Charleston Festival - John Betjeman

John Betjeman became poet laureate in 1972, and will be most remembered for his populist light, witty verse style, which was much hated by many highbrow critics but much loved by the general public. He was also a champion of ‘good’ architecture, and an early TV star: on the small screen he cultivated a bumbling, lovable-uncle image, which helped spread his poetry to a larger audience. To celebrate the centenary of his birth Betjeman’s biographer Bevis Hillier (chosen by the poet for the task) and Hugo Williams analyse the lasting legacy of the London-born writer, who died of Parkinson’s Disease in 1984. The discussion is entitled The Nation’s Teddy Bear.

The afternoon kicks of with a discussion on ‘The Comedies of Manner’ by two writers trying to shake off the ‘chick lit’ mantle thrust upon the shoulders of any successful female writer nowadays. Melissa Banks is the author of The Girl’s Guide to Hunting and Fishing and the more recent The Wonder Spot; Mavis Cheek is the author of Yesterday’s Houses. In between Richard Davenport-Hines talks about his latest book, A Night at the Majestic, which starts off by depicting an era-defining dinner party attended by James Joyce, Marcel Proust, Pablo Picasso and Igor Stravinsky and concludes with an analysis of Proust’s virtually unfinishable masterpiece A la Recherche du Temps Perdu.

John Betjeman: ‘The Nation’s Teddy Bear’
Charleston Farmhouse, near Firle
When? Banks & Cheek 2pm, Davenport-Hines 5pm, Betjeman
How Much? £9
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