Related to: 'Close But No Cigar'

Alice Walker

Alice Walker won the Pulitzer prize and the American Book Award for The Color Purple. She is the author of many bestselling novels, essays and collections of poetry including Meridian, By the Light of My Father's Smile and The Third Life of Grange Copeland.Visit Alice Walker's official website at: alicewalkersgarden.com

Antonia Fraser

Antonia Fraser is the author of many widely acclaimed historical works which have been international bestsellers. She was awarded the Medlicott Medal by the Historical Association in 2000 and was made a DBE in 2011 for services to literature.Her previous books include MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS, KING CHARLES II, THE WEAKER VESSEL: WOMAN'S LOT IN SEVENTEENTH-CENTURY ENGLAND which won the Wolfson History Prize, MARIE ANTOINETTE: THE JOURNEY, PERILOUS QUESTION; THE DRAMA OF THE GREAT REFORM BILL 1832 and THE KING AND THE CATHOLICS: THE FIGHT FOR RIGHTS 1829. MUST YOU GO?,a memoir of her life with Harold Pinter, was published in 2010, and MY HISTORY; A MEMOIR OF GROWING UP in 2015. She lives in London.Visit Antonia Fraser's website at www.antoniafraser.com

Barbara Flynn

Barbara Flynn began acting in her native Hastings whilst at school, and since leaving drama school has worked steadily across stage, film and television, creating and sustaining some memorable television characters.

Belle de Jour

Belle de Jour is the nom de plume of a former London call girl. Find Belle online at belledejour-uk.blogspot.com.

Chris Difford

Born in Greenwich, London, Chris Difford has written lyrics for over forty years, most notably in partnership with Glenn Tilbrook for Squeeze. After the break-up of Squeeze in 1983, Difford continued writing songs with Glenn Tilbrook for artists such as Helen Shapiro, Billy Bremner and Elvis Costello. He has also written lyrics for music by many artists including Jools Holland, Elton John and Wet Wet Wet, has been the manager of Bryan Ferry and The Strypes, and released four solo albums. Difford also curated SONGS IN THE KEY OF LONDON, an evening of music dedicated to the capital at the Barbican Centre, London, in 2011 and 2014.

Emma Reyes

Emma Reyes (1919-2003) was a Colombian painter and intellectual whose letters were first published in 2012. She grew up in extreme poverty and escaped a convent for orphan girls at age nineteen. Illiterate, she travelled wherever she could and dedicated most of her life to painting and drawing, slowly breaking through as an artist and forging friendships with some of the most distinguished European and Latin American artists, writers and intellectuals of the twentieth century. She lived in Buenos Aires, Montevideo, Jerusalem, Washington and Rome before settling in Paris. The year she passed away, the French government named her a Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters.

Eric Idle

Eric Idle is a comedian, actor, author and singer-songwriter who found immediate fame on television with the sketch-comedy show MONTY PYTHON'S FLYING CIRCUS. Following its success, the Pythons began making films that include MONTY PYTHON AND THE HOLY GRAIL (1975), MONTY PYTHON'S LIFE OF BRIAN (1979) and THE MEANING OF LIFE (1983). Eric also wrote the award-winning musical SPAMALOT. He lives in Los Angeles.

John Tusa

Born in Czechoslovakia in 1936, John Tusa came to England in 1939. He was educated at Gresham's School, Holt, before serving as Second Lieutenant Royal Artillery in West Germany during National Service from 1954-56. Reading history at Trinity College, Cambridge from 1956-59, he took a first class honours degree. After two decades as a freelance, he became main presenter with Peter Snow of BBC 2's Newsnight from its foundation in 1980. From 1986-92 he was Managing Director of BBC World Service. He spent a few months as President of Wolfson College, Cambridge in 1993. From 1995-2007 he was Managing Director of the Barbican Centre. Between 2007 and 2014 he was Executive Chair of the Clore Leadership Programme and Chair of the Governors of University of the Arts London. Now he is joint Chair of the European Union Youth Orchestra. He has sat on the Boards of several arts institutions. He was awarded a knighthood in 2003.

Julia Buckley

Julia Buckley is a journalist whose work has appeared in the likes of National Geographic Traveller, the Sunday Times and the Independent, where she is travel editor. She lives in Cornwall.

Kevin Toolis

Kevin Toolis is a writer and film-maker. He is the author of an acclaimed chronicle of Ireland's Troubles, REBEL HEARTS and the memoir MY FATHER'S WAKE. He has written for the NEW YORK TIMES Magazine and the GUARDIAN and reported on conflicts across the world. As a film-maker Toolis has won a BAFTA for Best Single Drama and was nominated for an Emmy for his documentaries on the Middle East. His family have lived in the same oceanside village on an island off the coast of County Mayo for the last 200 years.

