Celebrating 15 years of Wimbledon BookFest

Celebrating 15 years of Wimbledon BookFest

Posted by Eyes of Lady Wimbledon | 18 April 2022 | Arts & Culture, Guide to Wimbledon, What's On

After 15 years of being a significant arts provider in the community, and being London’s leading literary festival, Wimbledon BookFest are celebrating with a two stage multi-day festival.

Sunrise Festival (9th-15th June 2022) and Sunset Festival (22nd-25th September) will have BookFest’s characteristic mix of high-profile speakers alongside diverse rising stars and local talent. We have the itinerary and finer details to share with you on Sunrise Festival.

Sunrise Festival will be hosting 50 events over 7 days, with the spotlight being on award-winning fiction, climate change, and the war in Ukraine. There will be two main event spaces, there will also be a bookshops tent for author signings, and outdoors spaces where visitors can enjoy a coffee, light refreshments or a glass of wine. On-site partners this year includes Waterstones and official bar and cafe partner Catered by Justin alongside exhibitors Côte Brasserie, Prospect Magazine and Freddie’s Flowers.


Award-winning fiction:  

  • Winner of the 2021 Nobel Prize for Literature, Abdulrazak Gurnah is both a scholar of postcolonial literature and one of its most celebrated authors. Here Abdulrazak joins BBC journalist Kavita Puri to explore those themes celebrated by the Nobel Committee.
  • Julian Barnes, author of 13 novels including Booker Prize-winning The Sense of an Ending, is considered one of the finest writers of his generation. Now he looks to the past and finds poignancy in the present with latest novel Elizabeth Finch.
  • Fantasy writer Susanna Clarke discusses her second novel Piranesi, which won the Women’s Fiction Prize 2021 – sixteen years after her multi-million-selling debut Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell.
  • Arifa Akbar, Mona Arshi and Nikesh Shukla share a stage: three writers longlisted for the 2022 Jhalak Prize which recognises British writers of colour.

Abdulrazak Gurnah

Current affairs: 

  • Prospect Magazine’s editor Alan Rusbridger chairs a discussion about the war in Ukraine and its long-term impact with security expert Mark Galeotti and BBC correspondent in Ukraine, Sarah Rainsford.
  • In War & Peacekeeping, Martin Bell and Christina Lamb – two highly respected journalists who have reported from the world’s war zones – ask us to consider lessons from the past, and the impact of war on women.
  • Leading expert in geopolitics and author of the million-selling Prisoners of Geography Tim Marshall offers his analysis of the invasion of Ukraine.
  • New Statesman editor Jason Cowley asks if the crises of Brexit, Covid and the war in Ukraine expose the need for a reinvigorated version of post-war solidarity?
  • LBC radio presenter Iain Dale discusses the state of public discourse, and suggests how we might emerge from tribalism and division in his book Why Cant We All Get Along?
  • Human rights barrister Susie Alegre and public law barrister Sam Fowles come together to cross examine the state of our democracy and erosion of human rights.
  • Royal biographer Tina Brown will challenge your perceptions of the Royal Family in an event full of powerful revelations, nuanced details and searing insight.
  • Journalist Oliver Bullough reveals devastating facts behind the UK’s financial secrets, corrupt politics and moral guilt in its role as Butler to the World.

Alan Rusbridger


  • In Climate Challenge, three writers – Aja Barber, Jayne Buxton and Ed Winters – challenge conventional thinking on what really impacts our carbon footprint.
  • Chefs and food writers Melissa Hemsley and Anthony Warner ask how we can eat well without harming our planet.

Memoir & life writing: 

  • Justin Webb, longest serving presenter of BBC Radio 4’s flagship Today progamme, discusses his memoir The Gift of a Radio and his life as a journalist.
  • Legendary broadcaster and champion of the arts Melvyn Bragg take a look back at the upbringing that shaped him in his memoir Back in the Day.

Justin Webb

Art & design: 

  • Antiques Roadshow presenter Ronnie Archer-Morgan will share stories of the incredible objects that shaped his own unlikely story, as well as taking a look at some owned by the audience.
  • Art historian Suzanne Fagence Cooper explores the lives and legacies of both William Morris and his wife Jane Morris, and ventures inside two personal stories of unparalleled creative artistry.


  • Comedy is back at BookFest with a stand-up set from the much-loved Andy Hamilton, co-creator of Outnumbered and Drop the Dead Donkey and regular panellist on Have I Got News For You.
  • Phil Wang: Sidesplitter is a light-hearted conversation with the comedian about his memoir which reflects on his dual heritage and the contrast between Eastern and Western cultures.

Children’s events: 

  • Tom Percival presents his thought-provoking picture book The River to help children understand the idea of ever-changing emotions.
  • Booker Prize-winner Ben Okri presents his picture book Every Leaf a Hallelujah, an environmental fairy tale for our times.
  • Michelle Paver presents the grand finale of her bestselling Chronicles of Ancient Darkness series, Wolfbane.

Workshops & walks: 

  • Annabel Streets shows us 52 scientifically proven ways to walk for wellness; Peter Walker highlights Wimbledon’s links to slavery; and Leif Bersweden offers a botanising walk and talk around the Common.
  • Public workshops include Mindful Meditation with Jo Bowlby; Life Drawing with Jake Spicer; Creative Writing with Cathy Rentzenbrink and Nikesh Shukla; and a Photography Masterclass with Michael Freeman.

Events for schools: 

  • National treasure Lenny Henry will visit Wimbledon BookFest to present his debut children’s book. The Boy with Wings tells the story of average kid Tunde who sprouts wings during a football match to embark on an exciting journey of discovery.
  • The stellar line up for schools audiences also features events with award-winning authors Rob Biddulph, Simon Farnaby, Alex Wheatle MBE, Lemn Sissay, Jean Menzies, Ross Welford and Elle McNicoll.

  • In addition to schools’ events on-site at the Festival Village, Rene Germain, author of Black and Great – the first guide to specifically address the unique challenges many Black people face in the workplace – will appear at Ursuline High School in an event for sixth formers.

5000 students from south London and Surrey are expected to attend over 5 days for events as June sees the return of Wimbledon BookFest’s programme of events for schools. Principal partner and Director of Strategy and External Relations at the University of Roehampton, Liam Hurley,  said: “Wimbledon BookFest provides a wide range of opportunities through both the festival, and its outreach work with local schools, on which we collaborate, to enhance educational opportunities for young people from all backgrounds.”

Sunrise Festival goes on sale to BookFest Friends on Friday 22 April at 10am, and on general sale on Friday 29 April, 10am. For further information visit wimbledonbookfest.org


Written By: Emma Wurfel | Deputy Editor 

Facebook: @LadyWimbledon
Instagram: @EyesOfLadyWimbledon
Twitter: @EyesOfLadyW

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