Charleston Festival Previous Years


In 2018, the Charleston Festival was home to lively conversation. In a period of exceptional political and social volatility, the Festival featured heated agenda-setting debates which mirrored the impassioned discussions that took place at Charleston in the past. 

Perpetuating Charleston’s commitment to experimentation, the Festival included Ali Smith’s commission in response to Duncan Grant and Vanessa Bell’s collaborative project – the Famous Women Dinner Service and  The Man Booker Prize 50th anniversary debate.  Jeanette Winterson’s paid personal tribute to Virginia Woolf’s Orlando in the novel’s 90th year.

Sir David Attenborough was awarded the 2018 Charleston-EFG John Maynard Keynes Prize, an annually award presented to an individual of exceptional talents across many disciplines.


The Charleston Festival brought together a remarkable cast of writers, thinkers, artists and performers to interrogate history, politics, science, literature and society.

Many thanks to 2017’s speakers who included : Nick Clegg, Richard Ford, David Grossman, Harriet Harman, Barry Humphries, David Olusoga, Ann Patchett, Vanessa Redgrave, Tamara Rojo, Philippe Sands, Elizabeth Strout and Colm Tóibín amongst others.

Professor Stephen Hawking was the recipient of the Charleston-EFG John Maynard Keynes Prize, which was accepted on his behalf by his daughter Lucy Hawking, and friend, Professor Kip Thorne.


Barry Humphries & Juliet Nicolson at the 2017 Charleston Festival

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The 2016 speakers included Jeanette Winterson, Ian McEwan, Joan Bakewell, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, Graham Swift, Edmund de Waal, Rose Tremain, Eileen Atkins, Michael Morpurgo and Helen Dunmore.


2016 Charleston Festival Audience

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The 2015 speakers included Peter Carey, Ali Smith, Tom Stoppard, Shami Chakrabarti, Monty Don, Antonia Fraser, Anita Anand, Helena Kennedy, Amartya Sen and Hans Urich Obrist


the 25th Anniversary of the Charleston Festival

The 2014 speakers included Carol Ann Duffy, Karl Ove Knausgaard, Alan Bennett, Penelope Lively, Paul Muldoon, Grayson Perry, Jane Gardam, Richard Dawkins and Sarah Raven.




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