Wimbledon BookFest Sunrise Festival Programme

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In its 15th anniversary year, Wimbledon BookFest announces programme for Sunrise Festival – the first of two multi-day events on Wimbledon Common this summer

Wimbledon BookFest is marking 15 years as London’s leading literary festival, and as a significant arts provider in the locality. It was also one of the few literary festivals to continue to safely deliver in-person events throughout the pandemic. 

In 2022, Wimbledon BookFest will stage two multi-day festivals: Sunrise Festival (9 – 15 June 2022) and Sunset Festival (22 – 25 September). Each will feature BookFest’s characteristic mix of high-profile speakers alongside diverse rising stars and local talent.  

With a lifting of Covid restrictions, Wimbledon BookFest’s offer is fast returning to 2019 levels, and the marquee village on Wimbledon Common takes an exciting new format to offer an enhanced experience for audiences. In addition to its two main event spaces, the site will include a bookshops tent for author signings, and outdoors spaces where visitors can enjoy a coffee, light refreshments or a glass of wine. On-site partners this year includes Festival bookseller Waterstones and official bar and cafe partner Catered by Justin alongside exhibitors Côte Brasserie, Prospect Magazine and Freddie’s Flowers.   

Sunrise Festival comprises more than 50 events over 7 days, with award-winning fiction, climate change, and the war in Ukraine being dominant themes. June also sees the return of Wimbledon BookFest’s programme of events for schools – 5000 students from south London and Surrey are expected to visit over 5 days for events with a stellar-line up of children’s writers including Lenny HenryLemn SissayElle McNicoll, Jean Menzies and Simon Farnaby.  

PROGRAMME HIGHLIGHTS 

Award-winning fiction:  

  • Winner of the 2021 Nobel Prize for Literature, Abdulrazak Gurnah is both a scholar of postcolonial literature and one of its most celebrated authors. Here Abdulrazak joins BBC journalist Kavita Puri to explore those themes celebrated by the Nobel Committee. 
  • Julian Barnes, author of 13 novels including Booker Prize-winning The Sense of an Ending, is considered one of the finest writers of his generation. Now he looks to the past and finds poignancy in the present with latest novel Elizabeth Finch. 
  • Fantasy writer Susanna Clarke discusses her second novel Piranesi, which won the Women’s Fiction Prize 2021 – sixteen years after her multi-million-selling debut Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell. 
  • Arifa AkbarMona Arshi and Nikesh Shukla share a stage: three writers longlisted for the 2022 Jhalak Prize which recognises British writers of colour. 

Current affairs: 

  • Prospect Magazine’s editor Alan Rusbridger chairs a discussion about the war in Ukraine and its long-term impact with security expert Mark Galeotti and BBC correspondent in Ukraine, Sarah Rainsford. 
  • In War & PeacekeepingMartin Bell and Christina Lamb – two highly respected journalists who have reported from the world’s war zones – ask us to consider lessons from the past, and the impact of war on women. 
  • Leading expert in geopolitics and author of the million-selling Prisoners of Geography Tim Marshall offers his analysis of the invasion of Ukraine.   
  • New Statesman editor Jason Cowley asks if the crises of Brexit, Covid and the war in Ukraine expose the need for a reinvigorated version of post-war solidarity? 
  • LBC radio presenter Iain Dale discusses the state of public discourse, and suggests how we might emerge from tribalism and division in his book Why Cant We All Get Along? 
  • Human rights barrister Susie Alegre and public law barrister Sam Fowles come together to cross examine the state of our democracy and erosion of human rights. 
  • Royal biographer Tina Brown will challenge your perceptions of the Royal Family in an event full of powerful revelations, nuanced details and searing insight. 
  • Journalist Oliver Bullough reveals devastating facts behind the UK’s financial secrets, corrupt politics and moral guilt in its role as Butler to the World

Environment: 

  • In Climate Challenge, three writers – Aja BarberJayne Buxton and Ed Winters – challenge conventional thinking on what really impacts our carbon footprint. 
  • Chefs and food writers Melissa Hemsley and Anthony Warner ask how we can eat well without harming our planet. 

