We are busy organising the Children’s Festival on Saturday 10 October 2020 and we are very excited to be welcoming Michael Morpurgo to Lavenham. We are also extremely pleased to welcome back our old friends, author Zeb Soanes and illustrator  James Mayhew, who will be joined by musician Chris Warner. They will be presenting a joint session featuring much-loved Gaspard The Fox, with illustrations and accompanying music. We are equally excited to receive renowned local author Ann-Marie Howell who will be revealing the secrets of the gardens of Ickworth.

Here is Zeb back from reading the news on BBC Radio 4, being greeted by Gaspard. ©James Mayhew

We are very pleased to announce that our guest speaker for the Festival dinner 2020, on 20 November, will be The Right Honourable Alan Johnson, former Home Secretary, the first volume of whose autobiography, This Boy, has won a number of awards. His latest publication, In My Life, charts his early years though the music that obsessed him. This leading politician turned prize-winning author is certain to entertain and delight us.

As for last November, here are two testimonials to its success: in the words of the Bury and Suffolk Magazine, “last year’s brilliant Lavenham Literary Festival, brimming with a stellar cast of authors, proved the perfect spur for rediscovering the many simple joys of a good book”. And a visitor, Carrie Dye, has referred to it, in an article in the Brettenham Magazine, as a “fantastic, entertaining, fascinating, remarkable, superb, marvellous, unforgettable event” (read the whole article). But let us remind ourselves of the the highlights of the Festival 2019.

Ruth Jones, Pam Ayres and Ian McEwan helped turn the festival into a best-seller. It started with a literary dinner at The Swan Hotel with Ruth Jones, creator and star of Gavin and Stacey in conversation with fellow author Hannah Beckerman.

Hannah Beckerman (left) and Ruth Jones    ©Heather Craik

Another highlight was author Ian McEwan talking to his former English teacher Neil Clayton. Ian was a pupil at Woolverston Hall School near Ipswich where Neil inspired him with a love of English and encouraged his career as one of the country’s leading authors.

Ian McEwan with Nicola Hilder, marketing
manager for our sponsor Mattioli Woods

Other familiar names at the Festival included the country’s favourite poet Pam Ayres, who kept her audience highly entertained with her poems ranging in subject from the current gastro fashion of serving food on slates to looking after one’s teeth.

Pam Ayres with LLF Chair Susan Burton

William Clegg QC, author of Beneath the Wig and  Andrew Lownie, whose recent book on the loves and lives of the Mountbattens hit the headlines, were among other speakers during the weekend. The programme included a focus on poetry, with poets Rebecca Goss and Pauline Stainer reading and discussing their work, and on writing and publishing, with Bridget Holding‘s sold-out creative writing workshop, and Phoebe Morgan‘s comprehensive presentation on “How to get published”.

Rebecca writes: “It was great to see poetry being celebrated as part of the programme, and our event so well attended”

Andrew Lownie book signing

Contemporary themes were the subject of Duncan Campbell and Joanna Jolly‘s discussion on real crime reporting and writing, which included some startling revelations, and of John Higgs’s absorbing take on our future. Equally revealing and absorbing, but then about the past, were Clare Mulley‘s biography of the woman who founded the Save the Children charity, and Tracy Borman with her scholarly, innovative and electrifying analysis in Henry VIII and the Men Who Made Him.

Tracy writes: “The event on Saturday was such a pleasure from beginning to end and I was overwhelmed to see a packed hall. It really is by far and away my favourite festival”

Here is Zeb back from reading the news on BBC Radio 4, being greeted by Gaspard.