Books and Beer

I am going to be one of the guests at this great event at The Blue Anchor Pub in Hammersmith, London on 13 June – along with some very interesting speakers:

“History by the River is new a monthly panel event with a social buzz for lovers of books, history and good beer. It’s a chance to get together with fellow readers and authors to hear about the best new historical writing, then discuss it all over a drink afterwards.”

If you are interested in Historical Fiction then there is no more convivial a place to be!

Literary Festival Goodness

One of the delights of publishing a novel is that you get invited to literary festivals.  I have had some delightful experiences so far: chairing a discussion about Shakespeare’s global reach between Edward Wilson-Lee (Shakespeare in Swahililand ) and Gabriel Josipovici (Hamlet Fold on Fold) at the Stratford-on-Avon literary festival, and speaking with Louis De Bernieres at the inaugural Buckingham Literary Festival about his new novel and his poetry.

I have also been doing some fascinating and fun solo discussions about Shakespeare and how he became the greatest master of the English language there has ever been in places as far flung as Henley, St Boswells in the Scottish Borders and at The School of Life in London

There is yet more to come!

Wednesday 7 September 2016 I am at The Idler Academy giving a masterclass on the power of language and how language works to persuade. From Cicero to Shakespeare to Obama and on to Trump – the secrets of classical rhetoric revealed.

Monday 26 September 2016 I am back in Henley, this time talking about fictional takes on great literary figures with the incomparable Bob Marshall-Andrews

Friday 30 September 2016 I am in Cranbrook at their inaugural literature festival. A double-header – I shall speaking with my father about the delights and difficulties of having a real person as your leading character.

Friday 14 October 2016 I shall be at the Ilkley Literary Festival talking about how Shakespeare became Shakespeare

Wednesday 19 October 2016 I shall be in Rochdale talking about Shakespeare and the scandalous lives of Elizabethan Playwrights

Thursday 3 November 2016 I am back at the School of Life to talk about the power of language and to show you how you can draw on the same lessons that Shakespeare drew on to make your words crackle with persuasive power.   The price of this workshop includes a copy of The Spy of Venice – bargain!

It’s going to be a wonderful autumn.

Literary Hijinks at Port Eliot

I am off to the Port Eliot festival tomorrow. My first ever festival, embarrassing to admit at my age, but true – it promises to be a great one.

I shall be helping host the Spelling Bee at the Bowling Green on Friday at 7pm and then on Sunday I shall be offering colour-commentary at the Rubbish Olympics at the Black Cow Saloon around 2pm.

Who knew that writing a novel would end up involving so many entertaining trips around the country and encounters with so many fascinating people? I have exchanged poetry tips with Louis de Bernieres, scene writing tips with David Edgar, and shortly I shall be sharing fashion tips with the world!

I only pray that there is no rain… although I am sure I shall be safe in my yurt.

Summer Reading – an entirely selfish post

One of the great pleasures of the summer holiday is the opportunity to read indulgently. The sun glinting off the pool, cold drinks with intermittent races of condensation along the side of the glass and a massive book with its pages slightly wrinkling in the humidity, this is a recipe for happiness.

The Spy of Venice: A William Shakespeare novelMay I recommend you take my debut novel, The Spy of Venice with you? I think it’s ideal summer reading and I am not alone:

“The Spy of Venice is a playful and inventive debut. The dialogue is wonderful, and Will’s banter with his fellow actors sparkles.” Antonia Senior, The Times

“Entertaining and ebullient . . . The author knows his Shakespeare backwards (the Venice setting has been carefully chosen), rejoices in its wordplay, loves his allusions and has a good time with his characters. So did I.” Elizabeth Buchan, Daily Mail

“A Venetian romp” Telegraph

Of course, you will race through it because its a real page-turner, particularly as the story builds, and so will need a broader reading list. Here are a few things that I have read recently and enjoyed. I set it out here as a kind of payment, my contribution, in the hope that others might pass on their own suggestions in reply. There are so many books out there that finding the good ones can be a task in itself. How much easier to have another recommend it to you. With the added benefit that then you can discuss the book afterwards. Discussion that does not merely add to the pleasure of reading but multiplies it.

In no particular order (along with a three word summation):

The Watchmaker of Filigree Street, Natasha Pulley; (Fantasy literary thriller)
London Falling, Paul Cornell; (Occult crime thriller)
The Invisible Library, Genevieve Cogman; (Fantasy literary thriller)
Mr Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore, Robin Sloan; (Fantasy literary thriller)
The Rivers of London, Ben Aaronovitch; (Occult crime thriller)
To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee; (Should’ve read before)
The House of Silk, Anthony Horowitz; (Sherlock Holmes reboot)
Half a King, Joe Abercrombie; (Young Adult Fantasy)
Ready Player One, Ernest Cline; (Sci-fi nostalgia thriller)
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay; (Literary history romance)

The Antidote: Happiness for people who can’t stand positive thinking; (Stoicism made simple)
The English and their History: The First Thirteen Centuries, Robert Tombs; (Myths become realities)
Will in the World: How Shakespeare became Shakespeare; Stephen Greenblatt; (Plays reveal all)
The Rule of Law, Tom Bingham; (Why law matters)

Henley Standard Review

What a lovely review by Amy Nicholas of my talk on Shakespeare and his Women at the Kenton Theatre, Henley on Wednesday 18th May.

Some excerpts:

‘Brandreth was a delight. He has an impressive stage presence, so confident and captivating…

He has the sort of voice that makes it seem as if Shakespeare was written for him to recite. Having heard him read Sonnet 2 (“When forty winters shall beseige thy brow…”) I refuse to ever hear it again unless it’s in his melodic tones.

Brandreth was incredibly witty, injecting humour into his educational evening…

I could write so much about the ridiculous intelligence of Brandreth’s speech…’


BBC Radio 3: The Verb Live at the RSC

Tonight I’m off to Stratford-upon-Avon for The Verb Live at the RSC as part of Radio 3’s ‘Sounds of Shakespeare’ weekend celebrating the 400th anniversary of the birth of the Bard. Here’s the low down:

“Poet Ian McMillan hosts late night entertainment with a roundtable of writers celebrating Shakespeare’s linguistic fireworks. Benet Brandreth, a rhetoric coach, has written a new novel, The Spy of Venice, imagining Shakespeare’s lost years and Nell Lyshon imagines a fictional meeting with Spanish literary titan Cervantes who died on the same day in 1616. Plus actor Ben Crystal and poet Wendy Cope with her new poems, commissioned by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust.”

When: Friday 22nd April 2016, 9:45pm-10:45pm
Where: Pop-up studio, The Other Place Royer, Stratford-upon-Avon
How: Book your FREE tickets here or listen here from 10pm