More than 100 leading figures from the literary world will take up residence next month amid the majestic surroundings of Blenheim Palace for The Independent Woodstock Literary Festival 2010.
Among the star attractions in this year's line-up, which was announced yesterday, will be Michael Frayn, the playwright and author, who will describe his attempts to recapture the lost land of the paternal past before it disappears forever – the theme of his latest book, My Father's Fortune – and David Starkey, the historian, who will continue his acerbic take on the British monarchy as he introduces his new book, Crown and Country.
Lady Antonia Fraser will explore her 34-year love affair with Harold Pinter. Based on her extensive diaries, the award-winning biographer will reveal private insights into both her work and the couple's extraordinary life together.
Richard Dawkins, the scientist, is set to renew his assault on the views of creationists and believers in "intelligent design" as he discusses his book, The Greatest Show on Earth, which casts a fresh eye on the theories of Charles Darwin.
Sally Dunsmore, the festival director, promised this year's event, the sixth since its inception, would secure Woodstock's growing reputation as the leading boutique festival in Britain. "We have an exceptional programme of literature, culture, debate delivering dialogue and civilised conversation set among some of the most breathtaking surroundings in Britain," she said. "There are great writers talking about history and their latest fiction as well as some dramatic and stimulating debates. We can also promise some excellent food, wine and gin tastings," she added.
In what promises to elicit some thought-provoking exchanges, historian Peter Hennessy, columnist Polly Toynbee and The Independent's Steve Richards will trade blows on whether the election results have irrevocably changed British politics. Elsewhere, Richard Corrigan, the chef, and Matthew Norman, the restaurant critic, will join a panel of leading foodies to seek to resolve once and for all that thorny issue of who really knows more about their subject – those who create dishes or those who write about them. Meanwhile, the writers Arabella Weir, Kathy Lette and Ronni Ancona will consider the subject from a radically different angle, as the new tyranny, and discuss society's obsession with thinness.
Veteran Middle East correspondent, Robert Fisk, will be musing over the misuse of language and its effects on reporting the conflict in the region over the past five decades. And veteran foreign correspondent Ann Leslie will talk about her exploits at a lunch at La Galleria in Woodstock.
Bernhard Schlink, meanwhile, will be questioned by The Independent's Boyd Tonkin on German feelings of complicity in his novel Guilt About the Past, the follow-up to The Reader, while playwright, actor and director Steven Berkoff will be in conversation with The Independent's John Walsh about the dramatic change of life that took him from reform school to the West End. Daisy Goodwin will discuss her debut novel, My Last Duchess, while Fred Inglis will be talking about his latest book, A Short History of Celebrity.
Best-selling author Philip Pullman will talk art with Martin Jennings, who recently completed a sculptural portrait of the writer for the National Portrait Gallery in London. Dame Lynne Brindley, chief executive of the British Library, will consider whether Google and the digital revolution spell the end for the public library as we know it.
Inspector Morse lovers will also be able to participate in a celebration of the life of the detective's creator, Colin Dexter, who is 80 this year. The day will begin at Oxford's Randolph Hotel and finish with a talk by the writer at Blenheim.
Sponsored by The Independent and The Independent on Sunday for the third year, events will be held in Woodstock's ancient hotels, inns and townhouses as well as at Blenheim Palace.
The Independent Woodstock Literary Festival 2010 runs from 15 September to 19 September. For more information, visit www.woodstockliteraryfestival.com. Tickets can be booked through the box office on 01865 305 305