Jonathan Meades, writer, journalist, essayist and film-maker. He has written and performed in many television films on predominantly architectural and topographical subjects such as plotlands, garden cities, brutalism and megastructures, the utopian avoidance of right angles, Belgium, the Baltic, French identity, and the architecture of Hitler, Stalin and Mussolini. The Whitechapel Gallery and the National Film Theatre staged a retrospective of his work in June 2017.
His books include three works of fiction – Filthy English, Pompey and The Fowler Family Business - and several collections of essays. His deflected autobiography An Encyclopaedia of Myself, won Best Memoir in the Spear's Book Awards and was shortlisted for the Pen Ackerley Prize in 2015. His 'anti-cookbook' The Plagiarist In The Kitchen appeared in April 2017.
Elizabeth Drayson, a member of the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at the University of Cambridge, Lorna Close Fellow in Spanish at Murray Edwards College and lecturer at Peterhouse. She specialises in medieval and early modern Spanish literature and cultural history, and has a particular interest in the Arabic, Jewish, and Christian cultures of medieval and early modern Spain, as well as in the relationship between medieval literature, art and film. Her latest book The Moor’s Last Stand: how seven centuries of Muslim rule in Spain came to an end, which charts the life and times of Boabdil, last Muslim king of Granada, was published in April 2017 by Profile Books.
Lucinda Hawksley is an author, broadcaster, lecturer, and award-winning travel writer. In addition to Charles Dickens and his Circle, she has written biographies of the artists Princess Louise, Kate Perugini (née Dickens), and Lizzie Siddal. Her other titles include The Writer Abroad; Bitten by Witch Fever; Moustaches, Whiskers & Beards; and March, Women, March: Voices of the Women’s Movement. From 2015 until 2017 Lucinda was the Royal Literary Fund Fellow at St Mary’s University in London; she also lectures at the National Portrait Gallery and at IES London. Through her books she has been invited to appear on TV and radio programmes, including the TV documentaries Queen Victoria’s Children, Mrs Dickens’s Family Christmas, Charles Dickens’s Secret Lover, and Charles Dickens and the Invention of Christmas, and the radio programmes Behind the Looking Glass, Glad to be Grey, the Radio 4 Today Programme, Front Row, and Woman’s Hour.
As a great, great, great granddaughter of Charles and Catherine Dickens, Lucinda is a patron of the Charles Dickens Museum in London. She is also a patron of the Norwegian Pickwick Club.
Ray Keene OBE MA is Britain’s senior International Chess Grandmaster, former British chess champion and Gold medallist in European Championship, writes every day in The Times. Ray has also written the world record 200 books (translated into 13 languages) on Chess, Mind Sports, Genius, Mental World Records, Art and Thinking, and has won numerous first prizes in international chess tournaments across five continents.
Ray also writes regularly for The Spectator, The Daily Yomiuri Tokyo, The Australian and The Gulf News. Ray studied German at Trinity College Cambridge, where Ray shared lodgings with H R H Prince Charles.
Ray is Global President of The World Memory Sports Council and President of the Governing Council of The Institute for Brain Chemistry and Human Nutrition based at London's Imperial College. Ray's new edition of his biography of Tony Buzan is his 200th book.
Roy and Leslie Adkins are husband-and-wife historians, archaeologists and authors of some twenty widely acclaimed books on social history, military and naval history, ancient Greece and Rome, archaeology and Egyptology. Their books have so far been translated into seventeen languages worldwide. They include Eavesdropping on Jane Austen’s England, Jack Tar, Trafalgar, The War for All the Oceans, Empires of the Plain and The Keys of Egypt. Their latest book is Gibraltar: The Greatest Siege in British History, to be published in September 2017. They are Fellows of the Society of Antiquaries of London, Fellows of the Royal Historical Society and Members of the Chartered Institute for Archaeologists. They live near Exeter in Devon. For further information about them and their books, see www.adkinshistory.com.
The Sunday Times foreign editor Peter Conradi argues that the West has made a powerful new enemy in Russia because it has consistently failed to understand the country and its motives.
Conradi says that Russia emerged battered and humiliated from the collapse of the Soviet Union in the 1990s, and there are striking parallels with post-World-War-I Weimar Germany. Now a new Russia has emerged with an upgraded arsenal of weapons and a determination to assert its interests in places such as Chechnya, Georgia and Ukraine. Meanwhile, NATO is undertaking large-scale manoeuvres and stockpiling weapons close to the Russian border.
Conradi witnessed the collapse of the Soviet Union first-hand as a foreign correspondent in Moscow. He is also author of Hitler’s Piano Player and co-author of The King’s Speech, which inspired the Oscar-winning film.
Stephen Law started out his career as a postman. He eventually discovered philosophy in his early twenties, applied to university as a mature student, and ended up at Oxford University where completed his Doctorate and was a Junior Research Fellow. Since then, Stephen has been teaching at Heythrop College, a small college of the University of London specialising in Philosophy and Theology.
Stephen is particularly well-known for his popular introductions to philosophy, including The Complete Philosophy Files (for children), and the prize-winning The Philosophy Gym: 25 Short Adventures in Thinking. He is editor of the Royal Institute of Philosophy journal THINK. He is also a well-known humanist, and authored the Oxford University Press Very Short Introduction to Humanism. Law has debated many Christian apologists, theologians and scientists, including William Lane Craig, Alvin Plantinga, Alister McGrath, John Lennox and Denis Alexander.
Stephen is a regular blogger (www.stephenlaw.org), has written for many national newspapers, and has appeared many times on both radio and television. He also recently produced a short animation on God and evil.
Art historian Dr Janina Ramirez is a history of art course director at the University of Oxford’s Department of Continuing Education, author of several books including Julian of Norwich, and regularly appears on BBC television and radio.
Dr Ramirez will discuss Julian of Norwich – with BBC Four Clips of her award-winning documentary and will give a second talk based on her recent successful BBC Series Art Lovers Guide – to Barcelona, Amsterdam, St Petersburg.
Minister for Tourism, Gilbert Licudi, said: “The list for this year’s event grows ever more interesting and the subject range is sure to appeal to many of our regular and loyal festival audiences and to those who have to experience it. The Government’s commitment to this event now bears fruit as we see the festival establish itself as a leader in its field. I look forward to announcing more names in the future including local authors.”