WIMPOLE HISTORY FESTIVAL - PREVIEW
History may be (as Alan Bennett noted) just one bloody thing after another, but as a subject it has never been sexier. Wimpole Hall calls its annual shindig ‘a History Festival’ and if last year’s was anything to go by, it certainly was that. There was a colourful, energised and carnival atmosphere in the myriad marquees where the world’s top ‘celebrity historians’ (imagine such a thing even 10 years ago) discussed their latest tomes and hipster food trucks satisfied those who hungered for more than the printed word.
The third Wimpole History Festival is about to begin and given what looks like a decent weather forecast there should be a great old time pondering the olden days amidst the lush lawns of the great National Trust house. This year the organisers have gone the extra mile to accommodate families with children. A special marquee dedicated to children will, it is hoped, welcome 600 KS 2 pupils from local schools.
Michael Morpurgo is a star attraction for younger readers and their parents. The Grand Old Man of children’s literature will be narrator in a special performance of his incredibly moving novel, ‘The Mozart Question’. The story is about a group of musicians who survive the Holocaust using the only weapon they had: music. His story will be accompanied by live extracts from classical pieces.
Another author I will be heading to hear is Bart van Es whose Costa Book of the Year winner, ‘The Cut Out Girl’ was brilliantly serialised on Radio 4 recently. The event which begins on Thursday will be opened by Edward Stourton discussing the role of the BBC during Second World War.
Another of my favourite broadcasters Jonathan Freedland (presenter of the excellent ‘The Long View’) will be presenting a keynote speech on the challenges of learning from history. Among the many celeb history writers will be Lucy Worsley, Andrew Roberts and (national history treasure) Antony Beevor. Natalie Haynes and Neil Oliver will be discussing the Trojan War and the history of the British Isles. Colin Grant and Clair Wills will discuss post-war migration to Britain following the Windrush generation.
All of this promises four days of historical entertainment and thoughtful discussion. There are plenty of sideshows to keep the whole family happy (not to mention excellent ice creams and freshly-made lemonades if last year was anything to go by). Thanks to the Wimpole Festival, History is no longer a thing of the past – it has a very promising future.
The Wimpole History Festival runs from Thursday 20th to Sunday 23rd June. For more information and booking details: www.wimpolehistoryfestival.com or call 01223 357851 or visit the Box Office, Cambridge Live, Wheeler Street. Cambridge CB2 3QB.