Welcome to the

Lavenham Literary Festival

Latest news plus information about our plans for 2021 and 2022

A warm welcome to our website.  Lavenham Literary Festival usually takes place in our beautiful medieval village in November over a long weekend.  It is renowned for its friendly atmosphere where authors and audiences can come together to celebrate a shared love of books. 

We are sad to let you know that due to the current crisis we have had to take the decision to cancel the Main Festival in 2021 but we are busy working on alternative options so watch this space! 

The Festival Dinner is scheduled to take place on Friday 5 November in The Swan at Lavenham Hotel and our brilliant guest speaker will be The Rt. Hon. Alan Johnson, former Home Secretary and author of This Boy and Please Mr Postman amongst other witty and engaging books.

Please follow the link in the footer to subscribe to our newsletter which will keep you up to date with our plans (and tell your friends).

Lavenham Buildings

Tracy Borman: This is my favourite Festival! I relished the chance to return to beautiful Lavenham, and this year’s Festival was even better than ever (if that’s possible!). It was wonderful to see so many people in the audience, and everyone I spoke to afterwards was lovely.

John Higgs: “A brilliant Festival. I enjoyed every moment of it!”

Toby Buchan: Lavenham Literary Festival gets some marvellous speakers and a lot of richly-deserved support, and I know just how much care and thought goes into the organisation of the event.”

Kate Mosse: One of my favourite events. I just love coming back to Lavenham.”

We are proud that East Anglia is buzzing with distinguished authors. 

Here are a few suggestions of their books to enjoy.

In At the Field's Edge: Adrian Bell And The English Countryside, Richard Hawking brings Adrian Bell’s prescient, beautifully written, and till timely observations about the ecology, economy and culture of the British countryside to a new generation of readers. Largely neglected, Bell’s voice is one we should listen to, coming from one of our greatest writers about farming and rural life. If we pause at the field’s edge with him for a moment, we get a lesson in aesthetic appreciation and about what is disappearing from the countryside.

Before handbags there were tie-on pockets where women carried pencils, thimbles or a lover's picture. Barbara Burman and Ariane Fennetaux have researched the story of this essential accessory of 18th and 19th century life in museums and private collections, letters, accounts of court cases and newspaper advertisements. Pockets were worn by duchesses and country gentry, prostitutes and washerwomen, and immortalised in a children's nursery rhyme.

cover of Haverscroft by S.A. Harris

Kate Keeling moves to Haverscroft House in an attempt to salvage her marriage but Haverscroft’s dark secrets will drive her to question her sanity and her husband, and fatally engulf her family unless she can stop the past repeating itself. In this modern gothic tale, S.A. Harris plays on the expectations of the role of women, the manipulation of their mental health and the risks they will take for their children. It will grip you from the start, and keep you guessing till the end!


In a luxury lodge on Botswana’s sunny plains four friends, once known as the Wild Girls, reunite for a birthday celebration. The birthday girl has it all but chose love over her friends, the teacher feels the walls of her classroom closing in, the mother desperately needs a break and the introvert yearns for adventure after much suffering. Arriving at the lodge a feeling of unease grows. There’s no sign of the promised party, and no phone signal. They’re alone, in the wild.  Phoebe Morgan’s latest book is an atmospheric thriller of secrets, lies and betrayals. Phoebe ran a "how to get published" workshop at our 2019 Festival.


Howard and Kitty have recently moved to Lodeshill after a life spent in London; now their marriage is wordlessly falling apart. Jamie has lived in the village for all of his nineteen years and dreams of leaving it behind, while Jack, a vagrant farm-worker arrives in the village on foot one spring morning, bringing change. All four of them are struggling to find a life in the modern countryside.
At Hawthorn Time, shortlisted for the Costa Novel Award 2015 is both a clear-eyed picture of rural Britain, and a heartbreaking exploration of love, land and loss.

In 1649, Jan Brunt, a Dutchman, arrives in England to work on draining and developing the Great Level, an expanse of marsh in the heart of the fen country. It is here he meets Eliza, whose love overturns his ordered vision and whose act of resistance forces him to see the world differently.

Jan flees to the New World, where the spirit of avarice is raging and his skills as an engineer are prized. Then one spring morning a boy delivers a note that prompts him to remember the fens, and confront all that was lost there.


Clare Mulley Book Cover

In this biography of Eglantine Jebb, Clare Mulley, who has been a frequent speaker at our festival, tells the story of a woman who, though not particularly fond of children herself, nevertheless dedicated her life to establishing Save the Children. Eglantyne Jebb was a brilliant, charismatic, and passionate woman, who moved between drawing-rooms and war zones and was not afraid to defy the law.

Anyone for Edmund Book Cover

Under tennis courts in the ruins of a great abbey archaeologists find the remains of St. Edmund, once venerated as England’s patron saint. Politicians, archaeologists and a reclusive monk all get involved, with St. Edmund himself looking on. Simon Edge mixes ancient and modern, poking fun at Westminster culture and religious cults in a beguiling comedy.

The Secrets of the Lake Cover

From Liz Trenow, best-selling author of The Last Telegram and The Silk Weaver, comes The Secrets of the Lake (May 2021) inspired by her Suffolk roots and the mysterious local legend of the Wormingford. The novel features a young woman in the 1950s, exploring how traumas of war reverberate through succeeding generations and how a community is rocked by the disappearance of a young Down’s Syndrome boy.