2016 Festival Programme

Use the scrollbar next to each event to read more information. Or go back to Literary Festival 2016.

Morning & Afternoon Evening
10th October
Fay Weldon ( T )
Before the War - In Conversation with Fanny Charles
7.30pm, Grove Building, £6

Fay Weldon published her first novel, The Fat Woman’s Joke, in 1967 and she has been a major literary figure for almost five decades. Her latest novel, Before the War, was published this year. It is set in the period between the First and Second World Wars and the international tensions mirror those of a dysfunctional family. It is to be followed by After the War and the two books together will be entitled The Spoils of War.

One of the country’s most prolific and popular writers, Fay Weldon has written over thirty novels, collections of short stories, children’s books, non-fiction, articles, numerous plays for stage, radio and TV. Her TV credits include an award winning episode of ITV’s Upstairs, Downstairs and the BBC’s five-part dramatization of Pride and Prejudice. She is a former member of the Arts Council literary panel and in 1983 chaired the judges for the Booker Prize. She was awarded the CBE in 2001 and is currently Professor of Creative Writing at Bath Spa University.

Fanny Charles is a well-known local journalist and was for many years editor of the Blackmore Vale Magazine. She is now a free-lance arts and food journalist and a member of the Guild of Food Writers. She co-edits the Fine Times Recorder (FTR) website,covering regional arts, food and leisure, travel and the environment. She and Gay Pierrie-Weir, the founder of FTR have just co-authored the book, Deepest Dorset, published at the end of September, which celebrates what makes Dorset special and is raising money for several important Dorset charities.

MLF welcome back Fay Weldon and Fanny Charles to open the 20th anniversary festival. A great start to the 20th festival. Not to be missed.
Fay Weldon
11th October
Mere Historical Society
Mid 19th Century Charity Organisations in Mere
with Michael Plaxton
10:15 for 10.30, Grove Building, RD
Mere Historical Society
G.J.Meyer ( T )
Legends of World War I
7.30pm, Grove Building, £6

G.J.Meyer is a well-known American journalist whose by-lines have appeared in many newspapers and magazines including the New York Times, Boston Globe and Harpers. He is the holder of a Harvard University Neiman Fellowship in Journalism, and a winner of the Edgar Award for Non-Fiction from the Mystery Writers of America.

He is the author of popular history and his books, which often propound new interpretations of old stories, have won much acclaim. These include The Tudors, The Borgias and two books on WW1. The first, A World Undone, is now followed by The World Remade, to be published shortly.

G.J. Meyer now lives in Wiltshire with his wife, Sandra, and is working on a novel.
Community Lunch
with Chris Gough
12 Midday, The George Inn

The community lunch is now a popular feature of festival week. Join others for this informal get-together. Over coffee, Chris Gough will tell how he used the history of his family, who lived in Mere and East Knoyle during the 1860s, as the basis for his novel, Louisa’s Secret.

Chris Gough describes Louisa’s Secret as a work of faction. All the Lampards and Snooks within the novel were real people. Montague Willie Lampard, a child in the book, has his name on Mere’s War Memorial and read out in St. Michael’s church every Remembrance Sunday as one of the fallen of WW1. The surnames, Lampard and Snook, are still current in Mere and district.

2 course Lunch £ 9.95. Book with venue on 01747 860427 by 10th October.
Community Lunch
12th October
Anniversary Afternoon
Anniversary Readings
2.30pm, Grove Building, RD

Readings to celebrate the Shakespeare, Charlotte Bronte & Beatrix Potter anniversaries. Bring a favourite reading to share if you wish.
Bhutan - Kingdom of Rare Plants
with Rosemary Legrand
Hosted by Mere Gardening Club
7.30pm, Grove Building, RD

Rosemary Legrand comes from a horticultural family. Her knowledge of plants and keen interest in photography come together in her illustrated talks about her travels. She has been giving talks for over 24 years to a wide range of organisations and also on cruise ships.

She has written articles for gardening magazines and wrote a number of contributions for the book, ‘1001 Gardens You Must See Before You Die.’ edited by Rae Spencer-Jones. She has also written the biography of her late father, George Hyde, and his work on hybridizing azaleas and rhododendrons.
Rosemary Legrand
13th October
PennyBank Writers
Readings Inspired by Trees
11am, Mere Library, Free

PennyBank Writers, the Mere & District Writing Group, with readings of poetry and prose inspired by trees. The group is increasingly in demand for themed readings which include members own and published work.

All welcome.

PennyBank Writers
Film Show ( T )
Florence Foster Jenkins
7.30pm, Lecture Hall, £6

Starring Meryl Streep and Hugh Grant. Presented by Mere Film Shows and Wiltshire Moviola.

A delightful film based on the true story of Florence Foster Jenkins, a pampered New York heiress, who dreamed of becoming an opera singer despite having a terrible voice. The film is directed by Stephen Frears (‘Philomena’, ‘The Queen’) and is both moving and, at times, wildly funny.
Film Show
Growing Remembrance
The National Memorial Arboretum with David Childs
2.30pm, Grove Building, RD

The National Memorial Arboretum at Alrewas in Staffordshire is a living tribute to those who have served this country in war and peace. It commemorates both military and civilian services, and national charities.

The idea for the arboretum was that of Commander David Childs RN (Rtd.) CBE and he tells how the project, which began with nothing, grew and flourished to become the all year focus for remembrance and a source of national pride. It opened to the public in May 2001 and is part of the Royal British Legion.

