The Yvonne Arnaud Theatre is pleased to announce that it will host this year’s Guildford Book Festival from Sunday 4 to Saturday 10 October. Now in its 31st year, Guildford Book Festival is recognised as the premier literary event in the South East, and brings leading writers to the town to inspire, inform and entertain.


Jane Beaton, Festival Co-Director, said:  ‘We are delighted to be going ahead with this year’s festival and know this wouldn’t have been possible without the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre.  We are very grateful to Joanna Read and her team for all their help.  We have a great line-up of writers and top name stars from the worlds of entertainment and we look forward to welcoming them to Guildford in October.’   


Fellow director Alex Andrews said, ‘It’s been a challenging year but we have been encouraged by the support we have received throughout the town, and from the publishers and writers themselves.  We are excited that the Festival is happening, and hope that as many people as possible will come out and join us.’


The festival opens on Sunday 4 October with hugely popular TV producer and presenter of Pointless and House of Games, Richard Osman, discussing his lifelong love of crime fiction and his debut novel The Thursday Murder Club.  Closing the festival this year is writer and broadcaster Gyles Brandreth, who will present an entertaining evening of theatrical anecdotes taken from his new anthology.


During the week Countdown’s wordsmith, Susie Dent, will discuss her latest book, Word Perfect, in which the reader discovers the origins of a single word or phrase for every day of the year. Historian Charles Spencer, recounts the tragic tale of the sinking of the White Ship, one of the greatest maritime disasters in English history. Returning to the Festival for the fifth consecutive year Alison Weir will discuss the subject of her latest Six Tudor Queens series, Kathryn Howard.  Ever popular authors Adele Parks and Sabine Durrant talk about their latest books, both psychological thrillers, and two other Sunday Times Top 10 bestselling authors, S J Parris (aka Stephanie Merritt) and Charlotte Philby, (granddaughter of Kim Philby, Britain’s most famous communist double-agent) will be at the Festival to discuss their latest gripping novels.


Investigative journalist Catherine Belton will delve deep into the workings of Putin’s Kremlin when talking about her chilling exposé of the KGB’s renaissance, Putin’s People; and broadcaster James Naughtie will offer his own unique insights into what it means to be American in an ever-changing world when discussing his latest book, On the Road – American Adventures from Nixon to Trump.  Leading environmentalist, Jonathon Porritt, will launch a passionate, but optimistic, call for urgent change as he discusses the climate emergency and his latest book, Hope in Hell.


Motorsport fans can look forward to events with top sports journalists Maurice Hamilton and Richard Williams, as they discuss the lives of motorsport legends Niki Lauda and Richard Seaman, and former racing driver and James Bond stunt man Ben Collins, who will present a history of Britain’s most iconic car, the Aston Martin.


Young space enthusiasts can get set for a cosmic trip of a lifetime with space scientist, and Guildford resident, Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock’s Grand Tour of the Solar System.


For food-lovers, Masterchef 2019 champion Irini Tzortoglou will introduce her favourite Greek family recipes from her book Under the Olive Tree: Recipes from my Greek Kitchen. Classical music-lovers will enjoy hearing Kadiatu Kanneh-Mason, mother of Royal wedding cellist, Sheku, and his talented siblings, discuss her life story of raising a musical family against the odds, with a short recital by daughter, Konya Kanneh-Mason.  And for those with green fingers, Sue Stuart-Smith will explore the many ways that gardening can help transform lives.


Further highlights of the festival will include: Ariana Neumann who tells her extraordinary and deeply-moving story of her father’s escape from Nazi-occupied Prague; Julie Summers in conversation with Katherine Higgins as they discuss Dressed for War: The Story of Audrey Withers, Vogue Editor Extraordinaire, and Olivia Williams will tell more about The Secret Life of the Savoy – and the D’Oyly Carte Family.


The festival may look a little different this year, as social distancing measures will be in place throughout the theatre.  Full details of the changes can be found on the theatre’s website.


Priority booking for Friends of the Festival opens on Wednesday 2 September, and general booking is from Friday 4 September at


Sponsors for 2020 are Cressive DX, Green Team Interiors, Saxton Bampfylde, Mandira’s Kitchen, Martin Grant Homes, Guildford Borough Council and Guildford Arts.


Some events are taking place in other venues, and there will also be a number of virtual events, full details can be found at