Literature Festival at Sea.

In association with Cheltenham Literature Festival, The Times and The Sunday Times.

10 November 2019

November 10, 2019, Queen Mary 2.

"What really knocks me out is a book that, when you're all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it. That doesn't happen much, though."

JD Salinger, Catcher in the Rye

Until now.

We invite you to join the inaugural Queen Mary 2’s Literature Festival at Sea, in association with Cheltenham Literature Festival and The Times and The Sunday Times. This exclusive voyage offers booklovers an opportunity to join some of the best-loved authors and thinkers on both sides of the pond – as well as the smartest journalists – aboard Queen Mary 2 as you sail from New York to Southampton on a Transatlantic Crossing.

Special guests.

We are delighted to reveal our festival lineup, which includes leading historians and cultural commentators, offering a unique and inspiring program of events featuring stimulating conversations, interactive workshops and more.

Sebastian Faulks.

Sebastian Faulks is one of Britain’s foremost novelists, his books ranging from the classic Human Traces (2005) and Birdsong (1993), consistently voted one of the nation’s favorite books, through to more light-hearted ventures, such as the Ian Fleming centenary James Bond novel Devil May Care and a tribute to P.G. Wodehouse, Jeeves and the Wedding Bells.

Louis de Bernières.

Louis de Bernières is the bestselling author of Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, which won the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize, Best Book in 1995. His most recent books are The Dust That Falls From Dreams, Birds Without Wings and A Partisan’s Daughter, a collection of stories, Notwithstanding, and two collections of poetry, Imagining Alexandria and Of Love and Desire.

P.J. O'Rourke.

P. J. O’Rourke has written eighteen books on subjects as diverse as politics, cars, etiquette and economics. Parliament of Whores and Give War a Chance both reached #1 on the NYT bestseller list. He is contributing editor at the Weekly Standard, H. L. Mencken Research Fellow at the Cato Institute, and editor-in-chief of American Consequences.

Peter Kemp.

Peter Kemp is the Chief Fiction Reviewer for the Sunday Times and has also been the paper’s Fiction Editor. He is a frequent speaker at literary festivals in the UK and overseas has often taken part in literary events on Queen Mary 2 and Queen Victoria. He regularly broadcasts on BBC programs such as Open Book, Saturday Review and Front Row.

Emma Tucker.

Emma Tucker started her career at the Financial Times as a graduate trainee, eventually becoming Editor of the FT Weekend. She joined The Times as Associate Features Editor, before taking over the editorship of Times2 a year later. After five years she took up a new role as Editorial Director. Emma was appointed Deputy Editor of The Times in October 2013.

Ben Macintyre.

Ben Macintyre is the multimillion-copy bestselling author of books including Agent Zigzag, Operation Mincemeat, A Spy Among Friends and SAS. His next book, The Spy and The Traitor: The Greatest Espionage Story of the Cold War is published by Viking this September. He is a columnist and Associate Editor at The Times, and has worked as the newspaper's correspondent in New York, Paris and Washington. He regularly presents BBC series based on his acclaimed books.

James Naughtie.

From 1994 until 2015, James Naughtie was one of the main presenters of Radio 4’s Today program, presenting his last program in December 2016. Since then he has become the program’s special correspondent. Naughtie had anchored every BBC Radio UK election results program since 1997 and had worked on every US presidential election since 1988.

Mark Billingham.

Mark Billingham is one of the UK’s most acclaimed and popular crime writers. His series of novels featuring DI Tom Thorne has twice won him the Crime Novel of the Year Award. His debut novel Sleepyhead was published in 2001 and was chosen by the Sunday Times as one of the 100 books that had shaped the decade. A television series based on the Thorne novels starred David Morrissey as Tom Thorne, and a major new drama based on In The Dark and Time of Death was broadcast on the BBC in 2017.

Victoria Hislop.

Victoria Hislop is the best-selling and award-winning author of six books, including The Island, The Return, The Thread, The Sunrise, Cartes Postales from Greece, and a collection of short stories, The Last Dance and Other Stories. Her books have been translated into more than 35 languages.

Damian Barr.

Damian Barr is an award-winning writer, journalist and host of his own infamous Literary Salon. Maggie & Me, published by Bloomsbury, was BBC Radio 4’s Book of the Week, and the Sunday Times named it their Memoir of the Year. Permanently in search of the perfect martini, Damian writes for the Sunday Times magazine. He covers politics and culture in his monthly Big Issue column and has been a columnist for Attitude. Broadcaster and presenter Damian has hosted Radio 4’s Front Row and is a regular guest and contributor across BBC platforms, including presenting The Writers of Rye for BBC TV.

Robbie Millen.

Robbie Millen has been Literary Editor of The Times since 2013. He has also been deputy comment editor and a features editor for the Times. In the deep mists of time, he was a journalist at The Spectator and the Daily Express.

Anna Murphy.

Anna Murphy joined the Times as Fashion Director in 2015, having previously been the launch editor of Stella magazine at the Sunday Telegraph. She considers herself proof positive that a love of clothes and of books can happily co-exist in one well dressed and well-read form.

Ella Berthoud.

Ella talks regularly at festivals and events, prescribing literature to whoever loves reading and needs some literary love. Ella set up the bibliotherapy service at The School of Life in Bloomsbury with co-founder Susan Elderkin in 2008. They then went on to write The Novel Cure: an A-Z of Literary Remedies and The Story Cure: How to keep Kids Happy, Healthy and Wise, now published in 20 countries.

