ORGANISERS of Stratford's Literary Festival have announced a packed programme for its tenth anniversary festival, which will have the theme, "sharing stories".

"That is what a literary festival should be all about" says founding director Annie Ashworth.

She added: "Whether we are giving a platform to a novelist, a biographer, a poet or a memoir, it is all about telling and sharing our stories."

The festival is promising its "largest and most diverse programme yet with events ranging from the Romantic poets to the humanitarian catastrophe in Syria, wartime spies to The Great British Bake Off".

A spokesman said: "Headline speakers will include the queen of cookery Mary Berry, journalist and writer Andrew Marr, historians and former politicians, Paddy Ashdown and Roy Hattersley, former Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, former head of the British Army, Richard Dannatt, Beirut hostage Terry Waite and Waterstones Book of The Year author, Sarah Perry.

"The Festival will look at the impact and reaction to globalisation with leading economist Bill Emmott and share the extraordinary career of cultural curator Roy Strong. In a strand looking at the link between writing and mental health, food writers William Sitwell, Waitrose magazine editor, and Bee Wilson will ask why food can be so embracing and so divisive, and Guardian columnist Alys Fowler and Observer Food Magazine editor Allan Jenkins will consider why gardening can have such a positive impact on mental health."

Poetry too plays a leading role in this year's programme with Simon Armitage reading from his latest collection, The Unaccompanied.

And to celebrate the centenary of the death on the Western Front of the landscape poet Edward Thomas, the Oxford Bach Soloists will perform a brand new arrangement of some of his work by the acclaimed writer Robert McFarlane and composer Colin Riley.

In another first, the Festival will host the launch of Tracy Chevalier's reworking of Othello, ‘New Boy’.

"The programme is packed to bursting," says Annie Ashworth, "and we've tried hard to offer a wide variety of events to engage as many people as possible.

"I really hope though that people will give some events a try that they might not believe are for them. They might discover lovely surprises."

Stratford Literary Festival takes place between April 23 and April 30.

Tickets are on sale from the beginning of February, from 01789 207100, or online at

A full programme will be available at