The Queen’s Reading Room Festival: Tickets Now On Sale




Set in the stunning surrounds of Hampton Court Palace, The Queen’s Reading Room Festival will be a literary event like no other.

Visitors can explore the Palace on literary themed tours and tread the floors where Shakespeare once performed with his King’s Men; wander the sumptuous gardens bursting with life in summer; listen to poetry read by some of our country’s finest actors, and of course enjoy shows from our headliners, including Dame Judi Dench, Gyles Brandreth, David Olusoga, Ben Macintyre and many more…

Our festival runs in two key parts: daytime, from 10am-5pm and evening from 6pm to 9.30pm. The Palace will close at 5pm and reopen at 6pm, allowing staff to clean the site and prepare for our evening performance. Visitors with tickets to both daytime events and the evening session will be allowed to stay in the Gardens ahead of the Palace reopening at 6pm.


Main Stage


Austentatious, plus special guests!

The award-winning smash-hit comedy, as seen in the West End and heard on Radio 4. The all-star Austentatious cast will improvise a hilarious new Jane Austen novel, inspired entirely by a title dreamt up by HM Queen Camilla… Performed in period costume with live musical accompaniment, it’s a riotous, razor-sharp show where swooning is guaranteed.

The revolving Austentatious cast include numerous, award-winning TV and Radio starring performers, including Rachel Parris (The Mash Report, Live at the Apollo), Cariad Lloyd (QI, Inside No.9, Griefcast, The Witchfinder), Joseph Morpurgo (Radio 4, Edinburgh Comedy Award nominee), Andrew Hunter Murray (No Such Thing As A Fish) and more.

This special, short edition of Austentatious is hosted by TV and Radio broadcaster, Professor John Mullan; with Director of Jane Austen House Lizzie Dunford and a collection of some very special Austen treasures…

‘Ridiculously silly…wickedly funny’
The Times

‘A joy to behold’
The Guardian

‘Brilliant, barmy improv’
The Telegraph

‘Sheer unbridled silliness’
Evening Standard




An eye for a spy: espionage writing in fiction and non-fiction with Ben Macintyre, Ken Follett, and Robert Harris

Join three of our greatest writers of espionage literature for a session all about spies, lies and disguise. Where is the line between truth and fiction in the life of a spy? Why have secret agents been the cause of fascination since time immemorial? And what is it like as a writer to step into the mind of a spy?

With readings from David Harewood.


Ben Macintyre

is Associate Editor on The Times and author of nine bestselling books, including The Spy and The Traitor, Agent Sonya and Double Cross. 2022 saw three film and TV adaptations of his works: Operation Mincemeat starring Colin Firth and Matthew Macfadyen; SAS: Rogue Heroes with Jack O’Connell; and A Spy Among Friends with Damian Lewis and Anna Maxwell-Martin. Ben’s new book is ‘Colditz: Prisoners of the Castle’, and tells the astonishing true story of history’s most infamous prison.

Ken Follett

is the international best-selling author of The Pillars of the Earth, The Evening and the Morning and A Column of Fire. His books have sold 188 million copies in 80 countries and in 40 different languages. His spy thriller ‘Eye of The Needle’ published in 1978 remains one of the most popular and critically acclaimed works of espionage fiction.

Robert Harris

is the author of fifteen bestselling novels: the Cicero Trilogy, Fatherland, Enigma, Archangel, Pompeii, The Ghost, The Fear Index, An Officer and a Spy (which won four prizes including the Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction), Conclave, Munich, The Second Sleep, V2 and Act of Oblivion. His work has been translated into forty languages and he is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.

David Harewood

is an actor, presenter and writer.




Remembering Dame Hilary Mantel; with the Royal Society of Literature

David Olusoga and the Royal Society of Literature host this session in memory of one of the greatest English-language novelists of our time: Dame Hilary Mantel. In the stunning surrounds of Hampton Court Palace, we’ll explore the life and legacy of the famed author of the ‘Wolf Hall’ trilogy and stunning autobiography, ‘Giving Up The Ghost’. Guests include authors Kamila Shamsie and Philippa Gregory, with readings from stage actor Ben Miles and Dame Harriet Walter.


David Olusoga OBE

is a British historian, writer, broadcaster, presenter and film-maker. He is a Fellow of The Royal Society of Literature

Kamila Shamsie

is a Pakistani and British writer and novelist who is best known for her award-winning novel ‘Home Fire’.

