Profiling some of the speakers from this year’s upcoming Gibraltar Literary Festival.

It’s all too easy to fall into a digital wormhole these days. I just spent 10 minutes watching a Facebook video of a cat knocking things off a table. Or what about those oddly satisfying videos on Instagram of people cutting soap? Oh!

Well, let’s rise up and get off Instaspam, Twitbook, and Myface. Instead of having a furious row on Speak Freely about how the new cycle lanes are making you grind your teeth or ranting about the neighbour’s music being too loud on a Saturday evening, why not pick up a good book?

Now, while I do often get sucked into the vortex that is the interweb, I must admit I love a good gripping thriller or a soppy romance novel or a sci-fi or a… I like reading put it that way, so it fills me with delight to be able to introduce this year’s Gibraltar Literary Festival: a captivating four-day event that opens the gates to literature heaven. You will have the opportunity to meet your favourite author, listen to them read excerpts from their book(s) and get up close and personal across a range of topics, as well as engage in activities such as the writing workshop and later peruse a selection of books available for purchase on-site, and if you’re lucky, have one signed by the author themselves!

Gibraltar’s 6th International Literary Festival brings to the Rock some of today’s leading writers, thinkers and cultural observers to explore the burning questions and issues that surround us. Among these are Bettany Hughes award-winning historian, author and broadcaster, Levison Wood British explorer, writer and photographer and Pooky Knightsmith a passionate ambassador for mental health.

Dr Bettany Hughes

Dr Bettany Hughes

Having spent the last 25 years hungrily digging up the past she has built herself an illustrious career doing what she loves. The beacon was lit after she watched a BBC documentary on Tutankhamun over 30 years ago, “I still remember the frisson – the realisation that the stories I’d heard; of boy-kings dripping in gold; of hidden burial chambers and court intrigue could, sometimes, be true.”

Turning findings into books, her first book Helen of Troy: Goddess, Princess, Whore was translated into 10 languages which lead her to write her second book – a New York Times bestseller. And writing for BBC, Channel 4, Discovery, PBS, The History Channel, National Geographic, Discovery, BBC World and ITV you could say she is a well sought-after historian.
When she is not out researching the world’s greatest mysteries for her newest film on the life story of Aphrodite, she is at the New College of the Humanities as Visiting Professor.
Catch Bettany for an hour at John Mackintosh Hall 17th November at 2:00 pm as she delves into her newest book Istanbul: A Tale of Three Cities, which won the debate on the greatest cities in the world.

Levison Wood British

Levison Wood British

From the up and coming city Stoke on Trent, Levison – nickname Lev – studied history at the University of Nottingham before doing a U-turn and joining British Parachute Regiment which led him to where he is now. Writing in the depths of Iraq, Iran, Syria, and Pakistan just to name a few. His work has been featured on many big named publications such as Forbes Magazine.

Lev is known for pushing the boundaries, squeezing out every last drop of information, his most recent expedition was aired to the public in 2017 From Russia to Iran: Crossing Wild Frontiers, a gripping 4-hour series split into four parts. However, his most ambitious expedition to date is a 5000-mile circumnavigation of the Arabian Peninsula from Iraq to Lebanon – I can’t wait to read that book!

Lev’s thirst for travel has led him to walk the entire stretch of the river Nile in 2013-14; an adventure consisting of 4,250 miles which took 9 months and became Channel 4’s most successful factual series of the year. He’s quite the explorer, to say the least.

Lev’s work has taken him all around the world and landed him smack bang in Gibraltar’s John Macintosh Hall. Catch him talking about his latest adventure in his book Arabia: A Journey Through the Heart of the Middle East 16th November 6:00 pm.

Dr Pooky Knightsmith

Dr Pooky Knightsmith

Pooky is a spirited soul who has overcome and is overcoming the world around her and its challenges. She is a mum of two who works hard every day to win her own battles against PTSD, anorexia, self-harm and depression.

