AN ECLECTIC mix of 17 UK speakers will flock to Gibraltar’s annual literary festival to be held from November 25-27 at various locations around the city.

After two years in stasis because of the pandemic, the eighth Gibunco Gibraltar International Literary Festival will feature journalists, Royal experts, academics, former MPs and public speakers.

A number of local authors will also take part in the event.

Here is the full list of new speakers provided by Gibraltar’s Ministry of Culture, bar any last-minute changes, that will take part in Gibraltar’s annual event.

Raffi Berg is the Middle East editor of the BBC News website and has been journalist for 30 years. During his talk he will lift the lid on the true story of how Israeli secret agents set up a hotel in Sudan in the early 1980s, acting as staff by day and people smugglers by night – all under the noses of the Sudanese authorities and guests.

Rory Cormac is a professor of International Relations at the University of Nottingham. He will be talking about his book, The Secret Royals: Spying and the Crown from Victoria to Diana. The book uncovers the remarkable relationship between the royal family and the intelligence community, from the reign of Queen Victoria to the death of Princess Diana.

Matthew Dennison is the author of ten critically acclaimed works of non-fiction, including the international bestseller, The Queen. In his talk he will explore aspects of the Queen’s life and reign.

After starting a career in journalism, Loyd Grossman was diverted into television where, as a writer, presenter, or deviser he was involved in a wide range of programmes including Through the Keyhole and MasterChef. Loyd will be discussing his book An Elephant in Rome – Bernini, the Pope, and the making of the Eternal City.

Jonathan Fenby is author of 20 books and a former editor of the Observer in the UK and the South China Morning Post in Hong Kong. His latest book, Crucible, describes the shaping of the modern world in 1947-8 from Europe to China.

Author, presenter and journalist, Martin Sixmith will be discussing his book The War of Nerves which probes the psychology of the Cold War years, examining the thinking behind the decisions that were taken and the mistakes that brought the world to the brink of destruction. More than any other conflict, the Cold War was fought on the battlefield of the human mind; and thirty years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, its legacy endures in our politics, thoughts and fears.

Mary Beard is one of Britain’s best-known Classicists. Mary’s lecture will discuss her book Twelve Caesars – Images of Power from the Ancient World to the Modern and explore Roman emperors in the modern world and ask why, since the Renaissance, they have remained so important on our cultural map. And it will shine a particular spotlight on the emperor Vitellius who briefly ruled in 69 AD.

Lord Peter Ricketts was a British diplomat for 40 years. He spent much of his career dealing with international security issues and crisis management. His wide-ranging talk will draw on his book Hard Choices: the making and unmaking of global Britain, to challenge established thinking in Britain about the country’s international role, and argue that international cooperation – including with Britain’s European neighbours – is the surest way to prosper in a dangerous and divided world.

Nicholas Janni has devoted his life to the study of human potential. Over the last 20 years he has gained an international reputation for his transformational coaching and leadership development seminars. He will discuss his book Leader as Healer which explores the highest levels of presence and peak performance leadership, and the cultures that ensue from them, in which well-being, results and contribution to the world are naturally interwoven.

Alan Johnson was General Secretary of the Communication Workers Union before entering Parliament as Labour MP for Hull West and Hessle in 1997. He served as Home Secretary from June 2009 to May 2010. Before that, he filled a wide variety of cabinet positions in both the Blair and Brown governments, including Health Secretary and Education Secretary. Until 20 January 2011 he was Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer. He will be discussing his new thriller ‘One of Our Ministers is Missing’.

Maggie Gee‘s seventeenth book, The Red Children, set partly in Gibraltar and inspired by its Neanderthal history and culture, was published in 2022. Her life has been about telling stories and she always hopes her readers will love her characters, as she does, and to make them laugh, as well. On a trip to Gibraltar a decade ago Maggie discovered about the flora and fauna of the Upper Rock and the extraordinary Neanderthal caves down at sea-level which set her on a path to new knowledge which culminated, in 2022, with her novel.

Patrick Gale’s 17 novels include Take Nothing With You (2018), which was his fourth Sunday Times bestseller, Rough Music (2000), Notes From an Exhibition (2007), A Perfectly Good Man (2012) and A Place Called Winter (2015). He will be discussing his most recent work of fiction, Mother’s Boy, of which a chapter of the story was based in Gibraltar.

Novelist Charlotte Philby, the granddaughter of the communist double-agent Kim Philby, talks about her book Edith and Kim, a fictional retelling of the story of Edith Tudor-Hart, the woman behind the third man. Kim Philby was introduced to his Soviet handler by Tudor-Hart. Charlotte draws on secret intelligence files on Tudor-Hart and on the private archive letters of her grandfather to tell the story of the mother, lover, revolutionary and spy.

In 2015, Jess Phillips was elected the Labour MP for Birmingham Yardley. She has worked with the Home Office, the Ministry of Justice and the Department for Communities and Local Government on issues of Violence Against Women and Girls. Jess Phillips will be discussing her most recent book The Life of an MP. In it, she lifts the lid on what a career in politics is really like and why it matters.

In 2022, Rt Hon Andrew Mitchell MP made a return to government as Minister of State for Development following the appointment of Rishi Sunak as Prime Minister. Veering from the hilarious to the tragic, Andrew Mitchell’s tales from the parliamentary jungle make for one of the most entertaining political memoirs in years in his most recent book, Beyond a Fringe- tales from a Reformed Establishment lackey.

Alastair Santhouse is a Consultant Neuropsychiatrist at The Maudsley Hospital in London. During his talk he will draw on his experience of treating thousands of hospital patients to show how our emotions are inextricably linked to our physical wellbeing. He argues that conventional medical models overlook the most important component of our health – our state of mind.

Professor Cath Green specialises in creating vaccines for clinical trials. Her team has been an integral part of the project to develop a vaccine against the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19. The CBF made the first batch of clinical material that was used in Oxford’s COVID-19 vaccine trials and continues to support these trials. Together with Professor Sarah Gilbert, she wrote Vaxxers: The Inside Story of the Oxford AstraZeneca Vaccine and the race against the virus.

The Gibraltar Garrison Library Box Office is selling all physical tickets for the event with online tickets available on www.buytickets.gi.

For more information on the Gibunco Literary Festival and to view the full line up of speakers please visit www.gibraltarliteraryfestival.com.

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