Celebration was in the air as Prime Minister David Cameron helped launch this year’s Chipping Norton Literary Festival.
After mingling with festival volunteers, sponsors and supporters at the special drinks reception at The Chequers in the town, Mr Cameron then took to the stage.
He spoke in praise of the impact of the festival and of literature in general.
And he was quick to dismiss any suggestions he would could use April’s festival to promote a work of his own!
He said: “If you thought I was going to launch my memoirs, I’m not. I’m hoping to carry on working a while longer!”
But his main message was to praise the volunteer team behind the festival and its growing impact.
He said: “Chipping Norton Literary Festival plays to Chipping Norton’s strengths as a town with many creative venues, pubs, cafes and bookshops.
“Finding out about great books and listening to some of the nation’s best authors, poets and writers is a great way of bringing people together and inspiring the next generation with a love of literature.
“ChipLitFest has an incredible programme lined up for this year and I urge everyone to get involved.
After speaking of his love of spending time in Jaffé & Neale bookshop, the Chipping Norton MP went on to highlight five facts to counter the suggestion that ‘we’re not the literary, book-buying nation we once were’.
In what was great news for the festival team, he told how we publish more books than any country on Earth; that sales of physical books are rising and that the two most filmed characters in literature are British – namely Sherlock Holmes and Dracula.
Further, that we have literary quality and quantity, with the most published book being A Tale of Two Cities, and the highest number of Nobel Prizewinners for Literature, eight. And, as a sign of commitment to free speech, we have produced a succession of books banned elsewhere, including one he’s read four or five times, 1984, banned in the Soviet Union, and Alice in Wonderland, banned in China. Mr Cameron added: “Literature is a top part of our country and what makes us great. Great literature pushes boundaries and makes us think.”
Festival director Clare Mackintosh said: “The Festival is a local project with a national audience, and we were honoured to have David Cameron formally launch this year’s programme.
“Our line-up is exceptional, and I’m looking forward to welcoming more than 70 authors to Chipping Norton.”
The festival runs from April 23-26, full details at: www.chiplitfest.com
Until this Sunday, March 8 it is possible to bid to be a character in Clare Mackintosh’s next book as part of a fundraising campaign for CLIC Sargent, the cancer charity for children and young people. Find out more at http://stores.ebay.co.uk/clic-sargent-get-in-character