Welcome to the Oxford Literary Festival

After the huge success of last year’s first FT Weekend Oxford Literary Festival, we were delighted, in February, to sign a three-year title sponsorship with FT Weekend.

Our exceptional venture with the FT reinforces the festival’s aim to create a world-class assembly of speakers at Oxford each spring. When Thomas Bodley re-founded the university’s library in 1602, he sought to establish a ‘republic of learning’. Now in 2015, on the first day of the festival, the Bodleian opens the magnificent Weston Library and its stunning exhibition, Marks of Genius, to the public and festival-goers – the ultimate tangible expressions of the Bodleian as our festival cultural partner.

New international dimensions to the festival have been made possible by the support of HSBC and its UK chief executive, Antonio Simoes. We continue to develop HSBC’s programme of speakers on leadership and women in society. We are fortunate to have a unique relationship with the University of Oxford and its colleges, from the Chancellor’s Lecture (to be delivered by Amitav Ghosh) to the Nobel Prize winner, Professor Eric Kandel, speaking at the Oxford Martin School (our ideas partner). And a new ‘round table’ series at the school, chaired by Professor Ian Goldin.

Once more, some 500 speakers from around the globe join major figures such as Kazuo Ishiguro, Alan Bennett, Jessye Norman, Simon Schama and David Lodge, and we have special events on the literature and culture of the USA, India, Italy and Spain. The festival has two weekends of talks and performances for children and young people and a range of conference afternoons examining everything from the works and life of Daphne du Maurier to how language influences our relationship with the natural world.

All of this has been made possible by the tremendous generosity of our increasing number of sponsors, donors and partners and the unfailing efforts of our legion of voluntary helpers and stewards. 2016 will see the 20th literary festival in Oxford and we are already planning another 9 days of unforgettable and dramatic events to mark the occasion.

Sally Dunsmore
Festival director