Box office record broken as hundreds book for Thame Arts and Literature Festival

Julie Summers
Julie Summers

The Thame Arts and Literature Festival (TAL) celebrating its ninth year has broken its own box office record, taking 800 online bookings in its first day.

Online tickets to see historian and TV presenter Lucy Worsley, who will be giving a glimpse into the acrimonious divorce of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon through the eyes of their daughter, Lady Mary, sold out by the end of the day on August 1.

Due to this huge demand to see the author there will be a few tickets available from the Town Hall box office on sale from September 1. Seats for the ever-popular Rumsey’s Tea Concert sold out in just 20 minutes of being released online.

Yvonne Maxwell, TAL director said: “We were overwhelmed at the reaction to this year’s programme. To take over 800 bookings on the first day is nothing short of amazing. We are particularly delighted that, having worked to pull it together for over 8 months, the programme has been so well received; it seems that Thame is as excited as we are.

“Every year, we have a broad range of subjects and fascinating speakers and we would encourage everyone to try the Festival Challenge: go to one thing you know nothing about! You never know, it might just blow your mind.”

Around 3,500 people are expected to attend over 38 events between October 18-21, which will include history, politics, fiction, a playwriting workshop, poetry, memoir, art and music, held at venues across the town.

Other highlights include:

‘The Last British Dambuster’ George ‘Johnny’ Johnson MBE DFM in conversation with leading Bomber Command historian Dr Robert Owen on his role in one of World War II’s most famous missions - ‘Operation Chastise’.

The ‘Thame Remembers’ Project, locating the graves of every man listed on the Thame War Memorial.

Oxford author Julie Summers unearths the uninvited guests of our famous historic houses during the Second World War and poet Wendy Cope with her new collection, Anecdotal Evidence.

Controversial QC Geoffrey Robertson shares his colourful court room life; in the centenary year of women’s suffrage Oxford author Jane Robinson - Hearts and Minds: The Untold Story of the Great Pilgrimage and How Women won the Vote delivers the Bookshop Founder’s Lecture discussing how that recognition was achieved.

International best-selling crime writer Sophie Hannah on writing Hercule Poirot’s next chapter in The Mystery of The Three Quarters, while Hugh Fraser, who played Captain Hastings in ITV’s Agatha Christie’s Poirot, shares many anecdotes and talks about the fourth instalment of his assassin Rina Walker thriller series, Stealth.

The Guardian’s parliamentary sketch writer, John Crace – I, Maybot: The Rise and Fall looks at the prime minister’s turbulent first year in power.

Opera lovers are invited to pack a picnic supper and enjoy a spectacular ‘Glyndebarn’ gala evening with a complementary glass of Prosecco listening to the wonderful Music of Morse sung by Oxford’s sublime Opera Anywhere company.

Book online at and tickets can also be purchased from September 1 at the Town Hall.

For the full programme visit