Oxford Literary Festival

The Bodleian Libraries logo beside the logo for the Oxford Literary Festival


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Oxford Literary Festival

  Saturday 16 March – 24 March 2024

   For full information and to book tickets
 visit  oxfordliteraryfestival.org

About the Oxford Literary Festival

The Oxford Literary Festival brings together leading authors and public figures in a magnificent setting in the central university area of Oxford each year. The Bodleian Libraries is a proud cultural partner to the festival, with many talks and events taking place at our sites.

Event highlights | Festival Hub | Tours

Event highlights

The Bodleian: a VIP experience

Wednesday 20 March, 6–8pm | Weston Library & Bodleian Library

For one night only, experience the Bodleian like never before: an exclusive evening of treasures, talks and champagne, in the company of Richard Ovenden OBE, Bodley's Librarian. Enjoy a glass of fizz in Blackwell Hall at the Weston Library, see some of the Bodleian Library's rarest treasures, go inside the stunning Duke Humfrey’s Library, and take an exclusive tour of the iconic Radcliffe Camera!

Chaucer Here and Now: Marion Turner

Thursday 21 March, 10–11am | Sir Victor Blank Lecture Theatre, Weston Library

Chaucer expert Professor Marion Turner, curator of our exhibition Chaucer Here and Now, talks about a new collection of essays on Geoffrey Chaucer that uncover many facets to the life and work of the ‘father of English literature’.

The Bodley Lecture and Award of the Bodley Medal: Ali Smith interviewed by Richard Ovenden

Thursday 21 March, 6–7pm | Sheldonian Theatre

Author, playwright, academic and journalist Ali Smith talks about her life and work in conversation with Bodley’s Librarian Richard Ovenden and receives the Bodley Medal, the Bodleian Libraries' highest honour, for her outstanding contribution to literature.

A Drink with a View: Tour of Chaucer Here and Now and Write, Cut, Rewrite

Friday 22 March, 5.30–8.30pm | Weston Library

Enjoy an evening of learning and discovery with a very special tour of some of the Bodleian’s most anticipated exhibitions in the Weston Library: Chaucer Here and Now and Write, Cut, Rewrite. Our expert curators will give you an exclusive walkthrough of both shows, discussing the content, artwork and collection material, and revealing some behind-the-scenes insights into their curatorial process. You'll then enjoy a trip to our rooftop terrace, where you’ll see Oxford’s twinkling skyline at dusk – an unforgettable experience!

Typesetting and Printing on the Hand-press

Schola Musicae, Bodleian Old Library

Learn to set metal type and print on hand-operated presses in the letterpress workshop in the Bodleian Old Library, and discover more about the tools, materials and techniques that drove the ‘printing revolution’ in Europe from the 15th century.

Festival Hub

The Weston Library’s Blackwell Hall is the festival hub for this year’s Oxford Literary Festival. Find us on Broad Street, opposite the Sheldonian Theatre.

It will house the festival box office, a café and toilets, seating areas and children’s play area, and will host free talks and gallery tours.

We will be running extended opening hours during the festival. Blackwell Hall, the café and our exhibitions will be open:

Weekdays and Saturdays: 9am – 6pm
Sundays: 9am – 4pm

After these times, access will be only for scheduled talks.

Free talks

Emma Smith: Shakespeare's First Folio – Show and Tell
Monday 18 March, 1.30pm | Blackwell Hall, Weston Library

Author and professor of Shakespeare studies Emma Smith showcases the copy of Shakespeare’s First Folio held in the Bodleian archives. No ticket required – just drop in!

Show and Tell with Nichole Fazio: The Julia Margaret Cameron Collection
Saturday 23 March 2024, 1pm | Horton Room, Weston Library

Victorian photographer Julia Margaret Cameron is renowned for her portraiture, and her explorations of the poetic possibilities of photography. Join Nichole J Fazio, author of Julia Margaret Cameron: The Poetry of Photography, for an informal talk about the artist as she explores a selection of Julia Margaret Cameron’s photographs brought up from the Bodleian collections.

Yuval Zommer: The Wild
Saturday 23 March 2024, 1pm | Blackwell Hall, Weston Library

Join children’s author and illustrator Yuval Zommer for an interactive and creative journey through his latest book The Wild, a modern fable with a hopeful and powerful message. Age 4+. No booking required, just drop in.

