Cheltenham Festival of Literature, 10-19 October, 1997 Sponsored by The Independent.
Britain's biggest-ever literary carnival opens on 10 October. The Cheltenham Festival of Literature hits its 48th year with a spectacularly rich line- up of events. More than 300 writers, from Michigan to Madras, will converge on the beautiful Gloucestershire city to take part in more than 150 events in 10 days. Among the highlights:

Readings from their new work by the premier league of British novelists, including Doris Lessing, Ian McEwan, Martin Amis, Rose Tremain, Melvyn Bragg, PD James, Louis de Bernieres, Michele Roberts, Sebastian Faulks, Candia McWilliam, Rachel Cusk and Booker shortlistees Jim Crace and Tim Parks.

Poetry recitals, from Australia's "redneck" genius, Les A Murray and Ireland's controversial Paul Durcan to the unclassifiable stand-up surrealist John Hegley, taking in Christopher Reid, Don Paterson, Lavinia Greenlaw, Adrian Mitchell, Sarah Maguire and many others along the way.

A riot of celebrity bestsellers meet their readers. With Michael Palin, Roy Strong, Ian Hislop, Rick Stein, Nicola Horlick, Gerald Kaufman, Jack Russell, Tim Pigott-Smith, Keith Waterhouse, Edwina Currie...

100 years after Yeats began the Celtic revival, we welcome the cream of modern Hibernian literati. Taking part are Edna O'Brien, John Banville, Roy Foster, Colm Toibin, Aidan Higgins, Dermot Healy, Ciaran Carson, Maurice Leitch and others.

Discussing the theme of Empire and afterwards are Arundhati Roy, Jonathan Dimbleby, Trevor Royle, John Keay, Mukul Kesavan, Patrick French, Sunil Khilnani, Sara Banerji, Amit Chaudhuri, William Dalrymple and Githa Hariharan.

A plunge into the Literature of Decadence and fin de siecle corruption, from the infamous 1890s to its fleeting essence today. With Charles Nicholl on Rimbaud, Philip Hoare on Wilde's Last Stand, Matthew Sturgis on Beardsley, Alain de Botton on Proust, Gilbert Adair on Frenchness and the Decadence Cabaret, starring Will Self, Fiona Pitt-Kethley, Snoo Wilson and a Pandora's Box of nasty surprises...

The largest-ever book bonanza for children, Book It! features dozens of events and popular authors for children from two to 12 including Wally, Spot, Pingu, Kipper, Maisy the Mouse - and a roomful of live animals...

For the first time the festival will spill across the city of Cheltenham bringing events to bars, clubs, restaurants, galleries - and the streets themselves.

Don't miss out. Come to the year's richest celebration of letters and meet your heroes, literary and beyond.