Purbeck's rich literary connections to be celebrated at first festival

Minette Walters

Minette Walters

First published in News by

Murderers, psychopaths, sex and Sherlock Holmes, it’s all going off in Purbeck, mixed with poetry, The Beatles and a wealth of writing classes for those who want to produce their own masterpiece.

Purbeck’s first literary festival is the brainchild of Emma Fernandez, who spends her days promoting the isle’s delights as a tourist destination.

“When I first came here I always thought the area had amazing writing people and groups,” says Emma, who resolved to try and start a literary festival.

Now she has, and even though it was only announced at the end of last year they’ve booked 30 events and are developing a fanbase that already includes the Twitter patronage of no less a personage than David Walliams.

“What I love about literary festivals is that you can literally meet your favourite authors in your own village hall,” says Emma.

If that’s what you’re into try checking out Winfrith Village Hall on Saturday March 1, where Dorset-based crime writer Minette Walters and history writer Janet Gleeson will be chatting to visitors and Janet will be launching her new book ‘The Lifeboat Baronet’, about the founder of the RNLI.

Or pop along to Swanage’s Grand Hotel on Tuesday February 25, when writer and president of the Romantic Novelists Association, Katie Fforde, will be hosting a high tea where she’ll be holding an author chat.

There’s plenty to entertain younger readers, too, with a free talk at Swanage library from Poole-based Young Sherlock author Andrew Lane, who will be talking about his Young Adult series featuring the world’s favourite detective, and his adventure books, Lost Worlds.

On Saturday February 22 writer Nick Churchill will be revealing Dorset’s Beatles connections, which he chronicled in his book, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, as well as screening some footage of the Fab Four.

One thing Emma was keen to encourage is the act of writing itself, in all its many forms. “Sometimes I think the idea that you could sign up for a creative class but you’d have to go for six or eight weeks might put you off,” she says. “We’ve organised some taster sessions and days where people can go along and see if they like it.”

The first of these will be held on Tuesday February 18 with Dorset’s queen of the magazine short story, Della Galton. She’ll be looking at short story markets, what they require, how to find story ideas and other ways to make money through writing.

On Friday February 28 Rachel Knowles of Weymouth will be revealing how she turned her passion for the Regency era into a business through the medium of blogging.

“She’s doing a blogging workshop because what she did could be adapted by any number of people for their particular interest,” says Emma. “She’s proved you can just be typing away at something you’re interested in and you can have a massive following and a new career.”

For those who like it racy, author Julie Cohen is holding one of her celebrated ‘How to write sex scenes workshops’ at Love Cakes in Swanage on February 21.

“These workshops have been featured in some of the national newspapers and they are brilliant,” says Emma.

And for those who fancy a walk, there are trails including Wareham’s Literary Links and a Lawrence of Arabia trail, as well as a display of vintage Enid Blyton books, complete with original dust-jackets, at Blanchard’s bookshop in Swanage.

“Well we could hardly leave Enid Blyton out!” says Emma.

For details of prices and times see purbeckliteraryfestival.info

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