Tickets for Chiswick Book Festival 2024 go on sale

Offering “inspiration, insight and escapism in equal measure”

The programme has been announced for this year’s Chiswick Book Festival, Wednesday 11 – Wednesday 18 September.

Top of the bill are former Rolling Stone Bill Wyman, comedian Al Murray, LBC broadcaster James O’Brien, journalist Polly Toynbee, novelist Daisy Goodwin, children’s author Rob Biddulph, broadcasters Adrian Chiles and Clare Balding and classical singer Russell Watson.

Festival programme director Jo James says there is something for everyone to enjoy:

“From big names with memoirs, to urgent discussions of the Middle East and equality in law for women, from gardening and cookery to sport and politics, from fantasy fiction to classic myths, and from British history to military alliances, the authors this year offer inspiration, insight and escapism in equal measure.

“And the children’s programme is one of the best we’ve done.  I’m delighted with the lineup this year, and really do think we’ve got something for everyone.”

Tickets are now on sale for the individual events, which include walks, films, performances and workshops over the eight day festival, as well as the set piece talks with authors about their latest books.

Rolling Stones bass player Bill Wyman will be in conversation with award winning film director Tony Palmer in the Andrew Lloyd Webber theatre at ArtsEd, about his rock and roll career and the many books he’s written, including Billy in the Wars, the illustrated memoir recalling his experiences of growing up in wartime Britain, and Bill Wyman’s Chelsea about the borough where he has lived for the last 32 years.

Al Murray, a long term Chiswick resident who writes history books about the Second World War and hosts the We Have Ways of Making You Talk podcast when he is not touring the country with his Pub Landlord act, will be talking to author and journalist Saul David about his latest book Arnhem, Black Tuesday.

LBC talkshow host James O’Brien will be giving his political analysis of the last government: How They Broke Britain. Asking the question ‘Are Britain’s tough few years a result of Brexit and the impact of wars abroad or is there something more sinister at play?’ he lays out evidence of a ‘shady network of influence that has created a Britain of strikes, shortages and scandals, and maps the web that connects dark think tanks to No.10, the journalists involved in selling it to the public and the media bosses pushing their own agendas.’

Political commentator and Guardian journalist Polly Toynbee comes from ‘a long line of left-wing rabble-rousers who have railed against injustice’. She shares the story of a fascinating family history, the guilt of privilege, and the myth of class mobility with Julia Wheeler, which she has written about in her latest book An Uneasy Inheritance.

Novelist Daisy Goodwin examines the glamorous and dramatic life of iconic soprano Maria Callas in her latest book Diva. In it she explores the singer’s turbulent love affair with Greek shipping billionaire Aristotle Onassis and her career in the glittering and ruthlessly competitive world of opera, where she was known simply as ‘la divina’: the divine one.

Award-winning children’s author and illustrator Rob Biddulph is back. Known to his many fans from Peanut Jones, Draw With Rob, which proved a godsend for many families during Covid lockdowns, he has become a festival favourite.

Adrian Chiles is well known to sports fans from his long career as a broadcaster, but in recent years has also gained a following for his eclectic observations on life. His Guardian column ‘has gained a cult following for his unique insights into everything from the present tense in history podcasts to his favourite spoon, or his legendary at-home urinal.’

Clare Balding, another long term Chiswick resident, will be speaking at Chiswick House about her latest book Isle of Dogs, not the place in the East End but ‘her fascination with the way dogs have influenced life in this country’.

Classical singer Russell Watson enjoyed a meteoric career until he suffered two brain tumours in 2006 and underwent endless treatment and surgery. Incredibly he re-found his voice and is performing internationally again to sell-out arenas. He talks to Caroline Frost about the struggles and the triumphs, detailed in his memoir Encore.

This year’s Festival speakers include:

Memoirs/biography: Polly Toynbee, Helen Lederer, Russell Watson, Michael Frayn, Jessica Hepburn, Clare Mulley, Alan Edwards

History: Robert Hardman, Ben Macintyre, Al Murray, Henry Hemming, Giles Milton, Jennifer Saint, Daisy Dunn, Peter Apps, Terry Deary, Clare Mulley, JC Niala, Ed Conway, Tabitha Stanmore, Taylor Downing, Christine Gregg, Adam Smyth

Fiction: Rebecca Frayn, Scarlett Thomas, Daisy Goodwin, Georgia Summer, Alwyn Hamilton, Laura Sebastian, Andrew Finkel, Maureen Freely, Alex Gerlis, Merle Nygate, Emma Curtis, Susie Lynes, Emily Freud, Jessica Moor, Jacqueline Crooks, Diana Evans, Krystle Zara Appiah

Politics, law, crime, foreign and current affairs: James O’Brien, Asad Qureshi, Harriet Wistrich, Adrian Chiles, Peter Apps, Cara Hunter, DI Andy Thompson, Joey Giddings, Henry Hemming, Subhadra Das, Michael Peel, Simon Hudson, Peter Oborne, Eugene Rogan, Nawal Al-Maghafi 

Arts, literature, film, music: Bill Wyman, Tony Palmer, Paulus The Cabaret Geek, Michael Roulston (Fascinating Aïda), The Music of Victoria Wood, Emily D’Souza, Hana Owens, Fee Mak, Jojo Silva, Caroline Raphael, Amanda Brookfield, Francesca Best, Rupert Wallis, Alan Edwards, Charles Cumming (Plane), Owen O’Neill, Michael Billington, The French Lieutenant’s Woman, Adam Smyth, David Moore, Matilda the Musical.

Food, drink, gardening, pets, sport: John Torode, Lisa Faulkner, Carolyn Dunster, Rosie Fyles, Clare Balding, Sarah Rigby, JC Niala, Matt Tiller, Eleanor Ford, Jo Pratt, Lawrence Booth, Nick Hoult

Business and technology: Nigel Toon, Madhumita Murgia, Rory Cellan-Jones, Dharshini David

Faith, science, travel: Michael Taylor, Fr Kevin Morris, Ed Conway, Tabitha Stanmore, Ash Bhardwaj, Phoebe Smith

Children’s events: Joshua Seigal, Matilda the Musical, Kev F Sutherland, Bridget Marzo, Jim Cockin, Martha Vine, Mariesa Dulak, Martina Lima Barbata, Esther Rawlinson, Robert Tregonning, Anna Christina, Zoe Antoniades, Zanib Mian, Ken Wilson-Max, Rob Biddulph, Joseph Elliot

Walks, workshops and publishing sessions: Guy Fairbank, Alan Fortune, Carolyn Dunster, Rosie Fyles, Rachel Schofield, Amanda Brookfield, Faye Brann, Scarlett Thomas, Caroline Raphael, Amanda Brookfield, Francesca Best, Rupert Wallis, Jim Cockin, Martha Vine.

Book tickets here: Chiswick Book Festival

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar