Wednesday 8 May 2019
10.00 am
Upper Room, Town Hall

Nadine Akkerman details a series of case studies in which women (the She-Intelligencers) — from playwright to postmistress, from lady-in-waiting to laundry woman — acted as spies, sourcing and passing on confidential information on account of political and religious convictions or to obtain money or power.

‘Smart, sexy and rich, the ‘she intelligencers’ of Charles I were a potent spy force’ Times

‘groundbreaking study’ Telegraph

Both a BBC History Magazine and Telegraph 2018 Book of the Year ‘Akkerman is uniquely well-placed to pursue such elusive prey, with an enviably suitable skill set of palaeographic, linguistic and codicological expertise’ TLS

Nadine Akkerman, a Reader in Early Modern English Literature at Leiden University, has published extensively on women’s history, diplomacy, and masques, and curated several exhibitions. In 2015/16 she was Fellow at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities and Social Sciences. She is the editor of The Correspondence of Elizabeth Stuart,Queen of Bohemia and is currently writing a biography of Elizabeth Stuart. In 2017, the World Cultural Council recognised the transformative effect of her work in the form of a Special Recognition Award.

Upper Room, Town Hall

‘ “Hopscotching” from place to place – as grifters like Edgar termed this… was a tactic rendered effective by the absence of national newspapers, by the lack of a countrywide radio…’ Paul Willetts discusses with Sue Cook his spellbinding tale of the King of Jazz Age con artist Edgar Laplante – a real life cross between Tom Ripley and Jay Gatsby – and how in the end a report in the Daily Mail was his downfall.

‘this Jazz Age impostor’s life makes for quite the story, and … Paul Willetts knows just how to tell it.’ The Washington Post

‘A story so bizarre – and so compulsively told – that my jaw remained anchored to the floor throughout.’ John Preston (author of A Very English Scandal’)

Paul Willetts has written for the Guardian, TLS and the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. His other non-fiction titles are Fear and Loathing in Fitzrovia, North Soho 999 and Members Only, which was turned into The Look of Love a big budget film starring Steve Coogan. King Con is his US debut.

Sue Cook is one of the UK’s most experienced broadcasters. Her BBC TV shows include Crimewatch UK, the Children in Need Appeal and Holiday; and to radio listeners she’s been a familiar voice since the 70s on many series and individual programmes, including You and Yours and, more recently, Making History for Radio 4. Sue is now a successful novelist and is currently working on adapting her first novel, On Dangerous Ground for a film of the same title.

This mornings’s events are sponsored by The Noel Arms Tel: 01386 840317

Country Matters
2.00 pm
Upper Room, Town Hall

to include WI tea and cake


In 2016 the UK ranked 189 out of 218 nations for biodiversity. Isabella Tree brings the good news: the rewilding of the Knepp Estate in West Sussex, the restoration of nature, and the stunning recovery of flora and fauna.

‘one of England’s largest ever –3,500 acre – “amateur” experiments’ The Sunday Times

‘moments of lyricism and revelation’ Guardian

‘Brilliantly researched and scripted, this riveting and powerful book will revolutionise farming and nature conservation.’ Times Nature Notebook writer Matthew Oates

‘The remarkable story of an astounding transformation’ George Monbiot

Isabella Tree is an award-winning author, travel writer, and manager of the Knepp Wildland Project, together with her husband Charlie Burrell. She is the author of several books, including The Living Goddess and The Bird Man.



Amanda Craig and Melissa Harrison in a chaired discussion on their state of the nation novels set in the present and in 1934 respectively.

Praise for The Lie Of The Land:
‘Craig is at the top of her game in the sweep of her storytelling, the richness of her characters, her black comedy, irony and commitment’ Helen Dunmore

‘old pop stars, failed poets, casual racists – are perfectly drawn…a social satire, a family drama and, yes, a mystery’ Antony Horowitz

‘Terrific, page-turning, slyly funny’ India Knight

‘in the vanguard of the Brexit novel’ Guardian

Praise for All Among The Barley:
‘an acutely observed narrative that is as pertinent to the here and now as it is evocative of its time and place’ Mail on Sunday

‘What will surely turn out to be one of the books of the year’ New European

‘a very seductive vision of bucolic England which then turns on itself’ BBC Radio 4 Saturday Review

‘A novel of acute psychology and subtle political sense’ TLS

Amanda Craig contributes to the Telegraph, Sunday Times, Daily Mail, and Observer. As a journalist, aspects of the contemporary world have fed into her fiction. As the children’s critic for the Times she was early to spot JK Rowling and Philip Pullman. Her seven novels include A Vicious Circle, In a Dark Wood and Hearts and Minds (long listed Bailey’s Women’s Prize).
Melissa Harrison is a nature writer, critic and columnist for the Times, Financial Times and Guardian. She is the author of the novels Clay and At Hawthorn Time (short listed for the Bailey’s Women’s Prize) and non-fiction Rain (long listed Wainwright Prize).

This afternoon is sponsored by The BRI Science and Technology for the food and drink industry Tel: 01737 822272

7.00 pm
Chipping Campden School Hall

Free to full-time students – Doors open 6.30pm – TOKE’S Bar

A devastatingly timely thriller following the refugee trail from Syria to Europe. Book groups and individuals are invited to meet Sue Cook’s Big Book Group author Henry Porter: From the refugee camps of Greece to the mountains of Macedonia, a thirteen year old boy is making his way to Germany and safety. Codenamed ‘Firefly’, he holds vital intelligence: unparalleled insight into a vicious ISIS terror cell, and details on their plans to strike at the heart of Europe. But the terrorists are hot on his trail, determined he won’t live to pass on the information. When MI6 become aware of Firefly and what he knows, the race is on to find him. Paul Samson, ex-MI6 agent and now private eye, finds himself recruited to the cause. Fluent in Arabic thanks to his Lebanese heritage, Samson’s job is to find Firefly, win his trust and get him to safety.

‘Proud carrier of the Le Carré flag’ Lee Child

‘A real page turner’ John Humphrys

‘one of the masters of the genre’ Sunday Telegraph

‘A sophisticated, engrossing and important thriller’ Washington Post

Henry Porter is the UK Editor of Vanity Fair and writes about European power and politics for The Hive website in the US. He has written five bestselling thrillers, including Brandenburg, which won the CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger,  Empire State and The Dying Light, which were both nominated for the award.

Sue Cook’s biography under 11.30am event KING CON.

With thanks to TOKE’S Food and Drink Tel: 01386 849345

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