Read up: Cliveden Literary Festival

The festival combines a remarkable line up of speakers and talks with a one-of-a-kind setting for an irresistible weekend of intellect and intrigue

Art and Design 25 Sep 2018

The Cliveden Literary Festival takes place 29-30 September
Cliveden, the home of one of the UK's finest literary festivals

Cliveden Literary Festival may only be in its second year, but it’s already been proclaimed by Ian McEwan as ‘probably the world’s best small literary festival’. And this year’s festival, which takes place from 29-30 September and is sponsored by David Clulow Opticians, is set to continue establishing Cliveden as a world leader with its scintillating roster of guests and talks, jam packed into one captivating weekend, and its glorious setting in one of England’s most beautiful and storied stately homes.

Since it was built in the 1660s, Cliveden has been the home of a literary salon. And not just any salon, one that has seen the likes of Pope, Swift, Bernard Shaw, Tennyson, and Churchill be inspired and inspire others. Cliveden has also long been the centre of political intrigue and scandal – it is notorious as the location where John Profumo first met Christine Keeler and started the affair that brought the government to its knees in the 1960s. It was home to Queen Victoria in the 19th century as well as to Britain’s first female MP, Nancy Astor, in the first half of the 20th.

Cliveden Literary Festival ingeniously channels the house’s interesting history into the themes explored in this year’s talks and panel discussions, including those of politics and scandal, women in power, espionage, war, and learning from the past.

An audience in the Great Hall at the 2017 festival
An audience in the Great Hall at the 2017 festival

The enthralling line-up of talks include the minds and words of such luminary figures as filmmaker and satirist Armando Iannucci, philosopher Alain de Botton, award-winning journalist and editor Tina Brown, artist Edmund de Waal, author Naomi Wolf, historian Sir Simon Schama, political commentator Niall Ferguson, McMafia author Misha Glenny, journalist Jonathan Freedland, novelist Hanif Kureishi and many more. Panel discussions promise frank and fascinating exchanges on subjects ranging from modern espionage, the dreams and perils of female power, making history on TV compelling, the future of art, and how queens can rule to be remembered.

With such a programme, Cliveden looks set to continue its tradition of the last three-and-a-half centuries in setting the country and, indeed, the world’s finest minds, alight.

Cliveden Literary Festival is sponsored David Clulow Opticians and takes place from 29-30 September. For the full programme, please visit the Cliveden Literary Festival website. Tickets are available here for £99 for a one-day pass, or £180 for the weekend. See more from David Clulow Opticians and book an eye test at