Director of the Chiswick Book Festival Torin Douglas. Thanks to the Chiswick Book Festival for allowing us to use your photographs.

“Just as good as Hay – and a lot nearer!”

Chiswick Book Festival 2023 takes place 6-13 September

Since it started in 2008 the Chiswick Book Festival has quickly established itself as top quality event with well-known speakers and interesting, highly produced sessions ranging across a huge variety of topics.

Director Torin Douglas makes the most of the high head count of broadcasters who live in Chiswick and his contacts in the media while Programme Director Jo James uses her publishing contacts to find the best of the year’s crop of authors promoting their new books, to provide a packed schedule of sessions every September.

Red magazine: “This small-but-perfectly formed festival in a chic pocket of west London packs a punch when it comes to speaker calibre.”

Photographs above: Max Hastings; Ken Livingstone talking to journalist and broadcaster Caroline Frost.
Below: author Cathy Rentzentbrink interviewing Kate Mosse; Joanna Trollope

There are sessions on history, politics, journalism, travel, food and drink, science, comedy; moving personal tales of tenacity and courage, people who’ve written memoirs, biographies, poetry, books for children and young people and fiction, lots of fiction: thrillers, crime, novels, both popular and literary. There are also hands-on workshops on publishing – how to pitch your novel to a publisher – and even bookbinding.

What started out as a long weekend in Bedford Park, based in St Michael & All Angels Church, has spread both temporally and geographically. There are now a number of ‘preview’ events in the week leading up to the main event.

Annual features

Photographs above: Fuller’s Griffin Brewery where the Book Festival Quiz is held each year

THE BOOK FESTIVAL QUIZ – Usually held in the Hock Cellar at Fuller’s Griffin brewery, the Book Festival Quiz is a fun night. Get together a team of four people and pit your brains against other teams on local and literary knowledge.  There is of course a Fuller’s bar and the cellar itself is worth a visit, with bits of Fuller’s memorabilia and old photographs of the brewery. Did you know that there was a Fuller’s Fire Brigade, formed during the Second World War to protect the brewery during the Blitz, for example?

The 2020 quiz will be on Tuesday 8 September.

Photograph above: Local Authors night at Waterstones

LOCAL AUTHORS NIGHT – Waterstones sponsors the festival by providing all the books for sale at the events and at the bookstore on the High Rd. In the week before the big weekend they host a Local Authors night to which anyone local who has published a book, whether it’s self-published or handled by a publisher, is invited to promote their work. The Chiswick Calendar organised the first local authors night at Waterstones in 2016 and the event has gone from strength to strength, with Programme Director Jo James taking great delight in interrupting anyone who goes over their allotted two minutes with a loud klaxon.

Photographs above: Historian and journalist AN Wilson at the 2019 launch event, talking about his biography of Prince Albert; actor Imogen Stubbs on the panel for An Evening With Jane Austen. Below: audience at the 2017 launch event at Chiswick House

LAUNCH NIGHT AT CHISWICK HOUSE – The opening of the main event is traditionally held at Chiswick House. Historian AN Wilson spoke at the 2016 launch with the writer of the TV drama series Victoria, Daisy Goodwin, which was showing on ITV at the time. He came back in 2019 to talk about his book about Prince Albert: The Man Who Saved The Monarchy.

In 2017 Jane Austen was was being celebrated, 200 years after her death, with ceremonies, the unveiling of a statue and her face on a new £10 note. Actor Imogen Stubbs and academic Helena Kelly, author of the book Jane Austen: The Secret Radical, shared a platform for An Evening with Jane Austen.

Photographs above: Novelist Maggie O’Farrell; broadcaster Kamal Ahmed. Below: Broadcasters Mihir Bose and Kamal Ahmed in a session on What It Is To Be British

THE MAIN EVENT: The main event takes place Friday night to Sunday night in and around St Michael’s And All Angels Church in Bedford Park. Top of the bill crowd pullers hold their sessions in the main church and in the Andrew Lloyd Webber theatre of the Arts Ed across the road, with smaller audiences for more niche subjects in the Chiswick Playhouse theatre above the Tabard pub and in the Parish Hall above the church.

The 2021 Chiswick Book Festival runs from Thursday 9 – Wednesday 15 September.

Tickets go on sale mid-summer and are available from the Chiswick Book Festival website.

Photographs above: Wine writer Oz Clake talking his passion; broadcaster Jane Garvey with panellists for a discussion on Women in the Archers. Below: journalist Hunter Davies talks about his memoir The Co-Op’s Got Bananas

Read more about The Chiswick Book Festival

See also: Who’s appearing at the 2021 Book Festival

See also: The Chiswick Calendar’s interviews with authors who have appeared at the book festival 

Find out more about people, places and organisations in Chiswick in The Chiswick Calendar’s ChisWiki:  This Is Chiswick

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