2012 Festival Programme

Use the scrollbar next to each event to read more information. Or go back to Literary Festival 2012.

Morning & Afternoon Evening
8th October
Tom Fort
A303 - Highway to the Sun
7.30pm, Grove Building,
£5 adv., £6 on door

An illustrated talk on his recently published book which is proving highly popular with all who know the road.

The A303 is ‘our road’ – an ancient route that has played its part in the history of Mere from drovers to drivers.

Tom Fort travels the A303 telling its stories and history, describing its landscape and people, and visiting its landmarks.

A lovely book…At last someone has celebrated the romance of a British road.…….Simon Hoggart The Guardian.

Delightful, nostalgic, slyly witty, perceptive….a wonderfully charming book. Spectator

It is not like other roads – that merely take you from A to B – it tells a story. ……Belinda Bennett Midweek Herald.

Tom Fort graduated from Balliol College, Oxford and then became a reporter for the Slough Observer and Slough Evening Mail. He joined the BBC in 1978 and spent twenty-two years in the newsroom. Since taking early retirement he has written a number of well reviewed books on social history including The Grass is Greener and Downstream.

He made a TV documentary on the A303 for BBC4 which was well received and earned re-runs.
9th October
Community Lunch
with a talk by Hilary Townsend.
12 Midday, The Old Ship Inn

The community lunch is now a popular feature of festival week. Join others for this informal Mere get-together and be entertained over coffee by local author, Hilary Townsend, and the story of her Tudor house in Stalbridge.

Silk Hay recounts her restoration work on this medieval building and also reveals how the house inspired the opening scene of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams.

Hilary Townsend was born in the Blackmore Vale and has written a number of books on its history.

Lunch £8.95pp for two courses, tea or coffee. Book your lunch by phoning the Old Ship on 01747 860258.

Saul David
All The King's Men
7.30pm, Grove Building,
£5 adv., £6 on door

Saul David, historian, author and broadcaster, talks about his book which tells the story of the British soldier from the Restoration to Waterloo.

In a fast moving narrative Saul David tells the story of an extraordinary century-and-a-half of British martial success and those who made it possible.

..David’s fine piece of history. Sunday Times

Compelling. At a time when the Army is facing cutbacks while being expected to fight distant, unpopular wars on a shoestring, David’s book could not be more topical. Nigel Jones, Sunday Telegraph

Saul David wrote his first history book at the age of twenty-five and is now one of our foremost military historians. He has written nine books on military history to much critical acclaim and has appeared at most major literary festivals.

He is an experienced broadcaster and TV presenter. His TV documentaries include Bullets, Boots and Bandages for BBC4, programmes in the BBC’s Timewatch and Channel 5’s Escape From series, and most recently as a guest presenter in ITV’s Britain’s Secret Treasures.
10th October
Irvine Hunt
The Drover's Boy
2.30pm, Grove Building,RD

Irvine Hunt talks about his novel, The Drover’s Boy, which is set in Cumbria and has proved popular with both children and adults.

An adventure story for the young in heart set in Cumbria more than a century ago. Young Henry Hodgekin is pushed out of his home by his unkind stepfather and sent to work with Torse, a wild Irish drover. Man and boy clash as they walk six hundred geese along rough and dangerous roads to market, but the journey changes Henry’s life forever.

Like all good children’s novels, The Drover’s Boy appeals to grown-ups as well and its reputation is growing by word-of-mouth. Irvine Hunt will talk about the story and explain what inspired him to write fiction after a career in journalism and writing successful factual books.

..a richly written story.. Westmorland Gazette
Lakeland Yesterday
with Irvine Hunt
7.30pm, Grove Building,
£5 adv., £6 on door

Irvine Hunt has published a number of books about the Lake District and presents an illustrated talk on Cumbrian life.

The Lake District is now a well known holiday destination and tourists flock to this unique corner of England to enjoy its mountains, lakes and panoramic views.

Irvine Hunt’s illustrated talk takes us back before the days of easy travel and mass tourism to present a picture of the Lake District of yesterday when it inspired many writers, among them the ever popular Arthur Ransom and Beatrix Potter.

