A Well-Read Jaunt: The Oxford Literary Festival


Well hello!

Today I was fortunate to stumble (literally, I stumbled into it, I had no idea what was going on till I tripped, and an usher rushed over to help and explained the festival) upon a literary festival today! I was so excited, because it was the first time I’d ever gone to anything like that. AWRJ1-5The Oxford Literary Festival is a yearly book festival that features a myriad of British and American authors, the focus tends to be locally oriented it seemed as there were a number of talks by Oxford professors, staff from the Bodleian, local indie authors and a few bigger British names. This year the event was sponsored by Blackwells (my favourite book shop in Oxford!).

So the festival is a small one, and most of it is in a tented marquee next to the Sheldonian and right in front of the Bodleian, a large gothic style square and it was so lovely! I couldn’t get a lot of shots because the place was completely packed with speakers, shoppers and café patrons. But the gist of the layout is that there are books sold in the middle, a café in the back and 2 sections for speakers. Paid events featured lectures by authors and Oxford profs, but the free events were excellent! I saw a story-telling exercise by the curator at the Story Museum in Oxford, and as I was leaving there were a number of snowy owls being ushered inside for a workshop on bird-care and bird-love. Tomorrow I’m going to a workshop on Self-Publishing with Nook, a talk by Simon Usherwood, author of The European Union: A Very Short Introduction.


There are events going on all week, but most of the crazy fun is this weekend. I’m going back there tonight actually, to have dinner at the café and watch a performance by The Bookshop Band (this is a legit group people, aren’t they amazing?!). I’m super excited about Tuesday because Phoenix Picturehouse is sponsoring a comic book making workshop, and as I’m on break, I figure I should do something fun and useful with my life (instead of staying in and watching Grimm and Hannibal reruns).


What I like about this festival (and I’m heavily biased, this being my first literary kind of event) is that it’s very much a local thing. Local sponsors, local food, local books and local shops. I wish it did have a few more big names (there are a number of Oxford alum or Oxford residents who have published some pretty big books) but for a few hours, I was entranced with a very small space, and I think that’s significant. The fact that there are paid lectures and a number of free events (as well as events geared towards children and YA, though the YA section could seriously be bigger) is great. I’ve purchased a ticket for a talk on Wizards in Literature, and I haven’t made up my mind as to whether I should go to a signing my Malorie Blackman (it’ll cross a few things off my bucket list!)


On another more random note, my Sweat Once A Day swiss metal water bottle was stolen (SCOUNDRELS!) and I decided to overindulge and get a very big, very plastic one. And it’s so stupid to get excited about it but I’m so broke that any time I get myself any kind of house hold thing, I am super geekily excited.

I know this review is random, but I was super, super excited about the festival and had to get it in this blog somehow! For more pictures from the festival, check out my instagram page.



About Claire (BWB)

It's Claire (aka Quirky) from Bitches With Books, an online book blog that serves up a healthy dose of book reviews, lists + literary madness.
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6 Responses to A Well-Read Jaunt: The Oxford Literary Festival

  1. Heather says:

    Three cheers for stumbling into a lit fest! WOOOO!

  2. DoingDewey says:

    How fun! I love local events too 🙂

  3. Haha, what a wonderful thing to stumble into! Those events sound wonderful – and the Bookshop Band are great by the way, I saw them at Cheltenham Literature Festival a few years ago =) So clever. Enjoy the rest of the events! =D

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