I like big books and I cannot lie. Have you read anything gripping recently? Or are you still on the hunt for your next tome? A good piece of writing can open your eyes to a new realm of thinking, inspire a big life movement, and transport you to another place entirely for a short while. There is a distinct beauty to the arts of both reading and writing; you are certainly rewarded for the time and interest you put in.
As a voracious reader, I couldn’t be more excited to introduce this year’s Gibraltar Literary Festival; an exciting four-day event that will grant you the opportunity to meet your favourite author, listen to them read excerpts from their book(s) and be privy to their thoughts 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, perhaps getting one signed by the author themself!
Among the world-class speakers and esteemed authors to grace our Rock for Gibraltar’s 5th International Literary Festival are former BBC Chief News Correspondent and all-round female-force Kate Adie, the belly-laugh inducing Nicholas Parsons, and intrepid explorer Colonel John Blashford-Snell to name but a few.
Kate Adie, OBE
Kate has had an illustrious career in journalism over the years. Born in Sunderland and awarded a degree in Scandinavian studies by the University of Newcastle, Kate soon made her first foray into the world of news and reporting by first becoming a studio technician for BBC local radio, specialising in farming and arts programmes. Following a stint as BBC Plymouth’s Regional Reporter, Kate joined the BBC national news. Perhaps what Kate is best known for, is her aptitude for reporting unwaveringly from some of the world’s most dangerous ‘hotspots’. While we remained on the safe side of the television, Kate’s position as Foreign Reporter saw her posted to the epicentre of what would later become poignant moments in history. Through all these times of tribulation, it is clear that Kate’s love of her career has remained a fire in her belly. As she reveals in her autobiography The Kindness of Strangers: “One of the curiosities of rioting is the extent to which it is fun…”
Join Kate at the Convent at 10:00am on Saturday the 18th for An Audience with Kate Adie, when she will return to the Rock to divulge unmissable tidbits about her life and work, including information on several of her bestselling books.
Nicholas Parsons, CBE
Another returnee to the Gibraltar International Literary Festival is comedy great Nicholas Parsons. Before he embarked on his journey to become one of Britain’s household names in television, theatre and radio, Nicholas first started out as an engineering apprentice in the asperous shipyards in Clydeside bordering the river below Glasgow. Son of both a nurse and doctor, the stage and silver screen was apparently not in Parson’s blood – but it most certainly was in his heart. However, his parents were decidedly unsupportive, exhibiting what Nicholas describes as a “neurotic dread of a dissolute thespian life”. The reason for their distaste of the world of arts may have in part been due to his childhood stutter as well as the fact that he was dyslexic at a time where it was neither supported nor recognised. Ever-determined, Nicholas went on to become an impersonator in small repertory theatres after being discovered by Canadian impresario Carroll Levis. What followed was a stage career in the West End (which involved a role, among many others, as the suspender-wearing stocking-clad narrator of the ‘Rocky Horror Picture Show’), his big-screen debut, his acclaimed role as straight man to Arthur Haynes in the 60s, and today, his position as the chairman of the long-running Radio 4 panel game Just a Minute. Nicholas has worked with an impressive slew of famous faces including Eric Barker, Kenneth Williams, Paul Merton and beloved Benny Hill.
This year, you have two opportunities to catch Parsons in action at the John Mackintosh Hall: At 12:00pm on Friday the 17th you can hear Nicholas recount key moments throughout his fruitful career, no doubt with his signature comic timing. Drop in again at 12:00pm on Sunday the 19th for an exciting performance of the aforementioned panel game Just a Minute, which will see Parsons and a few of his guests (namely actress and comedian Maureen Lipman, Tony Hawks, Felix Francis and Jenny Eclair) attempt to speak about a specific topic for 60 seconds without a hint of deviation or repetition, inevitably with hilarious results.