David Childs is a retired academic and the author of numerous books on German and English history. His contribution to German studies is considerable. He is also a recognized authority on Tudor naval subjects and was the Development Director of the Mary Rose Trust responsible for the new museum.
David Childs
14th October
Writing and Publishing Memoir
with Alison Clink
2.30pm, Grove Building, RD

Alison Clink is a successful short story writer and creative writing tutor from Somerset where she runs a drop-in creative writing group at Babington House. She has published over fifty short stories, several of which have been broadcast on BBC Radio 4. Her short plays have been performed in Frome and Bath.

Her memoir, The Man Who Didn’t go to Newcastle, has attracted much praise and she reveals how she came to write and publish it. The memoir won second prize in Words For The Wounded Independent Book Award and was listed as one of Love Reading’s Book of the Month. It also featured in a discussion on BBC Radio 2’s Claire Balding Show last June.
Alison Clink
An Evening with Joan Ellis ( T )
Wit, Wisdom & Pratfalls
7.30pm, Grove Building, £6

Ellis worked for many years at a top London advertising agency as a copy-writer working on blue-chip accounts. She wrote award winning adverts for big brand names and worked with talented performers such as Penelope Keith, Harry Enfield and Jennifer Saunders who brought her words to life. She lectured in Advertising and PR at Bournemouth University.

In London she founded a comedy club where she also wrote and performed - once appearing on the same bill as Jo Brand. Since leaving London for the Isle of Wight, Joan Ellis has written 5* rated novels in different genres from humour to spine-chilling terror – I’m Ella. Buy Me, The Killing of Mummy’s Boy, inspired by her meeting a murderer on a train, Guilt and The Things You missed While You Were Away.

She also hosts a radio show on Vectis Radio. She has appeared at the IOW Literary Festival, The Ventnor Fringe, Purbeck Literary Festival and the Crouch End Festival.
Joan Ellis
Writing Workshop
with Joan Ellis
10am - 12, Grove Building, £12
Book with festival organiser on 01747 860475

A practical workshop on writing popular fiction with author and university lecturer Joan Ellis. She has written four novels all given top ratings by readers – see details from her Friday event.

Book early with festival organiser to secure your place on 01747 860475
Writing Workshop
Andrew Lownie ( T )
Stalin's Englishman: The Lives of Guy Burgess
7.30pm, Grove Building, £6

Guy Burgess has long been regarded as the least significant of the Cambridge Spies - Burgess, Maclean, Philby and Blunt, brilliant young men recruited to betray their country to the Soviet Union – but Lownie’s long and rigorous research proves otherwise.

Information in hitherto secret files and interviews with over one hundred people who knew him led Lownie to conclude that Burgess was far more important than previously thought and was, in fact, the leader of the spy group. In this illustrated talk, Andrew Lownie, unravels the many lives of Guy Burgess and, at the end of the story, a link with Mere.

In 1986 Andrew Lownie became the youngest director in British publishing and two years later founded the Andrew Lownie Literary Agency which has grown into one of the country’s leading agencies. As a writer himself he has an affinity with his clients which has made him one of the top selling agents in the world.

He has regularly written and reviewed for leading magazines and newspapers, is the author of a biography of John Buchan and a Literary Companion to Edinburgh. He is President of The Biographers’ Club which he founded in 1998 and later established The Biographers’ Club Prize. He is a star speaker at many literary festivals and MLF is delighted to welcome him to Mere.
Andrew Lownie
15th October
Poetry on the Move
with local poet John Page.

This morning listen out for poems
in Mere’s coffee spots.

Local poet, John Page, leads the readers. You can join in with your own work or your favourite poems if you wish, or just listen as you enjoy your coffee.
Poetry on 
			the Move
Children's Event ( T )
with children's author Michael Wills.
2.15pm, Library, Free Ticket

Michael Wills’ teaching career included thirteen years teaching in Sweden and this sparked his interest in Scandinavian history and culture. He has written several well reviewed historical novels for children set in the time of the Vikings who sailed on raids in their dragon ships. These include Children of the Chieftain Betrayed and Finns Fate.

Listen to an exciting Viking Adventure story and make your own Viking shield to take home.
Michael Wills
16th October
Awards and Celebrations
3pm, Lecture Hall, Free
Book Stalls from 2.30pm.

**The launch of ‘MERELY A FESTIVAL’ - compiled by Sue Evans. Twenty years of the Mere Literary Festival raising funds for our own local charity - The Mere & District Link Scheme (Reg. Charity No: 1062328).

**SPECIAL GUEST APPEARANCE by BARRIE SHORE Scriptwriter BARRIE SHORE spoke at the first Mere Literary Festival in 1997 about working on the popular TV series EASTENDERS.

*DAMIEN LEWIS – author of JUDY A Dog in a Million on his new book NAZI HUNTERS.
*JAMES LONG - Author of FERNEY and THE LIVES SHE LEFT BEHIND set in Penselwood & District.
*FANNY CHARLES & GAY PIRRIE-WEIR with their recently published book DEEPEST DORSET.


COME and celebrate the work of the linkscheme and its fund raising arm – the Mere Literary Festival.
Awards Ceremony
Activity Details
During September 2016
MLF Story in School Project
with Jayne Woodhouse
For Pupils of Participating
Schools Only

During September Jayne Woodhouse from Salisbury will lead story workshops for pupils in Bourton, Whitesheet and Mere Schools. She is a former primary school teacher who also authored curriculum resources for schools for publishers and also the BBC. She is now a full-time writer and creative writing tutor.

Jayne Woodhouse’s trilogy of novels for children tells the story an ex-racing greyhound who transforms the life of a family. The co-ordinator of the MLF schools project is former head-teacher, Sue Evans.