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Press Archive

News items that appeared in the Local Press. Click on the title to read the full article

Wells Festival of Literature Brings Literacy Charity to the South West

Wells Festival of Literature (WFL) has announced that, as part of its aim to encourage the love of words, it will be supporting the literacy charity Beanstalk (formerly known as Volunteer Reading Help).

Beanstalk is a well-established national charity with over 40 years’ experience, but little presence as yet in the south west. With the help and support of WFL, the plan is to extend the charity’s work so that children in Somerset schools will be able to benefit from September 2016.

Already working with over 1,200 schools across England, Beanstalk provides vital one-to-one literacy support to children who need additional help with their reading.  99% of schools agreed that their helpers made a significantly positive impact on the reading ability of the children involved.

In order to extend their reach into Somerset, Beanstalk needs to raise £50,000 in year one, £75,000 in year two and £100,000 in year three.  After that, the plan is to be self-supporting, with schools contributing towards the costs.

WFL have already begun the process by committing £5,000 to kick-start the project and will continue to work hard to help Beanstalk achieve their goal. WFL committee member Claire Sully is attending Beanstalk’s Annual Reception on 18 June at the House of Lords. Julia Donaldson, author of the Gruffalo series is a keynote speaker at the event which will provide new links between WFL and Beanstalk, cementing their joint determination to introduce the joy of reading to all children in Somerset.

Sarah Cook, Education Adviser at Somerset Literacy Network, is enthusiastic about the benefits Beanstalk provides and already has schools that are keen to sign up, although the scheme will not be in place for 18 months.

Sue Rye, WFL committee member who has been coordinating the project, commented: “This partnership with Beanstalk goes to the very heart of our vision at Wells Festival of Literature. We want to encourage the love of reading in the community and among young people, and we know that Beanstalk’s work can help change the course of children’s lives.”

Beanstalk and its work will feature on the WFL website and its message will be spread through the use of linked digital media, including the newly created Festival blog, Talking Books, adding to the very effective Tweets and Facebook pages which have helped spread the word for several years.

For further information on Beanstalk, contact Rosie Inge on rosie.inge@gmail.com

Wells Festival of Literature Returns with a Magnificent List of Speakers

Friday, 9th October, the first day of the 23rd Wells Festival of Literature (WfL) offers, appropriately enough, a barnstorming name to fill the marquee (larger than last year’s) which will host most of the speakers, in the gardens of the Bishop's Palace.

Jeffrey Archer, christened in Wells Cathedral stands today as the only UK writer ever to have topped the best-seller charts in fiction, short-stories and non-fiction, with "The Prison Diaries".  His new novel, the fifth in the Clifton Chronicles series, "Mightier than the Sword", makes it the 19th time he has reached Number One in the fiction league.  Overall, he has sold 270-million copies of his books.  His back-story includes five years in the House of Commons and 23 in the 'Lords.

Next, from a stellar line-up to grab the attention, is journalist, cultural and social historian, A.N. Wilson, who leverages a lifetime's study of the Bible to champion it as a seminal work of literature and philosophy.  In "The Book of the People" he explores how and why we should be reading the two testaments, whether we believe or not. The Bible, he argues, remains relevant - perhaps more relevant - in a secular and cynical society like ours. 
A.N. Wilson will be discussing his book over a literary lunch in the Vicars' Hall on Friday, October 16.

The next day, back in the Marquee, BBC presenter and architectural historian Dan Cruickshank opens up an atlas of the world and demonstrates how architecture and history march in lockstep.  In "History of Architecture in 100 Buildings", he poses fascinating moral dilemmas while taking his audience on a peripatetic tour of the great, and sometimes the grim, underlining his premise that you cannot separate a building from its context - political, economic, religious, scientific or cultural.

Mary Berry helps bring the Festival to a high-profile end on Saturday, October 17, with her "Absolute Favourites" from a career embracing 60 cookery books and alternating between writing, broadcasting and presenting.  She will be in conversation with WFL's patron and another formidable cook, Caroline Waldegrave, to whom she offered this self-judgment as a starter-for-ten: "I like to think of my cookery as Cordon Bleu standard, but a lot less effort."

The full brochure will be produced at the end of July and tickets will go on sale – online and at the Bishop’s Palace – on 17th August.


Further information from Rosie Inge on

01749 670070 or rosie.inge@gmail.com

Wells Festival of Literature will be hugely enjoyable; but it won’t be relaxing!

One of the most popular events at the Wells Festival of Literature has been our very special Book Group event, now in its seventh year.  On 11th October 2015 we welcome Emma Hooper, described as a ‘bright new star of literature’, to discuss her highly acclaimed novel Etta and Otto and Russell and James. This event will be chaired by Kate Figes, author and books editor of the Mail on Sunday’s YOU Magazine, which has also picked Emma’s novelas the September choice for its own readers' book group. Members of the audience will beoffered the rare opportunity to discuss the novel in detail with its author and to discover why Etta, who has never seen the sea, decides at the age of 82 to get up very early one morning, take a rifle, some chocolate, and her best boots, and begin walking the 2,000 miles to the coast.

Of course not all the events at the Festival will involve audience input. We have some excellent performers in the line-up this year, events at which in theory, audience members should be able to sit back and relax. But we’re not promising anything! Viv Groskop, for instance, has been described as the ‘queen of funny’ and her exciting debut stand-up show about the great British cult of apology Say Sorry to the Lady is likely to have the audience falling off their seats with laughter.

Peter Oswald, performer, poet and playwright, will also keep audiences fully engaged with his powerful stage presence, physicality and command of multiple voices and accents. His superb one-man show (7pm on Sunday 11th October)is based on three Italian folk tales, and he will also judge the Poetry Competition and present the prizes on the afternoon of Sunday 11th October.

Talking of poetry, that’s exactly what Hollie McNish does! Versus, the first poetry album ever recorded at the Abbey Road Studios, features both spoken-word poems and poems with music and backing beats – an essential pick’n’mix of poems for those who love, hate or have never bothered to listen to poetry before. Hollie,UK slam poetry champion and winner of the Arts Foundation Spoken Word Award 2015, will be performing her work on Thursday 15th October. Benjamin Zephaniah said ‘I can’t take my ears off her’. We’re sure Wells audiences will feel the same.

Tickets for these, and all the other Festival events, go on sale from Monday 17th August.  They will be available from our website wellsfestivalofliterature.org.uk and from the Bishop's Palace shop.  Or they can be bought on 01749 988111 ext. 200

What does the Festival do?
The aim of the Festival is to promote books and the love of reading in the community and particularly in schools...
Wells Festival of Literature Ltd A company limited by guarantee registered in England with number 2827744 Registered address: Tregantle, Milton Lane, Wells, Somerset. BA5 2QT Registered Charity number 1045654.