Julia Wheeler.

Julia Wheeler is an experienced journalist and interviewer who worked for the BBC for more than 15 years, including as Gulf Correspondent. She continues to work as a freelance journalist. An alumna of the Faber Academy, Julia has been chair and interviewer at several festivals, including Cheltenham (Literature and Science). Julia wrote the award-winning book Telling Tales: An Oral History of Dubai, capturing stories of court intrigue, pearl diving and gold smuggling, plus the early days of education and banking.

Mariella Frostrup.

Mariella Frostrup is a writer, broadcaster and campaigner. Current Broadcast projects include Radio 4’s long-running weekly program Open Book, the BBC1's The Big Painting Challenge and Bringing Up Britain, the Radio 4 series which looks at the challenges of modern parenting. Mariella has had her own weekly dilemma column, Dear Mariella, for the Observer newspaper for the last 15 years and writes regularly for other newspapers and magazines. Published this year, Wild Women, curated by Mariella, is a collection of more than 50 of the greatest escapades ever experienced and told by women. Mariella has been on the judging panels of various awards, including The Booker Prize, The Turner Prize, The Amnesty International Media Awards, the London Movie Festival and The RIBA Stirling Prize Awards. Mariella is a trustee of The Great Initiative, a charity which promotes gender equality. She lives in Somerset with her husband and two children.

Rachel Johnson.

Rachel Johnson was the first female graduate trainee at the Financial Times and has worked for national newspapers since the age of 23. She has written four novels - one of which won her only literary award, The Bad Sex prize jointly with John Updike - and two volumes of diaries. She is a co-presenter on the Sky News The Pledge topical debate show and makes all-too-frequent appearances on Question Time, Any Questions, Newsnight, Marr and other programs. She writes a weekly comment column for the Mail on Sunday and a column for The New European newspaper and contributes to many other publications, most frequently The Times. She lives in London and has three children.

Jason Solomons.

Jason Solomons is one of the UK's best-known movie critics. He is a regular on BBC News, hosting the Oscar nominations and BAFTA red carpet live shows, and the weekend Film Review. Jason hosts Movie Talk on Sky Arts and Virgin Atlantic’s What’s on Vera entertainment highlights show. He is BBC Radio London’s long-standing film critic and a regular on Radio 2’s Arts Show and Radio 4’s Front Row, for whom he covers the Cannes Film Festival. In the US, he is a host on the Cinemoi TV Network, reporting from the Cannes and Venice film festivals. Jason’s book Woody Allen: Film by Film was published in 2015 and has been translated into five languages. A former Chairman of the London Film Critics’ Circle, Jason has had a long career in newspapers including The Daily Express, The Observer and The Mail on Sunday. He is currently film critic for The New European. You can also find him in The Lady magazine and on

Richard Rogan.

Richard Rogan has been editing the cryptic crosswords for The Times since 2014. In addition to vetting clues from other compilers, he contributes several of his own puzzles each month. It is generally agreed that these tend to be among the harder ones on offer! Richard also does an annual stint at the Cheltenham Literature Festival, where for five days, Monday to Friday, he leads a very informal café session, taking solvers of varying degrees of experience through the day’s cryptic and quick cryptic crossword. A native of Northern Ireland, he lives in Cheltenham with his family of two and an adopted Bengal cat.

Hal Cazalet.

Hal Cazalet divides his time between the USA and Europe, performing in opera, musical theater and cabaret. He trained at the Guildhall School of Music in London and at the Juilliard Opera Center in New York, where he won the Shoshanna Foundation Award. He has performed in many of the major concert halls and theaters on both continents and has made numerous appearances on BBC TV and radio and on WNYC Radio in the US. Hal recently performed Play on Words, a one-man show based on the great Wordsmiths of Broadway, and a homage to his step-great-grandfather, the lyrist and author P.G. Wodehouse.

Lara Cazalet.

Lara started her career at Oxford’s Shakespeare festival, playing Helena in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and then went straight into playing the lead in the musical 42nd Street at the Edinburgh Festival. She has gone on to work in numerous theater productions around the UK. She has mainly worked in TV, with some of her credits including the ITV series Bad Girls, Waking the Dead, New Street Law and Judge John Deed. She has made numerous other appearances on TV and in movies. Lara sings professionally with her brother Hal in a jazz trio, and they have performed together in many a celebration of their step-grandfather, P.G. Wodehouse.

Tayari Jones.

Tayari Jones is the author of four novels, including Silver Sparrow, The Untelling, and Leaving Atlanta. Jones holds degrees from Spelman College, Arizona State University, and the University of Iowa. She serves on the MFA faculty at Rutgers University and writes regular posts at She lives in Atlanta.

Gina Bellman.

Gina Bellman is known for her stage and screen work on both sides of the Atlantic. She starred in TNT’s hit show Leverage as femme fatale Sophie Devereaux and as Karen in NBC’s Emerald City. In the UK she is best known for her portrayal of Jane in the award-winning BBC comedy series Coupling. Her television work includes Ripper Street, Jekyll, Waking the Dead, Hotel Babylon, Jonathan Creek, and Only Fools and Horses. Her many film credits include Permanent Vacation, Zerophilia and Sitting Ducks. Gina is a regular on the London stage, with appearances in The Crucible, Cleo, Camping, Emmanuelle & Dick, The Rocky Horror Show, Hamlet and Orson’s Shadow among others. She will next be seen on our screens as crime boss Elena Markedis in Sky TV’s Bulletproof.