Monday, July 04, 2005

Faringdon Arts Festival

This weekend I shall be at the Faringdon Arts Festival listening to Jasper Fforde, author of the 'Thursday Next' series of books; Stephen Briggs creator of The Discworld Companion; Gwyneth Jones, writer and critic of SF and Fantasy; and Gillian Spraggs, who is an authority on outlaws and highwaymen. Faringdon is a small Oxfordshire village situated between Oxford and Swindon, not far from Wayland's Smithy and the famous Uffington White Horse. The Arts Festival attracts 140 acts over a week long period (starting on July 3, this year), but the literature events which interest me are all taking place next Saturday and Sunday.

Jasper Fforde's Thursday Next is a literary detective, whose job includes spotting forged lost plays by Shakespeare, mending holes in narrative plotlines, and rescuing characters who have been kidnapped from literary masterpieces. Fforde's novels are set in an alternative timeline which sees the Crimean War last for over 100 years, gravitubes as a means of travelling rapidly from one side of the globe to the other, and re-engineered Dodos as family pets (amongst other weird and wonderful things)... The four Thursday Next novels have all been instant bestsellers.

Stephen Briggs is Britain's leading expert on Terry Pratchett's Ankh-Morpork and in certain areas knows more about the Discworld than Terry Pratchett himself. He has written both The Discworld Companion and created several maps of areas of the Discworld (such as Ankh-Morpork, Lancre and Death's Domain).

Gillian Spraggs is an authority on highwaymen and the author of Outlaws and Highwaymen: the Cult of the Robber in England from the Middle Ages to the Nineteenth Century. I have met Gillian previously and she is an interesting speaker. If you are able to get to Faringdon on Sunday afternoon, I can recommend her talk (and the other speakers whom I have already mentioned).

Websites for the afore-mentioned speakers can be found as follows:

Gwyneth Jones

Stephen Briggs

Jasper Fforde

Gillian Spraggs

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