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Organisers delighted at success of Sherborne Literary Festival

This year’s fourth annual Sherborne Literary Festival, sponsored by residential and commercial estate agent Knight Frank, was proclaimed “the most successful yet in terms of atmosphere and enthusiasm” by Festival Director, Judith Spelman.

Visitors flocked to Sherborne to hear more than 20 speakers based in several different venues around the town and enjoyed a diverse range of authors including HRH, Princess Michael of Kent, wildlife campaigner Tony Juniper on What Nature does for Us and popular novelist Victoria Hislop speaking about her new book, The Sunrise.

Other popular speakers included John Suchet, the author, TV presenter, newsreader and musical host who talked about his latest book The Last Waltz: the Strauss Dynasty and Vienna. John entranced the audience with his tales of the family waltzing and drinking champagne as Europe descended into turmoil with events leading up to the First World War. Novelist Sophie King ran a packed workshop on how to “Write your Life” and resident writer Diana Cambridge commented on how thrilled she was to come back to the Festival and find out that many of her previous “pupils” were now published authors. Historical biographer turned fiction writer, Miranda Carter, gave a fascinating insight on what it’s like to switch from writing non-fiction to fictional crime novels.

This year there was a whole programme put together for local schools and sponsored by the Simon Digby Charitable Trust. Fostering a love of literature and reading in children and young people is another one of the Festival’s aims and was successfully delivered to classes at The Gryphon School who listened to teen fiction author Virginia Bergin and took part in a creative writing workshop held by Lulu Taylor. Middle-East expert Diana Darke talked to pupils about the current situation in Syria and Michael Fowkes, acclaimed puppeteer and illustrator of the Amazing Esme books, entertained the younger audiences.

The Festival’s mantra is “books not celebrities” but it was hard not to recognise many of the speakers taking part including a fabulous finale featuring two of the UK’s finest foreign correspondents in conversation at the Digby Hall. Both Christina Lamb and Kate Adie have reported from war zones around the world, bringing breaking news to the reading, listening and viewing public.

Christina is an award-winning journalist for the Sunday Times. She received the Prix Bayeux Calvados for her reporting from Afghanistan and the Foreign Press Association Award for her reporting on the war on terrorism. She talked to Kate Adie about her experience of war reporting, telling the audience about one of her first foreign assignments that involved interviewing the future PM of Pakistan, Benazir Bhutto and the importance of relating the story through the lives of ordinary people.

Kate Adie made her second appearance in the past two years at this year’s Festival and her questions and comments on Christina Lamb’s experiences, together with an insight into her own war experiences including five days reporting from Tiananmen Square, provided a fascinating finale.

Organisers say that plans for the 2016 Festival are already being looked at and dates for the next Festival are from Wed 12 October – Sunday 16 October 2016. Updates will be posted on the Sherborne Literary Society’s website. www.sherborneliterarysociety.com.

Find out more about Sherborne Literary Festival

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Release Date: 19th October 2015

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