge fun and great to take part in. So bring a well-behaved parent with you and prepare to make your own story of Butterflies and Caterpillars and all things

The Oxford Chapter of The Crime Writers’ Association presents : Deadlier than the male?  

4.30pm : The Town Hall : £9.00 (Concessions £8.00)

Mick Herron & Harry Bingham Vs Sharon Bolton & Cal Moriarty : Refereed by Dave Sivers

Do women write the creepiest, most gripping crime fiction? Do men understand the innermost fears of the ‘gentler’ sex better than they do themselves?  Will women writers wade in the darkest, grimiest of waters, where their male counterparts fear to tread? Or, if you want a really scary story, do you have to leave it to the boys?

Four Oxfordshire-based crime writers debate gender approach to crime writing in the ultimate battle of the sexes.

Who will prove the deadlier – come along and decide!

Martin Kemp  :  Mona Lisa ; The People and the Painting

3.00pm : Christchurch : £9.00 (Concessions £8.00)

The portrait is vividly illuminated through Renaissance love poetry and verses specifically dedicated to Leonardo. We come to understand how Leonardo's sciences of optics, psychology, anatomy and geology are embraced in his poetic science of art. Recent scientific examinations disclose how the painting evolved to assume its present appearance in Leonardo's experimental hands.

Above all, we cut though the suppositions and the myths to show that the portrait is a product of real people in a real place at a real time. This is the book that brings back a sense of reality into the creation of the portrait of Lisa del Giocondo. And the actual Mona Lisa, it turns out, is even more astonishing and transcendent than the Mona Lisa of legend.

Martin Kemp FBA is Emeritus Professor in the History of Art at Trinity College, Oxford University. One of the world's leading authorities on Leonardo da Vinci, he has published extensively on his life and work, including the prize-winning Leonardo da Vinci: The Marvellous Works of Nature and Man (OUP, 1989 and 2006), Leonardo (OUP, 2004 and 2011), and most recently Mona Lisa: The People and the Painting (OUP, 2017). He lives in Woodstock, Oxfordshire.

Katie Fforde  : A Secret Garden       

3.00pm : Barns Centre - Large Hall : £9.00 (Concessions £8.00)

Romance, humour and happy-ever-after endings. The deliciously romantic new novel from the No. 1 Sunday Times bestselling author of A Vintage Wedding, Recipe for Love, and A French Affair.

'What I want to know', said Lorna, 'is what lies behind those ash trees at the back of the garden?’
Lorna is a talented gardener and Philly is a plantswoman. Together they work in the grounds of a beautiful manor house in the Cotswolds. They enjoy their jobs and are surrounded by family and friends. But for them both the door to true love remains resolutely closed.
So when Lorna is introduced to Jack at a dinner party and Lucien catches Philly’s eye at the local farmers market, it seems that dreams really can come true and happy endings lie just around the corner.But do they?

Troublesome parents, the unexpected arrival of someone from Lorna's past, and the discovery of an old and secret garden mean their lives are about to become a lot more complicated.

Modern-day Austen. Great fun.’ – Red

Katie Fforde lives in the beautiful Cotswold countryside with her family, and is a true country girl at heart. Each of her books explores a different profession or background and her research has helped her bring these to life. She’s been a porter in an auction house, tried her hand at pottery, refurbished furniture, delved behind the scenes of a dating website, and she's even been on a Ray Mears survival course.                                            Katie will be in conversation with the award winning romance writer, Fiona Field.

Fighting the mens’ corner:  

Mick Herron, the critically-acclaimed, Gold Dagger winning, Oxford-based writer is a rapidly rising star of crime fiction. Mick is best known for his Slough House series, about a bunch of messed up spies. His latest is Spook Street. Writer and entrepreneur, Harry Bingham, is the author of the hugely successful Fiona Griffiths series and the founder of The Writers’ Workshop and The Word Cloud. His latest book is The Deepest Grave.

Speaking up for girl power:

Sharon Bolton has won the Mary Higgins Clark Award 2010 and the Crime Writers’ Association Dagger in the Library. She is a Sunday Times bestseller and lives just outside Thame. Her latest book is Dead Woman Walking. Cal Moriarty is a screenwriter, director and novelist. She is the creator of the Wonderland series, the first of which, The Killing of Bobby Lomax was a Financial Times crime novel of the year.

