Wells Festival of Literature performers sparkle

November 04 2017
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AT the special Silver Anniversary Festival of Literature, which finished on October 21, there were certainly plenty of golden moments.

Nick Clegg got the festival off to a rousing start with a packed marquee-full of enthusiastic supporters. And from then on, it simply got better and better.

Saturday saw a varied programme which included Adam Rutherford on genes, novelist John Boyne on the impact of society’s expectations and a fascinating discussion on the use of memory and personal experience in literature from three local authors. Discussing the third volume of his biography, former Cabinet Minister Alan Johnson had the audience crying with laughter, as did the evening’s final guest, the hilarious Andy Hamilton.

The Festival’s Book Group event is always popular but this year’s discussion with Sarah Perry (The Essex Serpent) was voted the best yet. Sarah spoke as engagingly as she writes. There were some unexpected treats in store as well: Matt Frei was a last minute booking who lifted the lid on Donald Trump, whilst Fergal Keane’s moving memoir of the Irish uprising combined tragedy with hope.

Hurricane Ophelia and Storm Brian attempted to ruffle the canvas of the sturdy Chubb Bulleid-sponsored marquee but were unable to make an impact. Some 6,000 tickets were sold for the week’s events and every ticket-holder remained warm and dry inside.

One memorable event occurred on the final Friday evening: Michal and Anne Heseltine were prevented (by the vagaries of the A303) from delivering their event on Thenford. So William and Caroline Waldegrave gallantly stepped into the breach and the audience were delighted by the resulting entertainment. Topics covered included Roy Strong, trousers, courgettes and life on the high seas.

A wonderful week ended with a sensational talk from Helen Czerski who brings a sprightly bounce to physics.