Maeve Binchy

Maeve Binchy was born in County Dublin and educated at the Holy Child convent in Killiney and at University College, Dublin. After a spell as a teacher she joined the Irish Times. Her first novel, Light a Penny Candle, was published in 1982 and she went on to write over twenty books, all of them bestsellers. Several have been adapted for cinema and television, most notably Circle of Friends and Tara Road. Maeve Binchy received a Lifetime Achievement Award at the British Book Awards in 1999 and the Irish PEN/A.T. Cross award in 2007. In 2010 she was presented with the Bob Hughes Lifetime Achievement Award at the Bord Gáis Irish Book Awards by the President of Ireland. She was married to the writer and broadcaster Gordon Snell for 35 years, and died in 2012. Visit her website at www.maevebinchy.com

Maggie Hartley

Maggie Hartley has fostered more than 300 children while being a foster carer for over twenty years. Taking on the children other carers often can't cope with, Maggie helps children that are deemed 'unadoptable' because of their behaviour or the extreme trauma that they've been through. She's looked after refugees, supported children through sexual abuse and violence court cases, cared for teenagers on remand and taught young mums how to parent their newborn babies.

Mark Kermode

Mark Kermode is Chief Film Critic for the OBSERVER and co-host of Kermode and Mayo's Film Review on BBC Radio 5 Live. He is the author of IT'S ONLY A MOVIE; THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE MULTIPLEX; THE MOVIE DOCTORS (with Simon Mayo); HATCHET JOB, hailed by Stephen Fry as 'the finest film critic in Britain at the absolute top of his form' and HOW DOES IT FEEL?, a memoir about his life in music. He plays double bass and harmonica in The Dodge Brothers, the award-winning skiffle-and-blues band, who also accompany silent movies. He has written and presented film and music shows on Channel 4 and across BBC radio and television. He holds two Sony Awards for his radio programmes, and The Dodge Brothers album The Sun Set was voted Blues Album of the Year 2013 by the roots music magazine SPIRAL EARTH.

Nathaniel Fick

After receiving a BA in classics from Dartmouth in 1999, Nathaniel Fick passed the US Marines officer training course and joined the Corps just before 9/11. He saw action in Afghanistan and Iraq in the elite First Recon Battalion. Among the first US soldiers to enter Baghdad in the Iraq war, he left the service after being promoted to captain. He is now in a joint degree programme at Harvard Business School and Kennedy School of Government.

Nicola Hodgkinson

Nicola Hodgkinson was the winner of THE PEOPLE'S AUTHOR national writing competition as featured on The Alan Titchmarsh Show. She lives with a menagerie of animals in Suffolk, where she writes in her shed.

Paul McQuade

Paul McQuade is a writer and translator from Glasgow, Scotland. His work has most recently been published in Structo, Little Fiction, the anthology Out There, and has been shortlisted for The White Review and Bridport prizes. He is the recipient of the Sceptre Prize for New Writing and the Austrian Cultural Forum Prize.

Peter Wildeblood

Born in Italy, Peter Wildeblood came to London at the age of three in 1926. He won a scholarship to Oxford but left to serve in the RAF 1941-46, returning to Oxford after the war. In 1954 he was a well-known London journalist when he was jailed for homosexuality. After serving his prison sentence, he wrote a number of novels, plays and television scripts.

Robert Twigger

Robert Twigger is a British author, poet and adventurer. After attending Oxford University he trained with the Tokyo Riot Police, which became the subject of his bestselling book Angry White Pyjamas. He has been awarded the Newdigate Prize for poetry, the Somerset Maugham Award for Literature and the William Hill Sports Book of the Year Award. He led the expedition that was the first to cross the Great Sand Sea of the Egyptian Sahara solely on foot, and another that was the first to cross Western Canada in a birchbark canoe since 1793. He is the author of eight books, both fiction and non-fiction, as well as several collections of poetry. Big Snake was filmed for Channel 4.

Shannon Leone Fowler

Shannon Leone Fowler is a marine biologist, writer, and single mother of three young children, living in London. Since her doctorate on Australian sea lions, she's taught marine ecology in the Bahamas and Galapagos, led a university course on killer whales in the San Juan islands, spent a number of seasons as marine mammal biologist onboard ships in both the Arctic and Antarctic, taught graduate students field techniques while studying Weddell seals on the Ross Ice Shelf, and worked as a science writer at National Public Radio in Washington, DC. TRAVELING WITH GHOSTS is her first book.

Sweetpea Slight

Sweetpea Slight spent twenty years working with renowned theatre producer Thelma Holt. Their working relationship spanned the National Theatre, the Peter Hall Company and finally Thelma Holt Ltd.She lives in London and Dorset.