Top authors head this way for book festival

Jane Hawking's account of life with Stephen Hawking was turned into the Oscar-winning film The Theory of Everything
Jane Hawking's account of life with Stephen Hawking was turned into the Oscar-winning film The Theory of Everything
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Best-selling authors Jane Hawking and Sophie Hannah will headline the second Flamstead Book Festival in the historic setting of St Leonard’s Church in the centre of the village near Luton on June 5 and 6.

Jane, who was brought up in St Albans, was Stephen Hawking’s wife for 25 years and penned Travelling to Infinity, which was adapted for this year’s Oscar-winning film The Theory of Everything. In one of her few appearances this year she will talk about her moving account of love and loss with the celebrated scientist – who she first met in St Albans – as well as what it was like for her marriage to be played out on film by actors Felicity Jones and Eddie Redmayne.

The festival kicks off on the evening of Friday, June 5, with thriller-writer Sophie Hannah, whose novels have been adapted for ITV’s Case Sensitive drama. Her most recent work – The Monogram Murders – is the first Hercule Poirot novel since Agatha Christie’s death, having been specially approved by the renowned crime-writer’s estate. It is out in paperback on May 21 in time for the festival, also known as Books in the Belfry.

The line-up also features acclaimed children and young person’s author Alex Scarrow, best known for his Time Riders series.

There will be a sports books session featuring Michael Calvin, who ghost-wrote rugby star Gareth Thomas’ controversial biography, and Hertfordshire author Ian Ridley, best known for his acclaimed memoir of former England and Arsenal captain Tony Adams. Story-telling for toddlers, a children’s workshop and a masterclass in creative writing for adults will also feature.

Festival spokesman and Flamstead resident Vikki Orvice said: “We’re excited about the line-up and hope as many people as possible in the area will once again support Books in the Belfry. After the success of Tony Parsons and Barry Norman at events last year we think that attracting Jane Hawking and Sophie Hannah is another coup for the festival and the area. I’m sure Jane will have lots to say about growing up and going to school in our area as well as meeting Stephen. We’ve also made sure there is something for everyone in the programme and it promises to be lots of fun, whatever age you are.”

Proceeds will help support the Friends of St Leonards (FOSL) to raise funds to help restore and safeguard to medieval wall-paintings in the village church. For further information on the events and how to book tickets go to www.flamsteadbookfestival.com.