Cheltenham Literature Festival: Reports from The Writers’ Room

So what’s it like in the Writers’ Room on the first Saturday of the festival? In a word, busy. I arrived this morning to an even larger selection of cakes and pastries, the choice of the day being an enormous double chocolate muffin accompanied by a large cup of freshly brewed Columbian coffee (yes, very nice indeed). I brunched in the company of Times journalist Ben Hoyle, enjoying the morning papers and a moment of tranquility before a hive of excitement erupted and Germaine Greer entered the room. Wearing a black smock dress, black and white stripy tights and silver shoes, her presence sent a ripple through the room. She sat opposite me, deep in conversation with an academic about seventeenth century art, so obviously I didn’t really feel it possible to interrupt and introduce myself.

Today I’ve been to see two Shakespeare events and these are my general impressions: Germaine Greer’s discussion of the life of Anne Hathaway and her influence on Shakespeare’s life and work was engaging but perhaps too speculative to persuade me; a panel consisting of James Naughtie (Radio 4), Micheal Boyd (Artisitc Director of the RSC) and historian Michael Wood discussed the relevance of Shakespeare’s history plays to society today, providing an intriguing insight into the “hopelessly and brilliantly unresolved” nature of the plays.

I will write further tomorrow about my opinions of these two very differing events. Until then, I will continue to enjoy the delights of the festival (culinary and literary) and spread The Reader word.

Posted by Jen Tomkins

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