The line-up of best-selling authors and budding literary stars for the annual Budleigh Salterton Literary Festival has been announced.


Now in its ninth year, the themes of the 2017 Festival will be nature, wildlife and history, including family history and memoir. There will also be magical events for children to help mark the 20th anniversary of the first Harry Potter book.

The opening day of the Festival on 13th September will include an “in-conversation” event with Festival President, Dame Hilary Mantel MBE, who’s eagerly anticipated final book in her Cromwell trilogy is due for publication early next year.

Radio 4 Saturday Live presenter, Reverend Richard Coles. Will be chatting about his career from pop to pulpit on 13th September, and the programme also includes former BBC Foreign Correspondent Bridget Kendall MBE, on 16thSeptember, exploring the Cold War through the eyes of those it affected most.

Other highlights of the programme include editor, lecturer and linguist Professor David Crystal, on 13th September; Radio 2 broadcaster and journalist, Jeremy Vine, on 15th September; author and newspaper columnist, Allison Pearson, on 17th September and former Home Secretary Alan Johnson on 17th September.

There are a wide range of activities in the children’s programme, including children’s author Philip Ardagh, who will be holding school’s workshops, and Michael Morpurgo OBE, who will be talking about his latest book, Toto – The Dog -Gone Amazing Story of the Wizard of Oz, on 17th September.

The nature theme will be explored by the critically-acclaimed author Alex Preston, who will launch his latest book As Kingfisher’s Catch Fire, and award-winning Springwatch producer Stephen Moss discussing his recently published Wonderland: A Year of British Wildlife.

History too looms large. Following his hugely popular presentation in Budleigh Salterton on the Armada earlier this year, renowned historian, Sam Willis will be alongside Professor James Daybell once again talking about their podcast series The History of the Unexpected on 16th September.

Author and broadcaster, James Holland, will be taking us back in time, with his book War in the West on 15th September, alongside historian David Kynaston who will be exploring A History of the Bank of England, on 14th September.

Annie Ashworth, the new Festival Director said: “I am delighted to have programmed my first Festival and I hope it reflects the legacy of brimming talent which has always been the mark of the Budleigh Literary Festival. Combining established authors with rising literary stars will provide an outstanding week of literary celebrations.

“Thrown into the mix is an exploration of the accuracy of memoir, politics, the challenges of writing the past and a bit of rugby – something to appeal to everyone!”

New to this year’s Festival is an exciting range of workshops, including Writing a Family History or Memoir with creative writing teacher and project manager of the Royal Literary Fund, Meg Sanders; a calligraphy workshop with Athena-Cauley-Yu, creator of Bath’s Meticulous Ink; a creative paper-cutting workshop with craft expert, Christine Green and  a free creative writing workshop for young people with award-winning author and fiction tutor Christopher Wakling, sponsored by the prestigious Arvon Foundation.

The 2017 Festival line-up also includes:

Wednesday 13th September

  • Teacher, environmentalist and travel writer Alastair Sawday with his book Travelling Light.
  • Award-winning author, presenter and curator, Philip Hoare presents his latest book, Risingtidefallingstar.

Thursday 14th September

  • A workshop Elizabeth Day, Amanda Craig and Paula Cocozza discussing contemporary fiction and contemporary thinking. Amanda and Paula’s books are this year’s Festival Book Group reads. Buy your discounted copies from the Box Office when you buy a ticket.
  • Times rugby correspondent Owen Slot, multi-award-winning sports journalist, three times Sports Reporter and Feature Writer of the Year, and author of The Talent Lab.
  • Dr Shirin Ebadi – Iranian Lawyer, human rights activist and the first Muslim woman to have been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, telling her story in Until We Are Free.

Friday 15th September

  • Time travel – writing the past, a workshop led by two of today’s most exciting historical novelists; Sarah Perry, winner of the Waterstones Book of the Year and Tim Pears, whose latest book, The Horseman,set in 1911 is the first in a rural trilogy located on the Devon-Somerset border.
  • Bestselling author and Jane Austen expert, Paula Byrne, author of The Genius of Jane Austen.
  • Cultural historian and multi-award-winning author of The Pike, Lucy Hughes-Hallett, discussing her first novel, Peculiar Ground.

Saturday 16th September

  • Professor of experimental psychology, Charles Spence (who has advised the likes of Heston Blumenthal on the psychology of eating) talking on his book Gastrophysics: The New Science of Eating.
  • Nicholas Crane, geographer, explorer, writer and BBC broadcaster. His 2016 book, The Making of the British Landscape, is a geographical journey through time.
  • Oscar award-winning illustrator Alan Lee, whose most notable works include illustrations for several works by J.R.R Tolkien, including the centenary edition of The Lord of the Rings. His will be discussing the art of drawing Tolkien.
  • Memoir – Bending the Truth?, a workshop with Keggie Carew, whose book Dadland won the Costa Book Award for Biography, and Miranda Doyle, who recently published her debut book, A Book of Untruths.
  • Sophie Hannah, international bestselling author, who most recently penned all-new Hercule Poirot novels The Monogram Murders and Closed Casket. Her presentation will look at the nuts and bolts of great crime writing.

The children’s programme of events includes the much-anticipated children’s literary quiz final on 13th September, Poetry Slam on 14th September and a Bounce and Rhyme session on 15th September. Children are also being invited to drop in for a wizarding time at a Harry Potter Party on 14th September, with Magic Fun Days on 16th and 17th September.


Tickets for this year’s Budleigh Salterton Literary Festival will be on sale for Friends of the Festival from 3rd July at 10am by post or from the Box Office at Budleigh Salterton Tourist Information Centre.

General bookings will be open from 10th July at 10am from the Box Office, via post and online