Star names at Charleston Festival 2019 include national treasures Vanessa Redgrave, Alan Bennett and Michael Palin

Gina Miller
Gina Miller

This year Charleston Festival celebrates its landmark 30th anniversary with a line-up of exceptional speakers.

It will also be the swansong of founder Diana Reich who established Charleston Festival as only the third literary festival in England.

Running from May 17-27, the festival of books, ideas and creativity will explore themes from feminism and identity to international politics and Brexit, political art to scientific progress.

Campaigner and businesswoman Gina Miller will kick-off the 11-day event while other highlights include a lecture by Mary Robinson, recipient of the 2019 Charleston John Maynard Keynes Prize, Caroline Criado Perez and Cathy Newman on gender gaps, Naomi Wolf discussing her new book, director of BBC News Kamal Ahmed on prejudice and growing up in ’70s Britain, and the Godfather of pop art Peter Blake.

Some other familiar faces will be returning to Charleston such as distinguished actor Simon Callow with a dramatic reading of Oscar Wilde’s Ballad of Reading Gaol. Melvyn Bragg re-imagines the legendary romance between Héloïse and Abelard. Alan Bennett provides an irresistible mixture of readings, and two of our most renowned actors Eileen Atkins and Vanessa Redgrave perform the parts of Vita and Virginia, a play they took to Broadway. Closing the festival will be author and intrepid traveller Michael Palin.

read more: The genius of Tony Hancock at the Royal Hippodrome Theatre in Eastbourne