2020 Alderney Literary Festival Programme   print pdf
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Friday 20th March

14.00 - 15.00

Historical fiction is not always 'fiction'. In many cases, historical fiction challenges the myths of historical 'truths', calling into question their reliability and basis in historical facts. Our panel discuss the problem of challenging existing historical 'truths' in their work as writers of fiction.

Panel discussion led by Anthony Riches with Rory Clements, Jonathan F Putnam & Laura Shepherd-Robinson.

15.30-16.30

Antonia Senior's book, The Winter Isles, is a fictionalised account of an extraordinary man: Somerled, a twelfth century century warrior, who rose from obscurity to become the first Lord of the Isles. In this talk, Antonia will explore how writers choose the stories they have to tell; and how those stories choose them. She will investigate the stories we tell ourselves on the British Isles about identity, with a focus the intertwined history of the Gaels and the Vikings in the Irish and North Seas. 

17.00-18.00

Between 1st July and 1898 and 2nd June 1899, Spanish forces held out in a Church against Philippine revolutionary forces in the isolated town of Baler. Cut off from all communication with no idea when rescue might arrive, the force held out for 337 days, combating enemy fire, beriberi, dysentery, and starvation, living and dying in a cramped 300 square metre space that served as living quarters, hospital, and cemetery. The siege of Baler was one of the longest in recorded history but the survivors were soon forgotten on their return to Spain. Miguel Angel resurrects their story, dispels the myths, and restores the Last Spanish Soldiers of the Philippines to their rightful place in history.

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Saturday 21st March

09.30 - 10.30

Jonathan F. Putnam's Lincoln & Speed Mystery series features the young Abraham Lincoln and his real-life best friend, a well-born Southerner named Joshua Speed, solving mysteries based on actual cases from the law practice Lincoln pursued for many years prior to his election in 1860 as the 16th President.  The most recent book in the series, "A House Divided," retells the story of the greatest unsolved murder mystery of Lincoln's legal career and introduces the young Mary Todd, destined to become the President's controversial wife.

11.00 - 12.00

Join HWA President Imogen Robertson in conversation with Stacey Halls as they explore themes of women's voices and their place in society in her two books: bestselling debut novel The Familiars, set in 1612, and her second book The Foundling, set in Georgian London. 

12.30 - 13.30

Historical interpretation is not static. With changing cultural, social and political influences, historians constantly revisit 'history', providing new explanations in the light of new evidence. What happens when that evidence leads to a shift in the way events are viewed? How do historians feel about challenging historical perspectives? And why is it important to do so? 

13.30 - 14.30

LUNCH BREAK

14.30 - 15.30

Laura Shepherd-Robinson is our 2020 Alderney Literary Festival Debut Novelist.

Laura explores the dark underbelly of 18th century London's slave and sugar trade in her impressive debut novel, Blood and Sugar, blending the best of historical and crime genres. Festival Chairman Anthony Riches is in conversation with Laura, exploring the ideas behind her book and throwing a spotlight on the politics of the age and attitudes towards race, gender, and class.

16.00 - 17.00

Historian Helen Castor takes us back to 15th Century France and tells us the story of the real girl from Domremy. Helen sets out Joan's life in the context of the religious and political conflicts of the period, before her story is coloured by the legend that she becomes, and provides the finest and most comprehensive portrait of the remarkable Joan of Arc.

17.30 - 18.30

Ned Palmer reveals we are indeed what we eat and that our food embodies key moments in history. This talk is a fascinating journey into British history and tradition through the flavours and craft of its cheeses. 

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Sunday 22nd March

09.30 - 10.30

Roger Moorhouse examines the truth of Poland’s 5-week campaign in September 1939 against German and Soviet invasion, going behind the mythology of “cavalry against tanks” to reveal a bloody conflict that contained many of the brutal hallmarks of the wider World War that was to come.”

11.00 - 12.00

Rory Clements discusses his latest book in the WW2 spy thriller series, Hitler's Secret. Set in 1941, the war is not going well for Britain and American Intelligence recruits a Cambridge Don, Tom Wilde, to stop the Nazi advance. Rory takes us to the Cambridge of the 1930s and 40s, a political cauldron of spies and incredible new advances in science, at a time of international peril, and how reimagining that history creates a good story.

12.30 - 13.30

Andrew Lownie follows up his biography of Guy Burgess with another insightful and revealing biography on the Mounbattens. This is the first joint biography of Dickie and Edwina Mounbatten, based on years of extensive research, interviews, and Freedom of Information requests on both sides of the Atlantic.

13.30

LUNCH & FESTIVAL CLOSE

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Financially supported by the Guernsey Arts Commission

States of Alderney

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