On Saturday 14 and Sunday 15 October, the exquisite surroundings of Cliveden House will be the setting for a new and unique literary festival.
Focusing on politics and history, Cliveden Literary Festival has attracted a stellar gathering of authors including historians Lady Antonia Fraser, Simon Sebag Montifiore, Bettany Hughes, novelists Sebastian Faulks, Robert Harris, Ian McEwan and Howard Jacobson and author Frances Osborne. Also appearing are Nick Cullinan, Director of the National Portrait Gallery and Hannah Rothschild, Chair at the National Gallery, politicians Michael Gove and Kwasi Kwarteng, as well as Anne Applebaum, Geordie Greig, Tina Brown, Dambisa Moyo, Sir Harry Evans and Simon Schama.
The festival’s themes – high politics and low scandal; the influence of brilliant women and the role of history in the movies; the Munich crisis to the Russian revolutions and the rise of Zionism – reflect Cliveden’s own story as a political-literary salon.
Author and Chairman of Cliveden Literary Festival, Natalie Livingstone, comments “While researching my book The Mistresses of Cliveden, I discovered that Cliveden has always been a magnet for truly great writers from Jonathan Swift to Tennyson, J M Barrie to H G Wells and George Bernard Shaw to Rudyard Kipling. The Cliveden literary festival will revive this tradition by gathering an impressive array of authors of today in a place that resonates with history and literature.”
Built in 1666 by the second Duke of Buckingham, George Villiers, Cliveden has been home to an Earl, three Countesses, two Dukes, a Prince of Wales and the Viscounts Astor. Its influential chatelaines include the scheming Elizabeth Villiers; the glittering society hostess, Harriet Duchess of Sutherland, who provoked a constitutional crisis for Queen Victoria; the beautiful but much maligned courtesan Anna Maria, Countess of Shrewsbury and the muse for Alexander Pope – as well as Britain’s first female MP and arch-appeaser Nancy Astor, who hosted gatherings with the ‘Cliveden Set’ in the 1920s and 30s and entertained famous guests from Asquith to Gandhi. Most recently, of course, Cliveden became notorious in the collective consciousness as the site of the Profumo Affair, the sex-and-espionage scandal that brought down a government in the sixties.
Today, Cliveden is owned by the National Trust and the house is leased as a five-star hotel.
A full programme of events with all authors taking part can be viewed at clivedenliteraryfestival.org
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