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The Umbrella Organisation

The Umbrella Organisation

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The Sunday Times Oxford Literary Festival
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rakspatel wrote in mycroft_brolly
I spent today in Oxford at the Sunday Times Oxford Literary Festival. It runs from Saturday 2 April to Sunday 10 April 2011 (it is an annual event) and takes place at Christ Church, Oxford.

It is here:

The Box Office is on 0870 343 1001.

I have Hay in my diary. I have the London Literature Festival in my diary. I randomly found out about this festival when I was researching the Crimson Petal and the White and was astounded at the quality of the speakers who were going to be there. It was better than Hay and the London Literature Festival.

The event itself was excellent and I bought a shedload of books. Highly recommended.

Cut and pasted from the programme - the Welcome from Sally Dunsmore, Festival Director.
The 2011 Sunday Times Oxford Literary Festival brings together a record number of speakers (over 550) at more than 300 exceptional events. ... Whether it be at breakfast with authors in an ancient College Hall, a talk in the Divinity Schools of The Bodleian Library, or a children's event in The Cathedral School, there is special access every day to some of the nation's most beautiful buildings and sites. The Festival offers a wealth of inspiration, revelation, provocation and entertainment at the most prestigious and friendly Literary Festival in Britain.

Cut and pasted from the programme - the two events that I attended:

Tristram Hunt
The English Civil War - At First Hand
Almost a quarter of a million lives were lost as King and Parliament battled for their religious and political ideals in the English Civil War. The Civil War led to the execution of a king, the beginnings of sectarian division in Ireland, savage clan welfare in Scotland and the roots of English socialism.

Tristram Hunt, one of our best known young historians, a leading historical broadcaster and author and presenter of a series on the English Civil War for BBC2, revelas the personal stories of those who experienced the war at first hand, bringing to life those voices of the civil war generation - those who lost sons, witnessed massacres and who fought for an idea.

Tristram Hunt is MP for Stoke on Trent Central.

As it happens, the Tristram Hunt book that I bought and got him to sign for me was not the English Civil War one at all. It was "The Frock-Coated Communist: The Life and Times of the Original Champagne Socialist".

Guardian "Paints an endearing picture of Friedrich Engels as a man it would be difficult not to like - a bon vivant of the first order."

From the back of the book "Friedrich Engels was a Victorian cotton magnate, a raffish, high-living, fox-hunting gentleman who enjoyed lobster, champagne and women. Yet he was also a political revolutionary, who wrote passionately about the lives of the poor in England and, with Karl Marx, created The Communist Manifesto, inspiring a global movement - and sacrified his own ambitions to support his friend. This hugely enjoyable biography reveals a man of contradiction, conviction and exuberance, whose ideas are now resonating once again."

My thoughts:

Mr Tristram Hunt is very clever. He is young. He is charismatic. (remind you of anyone else we all know and love?). He is now trying his hand at politics. I will be watching his political career avidly - I would dearly love for him to progress through and up the party ranks quickly and I would love to see him in a shadow Cabinet job as soon as possible. He was the intellect and the passion. I like that!

He said that he was passionate about history and adored history - I like that!

He was supporting a cause very close to my own heart - libraries. He spoke passionately and with real feeling about the "ruinous plans to close local libraries" and wore a purple ribbon to save libraries. I like that!

Yes I really was very taken with Mr Hunt! Like Benedict, he also takes real care in signing his books, putting in a date, personalising it, and writing a proper message. Yes he had me at Hello!

The other event I went to was The Orwell Prize event:

Cut and pasted from the programme:
The Orwell Prize is Britain's most prestigious prize for political writing. Each year, the Prize rewards the book, the journalism and the blog which comes closest to George Orwell's ambition "to make political writing into an art". But they do much more than that, taking discussion about Orwell, politics and literature around the country.

I attended a debate on whether Orwell or Kipling was the greatest writer - Orwell vs Kipling. Both were born in India, wrote about the British Empire and were intensely political writers across journalism, prose and poetry.

My thoughts:

It was a very interesting discussion. I personally love Orwell and I have never really gotten into Kipling. One of my favourite books of all time is Orwell's "Burmese Days" which I love with a passion and I also adore "Animal Farm". Those books are very dear to my heart. I voted for Orwell. Orwell won the vote - hooray!

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I Googled Tristram Hunt – or should I say The Hon Dr Tristram Hunt – and can see why you were impressed. He's intellectual and good looking, with a social conscience. What's not to like? :-)

Orwell v Kipling is interesting. Seems to me (sweeping generalisation coming) that Orwell looked forward, whereas Kipling looked backward. Both were great storytellers in very different ways. Style wise Orwell is more modern and therefore easier to read, but ever since I saw My boy, Jack I've had sympathy for Kipling, who had to face hard truths about his beliefs due to personal family tragedy, which changed his stance regarding the 'glory' of war. Tough choice!

Tristram Hunt "He's intellectual and good looking, with a social conscience. What's not to like? :-)".

"My boy, Jack". Now this is very difficult for me. I taped it on my video (this was before I had Sky Plus). My video then broke. So I have it on video. I can't watch the bloody thing! It is SO frustrating! I want to see it - especially now that you have said what you have said. Damn!

BBC - Please repeat it so I can Sky Plus it!

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