OIR: In a fever of anticipation!

Article published on February 22, 2016.

For Linda Hepworth, the festival season is about to kick off – big time! And here she shares what’s caught her interest – with reports of the actualité to follow in due course!

With the start date (4th March) for the “Words by the Water Festival” fast approaching, I have been taking another look at the programme , trying to decide which of the fifty three talks I have tickets for I am most l looking forward to. Here is my selection for each of the ten days:

Fri 4th: Howard Jacobson on his re-telling of The Merchant of Venice, and A.C. Grayling on learning from the scientific revolution of the seventeenth century.

Sat 5th: Will Gompertz on “Creative Thinking”, and Jonathan Bate on “The Life and Times of Ted Hughes”.

Sun 6th: David Crystal on “To Colon or not to Semi-colon – that is the question”, and David Aaronovitch on “Life Among the Communists”.

Mon 7th: Anthony Loyd on “The Adrenaline of Combat”.

Tues 8th: Francis Beckett talking about his biography of Clem Attlee, and Irving Finkel on ancient writing systems.

Wed 9th: Chris Rapley on “The Changing Climate”, and Meg Roscoff on Jonathan Unbound, her first novel for adults.

Thurs 10th: Anne Rowe and Avril Horner on “Iris Murdoch: Her Life in Letters”.

Fri 11th: Juliet Barker on “Demolishing the Myth of the Brontës”, and Gevel Lindop talking about Charles Williams, novelist, poet and magician, and member of the Oxford Literary Group.

Sat 12th: Ian Wainwright, an RSC producer talking about the innovative “Open Stages” project. I had also been looking forward to listening to Richard Dawkins’ two sessions but, sadly, ill health has caused him to cancel. However Professor Steve Jones, renowned geneticist, will take his place, talking first on the subject of “No Need for Geniuses, or Why Genetics Matter” and, in the second session, he and Alister McGrath, Professor of Science and Religion at Oxford University, will debate whether there a conflict between science and religion. So I think these two talks should be full of interest.

Sun 13th: Salley Vickers talking about what Shakespeare means to us today, and Paul Mason on “Life after Capitalism”.


So, quite an eclectic mix and lots to look forward to. However, if past experience is anything to go by, I know that occasionally eagerly anticipated talks can disappoint, but I also know that there are always some totally unexpected “gems”. One thing I am absolutely sure of is that the festival is going to be as lively and stimulating as ever – I’ll report back after the event!


PHIL ON: Harper Lee


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