Look Back at the Faversham Literary Festival 2020

Faversham Literary Festival
19–23 February 2020
Venues: various

The third Faversham Literary Festival took place from 19 to 23 February 2020 with an exceptional array of brilliant writers  talking about the times we are living in at home and abroad – plus plenty of stories, humour, ideas and new perspectives for you to enjoy.

Faversham is a lovely place to visit, a medieval market town steeped in history with lovely independent shops, creekside walks and lots of eateries and cosy pubs serving great ales and good food. During the weekend of the festival there was a bustling ‘Spring Market’ throughout the town selling food, crafts, antiques, plants and gifts.

Literary events took place in various of the town’s historic venues: the Old Brewery Store, Guildhall, Alexander Centre, The Limes and Shepherd Neame Visitor Centre’s 15th-century function room, as well as the Arden Theatre. There was a packed programme of events from 19 to 23 February, plus writing workshops and local author readings on 15th and 16th February.

As in previous years the programme was diverse and offered something for everyone, featuring a great line-up of well-known authors and local talent. Opening night celebrated Kent cheese and ale in the company of raconteur cheesemonger Ned Palmer. The event was kindly sponsored by Shepherd Neame and took place in the Old Brewery Store. Closing the festival was internationally acclaimed writer Sarah Perry, whose gripping tale Melmoth confronts how we come to terms with our actions in a conflicted world.

Throughout the weekend there was an abundance of highlights including Melvyn Bragg reimagining one of history’s enduring love stories; liberal helpings of laughter with Jenny Eclair; Canterbury poet laureate Lemn Sissay; Dame Joan Bakewell on short stories and a writer’s need for ‘a room of one’s own’; Ken Livingstone celebrating London and how it has changed over the past 60 years; Will Self returned to Faversham to talk about his recent memoir; plus Stephen Morris from Joy Division/New Order, and Everything But the Girl singer-songwriter Tracey Thorn.

Faversham author Peter Williams shared his knowledge about the history of Kent’s coalmines and ironworks in the 20th century; and local Kent crime writer Julie Wassmer talked about the importance of location to her writing, with stunning photography of Oare and Faversham Creek, as well as Maggie Gee and William Shaw discussing crime fiction and Kent’s social divisions.

Nature and politics are on everyone’s minds in the current season and this was reflected in the programme, with former Newsnight presenter Gavin Esler on Brexit; former home secretary Jack Straw on the Middle East; Sarah Churchwell on the USA and Trump; David Herd and Christy Lefteri on the Syrian refugee crisis; Poets for the Planet; fictions on Chile, Turkey and writing in exile, plus the inspirational Tim Dee on spring and bird migration, as well as Kent nature writers Katherine May, Caroline Crampton, Lara Maiklem and Caroline Greville.

In 2020 Kent is celebrating the 150th anniversary of the death of Charles Dickens, and much-loved children’s author Michael Rosen created a Dickensian stir for all the family with stories, silly poems, funny faces and advice on how important ‘play’ is in all our lives, as well as delving into Dickens’s life as a child. Plus lots of young fun with Jo Simmons’s My Parents Cancelled My Birthday and local children’s authors Julia Woolf, Heidi Bryant and Nicola Parkhouse.

Faversham’s Abbey Physic Community Garden,hosted a special event on Saturday 22nd with local author Stephen Gillatt talking to memoir mentor Marnie Summerfield Smith about mental health issues and his incredible memoir Mad, Sad, Dysfunctional Dad. The audience was inspired by his story and by the work being done at this beautiful green space in the centre of Faversham – an award-winning secret walled garden that has sustainable wildlife areas, inspirational planting, a ‘men’s shed’ project; creative workshops and horticulture training, and a lovely cafe.

There was much more on the festival programme… cookery; a discussion on the soul of football and remembering ‘when footballers were skint’; travel writing; plus a varied programme of workshops for young adults including comic writing, Doctor Who, poetry and climate change.

Also new for 2020 was an all-day Poetry Hub in The Limes on Saturday 22nd from 11am to 11pm, featuring Kent poetry collectives, plus poets from London, Brighton and headline poet Luke Wright, whose political poetry is delivered with snarl and spit, panache, humour and a lot of style. And unmissable, the Friday-night Poetry Slam!

Many came and shared ideas, laughter and were inspired.

Download the Faversham Literary Festival Programme as a PDF 

More festival information available at www.favershamliteraryfestival.org