100 years have passed since the birth of the RAF, and a mere 74 years have passed since the World War II Normandy Landings we have collectively come to know as D Day. In the run up to the largest seaborne invasion in history, however, was the largest battle by air that anyone had known. This was Operation Argument, and bestselling historian and broadcaster James Holland tells the story of the unbelievable events that took place in his new book, Big Week.
Explaining and detailing Operation Argument and the plan to force the German Luftwaffe to submit in one fell swoop, James delves into the complex history and the stunning reality of World War II, contextualising the crucial actions on the ground that lead to those in the sky. The story of Operation Argument and the Big Week that followed it is audacious, thrilling, and, at times startling – and all true. James will be delivering a fantastic illustrated talk at this year’s festival about his new book with pictures, mind blowing facts, and captivating insight to the strategies and strikes that were instrumental to victory, to which we owe the world as we know today.
Make sure to book tickets while they’re still available, it’s set to be an enthralling and illuminating talk about a topic so close to the heart of our history.
Sunday 4th Nov / Event 24 11 AM £10 The Electric Palace *Please note the new date, time, and venue*
Cooking queen, entertainer extraordinaire and all-round national treasure, Prue Leith’s is a household name. Known as a beloved TV personality following her appointment as a judge to The Great British Menu, and – one for the hall of fame – the nation’s favourite The Great British Bake-Off, Prue has a well earned reputation as an aficionado of cookery. In between campaigning for better food standards in schools and hospitals and being the founder of Leith’s School of Food and Wine, writing is one of Prue’s most admirable talents.
Not only has she penned cookbooks such as Leith’s Cookery Bible and her personal memoirs, Relish: My Life on a Plate, Prue has also made waves as a novelist with a wide range of fiction books, including The Prodigal Daughter and A Serving of Scandal. At this year’s BridLit festival, Prue will be making an appearance in conversation with Val Hudson, when she will be dishing up the stories and secrets; ranging from tales of The Great British Bake-Off and the Hollywood Handshake, to her methodology in fiction writing and how she realises her ideas for a novel, to her own anecdotes and culinary tips and tricks.
Be sure to book your tickets for this rare treat! See Prue live and take home a slice of her wisdom.
Saturday 10th Nov/ Event 35 2.30 PM £10 The Electric Palace
Penny Junor will be replacing Bryony Gordon in Event 34, as unfortunately Bryony has had to withdraw from this year’s lineup on the advice of her doctors.
Penny Junor has spent a lifetime with the Royal Family. Having attended school with Princess Anne and spent years at the side of the Windsors, she knows better than most of the truths, told and untold, of the British Royal Family. In her new biography, All The Queen’s Corgis, Penny reveals what the lives of Queen Elizabeth II’s most beloved creatures are really like, and how the humble Corgi found itself comfortably seated inside Buckingham Palace. This book is an affectionate, heartwarming, and deeply intimate account of one of the fondest quirks of Royal life, and Penny discusses much more than the origin of the Dorgi – the accidental Dachshund-Corgi cross!
As well as being a Royal insider, Penny is a writer and broadcaster, who has written many best-selling autobiographies on Prince Charles, Princess Diana, Duchess of Cornwall, Camilla, and two British Prime Ministers. A trusted and thorough voice to both the Royals and her readers, her biographical work illuminates the often-shrouded family at the heart of our United Kingdom.
Penny will be speaking at this year’s BridLit in conversation with Susannah Simons. Don’t miss your chance to book tickets to this fascinating talk!
Saturday 10th Nov/ Event 34 12.00 PM £10 The Electric Palace
Crime and Thriller are genres rarely shared with Comedy, and that is largely due to the fact that it takes a certain spin, a particular tone to marry the two. Multi award-winner Mick Herron strikes this balance with anti-protagonist Jackson Lamb, and a spy story suffuse with subterfuge, skulduggery, and side-splitting jokes.London Rules is the fifth explosive instalment of Mick Herron’s spy series, and it is a masterclass in simultaneously wielding comedy and tension. Set in our post-referendum world, MI5 agent Jackson Lamb brashly tackles terror and terrorism and the perils of our shifting society with pacing and wit that has us laughing and gasping in turns.