Ensuring they keep it clean: Dave Sivers’ books include the popular Archer and Baines series set in Buckinghamshire’s Aylesbury Vale.  His latest is The Blood That Binds. He is the founder of the Beaconlit Literary Festival.

Marie-Elsa Bragg  :  Towards Mellbreak

4.30pm : Christchurch : £9.00 (Concessions £8.00)

Coming from an old and beloved English tradition of writing about the land, from Dorothy Wordsworth to Ted Hughes, Marie-Elsa’s poetic and beautiful novel is a hymn both to the landscape of Cumbria and to a disappearing world.

Marie-Elsa not only displays a remarkable gift for observation – of human beings, animals, landscapes – but has written an impassioned elegy for a way of a life that has come into head-on-collision with the modern world.” Mail-on-Sunday

Marie-Elsa Bragg is a writer, lecturer, ordained Anglican priest and Duty Chaplain of Westminster Abbey, previously a ballet dancer and Jesuit Spiritual Director. She is part French, part Cumbrian, growing up in London as well as spending considerable time in Cumbria – the setting which her debut novel Towards Mellbreak profoundly evokes. The novel, published by Chatto and Windus, has already been praised by key figures such as Tim Pears and Ian McMillan.

Marie-Elsa is a Priest in the diocese of London and a Duty Chaplain of Westminster Abbey. She has worked for 20 years as a spiritual director working with people from all walks of life, and is a member of WATCH Parliament, a small group who work alongside parliament on women’s issues within the Church.

Alex Preston  :  As Kingfishers Catch Fire

6.00pm : Museum : £6.00

An illustrated and visually stunning exploration of birds in literature, from Ovid to Ted Hughes.

When Alex Preston was fifteen, he stopped being a birdwatcher and he began birdwatching in the books that he read, creating his own personal anthology of nature writing that brought the birds of his childhood back to brilliant life.

Looking for moments ‘when heart and bird are one’, Preston weaves the very best writing about birds into a personal and eccentric narrative that is as much about the joy of reading and writing as it is about the thrill of wildlife. Moving from the ‘high requiem’ of Keats’s nightingale to the crow-strewn sky at the end of Alan Garner’s The Weirdstone of Brisingamen, from Ted Hughes’s brooding ‘Hawk in the Rain’ to the giddy anthropomorphism of Jonathan Livingstone Seagull, this is a book that will make you look at birds, at the world, in a newer, richer light.

Beautifully illustrated and illuminated by the celebrated graphic artist Neil Gower, As Kingfishers Catch Fire is a book to love and to hold, to return to again and again, to marvel at the way that authors across the centuries have captured the endless grace and variety of birds.

A magical book: an inimitable fusion of ornithology, literary anthology & autobiography’ Tom Holland

As Kingfishers Catch Fire is a luminous book . . . worthy of birds, and I know no higher praise’ Charles Foster, author of Being a Beast

Thame Cinema 4 All : A Quiet Passion  (12a)

8.00pm : The Players Theatre : Adults : £6.00 Children £3.50

In one of A Quiet Passion’s early scenes, the poet Emily Dickinson quips that “an argument about gender is an argument about war”. Terence Davies’s biopic of the 19th-century American writer sets itself up as a film About Gender, declaring its explicit interest in the war waged on women who write about their own misery. We open with young Emily (Emma Bell) departing her all-girls seminary; the remainder of the film takes place almost entirely within the confines of the Dickinsons’ home in Amherst, Massachusetts. No matter the setting, both teenage Emily and the writer she eventually becomes (Cynthia Nixon, on blistering form) reject the religious framework forced on them. Each is invested in the matters of her soul; just not in the matter of its saving.

As time passes, Emily’s sparky contrariness calcifies into bitterness, the sharpness of her prose also lacerating her romantic prospects; the “meticulous guarding of her soul’s independence” creating a chasm between her success and her self-esteem. “In matters of the soul, you are rigorous,” says Vinnie (Jennifer Ehle) to her sister. Emily’s response? That “rigour is no substitute for happiness”. But deep down, Nixon’s Emily knows that marriage would constrict her creativity. This tension is the film’s main preoccupation and its most precise profundity: the blunt, exhausting pain of living alone and in one’s own head.

