Once is never enough

Lavenham Lit­er­ary fes­ti­val has au­di­ences and au­thors com­ing back for more

EADT Suffolk - - Inside -

THERE’S top­i­ary in the shadow of the grand me­dieval church, multi-coloured hig­gledyp­ig­gledy houses on the high street, the Na­tional Trust Guild­hall cel­e­brat­ing the wool trade her­itage, and a stun­ning tim­ber-framed lux­ury ho­tel in which to stay, re­lax and dine in com­fort. It’s not hard to see why so many peo­ple flock to Lavenham for a short break – even in Novem­ber.

One of this year’s Strictly Come Danc­ing con­tes­tants will be cer­tainly be tak­ing a break there, es­cap­ing the ball­room to join other speak­ers at the fifth Lavenham Lit­er­ary Fes­ti­val in Novem­ber from Novem­ber 17 to 19.

It boasts an im­pres­sive line-up in­clud­ing the Rev Richard Coles who has been an­nounced as one of this year’s con­tes­tants in the pop­u­lar BBC prime time dance show – as well as speak­ing at the fes­ti­val’s con­clud­ing ses­sion.

Lavenham Lit­er­ary Fes­ti­val has be­come a firm favourite among its many reg­u­lar sup­port­ers and has earned an en­vi­able rep­u­ta­tion for pro­vid­ing a wel­com­ing and friendly at­mos­phere for speak­ers and au­di­ences alike.

This year’s event – at venues in­clud­ing Lavenham Guild­hall and The Swan Ho­tel and the vil­lage hall, just off Church Street, which can ac­com­mo­date up to 200 peo­ple – sees the re­turn of firm favourites Tracy Bor­man, Clare Mul­ley and Tracy Che­va­lier – all with newly re­leased books – as well as many highly-rated au­thors mak­ing their first ap­pear­ances at Lavenham.

Speak­ers in­clude wildlife writer and nov­el­ist Si­mon Barnes, while best sell­ing nov­el­ist, and now Suf­folk res­i­dent, Erica James will be in con­ver­sa­tion with the Ra­dio Four Satur­day Live pre­sen­ter JP Devlin. The pro­gramme also in­cludes a panel dis­cus­sion with Churchill bi­og­ra­phers led by Andrew Lownie, Charles Abel-Smith (From Eton to Ypres), Daisy Hay (Mr & Mrs Dis­raeli), crime writer So­phie Hannah in con­ver­sa­tion with her mother, chil­dren’s au­thor Adele Geras, and Greg Vo­to­lato (The Golden Age of Ocean Lin­ers).

Fes­ti­val sec­re­tary, Colin Rock­all, said: “The pop­u­lar­ity of the event led the com­mit­tee to in­crease its size to 10 ses­sions, as well as a sell-out fes­ti­val din­ner and an all-day cre­ative writ­ing course.”

A course of cre­ative writ­ing fo­cus­ing on the nat­u­ral world, will take place on the Satur­day, hosted by tu­tor Brid­get Hold­ing, and a chil­dren’s writer will go into Lavenham school

to meet with the 110 pupils on the Thurs­day ahead of the fes­ti­val proper.

In ad­di­tion to the prin­ci­pal spon­sors, The Swan Ho­tel at Lavenham and Mat­ti­oli Woods plc, lo­cal or­gan­i­sa­tions and busi­nesses have given their sup­port in var­i­ous ways.

While some events take place in the Guild­hall and Swan Ho­tel, the cen­tral venue is the su­perb There is an up­per room for smaller au­di­ences, and the vil­lage li­brary is housed here. The hall’s staff and Friends sup­port the or­gan­i­sa­tion of the fes­ti­val.

“It is very much a com­mu­nity ef­fort,” says fes­ti­val sec­re­tary Colin Rock­all. “We have a lot of vol­un­teers – no­body is paid.” Colin has been in­volved from the be­gin­ning when the idea of a lit­er­ary fes­ti­val was con­ceived by a res­i­dent, Sir Clive Rose, in 2008. It’s suc­cess could sig­nal a new di­rec­tion, ac­cord­ing to Colin.

“We did have a highly suc­cess­ful chil­dren’s book fes­ti­val last year so we may run that in al­ter­nate years with the main fes­ti­val.”

Lavenham Lit­er­ary Fes­ti­val Novem­ber 17-19. www.laven­ham­lit­er­aryfes­ti­val.co.uk

Lavenham fea­ture with James Marston.

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