Applauded as “a very funny writer, but also a serious plotter” by The Guardian, Herron has a wealth of knowledge on what makes a spy story tick, which may be why he’s been drawing comparisons as the new generation’s answer to the legendary Le Carre! Ready to take to the BridLit stage soon, Mick will be discussing how he puts his imagination to task to create a crime story in conversation with fellow crime novelist Daphne Wright. This is a must for lovers of espionage – and those who enjoy belly laughter. With heart-racing plot twists and dark humour abundant, Mick’s event is set to be as fascinating as his novel.
Don’t miss this spectacular glimpse into the inner workings of a comic crime writer’s mind – book tickets while you still can!
Alongside London Rules, copies of another of Mick’s novels, The Drop, will be available for signing! The Drop is a tale of spooks, double agents and collateral damage –
“A drop, in spook parlance, is the passing on of secret information. It is also what happens just before you hit the ground.”
Friday 9th Nov/ Event 30 2.30 PM £10 Electric Palace
The Western world has been shaken, tricked, emboldened, and disgusted in turns by its own modern politics. Whether an individual’s alignment is left or right, centrist or self-removed, one thing is clear in this new era; the rule book is being rewritten. With legislation debuting on Twitter, and ministers cheered by football chants as if Question Time might be held on a pitch, where may countries turn in their messes of information and morality? Posited by award-winning political commentator Steve Richards in his new book, The Rise of the Outsiders, the answer is that the old giants have failed to evolve alongside the rest of the world, and, seeing this, the shadowy figures at the fringe of politics chose now to enter the spotlight. As a journalist for The Guardian and The Independent – between appearing on BBC Radio 4’s Week in Westminster and BBC1’s Sunday Politics – Steve definitely knows the nature of this particular beast.
Armed with knowledge and truth – one commodity that can’t be overvalued today – Steve’s The Rise of the Outsiders is illuminating in a time of confusion. To understand how mainstream politics has become so lost, he will shine a light on not only “the outsiders” that have taken centre stage in our lives, but the reasons that systems, having functioned previously, have given platform to this international entanglement of occasionally-dumbfounding spectacles…
Set to be a controversial, stimulating and informative talk, Steve will be featuring at the festival – don’t miss your chance for a seat.
Saturday 11th November / Event 32 4.30 PM £10 The Electric Palace
Acclaimed by Julian Fellowes as a “history with the pace of a thriller”, Earl Charles Spencer’s gripping new book, To Catch A King, might seem too good to be true, but it isn’t. Many historical events are legendary; fables of kings and queens are taught in schools and stories are often dramatized for entertainment, but, as Charles retells how King Charles II ran for his life from assassins and a crumbling Monarchy, we’re reminded that sometimes the truth is wild enough.
Using Pepy’s account, verified by Charles II himself, to testify for the verity of this jaw-dropping series of events, Charles plunges readers into a whirlwind of fast-paced action and deadly stakes as he unpacks the chase that took place three hundred years ago. Escaping enemies of he throne by disguising himself as one half of an eloping couple, hiding inside an oak tree (an event responsible for the “Royal Oak” name of countless British pubs) and even bringing the action down here to this part of West Dorset, Charles II restored the monarchy despite ridiculous odds. In an unpredictable and unbelievable tale that stunned the entire country, To Catch A King is a historical text quite unlike any other.
Do not miss Charles’ talk about this mind-boggling tale, effecting even the ground we walk on! To secure your seat for an incredible event, booking information is below.
Thursday 9th November / Event 24 6.30 PM £10 The Electric Palace
In 1985, iconic British mountaineer Sir Chris Bonington climbed to the summit of Mount Everest. This was neither his first nor his last climb, but inarguably one of the most dangerous, poignant and rewarding physical feats any human might achieve; and Chris is no stranger to that. Having spent six decades climbing, Chris knows everything there is to know about calculated risk and unfathomable reward. In his new memoir, Ascent: A Life Spent Climbing on the Edge, Chris recounts his electrifying adventures conquering seemingly insurmountable peaks, and casts an eye back over his life – his childhood love of the outdoors, his term in the army, and the drive that still fuels him today.
