2021 Programme

Thursday 16th September at 8.00pm: Patrick Hayes

“Philip Roth in retrospect" in the Church of St Mary Magdalene, Woodstock.

Philip Roth, who died in 2018, towered over American letters in the 20th century. His blackly comic novels include “Portnoy's Complaint”, “The Human Stain”’, and "Sabbath's Theatre" which will be discussed in this talk.

Dr Hayes is a Fellow of St John's College, Oxford and an Associate Professor in the University of Oxford. He is the author of, inter alia, “Philip Roth; Fiction and Power” (2016).


Saturday 2nd October at 3.00pm: Charlie Louth

"The Contradictions of Thomas Mann" in Woodstock Town Hall.

Thomas Mann is one of the great 20th century novelists who may be said to have their feet in the 19th century, along with James, Proust, Kafka, and Woolf. This talk will look at his works from “Death in Venice” to "The Magic Mountain” to uncover the contradictions which make Mann such a compelling and relevant figure today.

Dr Louth is a Fellow of The Queen's College, and Professor of German in the University of Oxford.

Saturday 16th October at 3.00pm: John Mullan

“The Artful Dickens: the Tricks and Ploys of the great Novelist” in The Church of St Mary Magdalene, Woodstock.

Professor Mullan is a literary critic, author of many books on the novel, and Lord North Professor at University College, London. He has written widely on the novel, including the highly successful 'What Matters in Jane Austen' (the topic of a talk presented to the Woodstock Literature Society in 2016) His widely acclaimed new book on Dickens, praised as ‘the essential guide to the world of Charles Dickens’, looks at the fictional devices which makes his novels work so well.

NB: This is a change to our original published programme.

Saturday 13th November at 3.00pm: Dr William Ghosh

“V.S.Naipaul: A Life in Prose in Woodstock Town Hall.


V.S.Naipaul was a towering figure the 20th century novel. A peerless prose stylist he was also politically controversial. Starting with the Caribbean and Indian contexts of his work, this talk will explore his most important books, including "A House for Mr Biswas", "A Bend in the River" and "The Enigma of Arrival".


Dr William Ghosh is a Fellow of Jesus College and the Convenor of the Caribbean Studies network at Oxford University. He is the author of V.S.Naipaul, Caribbean Writing, and Caribbean Thought (OUP2020).


Saturday 4th December at 3.00pm: Hermione Lee “Tom Stoppard” in St Hugh's Hall, Hensington Road.

Dame Hermione Lee is a renowned literary biographer, a former Mistress of Wolfson College Oxford, and Emerita Professor of Literature at the University of Oxford. Her prize-winning biographies include those of Virginia Woolf, Edith Wharton, and Penelope Fitzgerald. Her biography of Tom Stoppard, one of our greatest playwrights, draws on several years of long conversations with Stoppard himself, and interviews with figures such as Trevor Nunn and Steven Spielberg.