Happy, Healthy, Home? Balham Literary Festival 2017, 8th to 11th June

Last Updated on : 8th June 2017

There’s something for everyone at this year’s Balham Literary Festival, so wend your way to The Bedford for some page-turning talks, writers and workshops, plus a pop-up bookshop from Dulwich Books.


Balham Literary Festival returns this year with a striking line-up of speakers, including founder of Wahaca and 2005 MasterChef winner Thomasina Miers, distinguished neurosurgeon Henry Marsh, former ambassador Sir Jeremy Greenstock, and Mercury-nominated singer-songwriter Kathryn Williams.

“Happy, Healthy, Home?” is the theme, and the Festival’s programme will explore modern living both at home and abroad. All events will take place at The Bedford pub, an historic landmark of London’s nightlife, where there will be a pop-up bookshop throughout the weekend run by Festival organisers Dulwich Books.

Commenting on the Festival programme, Susie Nicklin, owner of Dulwich Books, said: “This summer we turn our gaze to the concept of home. How do we create a space – both within and without – that will nurture us and enable us to thrive, rather than simply to survive? What happens when that space is threatened by war, displacement, colonisation, annexation? Without a sense of ease, or with disease, how can we achieve the peace that a successful home offers?


“We’ll look at mental and physical health, life-enhancing activities like eating, swimming and singing, present events for children and even prescribe books to make you feel better. Enjoy a warm welcome, music and poetry, browse our pop-up bookshop and relax in the cosy, shabby chic atmosphere of The Bedford, a legendary venue and a home from home for all Balhamites.”

Thomasina Miers will talk about her distinguished career, and her fuss- free style of home cooking as presented in her new book Home Cook. Alexandra Heminsley and Jenny Landreth will extol the healing and liberation they have found in swimming. Henry Marsh will look back at his life in brain surgery, Jay Griffiths will unpick manic depression and the pilgrimage to Spain it sent her on, and Susan Elderkin, author of The Novel Cure, will prescribe literary remedies at her afternoon tea to audience members who have submitted their dilemmas by email ahead of the event.


As the dust settles from the general election, the Festival will seek a broader political perspective, and will venture into questions of nation-building, national boundaries, and international relations. Sir Jeremy Greenstock will discuss with the Guardian’s Patrick Wintour his incendiary insider’s account of Britain’s role in the Iraq War, which was banned from publication by Jack Straw in 2005. Balham is hosting The Palestinian Festival of Literature (Palfest), which this year has four outstanding writers – Jeremy Harding, Rachel Holmes, Sabrina Mahfouz, and Ahdaf Soueif – who have contributed to a powerful new anthology, This Is Not a Border. And Joshua Jelly-Schapiro will explore the cultural and ethnic histories of borderlands and contested islands with Kapka Kassabova and Jan Rüger.

The Festival will pay tribute to The Bedford’s infamous history as the site of a Victorian murder trial with a blockbuster line-up of crime fiction authors (Angela Clarke, Annemarie Neary and Anna Mazzola), and celebrate its legendary reputation as the springboard for artists such as Ed Sheeran, The Clash and U2 with an evening of songs by Mercury Prize nominated singer-songwriter Kathryn Williams.


For tickets and further information, visit balhamliteraryfestival.co.uk/

Dulwich Books also runs Dulwich Literary Festival, taking place every November


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