Whilst this is her first time at the Gibraltar Literary Festival, she has left her stamp in Gibraltar. From someone who has personally attended her lectures on mental health awareness, her talks should not be missed!

Her work has led her to find other ways of expressing herself, and poetry is one of them. Pooky is an accidental poet, and over the course of three years wrote at least one poem a day, which has helped spark discussion, understanding and healing to herself and those around her.

Other Key Moments

Thursday 15th:

12:00 pm, Rock Hotel – The Oldie Lunch. Join Harry Mount, James Pembroke and Robert Hardman at this year’s legendary literary lunches. Sit down to a lovely three-course meal, and then enjoy the wit and wisdom of our three wonderful speakers
7:30 pm, Caleta Hotel – Festival Opening Dinner. Come one come all and enjoy the exquisite food prepared for you by none other than this year’s Gibraltar literary festival speaker and chef Matt Tebbutt. Trained under culinary greats including Marco Pierre-White, Alastair Little, Bruce Poole and Sally Clarke you are in good hands! So sit back relax and enjoy.

Friday 16th:

10:00 am, The Gibraltar Garrison Library – A ‘Game of Thrones’ fans Carolyne Larrington is coming! Have you ever wondered how George R R Martin constructed his remarkable universe out of the Middle Ages? Well, Carolyne did and she wrote a book Winter is Coming, which you could consider a guide, to enlighten the world wondering the same as she.
2:00 pm, John Mackintosh Hall – ‘One Man’s Journey…’ Simon Weston tells his journey of being in the front line of war, and of being on the edge of death whilst trapped in the burning RFA Sir Galahad after it was bombed during the Falkland’s war in 1982. After losing his comrades and suffering burns to 46% of his body, he found ways of being a happy and contented father, grandfather and national treasure.

Saturday 17th:

12:00 pm, John Mackintosh Hall – Story building workshop. Do YOU want to be a writer? Let this workshop get your creative writing juices flowing as Alison Gardiner takes you into her fun interactive session.
12:00 pm, John Mackintosh Hall – ‘Are you a writer? Take the challenge’. So, you think you’re a writer? Let’s put your skills to the test with Christina Oxenberg’s one-hour session designed to challenge and push your limits, with quick improvisational-style writing drills – She’ll give you a topic and with pens at the ready, it’s GO GO GO!
Sunday 18th:
7:30 pm, The University of Gibraltar – Festival Closing Dinner. What a better way to wrap up such a fine four days than with a beautiful dinner, graciously presented by The Oxford Cultural Collective? This year’s dinner will be hosted by acclaimed food writer Diana Henry, and the menu will be drawn from her latest book, How to Eat a Peach. So, grab your tickets now because you won’t want to miss this mouth-watering feast!

Inspired by Gibraltar

Following last year’s trend, this year’s festival holds many renowned authors who have written and published books on Gibraltar.

In his second year at the Gibraltar Literary Festival, author and local M. G. Sanchez compares his growing up in one of the world’s smallest micro-territories to a subcontinental megalopolis in his latest book From Gibraltar to Mumbai: a crash course in culture shock and intense living.

Another author, Dr Alex Menez, fascinated by the history of natural history in Gibraltar, has written The Gibraltar Skull: an updated historiography of Gibraltar’s most famous fossil based on Gibraltar’s portal (the skull) into the world of the Neanderthals.

Professor John B. Hattendorf discovers the unfiled naval histories and accounts for the 1911-1927 period, which enlightens the world on the U.S’s role during World War One in Gibraltar to be more specific in his book The U.S Navy at Gibraltar During the First World War.

Roy and Lesley Adkins give an illustrated sketch of the Battle of Trafalgar, in their book The Battle of Trafalgar, which highlights Gibraltar’s vital role “including the hospital, prisoners-of-war and the Gibraltar Chronicle’s scoop in publishing the first report of the Battle of Trafalgar”.

The 2018 Gibraltar Literary Festival will take place from the 15th-18th November. Tickets available for purchase on gibraltarliteraryfestival.com, buytickets.gi, and the Festival Box Office at the Garrison Library.