Festival launches 2024 programme

Event tackles head on the issues of today

Food security and securing a new generation of festival goers are at the heart of the 27th Oxford Literary Festival, one of the most prestigious in the UK.

The 2024 programme looks to the authoritative voices at home and from around the world to debate and tackle head on the issues of the day. With a commitment to freedom of speech, the festival hosts speakers from all sides of opinion and events to boldly tackle controversial topics as well as the well-trodden paths of discussion.

Visitors travel far and wide to be part of this celebration of literature, culture and debate in the city of Oxford. Running in partnership with the University of Oxford, the Bodleian Libraries and Netflix, the lively talks are held in stunning historic buildings that are often closed to the general public.

Highlights include:

THE PLANET: NHS GP, writer and TV personality Dr Amir Khan will give the Compassion in World Farming Lecture sharing his passion for wildlife conversation and support for wildlife friendly and healthy farming practices, and Animal rights campaigner, Gary Francione leads a number of panel discussions about the future of our food and asks if there is an appetite for cultivated meats.

NETFLIX SCHOOL PROGRAMMES: Netflix is supporting an initiative in local Oxfordshire schools to organise their own festivals with the aim to get pupils involved in shaping and even participating in their own events. Pupils will meet scientists, artists, illustrators and authors, and encounter people involved in a wide range of careers and industries.

A NEW SPONSOR: Oxford United Football Club sponsor a talk by former Manchester City footballer Nedum Onuoha who reflects on the challenges he faced in football from dealing with racism to knowing when to retire from the game and takes questions from football enthusiasts of all ages.

SCANDALS: Andy Verity argues for the innocence of the 19 financial traders convicted of rate rigging and Caroline Wheeler tells the story of the individuals and families caught up in the NHS contaminated blood scandal.

DEBATES: A ‘You Ask the Question’ panel takes questions from the audience on the key issues of the day, chaired by Yasmin Alibai-Brown and panellists to include Dr Liam Fox MP and Hardeep Matharu. Sharron Davies is interviewed by Andrew Billen about her

book, Unfair Play: The Battle for Women’s Sport.

HEALTH: 24-year-old Dutch student, Teun Toebes explains why he rents a room in a nursing home and what it has taught him about dementia, while neuroscientist and practising neurologist Dr Faye Begeti shows how to build healthy digital habits and break

bad ones.

FAITH: Acclaimed historian of the Arab-Israeli conflict, Professor Avi Shlaim, tells the story of Iraqi Jews caught in the crossfire of Zionism and Nationalism. Historian Dr Ambrogio Caini looks at the history of the Catholic Church and Richard Harries, former Bishop of Oxford, shares stories from his memoir.

NATURE: The ‘maverick rewilder’ Derek Gow shares his dream of a return of wolves to the British Isles and young birder and environmentalist Mya-Rose Craig talks about why she started BlacktoNature to engage minority ethnic teenagers with nature.

FICTION: Val McDermid and Ann Cleeves discuss the evocation of place in their writing, and, on the 25th anniversary of her book Chocolat, Joanne Harris is interviewed by Nick Higham about her life as a writer.

FEMINISM: Science journalist Angela Saini talks about her new book, The Patriarchs: How Men Came to Rule, and looks back at how male domination became embedded. Professor Athene Donald argues that we need more women in science and Hilary Bradt talks to

Kate Humble about her solo adventures thumbing lifts around the world.

LGBTQ+: Amin Ghaziani will be interviewed about his new book, Queer Nightlife – How the Closing of Gay Bars Sparked a Revolution, and novelists, CA Castle and Lex Croucher discuss their contemporary takes on period dramas featuring gender fluid protagonists

and characters with a range of queer identities.

ECONOMY: Economist Stephen King on why inflation has returned when we thought it was dead and buried, Linda Yueh on the lessons we must take from pervious global meltdowns and Will Hutton on what the Right did to Britain and how to fix it.

POLITICS: Lord William Hague will close the festival by giving the Magdalen President’s Lecture. Anthony Seldon talks about Boris Johnson’s premiership and Simon McDonald speaks about reshaping UK foreign policy.

Showcasing writers from across the continent

Committed to showcasing writers from across the continent, festival director Sally Dunsmore has invited prize-winning Swedish historian and writer, Bengt Jangfeldt to speak about Swedish geniuses in Tsarist Russia and Guido Alfani speaks about the history of the

rich in the West as part of the programme of Italian literature and culture.

Lord Professor Paul Bew and novelist Paul Lynch head the festival’s programme of Irish Literature and culture.

This year’s recipient of the Bodleian Libraries highest accolade, the Bodley Medal, has been announced as Ali Smith, the author and playwright. The author dubbed as ‘Scotland’s Nobel laureate-in-waiting’ will receive her award in a ceremony hosted by Richard Ovenden, Bodley’s Librarian. Recipients are chosen for their outstanding contributions to the worlds of books and literature, and previous recipients include Zadie Smith and Sir Philip Pullman.

The science and medicine strand, sponsored by Owen Mumford Ltd, includes Philip Ball’s Guide to a New Biology, Kevin Mitchell on science and free will, rising star brain scientist Camilla Nord on science and mental health and astrophysicist Professor Joseph Silk on the new space race to the moon that is underway.

