Sevenoaks Literary Festival was established with the aim of bringing the brightest and best of current authors to Sevenoaks. Run by a small group of volunteers the Festival – which has been held every year since 2002 – is almost completely self-funded.
Throughout its history it has worked closely with Sevenoaks Bookshop – the regional winner in 2019 of the Independent Bookshop of the Year award.
Taking place over a period of two weeks from the end of September to the beginning of October, the Festival’s events and other talks – including an afternoon literary tea – are held at various venues throughout the town.
A distinctive feature is the annual free event with workshops for several hundred local primary school children. Visiting authors have included Malorie Blackman, Meg Rosoff and Michael Rosen. And from 2018 the Festival has hosted the Young Readers Festival Day organised by Sevenoaks Bookshop.
The Festival is distinguished by a stream of excellent speakers. Hilary Mantel spoke about Wolf Hall three days before being awarded the Man Booker Prize, whilst other novelists have included Sebastian Faulks, Sarah Waters, Kate Mosse, Penelope Lively, Sarah Dunant, Patrick Gale, Sophie Hannah and Mick Herron.
Biographers, historians, journalists, musicians, film-makers such as James Ivory (along with their films), photographers and poets, including Poet Laureates Andrew Motion, Carol Ann Duffy and Simon Armitage, as well as Lemn Sissay, have regularly appeared at the Festival, as well as speakers on current affairs such as the inspiring Gina Miller and Luke Harding in 2018.