Turn over a new leaf at the Wealden Literary Festival…

The Wealden Literary Festival returns to Boldshaves Garden in Woodchurch, near Tenterden on the weekend of June 29-30 with a line-up featuring award-winning nature writers, authors and conservationists.

If you’re not familiar with this annual festival then in short it’s a celebration of literature, art, crafts and produce inspired by the natural world. And amongst the authors appearing this year are Raynor Winn, Adam Nicolson and Lucy Strange.

As well as authors talking about their work and what inspires them, another highlight of the festival will be a panel debate centred around the relationship between people and the land. The discussion will involve leading figures from the world of nature, conservation and agriculture.

These include Isabella Tree from Knepp Estate in West Sussex, whose book Wilding tells the story of the pioneering rewilding project she and her husband undertook to banish intensive farming and let nature take over their land.

‘The festival is about bringing together some of the things we love – from thought-provoking books about the natural world and beautiful art to delicious food and traditional crafts’

Also on the panel will be celebrated nature writer Mark Cocker, author of Our Place; Jake Fiennes, conservation manager at Holkham Estate in Norfolk; and Andrew Clark, Director of Policy for the National Farmers’ Union.

Alongside inspiring talks and debates, the Wealden festival also celebrates creativity and the best of local produce with displays and workshops from local craftspeople including the ceramicist Jane Sarre, spoon carver Jill Swan, and willow weaver Julie Gurr, as well as fabric designers, illustrators, foragers and wine-makers.

This year’s artist-in-residence has been announced as Faversham’s Hope Fitzgerald. She will lead bookbinding and design workshops across the weekend, while writer-in-residence Tanya Shadrick, from Lewes, will explore festival-goers’ childhood memories of place in her creative writing workshops.

The children’s programme is packed with hands-on activities as well as readings and talks from authors and illustrators Katharine McEwan (Tigerbear and Bear Hug,) and Frann Preston-Gannon (In the Swamp by the Light of the Moon).

The Wealden Literary Festival was founded by husband and wife team Andrew and Laura Willan as a way for people to escape the pace of modern life and embrace the simplicity of the natural world.

Andrew says: “Spending time outdoors has always been an inspiration to us. The festival is about bringing together some of the things we love – from thought-provoking books about the natural world and beautiful art to delicious food and traditional crafts – and creating a magical weekend where we can all pause and take time to appreciate what is around us.”

The Wealden Literary Festival is held at Boldshaves Garden in Woodchurch near Tenterden. Tickets are on sale now so to check out the festival programme and book your place visit www.wealdenliteraryfestival.co.uk

Four authors’ brief biographies

Raynor Winn: Described by The Times as ‘the most inspirational book of this year’, The Salt Path is a true story. Just days after its author, Raynor Winn, learned that her husband Moth was terminally ill, they lost everything and impulsively embarked on an epic and life-affirming journey along the South West Coast Path.

Adam Nicolson: This local writer grew up at Sissinghurst Castle in Kent. He won the 2018 Wainwright Prize for his book The Seabird’s Cry, an exploration of seabirds and the threats they face. His new book The Making of Poetry explores the lives of the young William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge while they lived together in the Quantock Hills.

Naoko Abe: The author of ‘Cherry’ Ingram: The Englishman Who Saved Japan’s Blossoms. Ingram was a British plant collector and gardener who became one of the world’s leading cherry tree experts after dedicating many years to the cultivation and preservation of two trees he found in the garden of his home in Benenden, Kent in 1919.

Lucy Strange: Based in Canterbury, Lucy has penned two notable tomes: The Secret of Nightingale Wood and Our Castle by the Sea. Lucy will talk about her love of writing and describe her fascinating journey from being an actress to becoming a school teacher and published author.

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