The Independent Bath Literature Festival: Book lovers flock to Bath to celebrate Ted Hughes

On its 20th anniversary, the festival will stage Ted Hughes: A Tribute, with luminaries including a poet dubbed the Hughes 'for the next generation'

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The Independent Culture

As Bath prepares to be “woken up” by book lovers arriving for the literature festival on Friday, anticipation is building for a tribute to one of the great literary events of the city’s past.

On its 20th anniversary, The Independent Bath Literature Festival will stage Ted Hughes: A Tribute, with luminaries including his daughter and a poet dubbed the Hughes “for the next generation”.

In 1995, the poet laureate held a 1,000-strong crowd spellbound with readings of his work at The Forum. It was one of his last major public speaking appearances before his death in 1998.

Viv Groskop, artistic director of the festival, said: “Everyone’s really excited about this event. Many people remember him being in Bath, giving these amazing readings.”

The event, which takes place tomorrow, will be hosted by Bel Mooney, one of the festival’s founders, and include Frieda Hughes, daughter of the great poet and Sylvia Plath, and Downton Abbey actor David Robb.


Another star draw is Kate Tempest, the Mercury Prize- nominated artist and poet, who the festival programme described as “one of the most exciting young writers working in Britain today”.

She has performed at Glastonbury and won the Ted Hughes Award for innovation in poetry in 2013. Ms Groskop called her the “next generation’s Ted Hughes”.

She added: “It’s getting exciting; in the past 48 hours, the whole of Bath has woken up and is getting ready.” Last year 20,000 people flocked to the events at Bath, in what proved to be the most profitable event in its 20-year history.

The festival will open this evening with a talk by Alastair Campbell, Tony Blair’s director of communications between 1997 and 2003.

Kate Tempest, the Mercury Prize-nominated artist and poet is a draw to the festival (Getty Images)

He will discuss his new book Winners and How They Succeed, unpacking the psychology behind a winning mindset.

More than 200 authors will be involved in about 160 events.

Highlights include an election special with BBC News business editor Kamal Ahmed; poetry workshops; and appearances by authors including Kate Mosse, David Nicholls and Elif Shafak.

Kazuo Ishiguro will talk about his new novel The Buried Giant, and Lady Antonia Fraser will talk about her recent autobiography.

Austentatious, a group of comedy players who improvise a Jane Austen novel,  returns to a bigger venue at The Forum.