Mesmerising Memoirs

Mesmerising Memoirs

‘And (I was taught) you don’t tell your secrets to strangers — certainly not secrets that expose error, weakness, failure. Nothing is just personal. And all readers are strangers.’ Wrote Margo Jefferson in her first memoir Negroland. And it’s perhaps this sense of exposing ourselves, our lives and our vulnerabilities to others that makes memoir writing one of the most courageous and compelling forms of storytelling. This Festival we hear from authors with extraordinary personal stories to tell. Whether set in the fields of pre-genocide Rwanda, or the Dignitas clinic in Switzerland; in 1980s Palestine or 1950s Manchester: these sacred glimpses into the very different lives of others have a shared humanity at their heart.

 

Henry Marsh: Of Life and Death

Saturday 13 August 10:30 - 11:30

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  • BSL interpreted
The publishing world might not have predicted that a book about brain surgery would sell hundreds of thousands of copies. But when neurosurgeon Henry Marsh embarked on a writing career, readers were enthralled by the wisdom and candour of Do No Harm....
 

Fintan O'Toole: The Unknown Knowns of Ireland

Saturday 13 August 16:00 - 17:00

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  • Captioned
One of Ireland’s finest journalists shares an intimate account of how the country has changed during his lifetime. There are many contradictions in Ireland’s history and the title of Fintan O’Toole’s personal history, We Don’t Know Ourselves,...
 

Abi Morgan: For Love Nor Pity

Saturday 13 August 19:00 - 20:00

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One of the UK’s most fearsomely talented screenwriters, Abi Morgan has worked on projects including The Iron Lady and Shame, which garnered both headlines and awards. Today, she reveals her own powerful story of survival. In This is Not a Pity Memoir,...
 

Martha Wainwright: Failure, Fame and Family

Saturday 13 August 20:30 - 21:30

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It’s difficult to imagine acclaimed singer-songwriter Martha Wainwright as anything other than a singular success. Yet as the youngest member of a talented – often quietly cutting – musical family, Wainwright has long considered herself a failure...
 

Osman Yousefzada: Growing Up Between Different Worlds

Sunday 14 August 18:15 - 19:15

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Osman Yousefzada is an artist and designer, dressing Lady Gaga and exhibiting across the globe. But in the 80s and 90s, Yousefzada was raised in a conservative migrant community in Birmingham. In his engaging memoir The Go-Between, he speaks candidly on...
 

Margo Jefferson: The Art of Self-Construction

Sunday 14 August 20:15 - 21:15

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The Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Negroland returns with Constructing a Nervous System, a memoir that is as far-ranging as it is intimate. The book takes its original form from moments of Margo Jefferson’s life that trouble her and restore her....
 

Howard Jacobson: A Manchester Mother's Boy

Monday 15 August 13:00 - 14:00

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Funny, sophisticated, profound – the novels of Howard Jacobson offer innumerable delights. But the Booker Prize-winning author didn’t publish until he was 40 years old. Now 16 books into a stellar career, Jacobson returns to his roots in Mother’s...
 

Justin Webb: Radio Saved My Life

Monday 15 August 16:00 - 17:00

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Respected presenter of BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Justin Webb sheds revealing new light on his dysfunctional childhood. His moving, candid and humane memoir, The Gift of a Radio, paints a fascinating picture of the 70s Britain that shaped him....
 

Amy Bloom: Till Death Us Do Part

Monday 15 August 16:30 - 17:30

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The last time American author Amy Bloom came to the Book Festival in 2014 to talk about Lucky Us, she travelled with her husband Brian. In 2020 they made a very different kind of journey together – to Switzerland where Brian was helped by Dignitas to...
 

Raja Shehadeh: To Absent Fathers

Tuesday 16 August 13:00 - 14:00

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In 1985, Raja Shehadeh’s father Aziz was murdered in a pre-meditated knife attack. The circumstances of the crime are the subject of his Strangers in the House. Today, through his new memoir, Shehadeh sheds a different light on the father-son...