School programme

School events at Blenheim Palace Festival of Literature, Film and Music

Owen MumfordThe festival hosts a school programme at The Marlborough School, Woodstock, sponsored by Owen Mumford Ltd. This year’s programme features five events and a school prize.

Kevin Crossley Holland
and Jane Ray
Heartsong: A Storybook Duet

Author-illustrator team Kevin Crossley-Holland and Jane Ray travel to 18th-century Venice and explore stories of the city’s famous orphanage, the Ospedale della Pietà, and its music master Antonio Vivaldi.
A few scribbled notes in Ray’s sketchbook made during an afternoon in the Vivaldi Museum in Venice inspired the beautiful Heartsong. Ray filled her sketchbook with drawings – shadows and reflections, the soft greeny-grey of the water, the face of an abandoned little girl. They in turn inspired Crossley-Holland to write about one of the Ospedale’s orphans in a story filled with silence, magic and music.

Ray has illustrated numerous children’s books, including Fairy Tales by Berlie Doherty, The King of Capri by Jeanette Winterson, The Lost Happy Endings by Carol Ann Duffy and Moonbird by Joyce Dunbar. She has also written her own stories including Can You Catch a Mermaid?, The Dolls’ House Fairy and Ahmed and the Feather Girl
Crossley-Holland’s Arthur trilogy was translated into 25 languages and has sold well over one million copies. He is a poet, historical novelist for children and authority on traditional tale who has presented many BBC radio programmes and is a frequent speaker at schools and libraries. He is the president of the School Library Association, a patron of the Society of Storytelling, and a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.


George Carey
The Importance of Failure in Life

Former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey talks about the importance of failure in life. Why is it OK to fail sometimes? What can it teach us about life and how can we use failure to make our lives more successful?

George Carey was born to a hospital porter in the East End of London and rose through the Church of England to become Archbishop of Canterbury between 1991 and 2002. During his time as archbishop, the Church of England ordained its first women priests and debate over attitudes to homosexuality grew more prominent. Carey remains a busy Christian minister and is still active in public life through his membership of the House of Lords.

Tom Moorhouse
and Lucy Christopher
Cameroon Stories

Children’s authors Tom Moorhouse and Lucy Christopher talk about a book based on traditional animal stories from Cameroon and lead a storytelling session for students.

Moorhouse and Christopher were among 11 authors and an illustrator that worked on Cameroon Stories. The stories feature tricky tortoises, cunning monkeys, flies stronger than elephants, blue bottomed drills, despicable crocodiles, and animals gathering for meetings up in the sky. The book is raising money so that at least 2,000 copies can be given free to children in Cameroon who would otherwise have no books at all. The idea for the book came after one of Moorhouses’s colleagues, who runs a conservation project in the Korup region of Cameroon, asked him to write up tales collected from the region’s elders and chiefs so they could be photocopied and handed to the children.

Moorhouse is both an author of fiction and an ecologist working at the University of Oxford’s zoology department. His first novel, The River Singers, was published to wide acclaim and was followed by The Rising and Trickster. Christopher is a senior lecturer in creative writing at Bath Spa University and author of Flyaway, Stolen and The Killing Woods.


Lucy Atkins
The Writer’s Life

Novelist and critic Lucy Atkins talks to a group of sixth formers about journalism and about taking up writing as a career.

Atkins is author of two novels, The Other Child and The Missing One and has also written a number of bestselling and award-winning non-fiction books. She is a literary critic for The Sunday Times and writes features for many national titles including the Guardian, The Times, and the Telegraph.

Simon Kovesi

Professor Simon Kovesi, head of English and modern languages at Oxford Brookes University will give a talk to the class of the winner in the festival’s school prize for non-fiction essay writing.