Literary legends to headline Ampthill Literary Festival

Brian Clemens

Brian Clemens

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An ex-Newsnight broadcaster, a local MP and a legendary screenwriter will be headlining the forthcoming Ampthill Literary Festival, writes Layth Yousif.

Journalist, non fiction author and thriller writer Gavin Esler, Mid Bedfordshire MP and first time novelist Nadine Dorries, and renowned screenwriter Brian Clemens lead the list of prestigious writers appearing at Ampthill Literary Festival to be held over the weekend of July 5-6.

Gavin Esler

Gavin Esler

Esler is the author of five novels and non-fiction books which include The United States of Anger and Lessons from the Top: the Three Universal Stories that all Successful Leaders Tell. His novels include the political thrillers Power Play and A Scandalous Man. Gavin currently presents Dateline London which goes out weekly on BBC World and the BBC News Channel.

Nadine Dorries represents Ampthill which is in the heart of her Mid Bedfordshire constituency although she will be speaking as an author, not a politician, having recently penned her first novel, The Four Streets, based on her formative years in Liverpool.

Brian Clemens is a TV screenwriter of immense distinction, having created The Professionals and been script editor for The Avengers. Rather than give readings, Brian will appear in conversation with Simon Michael, a locally based thriller writer and co-chair of the festival’s organising committee.

A speaker on the main literary event on Saturday, July 5 will be Andrew Crofts, acclaimed ghost writer and accomplished novelist in his own right, and author of the political thriller the Italian Gardner. In addition to talks and readings from the speakers there will be a panel Q&A session.

Nadine Dorries MP

Nadine Dorries MP

To begin the Saturday event, teenage fiction writer Natasha Desborough, who is a former BBC Radiio 6 presenter, will give readings from the winners of a children’s writing competiton held as part of the festival. She will also host a workshop on teenage fiction at the event.

Children’s author Amy Sparkes will hold a fun event for young children based on her book Do Not Enter the Monster Zoo, while award-winning poet Judi Sutherland will host a poetry workshop for bards of all ages. On the Sunday, as part of Ampthill Festival’s established Gala Day, a literary marquee will see a range of events aimed at family participation, including talks from local authors.

Co-chair of the organising committee business author Philip Whiteley said: “We are immensely proud to have such a strong line-up for our very first event. We’re pleased to have a range of fiction, non-fiction and poetry, and I look forward to chairing our panel discussion.

“Through the writing competition our aim is to instil in children a life-long love of reading and of books. Literature helps us make sense of our world, create our most lasting and rewarding entertainments, and helps us engage with others. With social media, more people are connecting with one another through the written form than ever before, and the desire for a good read, and for festivals to celebrate books, is as strong as ever.”

The Ampthill Literary Festival forms part of an existing arts festival spanning the weekend, with warm-up events in the preceding weeks. For details of the ‘Beer & Books’ free events in Ampthill pubs, go to: For information on the Amprocks gig, Saturday evening Proms and the Gala, go to:

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