Colonel John Blashford-Snell, OBE
Described as ‘the last of the explorers’, Col. John Blashford-Snell has led a colourful life of hair-raising expeditions involving rapids, hippos and whirlpools the size of football fields. Born in 1936 in Hereford, England, Col. Blashford-Snell attended Victoria College in Jersey before signing up to The Royal Military Academy, where he served for 37 years. No doubt in thanks to his mother, a cherished carer of animals as well as their parishioners, Col. Blashford-Snell blossomed amongst a menagerie of wounded and orphaned wildlife, which paved the way for what would be a lifelong dedication to and enthusiasm for conservation. Over the years, the colonel has been on a number of conservation missions which include: trailing and studying of one of the largest known elephant tuskers in Nepal known as Raja Gaj (or ‘King Elephant’), efforts to protect the spectacled bear in Peru, scanning Loch Ness for its infamous monster, and tracking down a 20ft tall ‘dragon’ in Papua New Guinea.
Join the indefatigable Colonel Blashford-Snell for an hour of tales that almost seem to require you to suspend disbelief. 10:00am on Sunday the 19th at the Convent.
Other Key Moments
Morning – Schools Fest. This event is staged across Thursday and Friday morning within local schools; children will have the privilege of listening to a selection of the festival’s speakers talk across a number of topics chosen to marry with the curriculum.
- 7:30pm, Caleta Hotel – Festival Opening Dinner. Join all the celebrated speakers and performers at this year’s festival for a stunning opening dinner prepared by the chef of the Caleta Hotel. The evening will include a reception, three-course meal and a selection of wine and coffee.
- 2:00-3:00pm, John Mackintosh Hall – ‘The Holocaust – Meeting Those Who Were There’. Laurence Rees has conducted numerous interviews with people who have experienced the effects of the Nazis and the Holocaust first-hand. In this lecture, Rees will speak about four of these people, each one offering a powerful eyewitness testimony on a harrowing moment in time.
9:30-5:30pm, John Mackintosh Hall – Writing Workshop. Ever wanted to try your hand at penning the next big seller? Led by professional authors Sarah Burton and Jem Poster, this workshop aims to guide and inspire you through a number of writing exercises within a small group of 15 people. Novices and veterans alike welcomed – but book yourself in quick; there are only 30 spaces in total to be nabbed!
- 12:00-1:00pm, Convent – Downton Abbey lovers rejoice! Lady Carnarvon invites you through the gates of Highclere for an exclusive look at Highclere Castle through her latest book, At Home: Entertaining at the Real Downton Abbey. Her newest publication focuses on the scandals and celebrations of the ‘upstairs’ and ‘downstairs’, transporting you to an era gone by. “I hope this book gives a glimpse inside a great house, with mouth-watering recipes, eye-catching photographs and fascinating stories about some of the remarkable people who have stayed here.” – Lady Carnarvon
2:00-3:30pm, The Convent – Min Kym & Ian Brown: Gone: A Girl, a Violin, a Life Unstrung – with Performance. Joined by pianist Ian Brown, South Korean-born Min Kym is here to excite your ears with a performance cataloguing her journey from child prodigy to violin virtuoso, which was interrupted only by the devastation and grief inflicted when her priceless 1696 Stradivarius violin was stolen seven years ago as she picked up a coffee and a bite to eat from Pret A Manger. Here she speaks with BBC news presenter and journalist Gwenan Edwards, whose credits include the BBC Proms, Wales at Six on ITV, and Newsroom South East and Watchdog on BBC1.
- 7:30pm, Sunborn Gibraltar. Alas the sun must set on what promises to be yet another successful literary festival. Join our guest speakers and performers for a stunning three-course closing meal prepared by the chef of the Sunborn Gibraltar.
Inspired by Gibraltar
Some of this year’s acclaimed authors have written and published books based in/on our very own Rock. Historian, educationalist and author Christopher Lloyd coined the now-popular Wallbook; large timeline-style illustrations which can be unfolded into 2m wide wall charts, or read like books. In 2010 he produced The What on Earth Wallbook which attempts to condense the entire history of the world into one concertina-folded timeline alongside more than 1000 pictures and captions. Lloyd’s works have been published in partnership with some of the UK’s most respected organisations, such as the Natural History Museum, The Science Museum, The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, The National Trust and the Magna Carta Trust. After visiting our Literary Festival not once but four times, Lloyd has used Gibraltar as his muse for the latest in his series of Wallbooks. The Story of Gibraltar: A history of the Rock will be officially launched at this year’s festival.