There are stories, customs and characters – shepherds, quarrymen, miners, boatmen and others – and a glimpse of a vanished Cumbrian way of life.

…a wonderful dip into Lake District history. Cumbria Life

Poet and writer, Irvine Hunt, spent five years as a sub-editor at The Daily Telegraph, has worked and lectured for the British Film Institute and taught English in Sweden.

He has lectured throughout Britain and in the United States and is the author of nine books including a book of short stories, Road to Paradise, and the novel, The Drover’s Boy, both set in the Lake District.
11th October
A Mere Meander
A Guided Walk.
10am, St. Michael's Church Gate, Free

Janet Way and David Hope lead a walk discovering some of Mere’s hidden paths and byways with words to match. Put on your walking shoes and meet outside the Parish Church
Film Show
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
4.00pm & 7.30pm, Lecture Hall, £5

Presented by Mere Film Shows and Wilts. Moviola.

Two showings of one of the most popular films in recent times with a star studded cast.

Enticed by advertisements for the Marigold Hotel, a group of British retirees decide to spend their retirement in less expensive and seemingly exotic India. They arrive to find the Marigold Hotel far less luxurious than its advertisements, but it slowly begins to charm in unexpected ways.

The feel-good film of the year.
MLF School Project
Author Visit & Workshop

Author, Pauline Morphy, will visit Mere School to talk about her children’s novel, Exiles from the Moor, and lead writing workshops for pupils.

Author, Pauline Morphy, will visit Mere School to talk about her children’s novel, Exiles from the Moor, and lead writing workshops for pupils.

The novel tells the story of Jess, an eleven year old girl, whose passion in life is horses, in particular her Exmoor pony, Marmalade.

It has recently been re-issued, to good reviews, by New Generation Publishing with royalties donated to World Horse Welfare.

Pauline Morphy has an MA in Creative and Critical Writing from Winchester University, has had short stories and articles published and is currently working on a novel for adults. She is a keen member of Mere based PennyBank Writers.

Mere Literary Festival acknowledge with thanks the support of the Lecture Hall Trust in its school project.
12th October
Jubilee Memories
Mere’s celebration of Royal Jubilees on film and your chance to reminisce.
2.30pm, Grove Building, RD

Local film of the recent Diamond Jubilee celebrations in Mere and local villages plus some of earlier celebrations. Come and bring your stories, memorabilia and photos of the Queen’s jubilee celebrations – Silver, Gold or Diamond.

If you have film that would be of interest, please contact MLF organiser.

Sonia Purnell
Just Boris - A Tale Of Blond Ambition
7.30pm, Grove Building,
£5 adv., £6 on door

A recently published biography of the elected Mayor of London in the year the city has been the focus of the world’s attention during the Diamond Jubilee and the Olympics.

‘Excellent, relentlessly entertaining..' The Guardian

Boris Johnson is one of the very few political figures in modern Britain recognized without a surname. Sonia Purnell worked closely with him during his time with the Daily Telegraph Brussels bureau and charts the rise of Boris as a political celebrity. I worked with him and knew that while people perhaps knew quite a lot about him, virtually no-one understood him.

Her controversial biography of this compelling figure has changed the debate about Boris and made political biography a gripping, engaging and often funny read even to those not normally interested in politics.

..portrays … the arrogance, opportunism, and irresistible buffoonery of our most celebrated politician. Amol Rajan Independent on Sunday.

Just Boris has received critical acclaim – full of stories and details which ...correct the unrealistic view of Boris as an entirely comic bunny. Quentin Letts.

And, in spite of all his comic semi-denials, does Boris aspire to become our Prime Minister?

Sonia Purnell is a writer and journalist known for her investigative skills and lively writing. She has worked for major newspapers including The Economist, Daily Telegraph, Independent on Sunday and London Evening Standard.
Coffee Morning Tales
with John Page
10.15am, United Reform Church, Free

Take a break, relax with a cup of coffee as local writer & poet, John Page, reads words to fit his travels.

