First Ever Hawkesbury Upton Literature Festival is a Hit

Katie Fforde doing a reading

Katie Fforde kicks off HULF with a reading from “Love Letters”, a novel about a litfest! Photo by Clint Randall from

We are delighted to report that the first ever Hawkesbury Upton Literature Festival was a great success, drawing over 100 people from Hawkesbury and the surrounding villages and towns, to enjoy an action-packed evening sharing a love of books and reading.

Many visitors made a night of it by arriving early to dine at The Fox’s excellent Italian restaurant (which had to open an hour earlier than usual to handle the large number of bookings) and staying till closing time.

Throughout the evening, visitors could enjoy viewing an exhibition of illustrations and calligraphy with a literary theme, or browse the bookstall offering books by the authors present, many of them on special offer for the show.

After bestselling novelist Katie Fforde officially launched the festival, founder Debbie Young kicked off a stimulating programme of panel discussions, while elsewhere in the pub and its garden, authors took turns to read extracts from their work.

Visitors also enjoyed being able to talk informally to the authors about their writing, and there was s real buzz in the bar all evening.

Chris Dunn addressing the audience

Chris Dunn announces the launch of his new book: an “autobiography” by his latecat Chan
Picture by Clint Randall

Two authors used the occasion to launch new books: Lynne Pardoe launched her ebook Please Adopt Me, which she self-published, and Chris Dunn The Black Tail of Chan: A Special Cat, published by the village’s Hawkesbury Press, run by Festival founder Debbie Young.

Although for many of the authors, this was their first festival appearance, the quality of readings was extremely high, and feedback from audience members is that they really enjoyed this unusual opportunity to hear to so many authors read their work. They also welcomed the opportunity to find out about the work of authors who are not household names – yet!

At the end of the evening, Debbie announced a new community publishing project that will enable everyone present, if they wished, to become published authors too, by contributing a piece to a new village anthology, What St Mary’s Means To Me. This project will raise funds for the new church roof, and the book is scheduled to be published in time for the 2015 Christmas market.

Hawkesbury Press is now compiling an anthology containing samples of the writing of all the authors taking part in this festival. This book will be launched at the Hawkesbury Horticultural Show on Saturday 29th August, at which HULF will have a pop-up mini-festival.

By the end of the evening, it was clear that HULF will now become an annual tradition, and the date has been set for next year already – Saturday 23rd April 2016. This second Festival will be a daytime event, running from 10am until 5pm, again at The Fox Inn, and will include events for children as well as adults.

To keep informed about Festival news, please join our mailing list. 

Presenting the prizes from the free book raffle  Picture by Clint Randall

Presenting the prizes from the free book raffle
Picture by Clint Randall


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