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Preview of first days of this year’s festival

Big names and a new exhibition martk exciting opening weekend

Will HuttonThe FT Weekend Oxford Literary Festival opens this weekend. A host of big names and the opening of a stunning new Bodleian Libraries exhibition on the festival campus combine to make this year’s event one of the most exciting for years.

Saturday’s Sheldonian line-up features How to Train Your Dragon author Cressida Cowell, well-known economics commentator Will Hutton, pictured right, on the ‘mercenary society’, and television comedian and award-winning author Tony Hawks on his latest book, Once Upon a Time in the West . . . . Country.

MC BeatonThe first day of the festival coincides with the opening of the Bodleian Libraries Weston Building and its major new exhibition, Marks of Genius, featuring many of the Bodleian Libraries treasures, including editions of the Magna Carta and Tolkien’s original watercolour for the cover of The Hobbit.


The Weston Building is a major new venue for the festival. Among those appearing in its lecture theatre are crime writer M C Beaton, pictured above left, and Ireland’s ambassador to the UK, Daniel Mulhall, on W B Yeats. The Weston Building also houses a new café open to festival-goers.

Join Harry Potter for a wizard show

We celebrate the magic of Harry Potter in the Sheldonian Theatre on Sunday, while children’s author Liz Pichon turns the theatre into the world of Tom Gates. Sunday also sees one of this year’s most anticipated events when the US Sci-Fi writer Diana Gabaldon makes her first appearance in what will be a packed Sheldonian.

Celia ImrieThe great Indian writer Amitav Ghosh gives the Chancellor’s Lecture on Monday, and actress Celia Imrie, pictured right, star of the current hit film The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, appears on Tuesday.

Remember: The site of the Westgate Car Park is being redeveloped. Alternative parking is in place on the opposite side of Oxpens next to the ice rink. Visit the website for details on location and access.

Events can be booked online any time through the festival website or Monday-Friday 10am-6pm at Blackwell’s bookshop (0870 343 1001). The festival box office in the marquee is open throughout the festival.

FT Weekend Title partner BBC World Service International radio partner Oxford Martin School Festival ideas partner Bodleian Libraries Festival cultural partner University of Oxford New College Jewish Book Week Partner of Jewish programme Italian Embassy Supporter of Italian programme The Dorchester Hotels Collection Festival London hotel partner Blackwell’s Festival on-site and online bookseller The Randolph Hotel The festival hotel Princeton University Press Prestige publishing partner Emily Rose and James Marrow Supporters of the programme of American literature and culture Jill Dunsmore Lady Hatch Patron donor for the programme of Irish literature and culture George Warren Mary and Cecil Quillen Supporters of the programme of American literature and culture Marlene Hauser Miles Young Masumi and Jonathan Dobson Carole and John Allen Worcester College Worcester College Lincoln College Lincoln College St Cross College St Cross College: Festival college partner. The Feathers Hotel Woodstock festival hotel Critchleys Accountants to the festival Owen Mumford Sponsor of programme on science and medicine European Commission T S Eliot Foundation Alan Squire Publishing Sponsor of American novelists and poets Felicity Bryan Associates Conference Oxford Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies University of Oxford Alumni Office Alumni Office Said Business School Bear Ram Elk Festival Digital Strategy & Web Design BBC Radio Oxford Local radio partner The Oxford Times Regional media partner Oxford Brookes University Oxford University Images Oxford University Images The Sheldonian Theatre Floris of London City Audio Visual Racalia Olive Oil Schoolreaders The Litmus Partnership K T Bruce Photography K T Bruce Photography OX magazine Chamberlain Evans Estate agents Foodbuy Siren Communications Siren Communications - corporate consultants Chêne Bleu Wines of Provence Frescobaldi Toscana Wines of Tuscany Symington Wines of the Douro Valley Seacourt Printers Festival printers Steer Oxford Botanic Garden Compassion in World Farming The Wild Geese Nicholas Hunter Ltd

FT Weekend Oxford Literary Festival sponsors, donors & partners

FT Weekend Title partner BBC World Service International radio partner Oxford Martin School Festival ideas partner Bodleian Libraries Festival cultural partner University of Oxford New College Jewish Book Week Partner of Jewish programme Italian Embassy Supporter of Italian programme The Dorchester Hotels Collection Festival London hotel partner Blackwell’s Festival on-site and online bookseller The Randolph Hotel The festival hotel Princeton University Press Prestige publishing partner Emily Rose and James Marrow Supporters of the programme of American literature and culture Jill Dunsmore Lady Hatch Patron donor for the programme of Irish literature and culture George Warren Mary and Cecil Quillen Supporters of the programme of American literature and culture Marlene Hauser Miles Young Masumi and Jonathan Dobson Carole and John Allen Worcester College Worcester College Lincoln College Lincoln College St Cross College St Cross College: Festival college partner. The Feathers Hotel Woodstock festival hotel Critchleys Accountants to the festival Owen Mumford Sponsor of programme on science and medicine European Commission T S Eliot Foundation Alan Squire Publishing Sponsor of American novelists and poets Felicity Bryan Associates Conference Oxford Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies University of Oxford Alumni Office Alumni Office Said Business School Bear Ram Elk Festival Digital Strategy & Web Design BBC Radio Oxford Local radio partner The Oxford Times Regional media partner Oxford Brookes University Oxford University Images Oxford University Images The Sheldonian Theatre Floris of London City Audio Visual Racalia Olive Oil Schoolreaders The Litmus Partnership K T Bruce Photography K T Bruce Photography OX magazine Chamberlain Evans Estate agents Foodbuy Siren Communications Siren Communications - corporate consultants Chêne Bleu Wines of Provence Frescobaldi Toscana Wines of Tuscany Symington Wines of the Douro Valley Seacourt Printers Festival printers Steer Oxford Botanic Garden Compassion in World Farming The Wild Geese Nicholas Hunter Ltd