During his working career he has travelled widely both in this country and overseas. In his readings he will explore the varied voices of the diverse places he has visited.
A Dickens Of An Evening
Celebrating the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Dickens.
7.30pm, Lecture Hall
£5 adv., £6 on door

With a talk by his descendant, author Lucinda Dickens Hawksley, and his characters brought to life in performance by Chester House Productions.

A celebration of the great novelist and campaigner for social reform with a talk by his great-great-great-granddaughter, Lucinda Dickens Hawksley, and his characters brought to life in performance by Chester House Productions.

Lucinda Dickens Hawksley is an author whose biographies have won critical acclaim. These include Lizzie Siddel: The Tragedy of a Pre-Raphaelite Supermodel, and Katey: The Life and Loves of Dickens’ Artist Daughter. She is also a travel writer and a winner of the Ed Lacy Travel Writing Award.

Her latest book, a biography of her famous ancestor, was commissioned by publisher Andre Deutsch to celebrate the Charles Dickens Anniversary and includes copies of many family mementoes.

…fascinating documents and memorabilia…these really bring alive Dickens’ life. Richard Brooks The Sunday Times.

Lucinda Dickens Hawksley is much in demand as a speaker on Charles Dickens and particularly this year. She has appeared at the 2012 Hay Festival, the Edinburgh International Book Festival, and numerous other literary events throughout the country.

The popular actors, Vera Hughes and David Weller, of Chester House Productions have delighted audiences across the south of England bringing live theatre to varied venues and over 21,000 people. Here they present their newest production, Dickens’ Characters, especially created for the author’s anniversary and already a favourite with audiences.

Vera and David bring Dickens’ characters to life .

We were completely absorbed into the world of Dickens.

Lovely little cameos.

Funny and poignant scenes and memorable characters from The Pickwick Papers, Bleak House, David Copperfield, Nicholas Nickleby, Great Expectations and The Old Curiosity Shop.
13th October
Youth Drama Workshop
led by Julie McGowan.
10.15am, Lecture Hall, Free Ticket

A drama workshop led by Julie McGowan, who has considerable experience of working with young people and of writing plays for her innovative Theatre-in-Education company. She runs workshops and drama groups in her home town of Usk and is a co-director of the Is It? Theatre Company which takes productions into schools.

Suitable for young people aged 10 years and over. FREE but limited numbers so book early at the Library or contact the Festival Organiser.

Audience invited for 11.45am.
Children's Event
Granny's Special Garden with Melinda Emby
2.15pm, Library, Free Ticket

Melinda Emby, a teacher and author, will lead activities based on her popular children’s book, Granny’s Special Garden, illustrated by John Gustard.

Mere Gardening Club will also be adding to the afternoon fun.

Interesting and fun activities for 6 -10 year olds. Limited numbers at this popular event so book early at Mere Library.

MLF are grateful to the Lecture Hall Trust for their support, to the staff of Mere Library and members of Mere Gardening Club for their help with this event.
Short Story Workshop
with Julie McGowan
2.30pm, Methodist Church Hall, £12

Julie McGowan worked as a nurse and in Health Education before becoming a writer and journalist.

She began with dramatic shows for children at the school where her husband was headmaster and has since written short stories, features, pantomimes, children’s plays and novels.

Her first novel, The Mountains Between, set in her native Wales, was published in 2007 and became a best-seller.

Our best seller from the day we stocked it. Abergavenny Book Shop.

We’re selling boxes of them – our best seller. Browning Books.

A great read. Monmouthshire County Life.

A second novel, Just One More Summer, followed to similar acclaim, a third is soon to be published and a fourth is in progress.

This workshop provides an opportunity to learn from a story-teller of proven success. And whether you have some writing experience or are a beginner, a workshop is always a great way to stimulate the creative process and meet like-minded people.

Ticket price includes refreshments.

Why not meet Julie McGowan beforehand at the Writers’ Lunch? Details from the festival organiser.
14th October
Award Ceremony
with author James Long
3pm, Lecture Hall, Free

Book fair from 2.30pm.