Earl Spencer Interview: Althorp festival to ‘grow’

Earl Spencer
Earl Spencer

Earl Spencer said he would like to build the annual Althorp Literary Festival into an eight-day event, including a music concert and wants to encourage more young people to attend.

Speaking to the Chronicle & Echo ahead of the 11th literary festival, being held from June 12–14, the Earl said ticket sales were faster than ever this year, with talks by well-known figures such as Boris Johnson and Jeremy Paxman already sold out.

The Earl said he wanted to maintain the event’s ‘intimate’ ethos, but had plans to gradually increase the number of days it was held on.

He said: “We are hoping to sell possibly 8,000 tickets this year and the event is growing. But we don’t want to become as big as the Hay on Wye Literary Festival, we want to keep the intimacy. We pride ourselves on making sure the authors and the guests are all well looked after. We’ve always had the ethos of treating everyone with respect.”

The Earl said authors he would love to see appear at the festival included Stephen Fry, Alan Titchmarsh and Jilly Cooper.

He said he was also hoping to attract younger people in future years by having more comedians and possibly have a concert on one night of the festival.

The Earl said: “Our average audience is 40 years old and above, but we do think it would be great to widen the appeal to 20 year olds.

“Sometimes I wonder if the ‘literary’ in the title of the festival puts people off. But it is not an event just for intellectuals where you will get lectured at, it is a place where people can share an enjoyment of a subject.

“There is nothing quite like this in Northamptonshire. Some people have said to me they never thought they would see an event like this in the county.”

As well as hosting the festival, the Earl will also be one of the author’s giving a talk about his new book, Killers of the King: The Men Who Dared to Execute Charles I, which tells the story of the men who signed the death warrant of King Charles I.

Earl Spencer’s book will be available to buy in September and he is planning to host a fund-raising talk about the book for The Naseby Battlefield Trust on Friday, September 12 with a drinks reception and talk on Friday, November 28 to help raise funds for the Cure Parkinson’s Trust.