Best-selling authors back literary festival

Jane Hawking

Jane Hawking - Credit: Photograph: Ian West/PA Wire

Literary festival Books in the Belfry is back - with best-selling authors Jane Hawking and Sophie Hannah headlining the two-day festival next week.

Sophie Hannah

Sophie Hannah - Credit: Archant

Flamstead Book Festival is being held in St Leonard’s Church in the village next Friday and Saturday, June 5 and 6..

Jane, who was brought up in St Albans, was Stephen Hawking’s wife for 25 years and penned Travelling to Infinity which was adapted for this year’s Oscar-winning film The Theory of Everything, starring Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones.

In one of her few appearances this year she will talk about her moving account of love and loss with the celebrated scientist - whom she first met in St Albans - as well as what it was like for her marriage to be played out on film.

The festival kicks off on next Friday evening with thriller-writer Sophie Hannah, whose novels have been adapted for ITV’s Case Sensitive drama.

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Her most recent work, The Monogram Murders, is the first Hercule Poirot novel since Agatha Christie’s death, having been specially approved by the renowned crime-writer’s estate. It came out last week in time for Books in the Belfry and audience will hear how Sophie managed to capture the moustachioed Agatha Christie creation.

The line-up also features acclaimed children and young person’s author Alex Scarrow, best known for his Time Riders series.

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In addition, a sports book session is being held featuring Michael Calvin, who ghosted rugby star Gareth Thomas’ controversial biography Proud which has been shortlisted for two awards at next month’s British Sports Book Awards, and St Albans author Ian Ridley, best known for his memoir of former England and Arsenal captain Tony Adams.

There will also be story-telling for toddlers and a children’s workshop as well as a masterclass in creative writing for adults.

Festival spokesman and Flamstead resident Vikki Orvice said: “We’re excited about the line-up and hope as many people as possible in the area will once again support Books in the Belfry.

“After the success of Tony Parsons and Barry Norman at events last year we think that attracting Jane Hawking and Sophie Hannah is another coup for the festival and the area.

“I’m sure Jane will have lots to say about growing up and meeting Stephen in St Albans and going to the St Albans High School for Girls.”

She added: “We’ve also made sure there is something for everyone in the programme and it promises to be lots of fun, whatever age you are.”

Waterstones in St Albans is supporting the festival and will be selling books on both days.

Proceeds will help support the Friends of St Leonards (FOSL) to raise funds to help restore and safeguard medieval wall-paintings in the village church.

For further information on all the Festival events and how to book tickets - online or in person - go to

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