Well-known authors and speakers will be heading to the East Devon coast for this year’s Budleigh Salterton Literary Festival.

The event, which takes place in venues across the town from September 20-24, will also feature special tributes to its late honorary president, Dame Hilary Mantel.

Now in its 15th year, Budleigh Salterton Literary Festival has developed a reputation as one of the leading literary events in the southwest. This year’s event is packed with a mixture of well-known names, emerging writers and panel discussions, as well as a full programme of events for children and families.

Headlining the programme are author, poet, playwright and broadcaster, Lemn Sissay; storyteller Alexander McCall Smith, comedian broadcaster and author David Baddiel and political commentator and Guardian journalist Polly Toynbee. Writer and political strategist Alastair Campbell, author Kate Mosse and Radio 4 presenter Natalie Haynes. Charlie Higson and Kim Sherwood will be talking about taking on the legend that is James Bond.

The festival is featuring three tributes to Dame Hilary Mantel. In the first it will bring together her agent Bill Hamilton, her lifelong friend Anne Preston, and the actor Ben Miles (Thomas Cromwell in the acclaimed stage production of Wolf Hall) sharing memories of her as a friend, colleague and inspiration. The second will feature Ben Miles and his photographer brother George Miles who will talk about their experience working with Dame Hilary on the making of the Wolf Hall Picture Book where they spent many years exploring the locations Thomas Cromwell visited and inhabited.

The third event will be a moving tribute, in which pianist Katherine Rockhill will be performing the original music created by Debbie Wiseman for the BBC series of Wolf Hall. She’ll be joined by the celebrated actor Anton Lesser, who played Sir Thomas More, who will mesmerise with extracts from the novel.

Tatton Spiller, founder of Simple Politics, will join MP and journalist Chris Bryant and journalist Lord Danny Finkelstein to talk about the politics of the last few years. Baroness Catherine Ashton, the EU's first High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security, will explore modern-day diplomacy and why it still takes place behind closed doors. Journalist Luke Harding will share insights into the war on Ukraine and Ben Riley Smith, political editor of the Daily Telegraph, gives us the full story of what has happened in British politics over the last decade. Charlotte Lydia Riley and Arianne Shahvisi will explore culture wars and cancel culture.

Journalist and bestselling author Sathnam Sangera will be talking to our new president Cathy Rentzenbrink; we’ll hear from one of the biggest names in British fiction, Lisa Jewell; as well as acclaimed authors Suzanne Heywood, Kate Strasdin, Christopher Somerville, Robert Goddard, Anne Wroe, Linda Grant and Amanda Craig.

Dr Jonathan Kennedy, author of Pathogenesis will reveal how infectious diseases have fundamentally altered the course of human history and Daniel Finkelstein will share from his memoir Hitler Stalin Mum and Dad. Historian Marc Morris will explore the Anglo Saxons and Diane Purkiss will take us on a People’s History of English Food, whilst cultural historian Hannah Rose Woods explores Britain's perennial fixation with its own past, and bestselling historical novelist Alison Weir gives us a new take on Henry VIII. Renowned historian Tom Holland will share insights from his work Pax: War and Peace in Rome's Golden Age.

Kate Mosse will interview three of the most exciting debut novelists of 2023 in the Hilary Mantel Emerging Writers Event and this year’s Festival Read is Queen of Dirt Island from the award-winning, Booker longlisted author by Donal Ryan, a searing, jubilant novel about four generations of women and the love and stories that bind them. The East Devon Writers group will share their latest works, students from local schools will take part in a Poetry Slam and there will be a number of workshops, including bookmaking, and Cathy Rentzenbrink delivering an interactive workshop about how to start writing.

There is a full programme for families, headlined by world famous illustrator Axel Scheffler, who took Julia Donaldson's wonderful stories and brought them to life through illustration. Learn to draw some of your favourite characters alongside Axel at this event. Wren Music return with workshops for youngsters and festival favourite Kristina Stephenson will be welcoming little ones to the wonderful world of Sir Charlie Stinky Socks in a fully interactive show. There will be a comic art masterclass with Kev F, whilst scientist and BBC presenter Madeleine Finlay will be talking about Brilliant Bugs for Breakfast. The Festival will also be celebrating 30 years of Horrible Histories throughout the weekend, including hearing from illustrator Martin Brown.

Sue Briggs, Festival Committee Chair, said: “We’re thrilled to welcome such an inspiring and interesting range of authors to Budleigh Salterton. We are also pleased to have curated three events to commemorate our wonderful former president Dame Hilary Mantel, alongside such a range of diverse and fascinating speakers. Thank you as always to our committed team of volunteers who ensure our Festival is a success every year.”

The Festival, which has a hub marquee with café and pop-up Waterstones bookshop, is strongly supported by local businesses and donors, and is recognised as a partner by Exeter

City of Literature. Tickets are on sale to Friends of the Festival from July 17 and to the general public from July 24 from www.budlitfest.org.uk