Itinerary and Speakers at Cambridge Literary Festival

Cambridge Literary Festival has grown into one of the most important literally festivals around and have become a mainstay of the city’s cultural calendar. However, first time visitors may be wondering about the festival’s itinerary and identity of speakers who will be invited. We’ve compiled a brief overview based on previous editions of the festival.


The itinerary for the festival is usually packed and spread over an entire weekend – although in recent years, it has gone up to six days. This should not be surprising, because there are easily over 100 speaking or reading engagements as well as a dozen or two workshops held over the course of the six days. Beyond that, there are also several one-off events every year.

In 2014 for instance, the organisers held Brazilian-based literary, cultural and musical events to commemorate the 2014 World Cup which was hosted by the South American nation. More surprisingly, a burlesque event called Decadent Cabaret was held in Cambridge’s ADC Theatre in 2007.

With such diverse activities, you’re bound to find something of interest – even if you’re not a fan of literature!

Man Booker Prize winner Eleanor Catton was a speaker at the 2014 Cambridge Literary Festival. Image courtesy of Mariusz Kubik


Speakers and Panellists

Cambridge Literary Festival is famed for its diverse range of accomplished panellists and speakers. Over the years, many notable authors, poets, journalists, scientists and historians have attended the festival. Some of them include:

  • Michael Morpurgo, author and UK’s Children's Laureate (2003-2005). One of his books, War Horse, was adapted into a film in 2011 by legendary director Steven Spielberg. The film starred Benedict Cumberbatch, David Thewlis and Tom Hiddleston.
  • Richard Fortey, acclaimed historian and former president of the Geological Society of London. Fortey has been awarded the Lyell Medal, Lewis Thomas Prize and Michael Faraday Prize for his work. His 1994 book, The Hidden Landscape, was named Natural World Book of the Year. Nevertheless, Fortey is perhaps best known for hosting documentaries on BBC Two and Four.
  • Caryl Phillips, author and playwright. Phillips, who has been awarded the Commonwealth Writers Prize twice, is also a fellow at the Royal Society of Arts
  • Eleanor Catton, New Zealand prize-winning author and lecturer. In 2013, her book The Luminaries was awarded the Man Booker Prize.
  • Anthony Giddens, author and former director of the London School of Economics. Giddens is widely considered as the most eminent sociologist of our generation. He is also a Life Fellow of King's.