A garden seems ideal for a literary festival, so why hasn’t the idea been quicker to take root? Kew Gardens makes up for lost time with Write On Kew, featuring Margaret Atwood, Michael Frayn, Bill Bryson, Maggi Hambling, Louis de Bernières and Howard Jacobson. “It’s difficult for London festivals to be an immersive experience,” says the joint programming director, Anne Elletson, “but it occurred to me that Kew could. We wanted a strong element of science and nature.” So Thomas Pakenham talks about his book on trees, the Nobel-winning biologist Paul Nurse contrasts Milton’s and Darwin’s views of creation, A.S. Byatt discusses Alice with Lewis Carroll’s biographer Robert Douglas-Fairhurst, and Deborah Moggach and Anna Pavord talk tulips. Meanwhile, at Hatfield House, the Garden Museum Literary Festival digs in with Alan Titchmarsh and John Carey. ~ Anthony Gardner
Write On Kew Sept 24th-28th. Garden Museum Festival Oct 3rd-4th
TALKS AT A GLANCE
Brooklyn Book Festival (Sept 14th-21st). Nominally a one-day festival, Brooklyn turns ten with a week of fringe events, climaxing on the 20th with 300 authors on 14 stages – among them Salman Rushdie, Joyce Carol Oates and Jon Ronson.
Internationales Literaturfestival Berlin (Haus der Berliner Festspiele, Sept 9th-19th). Kazuo Ishiguro on his new novel, Roddy Doyle on writing for adults and children, plus a strong squad from the sub-continent – Pankaj Mishra, Kamila Shamsie and H.M. Naqvi.
Brisbane Writers Festival (State Library of Queensland, Sept 2nd-6th). Ronson again, plus the explorer and environmentalist Tim Flannery and the addict-turned-neuroscientist Marc Lewis.
Hay Festival Segovia (Sept 24th-27th). Nick Clegg on electoral meltdown, Nicolás Sartorius on Spanish politics. Venues include a 16th-century Gothic corn exchange. ~ AG