BBC World Service to broadcast live from this year’s festival

Elif ShafakOur of our greatest actors Sir Ian McKellen and the leading Turkish writer Elif Shafak are to feature in a series of BBC World Service events broadcast from this year’s FT Weekend Oxford Literary Festival.

McKellen will talk to the BBC’s Anu Anand about his life and work in a live event, while Shafak, pictured right, will join a panel discussion on identity for a recording of the BBC World Service The Forum programme.

Other live broadcasts from the festival will feature US writers Jessica Harris and Jewell Parker Rhodes on food, spirituality and female African-American identity, and former world chess champion Garry Kasparov and Ethiopian writer and historian Prince Asfa-Wossen Asserate in a discussion about world leaders.

The BBC’s Owen Bennett Jones will also host a recording of the BBC’s Newshour Extra on the subject: should Britain be ashamed of its colonial past?

All the BBC events are free to attend but places are limited and tickets must be booked through the festival box office.

A pocket guide to the festival is available to pick up at Blackwell’s Bookshop. You can download the digital version of the pocket guide and the main brochure from the website now.

Grand National winner joins line-up

Two-time Grand National winner Richard Dunwoody is to speak about his life as an adventurer following his retirement as a jump jockey.

Dunwoody, who successfully trekked to the South Pole on a route that Shackleton failed to complete, is joined by travel writer and adventurer Jonny Bealby and foreign correspondent Christina Lamb for a discussion on exploring the danger zones. Tickets for this family event are available at a special price of £6.

Dacia MarainiOther new events recently added to the festival line-up include two well-known Italian novelists, Dacia Maraini and Francesca Marciano.

Maraini, pictured left, is one of Italy’s most celebrated playwrights and novelists and talks about her life in writing. Marciano,who writes in English, talks about her new collection of short stories, The Other Language.