Another author who has taken inspiration from our mighty Rock is Robert Daws, who has drawn upon his knowledge of Gibraltar to produce a crime thriller trilogy: The Rock, The Poisoned Rock, Killing Rock. The books perfectly entwine the gripping elements of a ‘whodunnit’ with the beauty and uniqueness of Gibraltar.
Nicholas Rankin has taken a different stance with his novel Defending the Rock: How Gibraltar Defeated Hitler – the title says it all. A truly fascinating glimpse into Gibraltar’s history, and how it held steadfast despite its menacing neighbours: Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, Vichy France and Francoist Spain.
G. Sanchez muses on what it means to be truly ‘Gibraltarian’ and whether it has been represented fairly in the past; a look into political ignorance and mis-attempts at capturing the uniqueness of our Rock. Sanchez will focus on representations of ‘Gibraltarian-ness’ in his two latest books – the novel Jonathan Gallardo and autobiographical volume Past: A Memoir, explaining how he combines different textual ingredients to create distinctly Gibraltarian content.
Ties to the Oxford Literary Festival
Every year, Gibunco Group of Companies sponsors a ‘Gibraltar Lecture’ in the green room at both the Oxford Literary Festival and the Blenheim Palace Literary Festival during the spring and autumn months respectively. Last month, Lord Melvyn Bragg, English broadcaster, author and parliamentarian, delivered the Gibraltar Lecture at the Blenheim Palace Festival of Literature, Film & Music. Lord Bragg delivered a talk on what drove William Tyndale to create an English translation of the Bible in 16th-century England, and the butterfly effect this had, and still has, around the world. Lord Bragg was introduced by esteemed historian and previous participant of the Gibraltar Literary Festival, Professor Sir Diarmaid MacCulloch, a British ecclesiastical historian best known for his 2009 works on the lineages of Christianity: The History of Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years. (www.blenheimpalaceliteraryfestival.com)
Lord Bragg will be delivering a talk at next year’s Gibunco Gibraltar Intentional Literary Festival. As Gilbert Licudi QC, Minister for Tourism has stated, “It’s a great privilege for us to have someone of Lord Bragg’s standing delivering the Gibraltar Lecture at Blenheim and to see his acceptance to participate in next year’s Festival. We’re very grateful to the Gibunco Group of companies for supporting the Gibraltar Lectures, both at Blenheim and in Oxford. The festival is growing in stature and our commitment as a government to such a prestigious event is evident, delivering a world class event.”
In an effort to be ‘green’ this year, they have done away with the printing of the substantial festival guide booklets, opting instead for a concise four-page Festival at a Glance pamphlet. However, all event information will still be available online via the festival’s website.
Many steps have been taken this year to ensure the Gibraltar Literary Festival website caters to those with extra visual or aural/audiologic needs. Each of the speakers’ online profiles will include a sound bite beneath the short biography where you will be able to hear someone read the text on that webpage. For those suffering from hearing problems, the venues themselves (where possible) will house a screen containing rolling text to the side of the speaker, as well as a British sign language interpreter (BSL).
Keen festival-goers will be happy to hear that this year’s venues are located just a stone’s throw away from one another. The Gibraltar Garrison Library, The Convent and the John Mackintosh Hall.
(If you have any more suggestions on how to make these festivals more user-friendly and accessible to all, the organisers welcome suggestions: firstname.lastname@example.org.)
This generous myriad of novelists, historians, biographers and public British figures combined with its historic locations and an interesting array of events makes Gibraltar’s 5th International Literary Festival the one to attend. Make sure to ‘book’ yourself in before the tickets are sold, or you’ll only have your ‘shelf’ to blame! (www.buytickets.gi)