Philippa Gregory CBE

is a bestselling British historical author, writer of the award-winning ‘The Other Boleyn Girl’ and ‘The White Queen’, basis for the BBC One drama.

Ben Miles

starred in and co-wrote the stage adaptation of the ‘Wolf Hall’ trilogy, and is the narrator of the audiobook series.

Dame Harriet Walter

is an award-winning British actor and Associate Director of the Royal Shakespeare Company.




Dame Judi Dench, William Shakespeare and friends

Join Gyles Brandreth in conversation with Dame Judi Dench, talking about her life, her career, and her special love for William Shakespeare. Expect anecdotes, admissions and perhaps even a sonnet or two. Plus surprise guests…


Dame Judi Dench

made her first professional stage appearance in September 1957 with the Old Vic Company at the Royal Court Theatre in Liverpool, as Ophelia in Hamlet. Since then, she has established a world renowned reputation for award-winning performances of Shakespeare over a career spanning six decades.

Gyles Brandreth

is an author, broadcaster, entertainer, former MP and dear friend of Dame Judi Dench.



Gallery Stage


Kate Mosse: Warrior Queens & Quiet Revolutionaries: How Women (Also) Built the World

Fresh from her sell-out theatre tour – inspired by her bestselling history book, Warrior Queens & Quiet Revolutionaries – Kate Mosse brings a bespoke version of her one-woman show to The Queen’s Reading Room Festival to entrance, entertain and empower.

Audiences can expect a burst of entertainment: part detective story, part love letter about how history is made, part celebration of extraordinary, trail-blazing and inspirational women throughout history, including the notorious 18th century female pirates – Anne Bonny and Mary Read – who have inspired Kate’s new novel, The Ghost Ship (published in July). Warrior Queens & Quiet Revolutionaries will surprise, amaze, challenge and inspire in in a fabulous forty-five minutes of music, film and entertainment.


Kate Mosse

is the international bestselling author of ten novels and short story collections, including the No 1 bestselling The Joubert Family Chronicles – The Burning Chambers, The City of Tears and The Ghost Ship– as well as the multimillion selling Languedoc Trilogy – Labyrinth, Sepulchre and Citadel – and No 1 bestselling Gothic fiction including The Winter Ghosts and The Taxidermist’s Daughter. Her books have been translated into 38 languages and published in more than 40 countries. She has also written four works of non-fiction, including Warrior Queens & Quiet Revolutionaries, four plays and numerous essays.

A champion of women’s creativity, Kate is the Founder Director of the Women’s Prizes – the largest annual celebration of women’s writing in the world – and is the Founder of the global campaign #WomanInHistory launched in January 2021 to honour, celebrate and promote women’s achievements throughout history. She was awarded an OBE in 2013 for services to literature and women, was named Woman of the Year for her service to the arts in the Everywoman Awards and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.





The Sinister Everyday: the fact and fiction of crime writing with Peter James

Peter James, the best-selling crime writer and the creator of Roy Grace, takes us on a thrilling journey at the intersection of fact and fiction in crime writing.

Peter’s passion for research and accuracy has brought him face to face with many murderers and criminals, as well as those who protect us from them. Talking us through his research and personal experiences, Peter will reveal why we are fascinated by the sinister everyday, the idea that crime is tangible but just far enough from us when we read crime fiction.


Peter James

is a UK No. 1 bestselling author, best known for writing crime and thriller novels, and the creator of the much-loved Detective Superintendent Roy Grace. With a total of 19 Sunday Times No. 1s under his belt, he has achieved global book sales of over 21 million copies to date, and has been translated into 38 languages.




Authors will be signing books throughout the day. Join them and get yourself a signed copy of your favourite books!




Tours – Tudor
Explore Hampton Court Palace on a literary themed tour: Tudor edition! Tread the floors where Shakespeare once performed with his King’s Men, learn about the history of the King James Bible and discover what King Henry VIII himself liked to read…


Tours – Georgian

Explore Hampton Court Palace on a literary themed tour: Georgian edition! Come and explore Hampton Court Palace’s literary past on a new and unique guided tour offered exclusively in conjunction with The Queen’s Reading Room.


From Shakespearean sonnets and stagings to the setting of Virginia Woolf dinner parties, experience the rooms of the Palace like never before as the tales of this historically unique building are intertwined with literary legacies. To tour, or not to tour, that will be the question!


This event is a co-production with Historic Royal Palaces and all proceeds will go to The Queen’s Reading Room and Historic Royal Palaces charities.