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World War One centenary inspires literary festival line-up

Posted on 28/02/2014

Marking the 100th anniversary of World War One, the Runnymede International Literary Festival kicks off on Monday 3 March, with public readings and discussions held at Royal Holloway inspired by the Great War.

The Festival, with its patrons Sir Andrew Motion, former Poet Laureate and Professor of Creative Writing at Royal Holloway, and Hilary Mantel, two-time winner of The Man Booker Prize, aims to encourage a love of literature within the community.

Organised by Royal Holloway in association with the Runnymede Literary Association and Runnymede Borough Council, events include a Creativity Day for schoolchildren on Wednesday 26 March, which is designed to present pupils with creative interpretations of the First World War. Pupils will take part in workshops using diaries, magazines and visual records, as well as work with Eagle Radio to record original news reports based on the events of the conflict.

On Monday 3 March, Professor Tim Armstrong will talk about ‘The Men of 1914’. In the lecture, he will focus on the writers Wyndham Lewis, Ezra Pound, James Joyce and T. S. Eliot, who are commonly regarded as the central literary figures of this time.

Professor Robert Hampson will compare Robert Graves, Frederick Manning and Ford Madox Ford’s very different ways of writing about the war in his lecture ‘Under Fire: The First World War in Contemporary Prose’ on Friday 7 March. The following week, Dr Betty Jay will host a workshop on one of the most significant memoirs of the war years, Edmund Blunden’s Undertones of War, on Monday 10 March.

In addition, Dr Ruth Hemus will highlight Emmy Hennings, Suzanne Duchamp and Hannah Hoech’s artistic reactions to war in her lecture ‘Dada's Women and War’ on Friday 14 March and Professor Chris Townsend will discuss ‘Paul Nash and Other War Artists’ on Monday 17 March.

To conclude the Festival on Friday 21 March, Royal Holloway will welcome former Foreign Secretary Lord David Owen onto campus to talk about his new book Hidden Perspectives: The Military Conversations 1906-1904, which centres on the military and diplomatic conversations that took place in the run up to World War One.

Sir Andrew Motion, Professor of Creative Writing at Royal Holloway, said: “More than any other conflict, the First World War is credited with creating some of the finest literature ever written, which is as poignant today as it was both during the war and immediately after it.

“It is very fitting that this year’s Runnymede International Literary Festival, now in its ninth year, acknowledges the centenary of the First World War in this way and we hope the public will enjoy and learn from the expertise we have here at Royal Holloway.”

Further events will be held at the Centre for Creative Collaboration, in Acton Street, London. For more information about the festival programme, click here.


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