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Who reckons President Trump is a narcissist? Revealed: The 18th Aldeburgh Literary Festival line-up. Who do you want to see?

PUBLISHED: 02:53 07 January 2019 | UPDATED: 02:53 07 January 2019

Lord Owen says 'Trumps words jar with many but they also chime with others'       Picture: AP Photo/Alex Brandon

Lord Owen says 'Trumps words jar with many but they also chime with others' Picture: AP Photo/Alex Brandon

Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Coming to Suffolk are Lord Owen, ex-Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, Posy Simmonds, Penelope Lively, Diarmaid MacCulloch and more

Penelope Lively is the only author to have won the Booker Prize  and the Carnegie Medal for childrens fiction    Picture: Archant archivePenelope Lively is the only author to have won the Booker Prize and the Carnegie Medal for childrens fiction Picture: Archant archive

A former Archbishop of Canterbury… and a one-time political big-hitter on Donald Trump’s hubris and narcissism. A Suffolk barrister who represents “the mad and the bad, the vulnerable, the heartbroken and the hopeful”… and a professor on the much-talked-about King’s “fixer”, Thomas Cromwell.

All these, and more, are part of The 18th Aldeburgh Literary Festival, which runs from Thursday, February 28 to Sunday, March 3.

The cleric is Rowan Williams – Baron Williams of Oystermouth – who was Archbishop of Canterbury from 2002 to 2012. He’ll talk about his book Christ the Heart of Creation, which argues that what we say about Jesus is key to understanding what Christian belief says about creator and creation overall.

The politician is David Owen – Lord Owen – who was Labour Foreign Secretary from 1977 to 1979 and then in the early 1980s was one of the “Gang of Four” who left Labour to launch the Social Democratic Party.

His latest book is Hubris: The road to Donald Trump – Power, Populism, Narcissism. Lord Owen analyses the mental and physical state of political leaders and looks at President Trump in the context of what’s gone before.

Dr Rowan Williams, former Archbishop of Canterbury    Picture: Max Nash/PADr Rowan Williams, former Archbishop of Canterbury Picture: Max Nash/PA

The world has seen leaders who have been depressives, alcoholics, and underpinned by religious beliefs (such as George W Bush and Tony Blair), but Lord Owen suggests Mr Trump is a unique animal.

He wrote in The Sunday Times two months ago: “Unlike almost all other presidents before him, he does not make a distinction between how he behaved as a candidate and how he behaves in office. This is in part a product of his narcissism, in that he sees himself as different, but it is also because he senses the depth of the public disillusionment with past presidents’ failures to live up to promises.

“Trump has systematically set out to fulfil the policy commitments he espoused as a candidate, and he continues to use much the same language – to the press and his public and, notoriously, on Twitter…

“Trump’s words jar with many but they also chime with others. He has no intention of losing touch with the frustrations, anger and feelings of those people in the Rust Belt states who voted him into office against the odds.”

The barrister is Sarah Langford, who lives in Suffolk and London. She’s turned her knowledge of nearly a dozen criminal cases into short stories: episodes of domestic turmoil, burglary, sexual indiscretion, children caught up in the legal system, and more.

Sarah also looks at how she feels as she’s representing the defendant in the dock.

The historian: Former Stowmarket Grammar School pupil Diarmaid MacCulloch (officially a “Sir”), who is Professor of the History of the Church at the University of Oxford.

His biography Thomas Cromwell: A Life tops 700 pages and tells the story of Cardinal Wolsey’s protégé who became Henry VIII’s fixer-in-chief and was at the heart of the dissolution of the monasteries and the religious split with Rome.

The “more” includes octogenarian Penelope Lively. She’s the only author to have won the Booker Prize (Moon Tiger) and the Carnegie Medal for children’s fiction (The Ghost of Thomas Kempe).

An enthusiast of horticulture, her latest work is Life in the Garden: partly a memoir of her own experiences and also a look at how gardens have featured in writing.

Also coming to the seaside is Posy Simmonds, who created the Tamara Drewe cartoon-strip that ran in The Guardian for nearly 15 months from 2005. It became a book; and in 2010 led to a film starring Gemma Arterton.

Two novelists with short distances to travel are Georgina Harding and Melissa Harrison. The former lives on a farm in the Stour Valley and her books include The Spy Game, Painter of Silence (which was shortlisted for the Orange Prize for Fiction) and Land of the Living (whose troubled main character comes home from war to settle on a Norfolk farm).

Melissa Harrison, who swapped south London for Suffolk, is the author of At Hawthorn Time (shortlisted for Costa Novel Award and longlisted for Bailey’s Women’s Prize).

Her latest, All Among the Barley, is set in 1933, on a Suffolk farm at harvest: bucolic, but with the shadows of crop failure, sickness and the like never far away.

Two famous adopted sons of Suffolk will also be there: BBC Radio 4 Today programme presenter Nick Robinson will be talking to Lord Owen, while ex-BBC broadcaster Bill Turnbull interviews Sarah Langford.

The line-up

Tim Birkhead, Michael Brooke, Georgina Harding, Melissa Harrison, Henry Hitchings, Lucy Hughes-Hallett, Julian Jackson, Sarah Langford, Penelope Lively, Katia Lysy, Diarmaid MacCulloch, David Owen, Sue Prideaux, Martin Rees, Matt Ridley, Miranda Seymour, Posy Simmonds, Isabella Tree, Frances Welch, Rowan Williams, Adam Zamoyski

How do I go?

Apply for tickets on a booking form, to be returned to The Aldeburgh Bookshop (which runs the festival) in person or by post. General inquiries: 01728 452389 and johnandmary@aldeburghbookshop.co.uk

The Aldeburgh Bookshop, 42 High Street, Aldeburgh, IP15 5AB

All events take place at The Jubilee Hall, Aldeburgh

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