The Stratford Literary Festival celebrates its 12th year in 2019 with a superb line-up of speakers and events. The eight-day spring festival, which launches on 28 April, will welcome some of the most celebrated literary fiction authors.

Leading the way will be names including former ballet dancer and Strictly judge Dame Darcey Bussell, Bake Off judge Prue Leith, actress Juliet Stephenson and screenwriter Andrew Davies, whose latest hit Les Misérables has been on our screens recently. Current affairs will be covered by Newsnight anchor Emily Maitlis talking about life behind the headlines, and Radio 4’s Paddy O’Connell who will be celebrating radio with Charlie Connelly and newsreader, Corrie Corfield.

There’s music with Classic FM’s John Suchet, pianist Lucy Parham and leading female conductor, Jane Glover. Real Marigold Hotel’s Rosemary Shrager will be sharing her thoughts on food and globetrotting, and leading medics Henry March, Richard Shepherd and Angela Gallop will be sharing their expertise. Front-line doctor Dr David Nott will be talking about his experiences in delivering trauma surgery in some of the world’s worst war zones, and war photographer Lalage Snow will marvel at the gardens that blossom in the most treacherous parts of the world.

Veteran comedy writer Barry Cryer will reminisce about his friendship with Stratford writer, JB Priestley, and comedy professional Maggie Irving will show the audience how to make writing amusing, with Guardian cartoonist Harry Venning unlocking everyone’s inner cartoonist.

The Festival will also be showcasing award-winning writers including Ali Smith, John Lanchester, Tessa Hadley and Booker-prize winner Ben Okri, and welcoming back classicist Natalie Haynes and best-selling novelist, Patrick Gale. There are also opportunities for audiences to meet some of the most exciting debuts of 2019.

Speakers on mental health include crime writer Nicci French discussing the impact of dementia, and writers Ella Risbridger and Laura Freeman share the moments and meals that saved them. Historians headlining the Festival will be Alison Weir, Damien Lewis and Tracy Borman, and best-selling crime writers include Mark Billingham and Elly Griffiths.

Children can enjoy the multi-million bestselling writers Jacqueline Wilson and Francesca Simon and illustrators Lydia Monks and Nick Sharratt, plus stage shows of the much loved books The Rainbow Fish and Aliens Love Underpants. Children’s events launch on 28 April with a drop-in craft session to help build a giant Elmer, to celebrate the famous patchwork elephant’s 30th anniversary, and pre-schoolers can help create a rainbow every weekday morning with craft and story-telling. Children’s Day this year rounds off the Festival on 5 May.

Full details can be found at stratlitfest.co.uk and for tickets see ticketsource.co.uk/stratford-literary-festival