Highlights from the Chiswick Book Festival, where writers talk about their new books in discussions & events over a long weekend every September.

Chiswick Book Festival 2015

Chiswick Book Festival


2015 was the 150th anniversary of Alice in Wonderland, which gave the Children’s festival its theme. Sadie Jones talked to The Chiswick Calendar about her book The Outcast being turned into a TV drama. Sally Green, author of young adult fiction, told us about her series about Half Bad and Half Wild. Former Blue Peter presenter Janet Ellis talked to us about working for the book charity the Doorstep Library, which is a beneficiary of the Chiswick Book Festival, and also about her forthcoming book, her first novel The Butcher’s Hook.

The 70th anniversary of the Second World war was also an important theme. Local authors Deborah Cadbury and Sonia Purnell both had books which shed light on untold aspects of the war published that year. Deborah Cadbury’s book Princes At War dealt with how the royal family behaved during the Second World War, informed by a recently discovered cache of letters written by Wallis Simpson. Sonia Purnell’s book First Lady: The Life and Wars of Clementine Churchill revealed her influence on the Prime Minister Winston Churchill and the conduct of the war.

Chiswick Book Festival 2016

Chiswick Book Festival


2016 was a big year for children’s authors. We had both Jacqueline Wilson, author of many, many books including the Tracy Beaker series, and Cressida Cowell, who had just completed her series How to Train Your Dragon: 12 books which she started writing in 1998, which have been phenomenally successful and spawned blockbuster films.

The festival opened with a session at Chiswick House with A N Wilson, biographer of Queen Victoria, and Daisy Goodwin, screen writer of the hugely popular TV series Victoria, on air at the time. It also scored highly with comedians, with Shappi Khorsandi and Andy Hamilton among the authors delighting audiences.

Chiswick Book Festival 2017

Chiswick Book Festival


The 2017 Chiswick Book Festival opened with a panel of Jane Austen savants talking about her work in the year which commemorated the 200th anniversary of her death. Journalist and broadcaster Jeremy Vine, wine writer Oz Clarke and Irish-British novelist Maggie O’Farrell drew big audiences, as did perfumier Jo Malone, talking about her memoir My Story. Festival Director Torin Douglas described it as a year of ‘inspiring women’.

Carol Douglas reviewed a couple of her favourites for us: Elizabeth Buchan’s novel The New Mrs Clifton, and journalist Hunter Davies’ memoir The Co-Op’s Got Bananas.

Chiswick Book Festival 2018

Chiswick Book Festival


2018 was the tenth anniversary of the Chiswick Book Festival and Author Programme Director Jo James pulled out all the stops to gather a clutch of big names: novelists Anthony Horowitz, Kate Mosse, Joanna Trollope and Ann Cleeves; historians Max Hastings and Charles Spencer; spy writers Charles Cumming and Jane Thynne; poet Roger McGough and comedian turned children’s author Julian Clary were among the speakers.

The festival opened with a session on Vanity Fair at Chiswick House, while the acclaimed ITV drama was showing on television. One of the highlights was former Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger talking to former BBC journalist Robin Lustig.

This was the year that Festival Director Torin Douglas began to find out how many published authors were associated with Chiswick (250 and counting at time of writing, including some literary stars). It was also the start of the Cookbook festival, with master chef John Torode, ‘Deliciously Ella’ Mills and cooking on a budget queen Jack Monroe not only talking about their recipes but demonstrating them and offering samples.

Chiswick Book Festival 2019

Chiswick Book Festival


The 2019 festival was rich in authors who live locally, talking about fascinating topics. Among them were journalist Polly Devlin, talking about her memoir Writing Home; Sonia Purnell describing how she unearthed the story of American war hero Virginia Hall to write her biography A Woman of No Importance, and novelist Sadie Jones talking about her latest book The Snakes.

Authors from further afield included journalist and historian AN Wilson and crime writer Mark Billingham.