Programming a well-established festival such as Buxton is both a blessing and a curse. I follow in the footsteps of the learned Roy Hattersley who foresaw the appetite for a serious, literary book series to run alongside Buxton’s serious, engaging and innovative opera and music programme. We are a festival weighted towards history and constitutional politics but we also like to engage with art, the environment and topical biography. No subject is closed to us and we aspire to be genuinely ‘opinion forming’. We are not always serious though. Our cookery demonstrations and our walks are fun but not frivolous. Our literary salons are open to all to experience a unique juxtaposition of words and music.
Cancelling in 2020 due to COVID-19 was heart breaking. Some of our 2020 authors joined us for BIF Digital filmed over the summer and these author ‘events’ can still be viewed online. Some of our 2020 authors will join us again in 2021 but the book trade is a fickle, fast moving industry and new books are published daily. Our 2021 programme will be largely new, as always topical and I shall try to capture the zeitgeist of the moment, while programming eight months in advance of our first audience taking their seats. At our most fearless we shall host events on land reform, the success of our prime ministers in recent decades and our nation’s response to the current pandemic. At our safest, but no less engaging we will look at the history of the Spa in Great Britain and meet three historical crime writers all with new books published. In between expect TV personalities, heavyweight historians (currently encompassing neanderthal culture via a reassessment of empire and the slave trade to art and the British landscape) plus scientists, law makers and economists. I hope there is something literary to tempt any thinking person to visit our beautiful spa town next summer and to forget the ennui of 2020.
Books Festival Director