THERE will be a number of firsts at this year’s Stratford Literary Festival.
Hip hop Shakespeare to the world of Beatrix Potter are among the features in the festival running from April 24 to May 1.
Brooklyn rapper Devon Glover, AKA The Sonnet Man, will being attempting a feat untried by anyone before him – reciting all of Shakespeare’s 154 sonnets non-stop in a hip hop style.
Devon, who specialises in making the Bard’s work accessible to young people, will be making his world-record breaking attempt outside Shakespeare’s Birthplace on April 24 during the Birthday weekend celebrations.
Martin Jarvis, and his wife Rosalind Ayres, are joining composer Richard Sisson for a celebration of the life and work of Beatrix Potter.
The acting couple will be reading from the letters and stories of the writer born 150 years ago this year, accompanied by music specially written for the event by Sisson – one half of the duo Kit and The Widow.
Naturalist and BBC Spring and AutumnWatch presenter Chris Packham will launch his memoir, Fingers in The Sparkle Jar, talking for the first time about his difficult childhood and the bond he built with a kestrel.
The festival abounds with debut authors talking about their first works. They include Andrew Michael Hurley, whose Gothic novel The Loney – set in a wild part of the Lancashire Coast – scooped this year’s Costa First novel Award.
Joanna Cannon will be discussing he bestseller The Trouble with Goats and Sheep, while former Blue Peter presenter Janet Ellis, will talk about her novel The Butcher’s Hook – a dark story set in Victorian London.
The Festival will also be giving debut local writers the chance to talk about their work in the free to attend series New Voices.
Festival director Annie Ashworth said: “We have always tried to break new ground, and have been the first festival to commission a novella, publish a book every year of the best poems and short stories entered into our creative writing competition, and the first to run a global on line poll to find the most popular book anyone would take on a journey.
“This year is no different in the number of firsts we’re presenting, and it makes for a very exciting programme.”
Visit stratlitfest.co.uk for further details.