Henley Literary Festival 2021 – Authors and Books Galore! @henleylitfest

Henley Literary Festival is back for 2021 with a combination of in person and live-streamed events running from 2nd to 10th October. Tickets went on sale to the public on Monday 19th July, following a priority booking period for Friends of the Festival.

Henley-on-ThamesThis year’s venues include Henley Town Hall, Christ Church, the River and Rowing Museum and, new for 2021, the Baillie Gifford Marquee in the grounds of Phyllis Court. Unfortunately there are no events aboard one of Hobbs of Henley’s river cruisers this year – always a favourite of mine in previous years – but fingers crossed for next year.

Here are a few events from this year’s programme that caught my eye, some of which I’ve already secured my tickets for. Links will take you to the event information on the Henley Literary Festival website. In many cases, there is an option to purchase a ticket to access a live-stream of the event.


Snow CountrySaturday 2nd October

Dr Lucy Pollock and Rachel Clarke talking about their books, The Book About Getting Older and Breathtaking: Inside the NHS in a Time of Pandemic

Sebastian Faulks talking about his new novel, Snow Country

Candice Brathwaite and Nikesh Shukla talking about their latest books, Sista Sister and Brown Baby: A Memoir of Race, Family and Home

Sunday 3rd October

Kate Mosse talking about her new historical novel, The City of Tears

Ruby Wax talking about her book, A Mindfulness Guide for Survival

Monday 4th October

Tom Allen talking about his memoir, No Shame

Forensic scientist Professor Angela Gallop talking about her book How To Solve A Crime

Tuesday 5th October

Ed Balls talking about his book, Appetite, billed as ‘part autobiography, part cookbook’

The very popular ‘Crime and Wine‘ event, this year featuring Imran Mahmood, and husband-and-wife team Nikki French, talking about their books, I Know What I Saw and The Unheard. One of the Festival sponsors, Laithwaites, provide the wine.

The Late Train to Gipsy HillWednesday 6th October

Former politician Alan Johnson discussing his first foray into fiction, The Late Train to Gipsy Hill

Robert Webb talking about his debut novel, Come Again

Thursday 7th October

Comedian Jack Dee talking about his book What Is Your Problem?

Friday 8th October

Carol Kirkwood and Jill Mansell talking about their recent books, Under A Greek Moon, and And Now You’re Back

Alexander McCall Smith discussing the return of Mma Ramotswe in The Joy and Light Bus Company

Saturday 9th October

Grace Dent talking about her memoir, Hungry


Talking of being hungry, I hope that taster has given you an appetite for taking a longer look at the Henley Literary Festival website to see the full programme of events. There is also a series of pop-up events – both before and after the Festival – plus a full programme of events for children. And anytime you’re in Henley, pay a visit to The Bell Bookshop, the Festival’s partner bookseller.

Are you hoping to attend a literary festival this year?

My Henley Literary Festival 2020 Reading List

This year’s Henley Literary Festival takes place from Saturday 26th September to Sunday 4th October 2020. Owing to circumstances we’re all aware of, this year’s Festival has had to move online but there is still a great line-up of authors on the programme.

As a Friend of the Festival (find out how you can become one here), I’ve been excitedly browsing my preview copy of the programme since it dropped through my letterbox. I’ve already purchased tickets for several events I want to attend…sorry, join online.

As in previous years, I’ve put together a reading list of books I own but haven’t yet read by some of the authors taking part in this year’s Festival.  I’ll try to read these between now and the start of the Festival and publish my (spoiler free) reviews during the Festival.

My Henley Literary Festival 2020 Reading List (event date)

  • Ayisha MalikThis Green and Pleasant Land (Saturday 26th September)
  • Ashley AudrainThe Push (Wednesday 30th September, includes proof copy)
  • Gill HornbyMiss Austen (Thursday 1st October)
  • Raynor WinnThe Wild Silence (Friday 2nd October)
  • Jeremy VineThe Diver and the Lover (Sunday 4th October)
  • Jodi Picoult Small Great Things (Thursday 22nd October – Pop-Up Event) 

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Please note: I have no commercial relationship with Henley Literary Festival – unless you count spending my money on tickets for events! I’m just a book lover and book blogger keen to support my local literary festival.