Thame Chamber Choir : The Seven Deadly Sins

8.00pm : St Marys Church : Adults : £12.00 (Concessions £10.00. Children under 18 - Free)

"Guilty pleasures and confessions: The Seven Deadly Sings”  

with Bruce Alexander (reader)

Gluttony, lust or sloth - which is your favourite sin?

With the help of actor Bruce Alexander (A Touch of Frost, RSC) we offer an overindulgent evening of longed-for illicit delights, guaranteed to leave you wanting more. Be sure not to laze in bed this evening: you'd be mad to miss it and will envy those who came.

Beautiful music - lively words!!

Click here to book Tickets

Thame (Causton) The murder capital of Oxfordshire!!!! - Well so it would seem!! - Join Thame’s fully trained, expert tour guides as they take you on a walk around Thame’s fictional murder scenes!!

Meeting point - inside the museum

Starting time - 2.30pm

Dates - Saturday 14th and Sunday 15th October

Duration - approx. 1 hour

Cost - £7.50

Maximum number - 15 per tour

The walk visits some 20 filming locations starting with the museum itself, walking up and down the town centre and finishing outside the town hall.  The tour also includes historical facts about the town including the civil war, John Fothergill and the Spread Eagle, the prize-fighter James Figg, the 800 year old market, where Napoleonic prisoners were jailed and much more. 

Photo by David O’Driscoll

Bruce Alexander

Kiran Millwood Hargrave  : The Island at the End of Everything       

3.00pm : Players Theatre: £4.00

TAL is absolutely thrilled to welcome the winner of the Financial Times, Children’s book of the year and Waterstone’s Children’s book of the month!!

Kiran weaves her magic for children aged 9+ and we

Children’s Book of the Week in The Sunday Times, The Observer, and The Telegraph, Editor’s Choice in The Bookseller.

‘The Girl of Ink & Stars is one of 2016’s top-selling debuts, and Hargrave’s second book establishes her as a major new talent in children’s fiction. Set on a remote island for people with leprosy, this is mesmerising storytelling.’

– Fiona Noble, The Bookseller‘s 10 Titles Not to Miss

Kiran Millwood Hargrave was born in Surrey in 1990, and her earliest ambition was to be a cat, closely followed by a cat-owner or the first woman on Mars. She has achieved only one of these things, but discovered that being a writer lets you imagine whatever you want.

She started writing poetry in her final year at university, producing three poetry books and a play before she turned to fiction. Her bestselling debut The Girl of Ink & Stars (aka The Cartographer’s Daughter in the US), about a mapmaker’s daughter who must save her island, was a Financial Times Book of the Year, Waterstones Children’s Book of the Month, The Times Book of the Week, and appeared on numerous prize lists. Her second standalone story, The Island at the End of Everything, is published in May 2017.

Patrick Bishop :  Air Force Blue

1.30pm : Spread Eagle Hotel : Adult £9.00 (Concessions £8.00)


Air warfare was a terrible novelty of the modern age. From the beginning, the RAF’s identity set it apart from the traditional services. It was innovative, flexible and comparatively meritocratic, advancing the quasi-revolutionary idea that competence was more important than background.

The Air Force went into the war, the early phase of which was littered with setbacks and debacles.  Then, in the summer of 1940, in full view of the population, Fighter Command won one of the most decisive battles of the struggle.  Drawing from diaries, letters, memoirs and  interviews, Bishop explores lives and wartime  experiences and reveals a distinctive winning ethos

The third in Bishop’s trilogy following FIGHTER BOYS and BOMBER BOYS, AIR FORCE BLUE portrays the spirit of the RAF

PATRICK BISHOP has emerged as one of the outstanding historians of the wartime RAF.

He was a foreign correspondent for over twenty years, covering many conflicts, including Afghanistan, the subject of his widely acclaimed 3 Para.

Sorry - Sold Out - but you can still do the Sunday Walk