An impassioned plea for freedom & justice: Ben Okri to be Marlborough LitFest 2019’s Golding Speaker

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This year Marlborough LitFest celebrates its tenth year - bringing authors, discussion and events to the town from 26-29 September.   They have announced their first major booking: this year’s Golding Speaker is the Man Booker Prize-winning author, Ben Okri.


 Ben Okri will be appearing on Friday, 27 September, talking about his latest - indeed just published (7 February) novel, The Freedom Artist.

Acclaimed essayist, playwright and poet, Okri has won many prizes over the years for his fiction, including the award of an OBE in 2001. His childhood was divided between Nigeria - where he was born and where he saw firsthand the consequences of war - and London. 

He has published eight novels, including the Booker Prize-winning book, The Famished Road (1991), the first in a trilogy, and his work has been translated into more than 20 languages.  In 2017 Okri wrote and performed a Grenfell Tower poem as part of a fundraising initiative for survivors and relatives of the victims.

The Freedom Artist has been named one of the Books of the Year 2019 in The Guardian, The Times, The Irish Times and Waterstones.   It is an impassioned plea for freedom and justice, set in a world uncomfortably like our own. 

Do you sleep well at night? In the world of The Freedom Artist nobody sleeps well, not those who scream without knowing why or those who listen to them.  It is a world where oppression stalks the streets and people disappear. 

At the heart of the world lies the terrible prison.  It needs an exceptional person, an unexpected person, to lead the call for freedom, and it needs everyone to wake up and listen.

Kay Newman of Marlborough LitFest: “It is an honour to have such a prestigious and internationally acclaimed author as Ben Okri for this year’s Golding Speaker, especially in our tenth year.”

Marlborough LitFest hosts an annual Golding Speaker to highlight Marlborough’s long connection with the Nobel Laureate and Booker Prize winner, William Golding, with an event sponsored by the William Golding estate.


Past Golding Speakers include Rose Tremain, Will Self, Lionel Shriver, Louis de Bernieres, Fay Weldon and Howard Jacobson. 

The 2019 LitFest programme is currently being planned and will bring a host of good writing to Marlborough from Thursday to Sunday, featuring new and young novelists as well as established names, a range of topics, children’s authors, workshops and poetry events.  Marlborough LitFest will celebrate its first decade with an exciting line-up of speakers as well as outreach activities to engage new audiences.

The full programme will be available in late June and tickets will go on sale in early July.  There is more information on the Marlborough LitFest website

Brewin Dolphin continue as LitFest's lead sponsor.  Event sponsors this year will be Hiscox Insurance, William Golding Ltd, Marlborough College, St Francis School, and the Hamilton Trust.