2018 Programme

 Saturday 27th January at 3:00pm:  Professor Sandie Byrne on

'Saki, the Master Story-Teller' in the Woodstock Town Hall 

Saki (the pen name of H.H.Munro) the master of the short story is famed for his black humour. His work is undergoing a major revival and will be discussed along with some of his contemporaries such as John Buchan and Rudyard KiplingProfessor Sandie Byrne has written a book on Saki and contributed to a TV film. She is a Fellow of Kellogg College at the University of Oxford and the Director of Studies in English Literature at OUDCE.


 Saturday 24th February at 3:00pm: Professor Roy Foster on

Seamus Heaney in the Woodstock Town Hall

Roy Fosters reflection upon the impact and legacy of Seamus Heaney will be forthcoming from Princeton University Press in the  acclaimed Writers on Writers series in 2018.  Professor Roy Foster is Emeritus Professor of Irish History at the University of Oxford and Fellow of Hertford College.   Among his many publications is his celebrated two-volume biography of W.B.Yeats, and Vivid Faces: the Revolutionary Generation in Ireland 1880-1923.

 Wednesday 21st March at 8:00 pm:  Professor Nora Crook on

Mary Shelley's Frankenstein in the Woodstock Library


 2018 ma
rks the bi-centenary of the publication of Mary Shelleys Romantic masterpiece which queried the direction of Romanticism. The cultural impact of this work cannot be over-stated: it inspired science fiction and many films and other works of art.

Professor Nora Crook, Professor Emerita of Ruskin Anglia University, is a world-leading expert on the Shelley circle whose researches have led to the discovery of significant Shelley papers.

 Thursday 19th April at 8:00pm:  Professor Fiona Stafford on

The Memory of Trees in the Woodstock Town Hall


This talk will be based on the widely-acclaimed study of trees in European art, literature, and folklore written by Professor Stafford which formed the basis for her BBC Radio3 series in 2014.  Fiona Stafford is Fellow of Somerville College, Oxford and the editor of Wordsworth's Lyrical Ballads OUP 2013

 Thursday 17th May at 8:00pm: Dr Daniel Tyler on

The Uncommercial Traveller: Stories by Charles Dickens

in the Church of St Mary Magdalene, Woodstock

At the pinnacle of his career, at the same time that he was writing Great Expectations and Our Mutual Friend, Dickens penned a miscellaneous series of sketches that he gathered together as The Uncommercial Traveller. Less well known than his major novels, these tales are nevertheless exemplary of the humour, social criticism and lively writing for which Dickens is famous. This talk explores the blend of personal recollection, travelogue, and imaginative fiction that makes this late work by Dickens so distinctive.  Dr Tyler will also discuss the thematic links between these sketches and the great novels which were contemporaneous with them

Tyler is a Tutor and Fellow at Trinity Hall at the University of Cambridge. He is currently editing Bleak House for the Clarendon Edition of the Works of Charles Dickens. His edition of The Uncommercial Traveller has recently been published

 Wednesday 13th June at 8:00pm: Peter Kemp  on

'Cluedo to Cadavers' 

in the Church of St Mary Magdalene, Woodstock  

The detective story- famously said to have enjoyed a golden age in the 1920s and 30s-remains an enormously popular genre. What gives detective fiction its enduring appeal? When did it begin and how did it develop? What are its distinctive features and who are its chief exponents? This talk will look at the genre from its origins with Edgar Allan Poe and Conan Doyle through P.D. James and Ruth Rendell to contemporary writers

Peter Kemp is Chief Fiction Reviewer for The Sunday Times and its former Fiction Editor. He is a Visiting Fellow at Kellogg College, Oxford, and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. He has published books on Muriel Spark, H.G.Wells, and Edith Wharton and edited The Oxford Book of Literary Quotations.

 Wednesday 19th September at 8:00pm: Dr Tessa Roynon on

Marilynne Robinson in the Woodstock Library 


An introduction to the novels of this contemporary great American writer, whose novels set in the American Midwest in the middle of the 20th Century have won many prizes including the Pulitzer and Orange prizes. Dr Rowan Williams has written of her work: “Robinsons is a voice we urgently need to attend to   Dr Roynon will discuss Robinsons triptych: Gilead, Lila, and Home with a focus on the latterDr Tessa Roynon is a Teaching and Research Fellow at the Rothermere American Institute in the University of Oxford.

Please note this change to the programme

aturday 27th October at 3:00pm : Mark Bostridge on

Vera Brittain's Testament of Youth 

in the Woodstock Town Hall

November 2018 will mark the centenary of the armistice which brought peace at the end of the First World War. It therefore seems to be a timely occasion to hear an account of one of the most powerful and moving books written about that conflict: Vera Brittain's Testament of Youth (1933) which was instantly seen as speaking for the war generation. Brittain wrote her memoir as a former nurse, who lost her brother, fiance, and close friends in the conflict. Our speaker researched in the Brittain archives for many years and has written her biography. This talk echoes the talk we presented in 2014 to mark the start of the war in that both talks highlight the new roles of women at this time.

 Saturday 17th November at 3:00pm: Dr David Grylls on

Flaubert's 'Madame Bovary: the great European Novel?'

in the Woodstock Town Hall



The title of this talk says it all: this era-defining novel will be discussed as a work in translation for all readers.

Dr Grylls is a Fellow of Kellogg College, Oxford and a former Director of Studies in Literature at OUDCEHis many books and articles include Guardians and Angels: Parents and Children in Victorian Literature; The Paradox of Gissing; and The Savage Subtext of The Hound of the Baskervilles” in Sherlock Holmes in Context (2017). He reviews books for the Sunday Times.