Budleigh Salterton Literary Festival line up

The programme for this year’s Budleigh Salterton Literary Festival has been published. Running between 14 and 18 September, events will take place at various locations around the town.

As in previous years, there’s a host of different writers to choose from, including fiction, biography, history, travel, nature writing, and science. There are a number of children and family events as well as some workshops aimed at writers wishing to produce their own work of fiction or non-fiction.

The Festival always manages to attract some famous people and this year is no exception. Dame Sheila Hancock will be discussing her book Old Rage, talking about life in her ninth decade, while BBC Middle East correspondent Jeremy Bowen brings the personal stories of ordinary men and women on the front line, their leaders, and the power games that play out in that region. 

Dame Sheila Hancock

National treasure Pam Ayres will read from her latest collection of poetry that takes a wry look at country life and the conflicts that ensue. If you’re in need of some help in the garden, Joe Swift launches his Expert Gardening Guides that include tips for seasoned gardeners or those just starting out.

Author and presenter Simon Reeve will share what his unique experiences and encounters have taught him as he’s travelled around the world. And keeping on the travel theme Benedict Allen discusses what it means to be an explorer in the 21st century.

Non-fiction authors at the festival will cover a variety of topics. With Russia continuing to feature in the daily headlines the session Russia – Facing the Unknown is bound to attract some interest. Historian Orlando Figes’ latest book The Story of Russia gives an account of the myths and ideologies that have shaped the country’s past and how they inform its present, while Sunday Times bestselling author Martin Sixsmith exposes what lies behind the mask of Vladimir Putin and what we must do to pave the way for a better future in The Russia Conundrum.

If finding out about the life of others interests you then discussions about author Jean Rhys and TS Eliot’s muse will appeal. Miranda Seymour’s book The Haunted Life of Jean Rhys, turns a forensic eye on the acclaimed author of Wide Sargasso Sea who lived in Devon and often visited Budleigh. Hyacinth Girl: TS Eliot’s Hidden Muse by Lyndall Gordon reveals the private life of the poet and his life-long love for the American Emily Hale.

There’s plenty to choose from in the fiction category including Robert Harris talking about his latest book Act of Oblivion which focuses on the hunt to find the killers of Charles I. 

The session Strong Women – This Year’s Exciting Debuts highlights the work of three emerging writers with the theme of strong women finding their own way. Sophie Irwin’s A Lady’s Guide to Fortune Hunting is a period novel about a young ingenue’s attempts to land a moneyed husband. Chloe Timms’ The Seawomen is a dark exploration of life on an island strangled by fear and myth, and Joanna Quinn’s The Whalebone Theatre is a coming-of-age story set in Dorset in the shadow of an oncoming war.

The Festival continues to offer support for writers and includes workshops on Creating Believable Characters with Jill Dawson, Your Story Matters with Nikesh Shukla, and Pilates for the Pen with Cat Weatherill.

Nikesh Shukla is running the Your Story Matters workshop

The family programme includes free drop-in sessions and tickets from £1. Sessions are aimed at different ages including Musical Stories, a social and sensory experience for little ones, and an Aardman model-making workshop where you can create Timmy, the smallest lamb in Shaun the Sheep’s Flock, the villainous penguin Feathers McGraw and Lu-la, the cute extraterrestrial from Farmaggedon.

This year’s Festival book club read is The Exhibitionist by Charlotte Mendelson, described as a dazzling exploration of art, sacrifice, toxic family politics, desire, and personal freedom. Read it ahead of the Festival then meet the author and ask questions about the novel.

Tickets go on sale for Festival Friends at 9am on 18 July and 9am on 25 July for everyone else. Some events can also be viewed online this year too. 

For specific details and to book events head over to the Budleigh Salterton Literary Festival website


Share this Post: