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Writers pay centenary tributes at Henley Literary Festival

25-Sep-2008 • Literary

Tributes and celebrations were a theme at the Henley Literary Festival which packed in the crowds at the weekend, reports GetReading.

Two centenaries were marked during the event with a performance by Word in Edgeways, who staged Kenneth Grahame’s Wind in the Willows 100 years after its publication.

And tributes were paid to James Bond author Ian Fleming on the centenary of his birth by Samantha Weinburg, author of the The Moneypenny Diaries, Michael Smith, who has written several books on MI6, and Fleming’s nephew Ian Laycock.

Satirist Craig Brown saw his tribute to Hugh Massingberd, obituary editor of the Daily Telegraph who died this year, staged for the first time. It was directed by Michael Whitehall and starred Edward Fox.

Other highlights of the weekend were talks given by traveller, author and former Python star Michael Palin, reporter Kate Adie, chef Antony Worrall Thompson and author AN Wilson.

Local author, dramatist and creator of Rumpole of the Bailey, Sir John Mortimer was also able to appear despite fears that a recent illness might prevent his taking part.

Sir John, who lives just outside Henley, was one of the original supporters of festival.

Veteran journalist Katharine Whitehorn and columnist India Knight also talked about their work.

Other attractions included Martin Bell, former BBC reporter and campaigning politician, Sarah Mussi, children’s author, Andrew O’Hagan, novelist, actor Simon Williams and veteran racing commentator Sir Peter O’Sullevan.

The whole town was drawn into the event with shows happening in Kenton Theatre, the River and Rowing Museum, Phyllis Court, the Leander Club, the Regal Cinema, the Town Hall and even on a boat cruising along the River Thames.

More than 3,800 tickets were sold beforehand with another 1,000 expected to be sold at the door over the three-day event, which was sponsored by the Co-operative Bank.

Sue Ryan, festival director, said: “It’s fantastic to see that following our inaugural event last year, we’re already making a name for ourselves in the literary festival map.”

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