Memoir & life writing: 

  • Justin Webb, longest serving presenter of BBC Radio 4’s flagship Today progamme, discusses his memoir The Gift of a Radio and his life as a journalist. 
  • Legendary broadcaster and champion of the arts Melvyn Bragg take a look back at the upbringing that shaped him in his memoir Back in the Day

Art & design: 

  • Antiques Roadshow presenter Ronnie Archer-Morgan will share stories of the incredible objects that shaped his own unlikely story, as well as taking a look at some owned by the audience. 
  • Art historian Suzanne Fagence Cooper explores the lives and legacies of both William Morris and his wife Jane Morris, and ventures inside two personal stories of unparalleled creative artistry. 

Comedy: 

  • Comedy is back at BookFest with a stand-up set from the much-loved Andy Hamilton, co-creator of Outnumbered and Drop the Dead Donkey and regular panellist on Have I Got News For You. 
  • Phil Wang: Sidesplitter is a light-hearted conversation with the comedian about his memoir which reflects on his dual heritage and the contrast between Eastern and Western cultures. 

Children’s events:  

  • Tom Percival presents his thought-provoking picture book The River to help children understand the idea of ever-changing emotions.  
  • Booker Prize-winner Ben Okri presents his picture book Every Leaf a Hallelujah, an environmental fairy tale for our times. 
  • Michelle Paver presents the grand finale of her bestselling Chronicles of Ancient Darkness series, Wolfbane

Workshops & walks: 

  • Annabel Streets shows us 52 scientifically proven ways to walk for wellness; Peter Walker highlights Wimbledon’s links to slavery; and Leif Bersweden offers a botanising walk and talk around the Common. 
  • Public workshops include Mindful Meditation with Jo Bowlby; Life Drawing with Jake Spicer; Creative Writing with Cathy Rentzenbrink and Nikesh Shukla; and a Photography Masterclass with Michael Freeman. 

Events for schools: 

  • National treasure Lenny Henry will visit Wimbledon BookFest to present his debut children’s book. The Boy with Wings tells the story of average kid Tunde who sprouts wings during a football match to embark on an exciting journey of discovery.  
  • The stellar line up for schools audiences also features events with award-winning authors Rob BiddulphSimon Farnaby, Alex Wheatle MBE, Lemn Sissay, Jean Menzies, Ross Welford and Elle McNicoll.  
  • In addition to schools’ events on-site at the Festival Village, Rene Germain, author of Black and Great – the first guide to specifically address the unique challenges many Black people face in the workplace – will appear at Ursuline High School in an event for sixth formers. 

Fiona Razvi, Wimbledon BookFest’s Director said: 

Wimbledon BookFest is delighted to be marking its 15th anniversary as London’s leading literary festival. We aim to create the space to reflect and discuss the big issues of the day, as well giving time out to enjoy and learn new things, and this is reflected in our programme for Sunrise. We’re also pleased to see the return of our full schools’ programme in June, for which we expect 5000 students over 5 days. 100 schools in London and Surrey now take part in our creative projects every year, an activity very much at the heart of the Festival.

Wimbledon BookFest returns in 2022 thanks to support from Principal Partner University of Roehampton; Lead Sponsor Baillie Gifford; and the support of community sponsors and benefactors.  

Liam Hurley, Director of Strategy and External Relations at the University of Roehampton, Principal Partner, said: 

Wimbledon BookFest provides a wide range of opportunities through both the festival, and its outreach work with local schools, on which we collaborate, to enhance educational opportunities for young people from all backgrounds. We look forward to supporting the festival for another summer, and are grateful for the opportunities our partnership provides to Roehampton students through valuable work placement opportunities. 

Ticket Sales

Sunrise Festival tickets go on sale to BookFest Friends on Friday 22 April at 10am, and on general sale on Friday 29 April, 10am. For further information visit wimbledonbookfest.org  

Download the Sunrise Festival programme (pdf) >

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