Kate Williams

Clapham Book Festival

Homegrown talent and award-winning writers converge on Clapham for this year’s book festival

Clapham Book Festival returns with a host of exciting authors, historians and novelists on Saturday 5 October. Founded in 2016, the festival has grown from strength to strength and this year promises another fantastic mix of local and international authors and a programme of diverse book events and discussions.

This year, the one-day programme will be hosted at Omnibus Theatre in the heart of the Old Town. Legendary BBC battlefield reporter, Frank Gardner OBE is one of the headliners and will be talking with fellow thriller writer (and Clapham resident) Simon Berthon about intertwining fact and fiction, his battlefield journeys and wartime experiences. Shot six times at close range while on assignment in Saudi Arabia in 2004, Frank is the BBC’s full-time security correspondent reporting on events from Afghanistan to piracy off the Somali coast and Arctic challenges.

Frank initially put pen to paper in Far Crisis, followed by his memoir, Blood & Sand. His first thriller, Crisis, was a Sunday Times bestseller, which was followed by Ultimatum, a book focusing on Iran, its nuclear programme and its relations with the West in 2018.

Award-winning journalist Ursula Buchan discusses her captivating biography of her grandfather and author of The Thirty NineSteps, John Buchan with Clapham novelist, Elizabeth Buchan. Based on formerly unseen family archives, Ursula’s book won rave reviews and charts the fascinating life of her grandfather, who wrote more than a hundred books, one thousand articles and was a scholar, antiquarian, barrister, colonial administrator, journal editor, literary critic, publisher, war correspondent, director of wartime propaganda, member of parliament and imperial proconsul.

Other festival highlights include Guardian journalist and Ondaatje prize-winner Aida Edemariam chatting to acclaimed novelist Michèle Roberts about The Wife’s Tale, the story of Aida’s Ethiopian grandmother.

Local Arts and Trails

The Book Festival is organised by Clapham Writers, a charity that aims to bring books and writing to Clapham. “Clapham Book Festival was set up promote the arts, culture and heritage in Clapham with a particular focus on books and authors. We reach out to the community beyond the festival itself to local events like the Lambeth Country Show, libraries, schools, and prisons – basically encouraging a love of books wherever we can,” explains Clapham Writers Chair of trustees, Julie Anderson.

The festival is a great connector of local talents, far-ranging ideas and literature from across the genres. Julie continues: “We’ve had lots of local authors appear over the years: Simon Berthon, Elizabeth Buchan, Miranda Carter, Sabine Durrant, Michael Glover, Isabel Grey, Henry Hemming, and Anne-Marie Neary are a few examples.”

Now in its fourth year, the festival will kick off with award-winning TV historian and novelist Kate Williams, who will be sharing her writing experiences and her explorations of powerful women in history.

Ahead of the festival, Clapham Writers has created The Clapham Literary Trail, a downloadable self-guided walk and quiz about famous writers who lived and worked in the area. The guide is available online on the Clapham Book Festival site and in local shops and cafes around the Old Town. There is a kids’ version, for younger readers aged eight to 12 years old, and a Clapham Art Trail, which tours the Old Town’s cultural and arts landmarks.

At 8.30pm on 5 October, the festival will be hosting a meet and greet where the public can get their books signed by some of the author.

Tickets for Clapham Book Festival are on sale at

For more information and the full programme of events visit