Cherie Blair heads UEA literary festival

Sarah Brealey Cherie Blair will rub shoulders with some of the world's most respected writers as she headlines the University of East Anglia's 2008 international literary festival.

Sarah Brealey

Cherie Blair will rub shoulders with some of the world's most respected writers as she headlines the University of East Anglia's 2008 international literary festival.

The human-rights barrister and wife of former British prime minister Tony Blair will open the prestigious festival on September 29 when she talks about Speaking for Myself: The Autobiography.

For the first time since 2002, rising costs have pushed up ticket prices, with each evening costing £6, compared to £5 last year.

Season tickets to hear each of the nine writers cost £48 (£42 concessions) - up from £35 in 2007.

Despite the increases, the line-up looks set to give value for money. It includes playwrights, biographers and novelists from Australia, Ireland, the United States and China. They are:

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October 8 - Novelist David Lodge, emeritus professor of English at Birmingham University, who has written novels including The British Museum is Falling Down, Nice Work, Small World and Therapy. He has won the Whitbread Book of the Year, the Writers' Guild Award and the Commonwealth Writers' Prize.

October 13 - David Guterson, a Seattle-born novelist whose works include Snow Falling on Cedars, which won the PEN Faulkner Award and sold four million copies. Subsequent novels include East of the Mountains and Our Lady of the Forest.

October 16 - Geraldine Brooks, an Australian novelist who won the Pulitzer Prize for March, following it with Years of Wonder and People of the Book. She is also the author of non-fiction books, including Nine Parts of Desire.

October 22 - Sir David Hare, an acclaimed playwright and co-founder of the Portable Theatre Company. Among his many plays are Plenty, Racing Demon, Murmuring Judges, The Absence of War, Via Dolorosa and Stuff Happens. He was knighted in 1998.

October 30 - Toni Morrison, from the US, whose novels include The Bluest Eye, Beloved, Jazz, Paradise, Love and A Mercy, and whose non-fiction works include The Black Book and Remember: The Journey to School Integration. She is a winner of the Pulitzer Prize and in 1993 won the Nobel Prize for literature.

November 12 - Richard Holmes, the author of a series of ground-breaking biographies on Chatterton, Shelley and Coleridge. He is a winner of the Somerset Maugham Award, the Whitbread Book of the Year Award and the Samuel Johnson Award.

November 17 - Sebastian Barry, from Dublin, who is the author of plays (including The Steward of Christendom and Our Lady of Sligo), novels (including A Long, Long Way and The Secret Scripture) and poems (The Pinkening Boy). His latest play is Dallas Sweetman.

November 24 - Jung Chang, from China, whose autobiography Wild Swans has sold 10 million copies in 30 languages. Together with her husband, Jon Halliday, she is the author of Mao: The Unknown Story.

Tickets for the two-month festival are available from the UEA box office on 01603 508050.