Free exhibition tours
Chaucer Here and Now exhibition tours are available on Wednesdays and Saturdays from 2pm – 2.45pm and are open to all. These free gallery tours are led by our dedicated volunteer team. Book is required and places are limited. Available dates: Saturday 16 March, Wednesday 20 March and Saturday 23 March

Maps Show and Tell
Discover treasures from the Bodleian’s map collection with our experts. Booking required. Takes place from 11.10am – 11.50am on Monday 18 March, Tuesday 19 March, Wednesday 20 March, Thursday 21 March, Friday 22 March.

Tapestry Talks
Free talks about the Sheldon Tapestry Map, 1–1.30pm on Saturday 16 March and then daily from Monday 18 March to Saturday 23 March. No need to book, just drop in.

Meet the Conservation Team
Thursday 21 March, 12.30pm – 2pm | Blackwell Hall

Join the Bodleian’s conservation team to find out more about their work caring for our fantastic collections. No need to book, just drop in.

Throughout the festival

Ten-minute Book Club
Monday 18 March – Sunday 24 March, 1.40pm | Space for Reading, Blackwell Hall

Take a break from your day and join LitHits to sample a ten-minute book club. LitHits at Oxford University’s Faculty of English is a library of short-form literature starting from the question: how long do you have? If you’ve ever wondered about tackling Ulysses, or Moby Dick, or want to discover the short stories of Kate Chopin and the poetry of Claude McKay, come for a quick hit of literature and a chat with the LitHits team. All you need is 10 minutes! No preparation required – just turn up, listen and share your thoughts if you wish.  

Print a keepsake
Print a memento of the Oxford Literary Festival. Come along to Blackwell Hall on Saturday 16 March, Sunday 17 March, Wednesday 20 March, Friday 22 March and Sunday 24 March, from 1 – 3pm.

Creative activities
Relax with our creative activities, perfect for a short break.

Book exchange
Dare you have a blind date with a book?  Bring a book you recommend, wrap it up and write a brief description; then exchange it for one that intrigues you.

Festival box office

The festival box office will be situated opposite you as you enter Blackwell Hall. Note: a booking fee of £2 will be added to all sales at the festival onsite box. You can also purchase tickets online or by telephone on 0333 666 3366 right up until the event start time.

Opening hours
Monday–Tuesday: 11am–12pm and 1pm–5pm
Wednesday–Saturday: 9.30am–12pm and 1pm–5pm
Sunday: 9.30am–12pm and 1pm–4pm

Café, toilets and shop

The Weston Library café serves a delicious selection of hot and cold drinks, freshly-made soups, salads, sandwiches, hot dishes, cakes and pastries. Toilets are located next to the café.

Oxford Literary Festival ticket holders can get 10% off in-store at the Bodleian Libraries gift shops – show your ticket to claim your discount. (Exclusions apply, not to be used in conjunction with any other offers. Ask in-store for details.)


Old School tours

Alongside our normal daytime tours, the Bodleian Libraries have arranged special out-of-hours tours exclusively for OLF guests to see inside the oldest part of the Bodleian Library during the festival week. The 30-minute guided tour with a knowledgeable Bodleian guide will take you inside the medieval and atmospheric Duke Humfrey’s Library, the Bodleian's oldest reading room.

Tours take place on:

You can book these tours via the OLF website. Daytime tours can be booked via the Bodleian website.

Children’s Stories: A family walking tour

As we explore the winding streets of the city of dreaming spires, you will be introduced to tales of fun and of fantasy, stories of magic and of mayhem, and the unexpected and extraordinary journeys of children just like you. Tours take place at 1pm on Sunday 17 March and Sunday 24 March.

Literary Oxford walking tour

Oxford has been described as ‘a city steeped in storytelling’, its ‘dreaming spires’ home to countless writers over the years. The Literary Oxford walking tour explores this city of books, uncovering authors both well-known and not so well-known. Tours take place at 1pm on Saturday 16 March, Tuesday 19 March, Thursday 21 March and Saturday 23 March, and start on the Weston Library steps.


Various locations. Please visit the Oxford Literary Festival website for more information about individual events.


 For full information and to book tickets visit oxfordliteraryfestival.org

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