Planning for this year’s Graham Greene International Festival, which takes place in Berkhamsted from 21 to 24 September, is now well-advanced. The aim, as ever, will be to do justice to the wide sweep of Greene’s work and life, and the continued high level of interest in him from readers, writers and academics. Novelist Louise Doughty, whose writing has been compared to Greene’s, will be interviewed about her career and about Greene. Tim Hetherington will reflect on his task in designing front covers for the Vintage paperback editions of Greene’s work. We will be updated on the researches of Professors Kevin Ruane and Michael Meeuwis on Greene in, respectively, Vietnam and the Congo. Neil Sinyard will give festival-goers another witty and erudite talk on an aspect of Greene and film, and Confidential Agent (1945) will be one of the Greene films to be shown. There is much more to come, and the GGBT website will give further details in the weeks ahead. The full programme will be announced early in May, when tickets will become available for events. For those coming to the Festival from elsewhere in the UK or the world, book your accommodation in Berkhamsted now.
Mike Hill (Festival Director)
LIGHTS ON GREENE
Read David Guest’s views of the 2016 Festival at
GRAHAM GREENE INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL 2017
The Nineteenth Graham Greene International Festival will take place Thursday 21 September to Sunday 24 September 2017.
Please put those dates in your diary. Make sure you check regularly on this website page as it will include up to date ‘bulletins’ about the forthcoming programme as it evolves including news and profiles on the speakers and information about such matters as accommodation.
Rightfully, there has been much praise of this year’s festival and this was reflected in a very healthy attendance spread equally over the four days of the event. We have many people to thank for their efforts, not least our festival director Michael Hill, seen here with his wife Jean at the farewell lunch on the Sunday morning.
Thank you Mike for a great festival!
Every year, on or near the date of Graham Greene’s birth, a little pocket of Greeneland appears in the writer’s native Berkhamsted. The tidy and well-heeled town with its elegant high street and eminent school becomes a temporary home to what the Oxford Living Dictionary defines as “The seedy, politically unstable and dangerous world in the novels of Graham Greene.” Alienation and adultery, bullying and betrayal, Communism and Catholicism, double-dealing and despair, espionage and existential angst – one needs no more letters of the alphabet to evoke the unique fictional world created by this astonishingly well-read and well-travelled writer, whose works are as popular now as when they first began to appear in the early decades of the 20th century.
In the year that saw Graham Greene’s school celebrate the 475th anniversary of its foundation, the Graham Greene International Festival was staged in Berkhamsted for the 18th time. Under the able direction of Mike Hill – co-author with Jon Wise of The Works of Graham Greene: A Reader’s Bibliography and Guide – the 2016 programme was comprehensive, varied and wide-ranging. The traditional screening of a Graham Greene film (in this case, The Third Man) was complemented by a viewing of two of Greene’s short stories that had been dramatized for television by Thames TV in the 1970s. Scholarly analyses of Greene’s work were supplemented by ‘book club’ discussion groups, in which sixth-formers from Berkhamsted School participated with enthusiasm and an impressive working knowledge of the works under scrutiny. Nick Warburton, who recently adapted Greene’s novels The Honorary Consul and The Power and the Glory for BBC Radio Four, reflected on the challenges of the process of reworking fiction for the air waves, while Lord Roy Hattersley gave a sparkling and provocative talk on Catholic writers in Britain, with special reference to Graham Greene. Greene’s daughter Caroline Bourget and his nephew Nick Dennys shared their personal recollections of the great writer, and Prof. Neil Sinyard concluded the festival with his now traditional analysis of Greene’s work for the big screen, peppering it as ever with memorable insights and hilarious anecdotes.
Experts and enthusiasts, readers and re-readers enjoyed the high quality of the festival programme as much as the discussions it inspired. The only shadow cast over the event (which took place in brilliant autumn sunshine throughout) was the serious illness of David Pearce, former Housemaster of Berkhamsted School, joint founder of the Graham Greene Birthplace Trust, former Director of the Graham Greene International Festival, and a fine poet in his own right. At the traditional birthday toast to Graham Greene, glasses were raised to David too, and our thoughts remain with him and his family.
Jonathan Steffen is a poet, songwriter, essayist, short story writer and literary translator. His work has appeared in numerous anthologies and literary magazines, including Poem for the Day 1, The Book of Love & Loss, The Spectator, the London Magazine, Acumen and Poetry Salzburg. An English graduate of Cambridge University, Jonathan is a member of King’s College and St. John’s College. He lives and works in Cambridge, where he operates an editorial agency. More information: www.jonathansteffen.com.