Now in its sixth year, the LJCC’s three-day literary festival offers up a bookish treat for grown-ups and adults alike, reports Suzanne Baum
Princess Diana’s brother Charles Spencer is one of several well-known names appearing at the London Jewish Cultural Centre’s literary festival, which kicks off on Sunday.
Earl Spencer will be talking about his new book The Killers of the King, The Men Who Dared to Execute Charles I, alongside many other celebrities, including Jewish agony aunt Irma Kurtz and children’s author Dan Freedman.
The sixth literary festival – a three-day event that will include talks, book readings, literary walks and creative workshops – attracts thousands of book lovers each year.
For Irma Kurtz, who made her name as Cosmopolitan magazine’s agony aunt, the festival is an ideal place to talk about her autobiographical book My Life in Agony: Confessions of A Professional Agony Aunt.
“I love the festival as it attracts such an amazing crowd of people who I can’t wait to interact with,” she enthused. “Being an agony aunt for more than 40 years, I am used to people asking me questions and I love nothing better than an exchange with an audience.
“I will be encouraging the audience to open up to me and ask lots of questions during my reading extract.”
On Sunday, a large variety of workshops for kids will take place, with children’s author Dan Freedman on hand to give budding young writers advice. The author – who made his name writing the highly popular series of Jamie Johnson football novels – will talk about his experiences in football – meeting, working with and interviewing the likes of David Beckham, Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.
“The Jamie Johnson series is all about a kid chasing his dream. He’s like any one of us with flaws and hopes and I will be discussing the theme of how important it is to chase your goals throughout your life,” he explained.
“When it comes to writing stories, wizards and spells aren’t really my thing – I need to know that something ‘could’ happen to lose myself in it. Hopefully my readers respond to that. Many of them become so engrossed in the books they believe they are Jamie Johnson. In fact, I do too sometimes,” he laughed.
“I love answering people’s questions about football and writing. When I was younger, I never really thought of myself as a great reader or writer, but football has given me so much confidence and the platform to do both. I will enjoy sharing my experience with the audience.”
Other guests taking part include authors Tamar Cohen, Linda Grant, Nick Harkaway, Lynne Reid Banks, Anne Karpf and Penny Vincenzi. Psychologist and author Professor Tanya Byron will also be in attendance.
Carolyn Black, LJCC festival director, said: ‘‘Each year, since we launched the festival in 2009, we have introduced new elements to the mix to interest and excite new audiences. This year, in addition to a fantastic line-up of speaker events in a variety of literary genres, we are welcoming LBA literary agents on the Monday of the festival to run two ‘speed pitching’ sessions for budding authors.”
If the event leaves you craving a new book to read, Waterstones Hampstead will be supplying an onsite bookshop and kosher refreshments will be available throughout the festival in the Ivy House café.
• The LJCC Literary festival, hosted in partnership with the Ham & High, takes place from 14 to 16 September at Ivy House, Golders Green. Details: www.ljcc.org.uk