The FT Weekend Oxford Literary Festival takes place from March 22-30 in historic central Oxford locations, including Corpus Christi and Christ Church colleges and the Sheldonian Theatre, and a selection of festival highlights is listed below. Running alongside the festival is a programme for children and young people.

For full details and tickets for these and other events, visit; telephone +44 (0) 1865 276152 or email:

Lionel Barber and Lucy Kellaway

Lunch with the FT: 52 Classic Interviews

Saturday March 22, 12.30pm

Bodleian: Divinity School, tickets £65

Join the FT editor Lionel Barber and columnist Lucy Kellaway for lunch in the magnificent 15th-century Divinity School, one of the most beautiful rooms in Oxford. A prosecco reception at 12.30pm will be followed by a two-course lunch with wine. Over coffee at 2.15pm Barber and Kellaway will be introduced by the editor of FT Weekend Caroline Daniel as they recall some of the classic interviews conducted by the newspaper with figures such as Angela Merkel, Martin Amis, George Soros, Angelina Jolie and the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Lincoln College Quad

“George Eliot first visited Oxford in 1870, staying with Mark Pattison, the rector of Lincoln College. Mary Augusta Ward, who was to become a novelist herself, spotted Eliot in the front quad one day, waving to Pattison’s pretty young wife, who appeared at an upper window.

‘If [Eliot] had lived longer, some day, and somewhere in her books, that vision at the window, and that flower-laden garden would have appeared,’ Ward wrote. Now, when I stand in that quad and look up at that same window, I can also see Eliot – registering the sight, storing it in her novelistic imagination.”

Rebecca Mead is a writer for the New Yorker. She talks about her new book ‘The Road to Middlemarch’ on March 22 at Christ Church

John Banville The Black-Eyed Blonde

Saturday March 22, 2pm

Corpus Christi College, tickets £11

The award-winning author John Banville, under the pen name of Benjamin Black, has written eight crime novels. His latest, The Black-Eyed Blonde, brings back to literary life Raymond Chandler’s classic private eye, Philip Marlowe. Banville will be in conversation with the FT’s books editor Lorien Kite.

Robert Harris An Officer and a Spy

Saturday March 22, 6pm

Sheldonian Theatre, tickets £15-£50

Robert Harris’s latest bestseller, An Officer and a Spy, is based on the Dreyfus affair, the 19th-century miscarriage of justice in France, and tells the story of Georges Picquart, an army officer who finds himself in a position to help prove the innocence of Alfred Dreyfus. Harris will discuss An Officer and a Spy with the FT business columnist – and novelist – John Gapper.

Jonathan Aitken Margaret Thatcher

Sunday March 23, 12pm

Sheldonian Theatre, tickets £11-£25

The former MP and cabinet minister Jonathan Aitken will be talking about his book Margaret Thatcher: Power and Personality, in which he uses personal diaries and interviews with key players to re-examine her leadership and her eventual downfall.

Luke Johnson Start it Up

Sunday March 23, 4pm

Bodleian: Divinity School, tickets £11

Entrepreneur and FT columnist Luke Johnson is chairman of Risk Capital Partners and owns the chains Patisserie Valerie and Giraffe, as well as being chairman of the Royal Society of Arts. He will be talking about his book Start it Up: Why Running Your Own Business is Easier Than You Think and sharing his thoughts on finding the right business idea and attracting the right sort of investment.

New College Lane

“My favourite spot in Oxford is the bend of New College Lane, just under the windows of the Warden’s Lodgings. In the 1990s I spent a happy year living in an attic room from which I could just see it from my window. The lane is famous as the scene of the first kiss between two of literature’s greatest detectives, Lord Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane, creations of my favourite crime author Dorothy L Sayers. Unfortunately, as I learnt last summer while making a TV programme, it’s impossible to film there except at 5am because of sightseers. But who can blame them? It’s beautiful.”

Lucy Worsley is chief curator of the Historic Royal Palaces. She appears at the festival on March 24 at Corpus Christi

Julian Baggini, Antonio Carluccio and Michael Caines The Virtues of the Table: How to Eat and Think

Tuesday March 25, 4pm

Corpus Christi College, tickets £11

The philosopher, FT Weekend columnist and author Julian Baggini is joined on stage in Oxford by Antonio Carluccio, founder of the Carluccio’s restaurant chain; and Michael Caines, executive chef of the two-Michelin starred Gidleigh Park hotel restaurant in Devon whose first cookbook, Michael Caines At Home, was published last year. All three will be talking to Donald Sloan, head of the Oxford School of Hospitality Management, and chair of Oxford Gastronomica, the UK’s first dedicated centre for the study of food, drink and culture.

