Literature Festival at Sea 2024

Find yourself absorbed in a true literary haven, surrounded by fellow book lovers on board the 2024 Literature Festival at Sea. This event, curated by the programming team of The Times and The Sunday Times Cheltenham Literature Festival, sees authors, poets, journalists, critics, and historians unite, bringing the spirit of the Festival to your voyage.

13 - 20 November 2024, Queen Mary 2

Find yourself in literary heaven, surrounded by authors, poets, journalists, historians, and fellow book lovers, on this seven night sailing, dedicated to the power of the pen.

Curated by the programming team of Cheltenham Festivals, this unique voyage celebrates the written word in its many forms.

Enjoy a daily dose of news from Times journalists. Lose yourself in thought provoking conversation at Q&A sessions. Meet your favourite writers at intimate book signings. Listen as literary greats dissect everything from art and film to history and politics. You could fill every day on board with all kinds of literature based activities and experiences. And that’s on top of exploring the range of signature Cunard experiences you can already look forward to when you holiday with us.

Discover a line up that includes acclaimed crime writer Mark Billingham, Scottish novelist Chris Brookmyre and his co writer and wife, Marisa Haetzman (both pictured), former US ambassador to the UK Matthew Barzun, and Sunday Times journalist Decca Aitkenhead , with more authors to be announced. The Literature Festival at Sea is a must for book lovers and free thinkers everywhere.

In partnership with Cheltenham Literature Festival

Cunard has been in partnership with The Times and Sunday Times Cheltenham Literature Festival since 2018, developing the Literature Festival at Sea on board Queen Mary 2’s Transatlantic Crossing.

On land, we are delighted to support a series of special Author events at the world’s oldest literary festival that takes place in October every year, alongside the VIP Lounge in partnership with Cunard.

Special guests on board

Ruth Jones MBE

After co-writing and co-starring in Gavin and Stacey, Ruth Jones turned to novels with great success. She has published three Sunday Times bestsellers including her latest, Love Untold.

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Decca Aitkenhead

Chief interviewer for The Sunday Times, writer and broadcaster.

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Mike Gayle

Award-winning novelist and journalist with a number of book titles including Sunday Times top ten bestseller My Legendary Girlfriend.

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Tracy Borman

Historian and author of a number of highly acclaimed books including Crown & Sceptre, Henry VIII and the Men Who Made Him.

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Matthew Barzun

American businessman, diplomat and political fundraiser who served as the United States Ambassador to the United Kingdom.

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Mark Billingham

Acclaimed crime writer, whose debut novel, Sleepyhead, was listed in The Sunday Times’ 100 books to shape the decade.

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Chris Brookmyre

Scottish novelist, best known for Quite Ugly One Morning and collaborated with his wife, Marisa Haetzman, to produce a number of historical crime novels.

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Patrick Gale

British novelist with seventeen novels including Take Nothing With You (2018), which was his fourth Sunday Times bestseller.

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Denise Mina

Award-winning Scottish crime writer and playwright.

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Robin Niblett

British specialist in international relations and was director and chief executive of Chatham House for 15 years, 2007 - 2022.

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Marisa Haetzman

Anesthetist with a master's degree in the History of Medicine. She has co written The Way of All Flesh, the first in a series of historical novels, with her husband Chris Brookmyre under the pseudonym Ambrose Parry.

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Ayesha Hazarika

Scottish broadcaster, journalist and political commentator, and former political adviser to senior Labour Party politicians.

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Marina Hyde

Columnist for The Guardian and recipient of multiple awards, including Columnist of the Year at the British Journalism Awards for three years running.

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Clare Chambers

Award winning British novelist whose titles include Learning to Swim, In a Good Light and Small Pleasures.

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Adele Parks

Award-winning author of 22 bestselling novels, including Sunday Times bestsellers Both Of You and One Last Secret.

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Daisy Goodwin

Daisy's work as a TV producer and presenter includes Reader, I Married Him, Bookworm, and The Nation’s Favourite Poems; she is also the creator of Grand Designs and the hit ITV drama, Victoria.

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Robert Moore

One of Britain’s most experienced foreign correspondents, having covered conflicts and politics around the world for 35 years, reporting from more than 80 countries.

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Rory Stewart

Served in the UK Cabinet as Secretary of State for International Development and ran against Boris Johnson for leadership of the Conservative Party in 2019.

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Daniel Hahn

Writer, editor and translator with over 100 books to his name.

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Patrick Maguire

Political columnist for The Times and senior political correspondent for Times Radio.

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Sarah Churchwell

Professor of American Literature, Chair of Public Understanding of the Humanities at the School of Advanced Study and directs the UK’s national festival of the humanities, the Being Human Festival.

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Simon Mason

Author of A Killing in November and The Broken Afternoon, which were both chosen as Sunday Times crime book of the month, respectively.

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Robbie Millen

Literary Editor of The Times since 2013 and has also been deputy comment editor and a features editor for the Times.

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Julia Wheeler

Award-winning author Julia Wheeler is an experienced journalist and interviewer who worked for the BBC for more than 15 years.

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Sharmaine Lovegrove

Winner of the Future Book Publishing Person of the Year 2018/19 and publisher of Dialogue Books, the UK’s only inclusive imprint, part of Little, Brown Book Group and Hachette UK.

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Louise Minchin

Louise is most famous for her twenty-year stint on BBC Breakfast's red sofa but has also written non-fiction titles, and she was Chair of the Women's Prize for Fiction 2023.

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Speakers and activities are subject to change. Some activities may incur an additional charge.​

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