Oxford and Kolkata festivals announce partnership

OLF logoKolkata Literary Meet






FT Weekend Oxford Literary Festival and Kolkata Literary Meet today announce a new annual partnership between these two great international festivals.

Beginning this March, FT Weekend Oxford Literary Festival, held in historic University of Oxford colleges and public buildings, will stage an ‘India Day’ each year, presented by Kolkata Literary Meet, to celebrate Indian literature, culture, art, history and current affairs and the particular contribution made by Kolkata/Calcutta and the state of West Bengal.

Full details will be announced later this month but events will include:

  • Sir Mark Tully in conversation with Madhur Jaffrey

  • Anjali Joseph and Prajwal Parajuly discussing Indian writing

  • Roderick Matthews on the Indian Uprising of 1857- New Perspectives

  • a dinner in the magnificent dining hall of University College to mark Madhur Jaffrey’s 80th birthday with dishes prepared by famous Indian chefs.

    From January 2015, Kolkata Literary Meet will stage an ‘Oxford Day’ each year, presented by the FT Weekend Oxford Literary Festival, to celebrate British literature, culture, art, history and current affairs and the special contribution made by the University of Oxford and the Oxford University Press.

    Kolkata Literary Meet director Malavika Banerjee said: ‘Oxford has always been a name that Indians associate with excellence, be it in writing or in academics. Some of India’s most respected writers, leaders, academics and artists have links with Oxford and I think the time has come to celebrate this centuries-old association. 

    ‘Kolkata was the seat of colonial India and the city’s links with Oxford University predate even the colonial era. While the partnership will try and showcase contemporary literature and culture in the two cities, simply tracing this old link would be hugely satisfying. The Kolkata Literary Meet, in partnership with the FT Weekend Oxford Literary Festival, plans to use the ‘Oxford Day’ from 2015 to showcase the best of literature, arts and current affairs in the UK .’

    Sally Dunsmore, director of FT Weekend Oxford Literary Festiva,l said: “The histories of Great Britain and India have been intertwined for centuries. In recent decades, the impact of Indian novelists, film makers, musicians and chefs has been enormous in the UK. We are delighted to partner with the cultural capital of India and Kolkata Literary Meet to provide a platform each year to showcase the richness and variety of India’s culture.’

    The University of Oxford’s links with India are legion and go back more than 400 years.

    In 1579, Father Thomas Stephens, of New College, was the first recorded Englishman to visit India. Indian students have been coming to Oxford since 1871 and Oxford University Press has been operating in India for 100 years. There are currently more than 300 Indian postgraduate students at the University of Oxford.

    Among famous Indian Alumni of Oxford University are:

  • Indira Gandhi

  • Manmohan Singh – current Prime Minister of India

  • novelists Vikram Seth, Amitav Ghosh and Cornelia Sorabji, India’s first woman lawyer.

    Distinguished Indians who have taught at Oxford include Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan (President of India, 1962-1969), and Amartya Sen (Nobel Prize winner in Economics 1998).