Authors ponder state of the nation at Cheltenham

Cherie Blair will today speak of her life as the Prime Minister's wife before an audience at the opening of the Cheltenham Literary Festival. Security has been increased for her appearance at the town hall this afternoon to discuss her book, The Goldfish Bowl: Married to the Prime Minister.

The book chronicles the families of British prime ministers, and was co-written with Melvyn Bragg's wife, Cate Haste. She and Mrs Blair will be "in conversation" with the festival's director, Christopher Cook, and take questions.

The Government's involvement in Iraq is expected to be vigorously challenged by intellectuals and political thinkers at the 10-day festival, which has as its theme the "State of the Nation". An account by the BBC's former director general, Greg Dyke, of his controversial departure from the corporation is already a sellout. The BBC's political editor, Andrew Marr, will be vying for audience numbers with the former Labour leader, Neil Kinnock, and the former environment minister, Michael Meacher.

Mr Cook said he had departed from choosing a traditionally literary theme for the 55th festival because of the nation's explosive response to the Iraq war. "The theme grew out of two political events, first, a sense of the astonishing divisions over the Iraq war, and second, the two anti-war demonstrations which were so extraordinary in that they were attended by people who would never otherwise turn up to a demo. These events seemed to indicate major shifts in the nation."

The festival will look at British life in the aftermath of Cool Britannia and examine the work of New Labour in the new millennium. Adam Puskhin, the festival's organiser, said: "The guests have the time and space to make an argument. Thinkers and politicians often only get a very small space in newspapers or television to talk and do not always get the chance to give a coherent argument."

Organisers are expecting up to 60,000 to the event, sponsored by The Independent. Distinguished writers, commentators and cultural critics appearing include Hanif Kureishi, Lisa Jardine, Peter Tatchell, Andrew Roberts, Michael Palin and Jonathan Miller.

Among the highlights next Saturday is a debate "Who Runs Britain?", with the writer Anthony Sampson, Tony Wright MP and the campaigner George Monbiot. Mr Pushkin said the discussion would be a "post-Iraq, post-Hutton inquiry".

Tomorrow, the film maker, Anthony Minghella will be in discussion with the novelist, Liz Jenson, whose psychological thriller, The Ninth Life of Louis Drax, he adapted for cinema. Jack Vettriano, the popular artist, will make a rare public appearance a week on Sunday.

The impressionist Rory Bremner will perform a political satire the same day, using the festival's theme to appear as several political characters.

Boyd Tonkin, The Independent's literary editor, will chair discussions and introduce readings by six writers shortlisted for this year's Booker Prize, to be announced on 19 October.

The festival finishes on Sunday 17 October. The Independent will report on the festival every day next week.



Andrew Marr, The BBC's political editor discusses modern journalism

Cherie Blair and Cate Haste, The Prime Minister's wife and the co-author of The Goldfish Bowl: Married to the Prime Minister, in conversation


Carol Ann Duffy, Britain's leading female poet

Greene Day, Events celebrating Graham Greene, with a discussion between Fay Weldon, Giles Foden and Jake Arnott


John Pilger, The documentary-maker on his career and the media


Jamie Oliver, The celebrity chef talks on the state of the nation's food.

Peter Tatchell, The campaigner on what the gay community has achieved


Michael Meacher, The former environment minister delivers the Green Nation lecture


Jonathan Miller, The theatre director and author discusses British culture


Neil Kinnock, The EU commissioner delivers the Political Nation lecture


Greg Dyke, On his departure from the BBC


Hanif Kureishi, The author on his literary calling

Full coverage of the Cheltenham Literary Festival will appear in The Independent every day from tomorrow

Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift won Best International Solo Female (Getty)

Brits 2015
Arts and Entertainment

Brits 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Paloma Faith arrives at the Brit Awards (Getty)

Brits 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Anne Boleyn's beheading in BBC Two's Wolf Hall

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Follow every rainbow: Julie Andrews in 'The Sound of Music'
film Elizabeth Von Trapp reveals why the musical is so timeless
Arts and Entertainment
Margot Robbie rose to fame starring alongside Leonardo DiCaprio in The Wolf of Wall Street

Film Hollywood's new leading lady talks about her Ramsay Street days

Arts and Entertainment
Right note: Sam Haywood with Simon Usborne page turning
musicSimon Usborne discovers it is under threat from the accursed iPad
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
A life-size sculpture by Nick Reynolds depicting singer Pete Doherty on a crucifix hangs in St Marylebone church
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Escalating tension: Tang Wei and Chris Hemsworth in ‘Blackhat’
filmReview: Chris Hemsworth stars as a convicted hacker in Blackhat
Arts and Entertainment

Oscar voter speaks out

Arts and Entertainment
The Oscars race for Best Picture will be the battle between Boyhood and Birdman

Arts and Entertainment
Anne Boleyn (Claire Foy), Thomas Cromwell (Mark Rylance)
tvReview: Wolf Hall
Arts and Entertainment
Tom Meighan of Kasabian collects the Best Album Award
Arts and Entertainment
Best supporting stylist: the late L’Wren Scott dressed Nicole Kidman in 1997
Arts and Entertainment
Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan as Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey in Fifty Shades of Grey


Arts and Entertainment
Mick Carter (Danny Dyer) and Peggy Mitchell (Barbara Windsor)
tv occurred in the crucial final scene
Arts and Entertainment
Glasgow wanted to demolish its Red Road flats last year
Arts and Entertainment
Matthew Gravelle on trial for Danny Latimer's murder as Joe Miller in Broadchurch series two

Review: Broadchurch episode 7

Arts and Entertainment
Barry Norman has predicted a Best Actor win for Michael Keaton at this Sunday's awards

Arts and Entertainment
The right stuff: 'Ukip: the First 100 Days'

Review: UKIP: The First 100 Days TV
Arts and Entertainment
Anastasia Steele with Christian Grey in his offices in Fifty Shades of Grey

Arts and Entertainment
Class act: Julia McKenzie and Keeley Hawes in 'The Casual Vacancy'

JK Rowling's story is a far better drama than it is a book

Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Channel 4's Indian Summers

Arts and Entertainment
The BBC's version of 'The Crimson Petal and the White'


Arts and Entertainment
We will remember them: 'Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red' at the Tower of London

Art Police investigate abuse sent to Paul Cummins over Tower of London installation

Arts and Entertainment
Nicole Kidman was named worst actress for her performance as Grace Kelly in Grace of Monaco
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch as Alan Turing in The Imitation Game; the film’s producer, Harvey Weinstein, said the UK government ought to honour its subject
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

    Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

    Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
    How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

    Time to play God

    Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
    MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

    MacGyver returns, but with a difference

    Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
    Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

    Tunnel renaissance

    Why cities are hiding roads underground
    'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

    Boys to men

    The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
    Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

    Crufts 2015

    Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
    10 best projectors

    How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

    Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
    Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

    Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

    Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
    Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

    Monaco: the making of Wenger

    Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
    Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

    Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

    Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
    In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

    In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

    This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
    'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

    Homage or plagiarism?

    'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
    Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

    A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

    Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
    A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

    Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

    A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower