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Taking a look at our history

24th April 2018

Tickets selling like hot cakes
Following the launch of our Festival programme in QUAD on 12 April, tickets have been selling like hot cakes!  A few events are already over half full, so don’t leave it too late to get your tickets.  You can find details of all events on our website or pick up a programme from all Festival venues.  Our wonderful volunteers are currently distributing them all over the city and county and you should be able to pick one of up from your local library as well as from our Festival venues and tourist offices.

Focus on our history events
In this issue we are focussing on events which have proved very popular at previous Festivals: historical fiction and non-fiction.   This year we have a bumper crop and they are already selling very well.

This year’s historical fiction authors include two internationally successful writers – Kate Mosse and Alison Weir as well as an exciting debut author, Imogen Hermes Gowar, shorlisted this week for the Women’s Prize 2018:

  • Kate Mosse on Sunday 3 June from 4 – 5pm, sponsored by East Midlands Chamber (EMBC): Kate is probably best known for her international best-selling Languedoc Trilogy: Labyrinth, Sepulchre and Citadel.  Having had a break of five years from full time writing, Kate returns to the Languedoc with The Burning Chambers, the first in an epic historical fiction series set against the backdrop of three hundred years of Huguenot history.
  • Alison Weir on Wednesday 6 June from 6.30 – 7.30pm, sponsored by Freeths: Alison returns to the Festival for the third year with the third of Henry VIII’s wives in her Six Tudor Queens series.  Jane Seymour: The Haunted Queen casts fresh light on both traditional and modern perceptions of the young queen in Alison’s meticulously researched historical novel.
  • The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock on Saturday 2 June: debut novelist, Imogen Hermes Gowar is a name to watch. The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock (the beautiful cover is pictured above) has just been shortlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2018 (set up by Kate Mosse) and has appeared in the best-seller lists since the week it was published.  It was picked as one of the ‘Most Anticipated Books of 2018’ by The Observer, Sunday Times and Vogue. Set in Georgian London, it tells the spellbinding – and unputdownable – story of the discovery of a mermaid by a ship’s captain and the fascination it creates in society.  It is also the tale of love and obsession and that priceless things come at the greatest cost.
  • Afternoon Tea with Persephone Books on Friday 8 June from 3 – 5pm, sponsored by Smith Partnership:  Nicola Beauman, founder and owner of Persephone Books, returns to the Festival for a third time, on a day we are billing as Feminist Friday, to talk about three ‘Suffragette’ books published by Persephone.  If you aren’t familiar with Persephone Books, they are beautifully produced reprints of neglected fiction and non-fiction by mid-twentieth century (mostly) women writers with a distinctive pale grey timeless covers and period endpapers.

If you prefer fact to fiction, take a look at the following:

  • Roy Hattersley on The Catholics on Sunday 3 June from 2 – 3pm, sponsored by EMBC:  former MP and Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, Roy Hattersley will be in conversation with Kath Mitchell, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Derby.  His book takes us through the 300 years following the Act of Supremacy, making Henry VIII head of the Church and breaking with Rome.  It focuses on individual Catholics who were prosecuted, persecuted and penalised for the public expression of their faith.
  • Churchill and the Bomb on Sunday 3 June from  5 – 6pm, sponsored by EMBC: the national – and indeed international – appetite for ‘Churchilliana’ continues unabated, not least with the success of the movie Darkest Hour and Gary Oldman’s award-winning portrayal of the iconic wartime leader. Less well known is Churchill’s fascination with science, nuclear war and his take as a statesman on nuclear weapons – from the development of the ‘Bomb’ as a weapon of war against Nazi Germany to the potential use of nuclear arms as weapons of communist containment in the early Cold War.
  • Pandemic 1918 on Monday 4 June from  12noon – 1pm: Catharine Arnold’s book uncovers the human story of the Spanish Flu pandemic, the most devastating in world history, which killed up to 100 million people worldwide.  But despite these massive fatalities, news of the danger was suppressed in Britain for fear of damaging war-time morale.
  • The Curious World of Samuel Pepys  &  John Evelyn on Wednesday 6 June from 2 – 3pm: Pepys and Evelyn are two pivotal Restoration figures and the most celebrated English diarists. They were also extraordinary men and close friends with shared interests: diary-keeping, science travel and a love of books.  Margaret Willes revisits the history of London and England at a time of regicide, revolution, fire and plague.
  • Afternoon Tea with Anne de Courcy: The Husband Hunters on Thursday 7 June from 3 – 5pm, sponsored by Nelsons:  in the late 19th and early 20th century a strange invasion took place in Britain. The incomers were dozens of young American heiresses who married into the British peerage, bringing with them all the fabulous wealth, glamour and sophistication of the Gilded Age.  The Husband Hunters sets the stories of these young women and their families in the context of their times.
  • House Style: Five Centuries of Fashion at Chatsworth on Wednesday 6 June from 12noon – 3pm, sponsored by PwC:  at this year’s Festival Lunch we will be joined by the Countess of Burlington who co-authored House Style, the beautiful companion book to last year’s magnificent (and hugely successful) history of fashion exhibition at Chatsworth.
  • Gainsborough: A Portrait on Saturday 2 June from 12noon – 1pm:  James Hamilton reveals Thomas Gainsborough in his many contexts: the easy-going Suffolk lad, transported to the heights of fashion by a natural talent; a gentle and empathetic family man, whose volatility could lead him to slash his paintings; the rake-on-the-make in London; the charming and amusing friend of royalty; the top society-portrait painter in Bath and London who earned huge sums by bringing the right people into his studio.

Derby Book Festival

1 - 9 June 2018

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