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Mary Portas to star at book festival


Retail guru and writer Mary Portas will appear at the Stroud Book Festival, writes Louise Brice.

The popular festival will take place from November 3-7 at venues across Stroud.  

Mary Portas will be making a bold and persuasive business case for putting people and planet first post-pandemic, as set out in her book “Rebuild: How to Thrive in the New Kindness Economy”. 

Sponsoring this event, and overall headline sponsor is Bailey Paints Ltd in Thrupp.  Speaking of their involvement, Bailey Paints MD Richard Townsend said: “This is our 5th year as sponsors of Stroud Book Festival and we are delighted to continue to support this important event in Stroud.” 

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After his sold-out event at the inaugural Stroud Book Festival in 2016, we are honoured to welcome back Hassan Akkad, filmmaker, photographer, frontline NHS worker and refugee rights activist, to discuss his memoir “Hope Not Fear”.

Fresh from his work with the England football team (as well as Team GB ahead of the Olympic Games, the Command Group of NATO and the South African Cricket Team), Owen Eastwood – one of the world’s most in-demand performance coaches – will join us to talk about his inspiring motivational book, “Belonging: The Ancient Code of Togetherness”. 

Acclaimed authors Kate Mosse and Madeleine Bunting will also join us for an illuminating and compassionate discussion about how we care for others, both within families, and as a nation.

Biologist and nature writer Merlin Sheldrake will be talking about his award-winning and best-selling debut “Entangled Life”, a mind-altering adventure through the world of fungi, which shows why this extraordinary lifeform is key to understanding the planet on which we live.

Ian Dunt of Remainiacs fame will make a welcome reappearance to discuss his book, “How to be a Liberal”, in which he charts the story of liberalism, and argues that liberal ideas and values remain our most powerful weapon in “shattering the tiny lies of populists”.  

Former Sky TV diplomatic editor, foreign affairs expert and author of the bestselling “Prisoners of Geography”, Tim Marshall will join us to talk about his follow-up – “The Power of Geography’ in which he offers a compelling analysis of ten regions of growing geopolitical importance in terms of shaping our human future.

Headlining Stroud Book Festival for children and families is much-loved author and former Children’s Laureate Sir Michael Morpurgo, speaking about the 25th Anniversary edition of “The Butterfly Lion”, which won both the Smarties Prize and the Writers’ Guild Award.

Our Schools’ Day line-up for primary schools in Gloucestershire will feature three fantastic authors – Kate Pankhurst, Alex Wharton and Piers Torday in events for Key Stage 2 children. We are hugely grateful to to our Schools’ Day sponsors, ALCS, as well as the Summerfield Trust.  Full details here.

The Festival programme wouldn’t be complete without Stroud Short Stories, whose 22nd event ‘WILD’ will be held on Sunday, November 7th at the Cotswold Playhouse. Submissions open on August 8th and you can find full information here.

The festival will also partner once again with the literary development platform Dialect for a writers’ workshop at the Museum in the Park; as well as with Hawthorn Press. 

The Festival Box Office, the Subscription Roooms in Stroud, will open on August 1st: https://thesubrooms.co.uk/ with the first 8 adult events going on sale.

Caroline Sanderson, Stroud Book Festival co-director, said: “Our new Festival strapline – “A celebration of stories, ideas and community for readers of all ages” – encapsulates the ethos behind this year’s programme, created during a pandemic that has changed us all. We will bring you speakers to challenge, inform and even alter your perspective, but also events that will entertain, comfort and raise a laugh as we celebrate the vital role books and their authors play in our lives.” 

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