This Friday and Saturday (October 13 and 14) the Cranbrook Literature Festival returns for its fourth edition. Its Director Christine Newman tells Eileen Leahy more about the event, which was once biennial, but thanks to its success will now be held annually. She also reveals the authors on the literary bill for 2023…
The Cranbrook Literary Festival was established in 2016 by Christine Newman, who created this community-led, not-for-profit event in order to promote the joy of reading and writing to Cranbrook and the surrounding area.
Since then it has become a popular, local literary event welcoming a slew of high-profile writers including Lisa Jewell, Deborah Moggach and William Nicholson to Cranbrook where ticketed talks are given in the town’s Vestry Hall.
The festival has been a biennial event ever since and is run entirely by volunteers.
“The aim of the festival is to cover the cost of bringing authors into local schools so children can then experience meeting an author and be enthused by reading and writing for pleasure,” explains the festival’s director Christine.
When the Times spoke to Christine at the time of the last festival she told us how the idea for it came about: “As a librarian, creative writer, book geek and a life-long lover of attending literature festivals like Cheltenham, Charleston and Hay, I decided Cranbrook was the ideal place to hold our very own festival. I gathered a few like-minded friends together to see if the idea had legs… and it turns out it did!
“The festival is financed entirely by sponsorship, and the revenue from ticket sales for the adult events allows the free events for schools to take place.
“The events have proved so popular over the last few years that the committee is now hoping to make the festival an annual event,” reveals Christine.
This year children from schools including primaries Cranbrook, Sissinghurst, Hawkhurst, Horsmonden, Colliers Green and Dulwich Prep School, St Ronan’s, Cranbrook School and Snowfields, plus
1st Cranbrook Brownies will have the chance to hear from a variety of authors, at no cost to them.
“These include Joshua Seigal, Ben Miller, Eve Wersocki Morris, Natasha Farrant, Helen Peters and Gianna Pollero,” adds Christine.
For adults there will be events with popular authors including Elizabeth Buchan, William Shaw, E Hannavy-Cousen, Alex Preston, Vanessa Nicolson, Christy Lefteri and Nicci French.
For non-fiction fans there will be an event with food writer Jenny Linford plus poetry from the Kent and Sussex Poetry Society and a creative writing workshop with Lulah Ellender over the two-day event.
“This year’s festival highlights the work of some of the great local writers we have in the South East”, says Christine.
“Established writers such as William Shaw, Alex Preston, Vanessa Nicolson and new to the publishing world, E Hannavy-Cousen will be appearing alongside authors from further afield, with Elizabeth Buchan, Nicci French and Christy Lefteri all taking part in events.
“We are very excited by this year’s programme, which has something for everyone whether your preferred genre is romance, thriller, crime, historical or contemporary”, concludes Christine.
“And of course all ticket sale revenue goes straight back into providing author experiences for children in the area.”