The Gloucester History Festival Talks got off to a blistering start with record crowds, sell-out events and brilliant sunshine.
As weekend temperatures reached 30C (86F), the first two days of the autumn Blackfriars Talks exceeded all expectations. Big crowds of festival-goers from as far away as Leeds, London and Liverpool flocked to the mediaeval priory in the city centre for a series of events featuring some of Britain’s top authors and broadcasters including Countdown wordsmith Susie Dent, A House Through Time presenter David Olusoga, actor Stephen McGann and screenwriter Heidi Thomas from Call the Midwife, and the ‘rockstar mythologist’ Natalie Haynes.
Former Foreign Secretary, David Owen, brought a personal perspective to the history of UK-Russian relations with tales of his meetings with leading Soviet figures such as Leonid Brezhnev and Andrei Gromyko. Gloucester History Festival curator, Sarah Smyth, was delighted with the response: “This has been a tremendous start to what promises to be an extraordinary week. Our audiences are proving just what an appetite there is for compelling stories of the past.”
The Festival continues until Sunday 17th September with appearances to come from former Prime Minister Theresa May, the BBC’s veteran Middle East editor Jeremy Bowen and Radio 4 broadcaster James Naughtie among others.
The true story of the most famous woman in Victorian Britain is revealed on Thursday (14th September) by Sunday Times best-selling author Helen Rappaport. She will separate fact from fiction in the life of Mary Seacole, best-known for her work to aid suffering servicemen during the Crimean War. On Saturday (16th September), Tracy Borman will be discussing a topic which is close to her heart. The Tudor historian, Channel 5 presenter and joint Chief Curator of the Historic Royal Palaces will tell the extraordinary tale of the mother and daughter who changed history; Anne Boleyn and Elizabeth I.