The festival Award for Science and Innovation in 2024 will be presented to Nobel Prize Winner Professor Sir Paul Nurse. The 2023 award went to the Astronomer Royal Lord Martin Rees. The 2022 award was made to the members of the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine team. The award is sponsored by Owen Mumford Ltd.

The Pasture to Plate weekend will take place on 16/17th March and now includes sessions about the politics of food – how the food on our plates is killing us. And the overriding themes extend throughout the week as the festival organisers debut dinners that are all vegan with menus designed by top vegan chef and activist Marlene Watson-Tara.

Politics and history are well represented as always this year by Labour MP Nick Thomas-Symonds talking about Atlee and his life in politics, Dame Jessica Rawson in conversation with Dr Neil MacGregor on Life and after life in Ancient China, Martin Thomas and Matthew Parker discuss the shadow of empire in the globalised world, Jennifer Carlson presents her book, Policing the Second Amendment: Guns, Law Enforcement and the Politics of Race and broadcaster Zeinab Badawi talks about her history of Africa from an African perspective.

Art critic Martin Gayford offers a visual history of Venice right up to the present day and award-winning historian professor Ulinka Rublack looks at the story and legacy of the German artist, Albrecht Durer.

The Oxford Debates discuss migration with Ian Goldin and Hein de Haas, and Anna Motz, Matt Johnson and Donna Freed talk about true crime.

Fiction events include author of The Beekeeper of Aleppo, Christy Lefteri, talking to Peter Stott about her new book, The Book of Fire. and Maureen Freely talking about her latest book, My Blue Peninsula.

The festival’s ‘Voices of Europe’ programme is supported by the Cultural Relations Platform of the European Union and by the Delegation of the EU to the UK. There are writers and public figures from France, Italy, Germany, Sweden, Ireland and Spain, and a new programme of Georgian literature and culture with novelists and historians and a performance by the celebrated Georgian/British singer Katie Melua.

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) sponsors a European Literature Prize each year. For 2024 EBRD will bring the winner of the 2023 prize to Oxford – the Czech novelist, Bianca Bellova.



The Oxford Literary Festival sponsors, donors & partners

The Telegraph Festival media partner University of Oxford Netflix European Union Supported by the Delegation of the European Union to the UK Cultural Relations Platform Supporter of the festival's Voices of Europe programme BBC World Service International radio partner Owen Mumford Supporter of programme of science and medicine and annual science and innovation award Bodleian Libraries Festival cultural partner Oxford Martin School Festival ideas partner Oxford Mathematics Spanish Embassy The Spanish Embassy: supporters of the programme of Spanish literature and culture Cervantes Institute, London The Cervantes Institute, London Italian Embassy The Italian Embassy: supporter of the programme of Italian literature and culture The Dorchester Hotels Collection Festival London hotel partner International Literary Properties Festival literary heritage partner Blackwell’s Festival on-site and online bookseller The Randolph Hotel by Graduate Hotels Festival hotel Old Bank Hotel Five-star hotel partners of The Oxford Collection Old Parsonage Hotel Five-star hotel partners of The Oxford Collection Jim Mellon John Roberts Lady Hatch Patron donor for the programme of Irish literature and culture Tim and Marion Stevenson Martin and Elise Becket Smith Miles Young Masumi and Jonathan Dobson Pank Koria CEO of Project People Carole and John Allen David Isaac Mary and Cecil Quillen Supporters of the programme of American literature and culture Anna Hunter Rhys and Kerry Phillip Exeter College Exeter College: college home of the festival. Founded 1314 New College New College founded 1379 Worcester College Worcester College founded 1714 Lincoln College Lincoln College founded 1427 St Cross College St Cross College founded 1965 Trinity College Trinity College founded 1555 Magdalen College Magdalen College founded 1458 Critchleys Accountants to the festival Pasture to Plate Compassion in World Farming Human Ecology Project MACROVegan Symington Wines of the Douro Valley Princeton University Press Prestige publishing partner. Celebrating 25 years in Europe in 2024 European Bank for Reconstruction and Development Sponsor of the EBRD Literature Prize since 2018 ROOMS Georgia's leading lifestyle hotel brand since 2012. Supporters of the programme of Georgian literature and culture Jewish Book Week Partner of Oxford Literary Festival Foodbuy Thje Menu Partners Institute of Hospitality Goldmoney Properties Project People Oxford Brookes University Oxford International Centre for Publishing Confucius Institute Pusey House British Academy Festival academic partner Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies Oxford United Football Club Racalia Olive Oil Olive oil from Sicily BBC Radio Oxford Local radio partner Bear Ram Elk Festival Digital Strategy & Web Design Paul Bloomfield Ltd University of Oxford Alumni Office Alumni Office Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies Conference Oxford Felicity Bryan Associates CAV Oxford The Sheldonian Theatre Oxford University Images Oxford University Images Oxford University Department for Continuing Education Oxford Georgian Translation Project Supporter of the programme of Georgian literature and culture Force4Good Consultancy Corporate communications OX magazine Ox in a Box K T Bruce Photography K T Bruce Photography The Litmus Partnership Schoolreaders Windrush Group James Currey Society