A sell-out audience for the last night of the 2017 Festival in the beautifully renovated Methodist Church delighted in the discussion and performance by Laura Barnett and Kathryn Williams of their collaborative novel/album Greatest Hits. And this was not the only sold-out event.
A riveting conversation between Alan Johnson and Philip Webster opened the Festival in the splendid surroundings of Knole Academy; in a detailed but relaxed talk, Professor Steve Smith, revealed the mutually-influential role of individuals and wider structural forces in the emergence and after effects of the Russian Revolution; and David Crystal exposed the glamour of grammar.
The Literary Lunch was held, as usual, in the delightful surroundings of St Julian’s Club. A beautiful day was enhanced by Gloria Hunniford reflecting on her life and work and signing copies of her new book My Life.
In the special annual event for local primary schools sponsored by Sevenoaks Town Council Michael Rosen entranced 500 children from five local primary schools at Sevenoaks Primary School, signed books at Sevenoaks Bookshop over lunch and then returned to the school for a session of poetry writing – on the subject of paradox(!) – which generated some wonderful work from the 90+ students of Sevenoaks Primary. This free event exposes so many young people to the wonders of words and books revealed by top authors but, of course, it relies on the rest of the Festival programme to make a substantial surplus in order to fund it.
Chair of the Literary Festival, Jill Webster, said “Throughout the Festival, there was a really close engagement between the presenters and their gratifyingly large audiences. The lovely Rosie Lomas and Katarzyna Kowalik (Literary Music) held an audience spellbound with their beautiful performance of Jane Austen’s Music, and world-renowned scribe and illuminator Patricia Lovett explained in exquisite detail the art and history of calligraphy. And the literary giants of the past were not forgotten as Bronte expert Juliet Barker asked us to take a fresh look at Branwell Bronte and consider how he enriched his sisters’ lives and work.”
During the Literary Tea, Sinclair McKay kept his audience trying to guess his resolution of The Mile End Murder. And pre-figuring Laura Barnett and Kathryn Williams on the relationships between different artistic media, Emma Harding offered a unique insight into the compatibilities
and mutually-formative influences between poetry and the radio. Towards the end of the Festival, two quite contrasting evenings were devoted in very different ways to the creative process of writing. Hilary Spurling spoke of her biography of the novelist Anthony Powell whilst Mick Herron in conversation with Jake Kerridge revealed himself to be a writer who just wants to write – who finds enormous fulfilment in the process – and talked openly about how he imagines and then creates the characters in his novels including the best-selling Jackson Lamb series – likely soon to be televised.