Main Festival (April)

We are currently planning the 2018 Festival programme which will be announced at the start of the new year. In the meantime, the following overview of the 2017 shows the format and mix of our typical Festival day.


The 2017 Hawkesbury Upton Literature Festival was officially opened by special guest Orna Ross, bestselling novelist, poet and founder of the Alliance of Independent Authors. Orna has twice been named by The Bookseller as one of the UK’s 100 Most Influential People in Publishing. Her welcome address followed the launch of several new books, including festival founder Debbie Young’s novel Best Murder in Show, and a tribute to Jane Austen for her bicentenary.

Talks and Readings will start every hour, on the hour

Each event lasted 50 minutes – see below for detailed list of topics, times and speakers.

Writing Workshops (open to adults and teens)

2pm               Writing Short Stories – with coach Sue Johnson
4pm               Writing Poetry – with poet Shirley Wright 

Children’s Events (All day) – in the Bookworms Tent (outside The Fox)

Children’s activities ran non-stop in the Bookworms Tent, including Meet the Children’s Author sessions on the hour, every hour:

11am Linda Alvis (for young children)
12noon Jenny Heap (for young children)
1pm  Betty Salthouse (for primary school age)
2pm  Kate Frost (for 10 to teens)
3pm  Lu Hersey (for 10 to teens)
4pm  Jo Allmond & Jess Hiles (for primary school age)

Talks at The Bethesda Chapel (10am-4.50pm)

10am Official Opening by special guest Orna Ross 
Welcome address by special guest the author and poet Orna Ross,
named by The Bookseller magazine as one of the UK’s 100 Most Influential People in Publisihng – followed by the launch of several new books, including Debbie Young’s Best Murder in Show, and a tribute to Jane Austen for her bicentenary

11am   The Importance of a Sense of Place in Fiction
Chair: Lisa Overton, Chairman of the National Trust’s Arts Council
With Ali Bacon, JJ Franklin, Jackie Kabler, Rosalind Minett and Katharine E Smith

12noon  Commoners or Kings? Historical novelists look at the pros and cons of writing about royalty or ordinary folk
Chair: Lucienne Boyce, historian and historical novelist
With Celia Boyd, Jean Burnett, John Lynch and Ellie Stevenson

1pm The History of Print 1977-2017
Chair: Debbie Young, author of fiction & non-fiction
With Jonathan Ionides (former employee of Robert Maxwell) & Peter Roberts of Clarendon Press in Wotton-under-Edge

2pm How to Live and Think More Creatively
Chair: Orna Ross, founder of the Creativist Club and lecturer in Creative Thinking
With Dan Holloway and Joanna Penn

3pm Writing About Difference
Chair: Dan Holloway
With Jo Allmond, Jess Hiles, Dan Holloway, Dan Jeffries, Thomas Shepherd, Joy Thomas and Debbie Young

4pm The Future of Reading and Writing
Chair: Joanna Penn, bestselling author and entrepreneur
With AA Abbott, Orna Ross, Debbie Young

Readings at the Methodist Chapel (11am-4.50pm)

Dan on chair performing a poem

Award-winning performance poet Dan Holloway in action (Photo: Joanna Penn)

11am Our Festival Poets Perform
Chair: Dan Holloway, award-winning performance poet
With Jo Allmond, Sue Johnson, Orna Ross, Joy Thomas, Bob Woodroofe and Shirley Wright

12noon  Poetry, Please!
A new feature in which members of the public shared their favourite poems Chair: Suzie Grogan, author, researcher and broadcaster
With Lyn Bulley (Joyce Williams), William Fairney (Robert Southey), Michael MacMahon (Dylan Thomas & Laurie Lee), Orna Ross (WB Yeats) and members of the audience

1pm Short Stories
Chair: John Holland, author and director of Stroud Short Stories
With AA Abbott, Ali Bacon, Jacci Gooding, Rod Griffiths, Jenny Heap, Rosalind Minett, and Mark Rutterford 

2pm  Non-fiction
Chair: Michael MacMahon, author and voice actor
With Simon Bendry, Jean Burnett, Bill Fairney, Suzie Grogan, Dan Jeffries, Alan Moyes and Jann Tracy 

3pm Historical fiction
Chair: John Lynch, author of historical and contemporary fiction
With Jean Burnett, Celia Boyd, Lucienne Boyce, Joy Kenward, Rosalind Minett, and Orna Ross

4pm  Contemporary fiction
Chair: Ali Bacon, novelist and author of short stories
With J J Franklin, Kate Frost, Sue Johnson, Josephine Lay, Lynne Pardoe, Thomas Shepherd, Katharine E Smith and Ellie Stevenson

Outdoor Event (4pm at the War Memorial)

Simon Bendry talked about and read from his biography of villagers listed on the village war memorial, with the Hawkesbury Writers (authors of A Monument to Hawkesbury) and the Hawkesbury History Society (authors ofThe Hawkesbury Chronicles)

Official Closing Ceremony in the Wonderland Cafe (5pm)

With a celebration of Shakespeare in advance of his birthday next day!

Photo of cake table

Bookish cakes and soups galore in Alice’s Wonderland Bookshop Cafe (Photo: Joanna Penn)

Bookshop and Refreshments

  • The Wonderland Bookshop Café sold delicious home-made will be selling soups, cakes and drinks with a literary twist and books by festival authors in the Methodist Hall.
  • Excellent Italian meals, alcoholic and soft drinks, and Italian coffee were served in The Fox Inn all day

Watch the launch of the 2016 Festival on YouTube here courtesy of Thomas Shepherd’s video.