This book tells first-hand accounts of his climbs, including the first British ascent of the North Wall of the Eiger, and his leadership of the expedition that completed the first ascent of the South Face of Annapurna. With true stories of bravery in the face of despair and survival simply by incredible determination, Chris bares his experiences from all areas of his life – inconceivable elation in mountaineering, and heart-rending loss in love. Ascent: A Life Spent Climbing on the Edge is the story of human willpower and the capacity for incentive that hope bears. In detailing this incredible life it reminds us all that absolutely anything is possible and may be achieved – despite every odd.
Chris will be speaking about his remarkable life and memoir at the festival, in conversation with Luke Hughes, Chair of the Mount Everest Foundation. Book now, to avoid disappointment:
Friday 10th November / Event 28 4.30 PM £10 The Electric Palace
As Boris Starling‘s Unconquerable: The Invictus Spirit is published, the third Invictus Games will be held in Toronto. The games may only be still in their infancy, but the impact of their meaning, the opportunity of their purpose, and their growing legacy transcends age. The games are a chance for servicemen and women to compete in a prestigious multisport competition, but to each competitor the games’ existence also symbolises a different sort of challenge. To qualify, you must have already been through hell and back, and it’s reaching your mark that signifies your first victory. The servicemen and women who compete for glory at the Invictus Games are those who have been injured, wounded, and halted in their service in ways unfathomable, and are now proving to the world that not only is recovery an option – so is excellence.
At the Invictus Games the starting line marks more than just the racetrack. It marks a whole new beginning. The unconquerable spirit and unbreakable will of competitors uplifts everyone lucky enough to watch, and Unconquerable: The Invictus Spirit tells the stories of some of these heroes. Be it racing with triple amputations, or firing arrows with one’s teeth – the awesome stories of the people we see in the arena and how they came to be there will humble you.
The games are spearheaded by Prince Harry, and, only fittingly, Unconquerable: The Invictus Spirit bears a foreword by him. Proving that ‘change’ never has to mean ‘end’, Boris perfectly celebrates the servicemen and women who define ‘unconquerable’.
Do not miss your chance for tickets to Boris’ incredible talk. The information you need is below:
Sunday 12th November / Event 35 3.00 PM £10 The Electric Palace
War breeds conflict, destruction and division, but amidst its wreckage Peter Snow and Ann MacMillan have fostered unity. Compelled by the manmade phenomenon – the consequences of which push limits of imagination – the partners set about writing War Stories, a collection of tales, some untold until now, from people whose lives have been touched by war.
Gathering 34 individual’s accounts, Peter and Ann breathe life into unbelievable memories and give voice to forgotten events, each more fascinating, terrifying and amazing than the last; and all true. Ranging from Waterloo to the Crimea, from both World Wars to Syria; War Stories narrates moments of heroism, compassion, horror and heartbreak. Through these glimpses into incomprehensible situations, strange and stunning human actions become a degree more comprehensible. Passed like medals down through generations or even recounted firsthand – what unifies each expertly told memory is the palpable force of human spirit.
Don’t miss Peter and Ann when they come to the festival! To celebrate the launch of War Stories, the duo will be discussing the process of chronicling these tales, and the stories themselves; full of the highs and lows of human capability.
Sunday 5th November / Event 4 5.30 PM £10 The Electric Palace
Thirty years ago the British Isles were struck without warning by a storm the likes of which were last documented in 1703 by Daniel Defoe. Trees were rent from the earth, buildings crumbled, and eighteen lives were lost in this gale that took the country by surprise. It ravaged all in its path in a way not seen since war held the landscape – and, Thirty years on, Tamsin Treverton Jones invokes the memory of this monumental night in 1987.
After discovering an old photograph of a sculpture her father designed, made from the patchwork of fallen trees from Kew Gardens, Tamsin set about creating a lyrical memoir to the landscape created by destruction and the stories left windswept in its wake. Windblown weaves Tamsin’s own memories of fishermen, refugees, sculptors and lighthouse keepers with the past, present, and future of the storm and its legacy.
The land has forever changed, but could it be for the better? A beautiful and exhilarating example of Nature Writing, Tamsin’s Windblown is set to release this year, and you can find her at an enchanting illustrated talk in conversation with James Crowden.
To explore the soul of the land we live on and what it means to survive both in hardship and memory, book tickets while they are still available.
Friday 10th November / Event 27
The Town Hall