The Independent Woodstock Literary Festival

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We are now into the third year of The Independent’s sponsorship of the Woodstock Literary Festival, an event that goes from strength to strength and again boasts a line-up rich in variety, notoriety and excellence.

It is an association that we at The Independent are delighted to continue. The Lebedev family, who became owners of The Independent earlier this year, are proud of the newspaper’s traditions of high-minded, impartial journalism, free from the shackles of proprietorial infl uence, and the sponsorship of a literary festival, which celebrates freedom of expression and the joy of words, is a perfect match for us. Plus, of course, it’s tremendous fun, against the magnifi cent backdrop of Blenheim Palace and the historic town of Woodstock.

The range of events this year is as impressive as the list of writers, which includes Philip Pullman, David Starkey, Allison Pearson, Sir Max Hastings, Lady Antonia Fraser, Howard Jacobson, Bernard Schlink, Robert Fisk, Richard Dawkins and Michael Frayn. There’s a literary pub quiz to take part in, a mouth-watering debate between well-known chefs and restaurant critics, and a meeting of three of the funniest women around, Arabella Weir, Kathy Lette and Ronni Ancona, who will be discussing our obsession with food. In short, the festival of 2010 has something for everyone, whether you’re interested in history, politics, economics, gardening, eating and drinking, or cricket.

There’s plenty of edification, education, and, we trust, entertainment on offer. In fact, everything to which we aspire in the pages of our newspaper will be made flesh over these five days in September when Woodstock, Blenheim Palace and the immediate surroundings play host to thousands upon thousands of visitors, not to mention some of the best writing talent in Britain today.

We have been blessed for the past two years with stunning early autumn weather for the festival, and we can only hope that the gods shine on us again. We hope also to see you in the welcoming pubs, restaurants and teashops of Woodstock. We’d like to think you’d buy books (or even The Independent) with a new enthusiasm. We hope, above all, that you’ll go to as many events as you can and enjoy yourself. The setting is superb, the cast list is splendid, but it’s you who helps make this the best boutique literary festival in Britain.

Simon Kelner, Editor-in-Chief, The Independent

The festival runs from 15-19 September.

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