Stewart Purvis, David Rose and Robert Wainwright The Future of Investigative Journalism

Thursday March 27, 10am

Corpus Christi College, tickets £11

In this session, chaired by Christine Spolar, investigations editor at the FT, three distinguished newspaper and television journalists discuss the future for investigative journalism in the wake of the phone hacking scandal and the leaks of Edward Snowden.

Jeremy Paxman Great Britain’s Great War

Thursday 27 March, 2pm

Sheldonian Theatre, tickets £15-£50

The award-winning television journalist and author Jeremy Paxman draws on first-hand accounts to highlight what life was like during first world war for the people of Britain – and how the experience of war brought about huge shifts in society and identity.

Holywell Cemetery

“Hard by the church of St Cross at the northeast end of Oxford is Holywell Cemetery. Oxford has greater literary monuments but none so atmospheric. Passing through a wooden gate, you enter a secret space of long grass and wild flowers. Ivy and lichen grow over the Victorian gravestones, including the graves of Walter Pater and JW Burgon, poet of ‘Petra’ – ‘a rose red city half as old as time’. There’s a fine memorial to Kenneth Grahame among those of the literary lions, united as one by the great leveller, death.”

Alastair Lack worked at the BBC World Service for 30 years. He is an expert on Oxford’s history and will lead festival walks, including ‘Oxford Poets’ (March 25)

The 2014 Bodley Lecture and Award of Bodley Medal to Ian McEwan

Thursday March 27, 4pm

Sheldonian Theatre, tickets £15-£50

Ian McEwan won the Somerset Maugham Award in 1976 for his first collection of short stories, First Love, Last Rites and has been winning prizes ever since, including the Booker Prize in 1998 for Amsterdam. His most recent novel, Sweet Tooth, is set in the 1970s world of British spies during the cold war. He will be in conversation with Richard Ovenden, Bodley’s Librarian, and at the end of the event will be awarded the Bodley Medal, given by the University of Oxford to individuals who have made outstanding contributions in the fields of culture, learning, science and technology.

Garden of the Turf Tavern

“Oxford is a place of youthful emotions. For me none was more powerful than the Turf Tavern garden. I would retreat there from the Bodleian for lunch – always the same plate of spaghetti – and from the hubbub of the pub for fresh air in the evening. The antiquity of that ever private space, now so crowded with tourists, relieved the pressure of work and of expectation. That intense medieval enclosure warned me, ‘What has been is glorious. You will be lucky to do better.’”

Simon Jenkins is chairman of the National Trust. He will be speaking at the festival on March 28

Ahmed Kathrada Mandela In Oxford

Friday March 28, 6pm

Sheldonian Theatre, tickets £11-£25

Senior ANC activist and politician Ahmed Kathrada, imprisoned alongside Nelson Mandela for more than 20 years, and Alec Russell, FT news editor and author of After Mandela, discuss Mandela’s life and achievements before a rare screening of a film of the inspirational lecture delivered by Nelson Mandela during his first visit to Oxford in 1997.

Codrington Library, All Souls

“It’s very difficult to choose a favourite spot in Oxford. The city is for me full of happy memories of days spent with friends lazing in gardens or evenings spent in wonderful college halls. It is invariably work that has brought me here. As an architectural historian, work means happy hours spent in libraries. Of these my favourite is the Codrington in All Souls. You slip in through a nondescript side door facing the Radcliffe Camera. After a small vestibule, you find yourself in an enormous room. It is a huge surprise and a secret place of quiet contemplation right in the centre of the bustling city.”

James Campbell is fellow in architecture and history of art at Queens’ College, Cambridge, and will speak at the Bodleian on March 28

Eleanor Catton The Luminaries

Sunday March 30, 2pm

Sheldonian Theatre, tickets £11-£25

Eleanor Catton won the 2013 Man Booker Prize for The Luminaries, which was described by the judges as “a novel of astonishing control”. The book – at 832 pages, the longest to win the prize – is set during the 19th-century gold rush in New Zealand. Catton will be talking to the writer and broadcaster Natalie Haynes, who was a judge for the 2013 Man Booker Prize.

Follow the festival on Twitter for latest updates and news @oxfordlitfest

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