Final preparations are under way for Ottery St Mary’s first Literary Festival. 

The event, organised by Ottery Writers, will take place from Thursday, October 20 until Sunday 23. 

The festival has been timed to coincide with the 250th anniversary of the birth of Ottery’s most famous literary and philosophical figure, Samuel Taylor Coleridge. A statue will be unveiled and there will be other Coleridge-related activities. 

The festival will begin with two free workshops. On Thursday morning Jenny Kane will lead An Introduction to Short Story Writing and in the afternoon Sally Flint will present An Introduction to Writing Poetry. 

The Coleridge statue will be unveiled outside the Parish Church at 11.00 on Friday morning – the exact time of Coleridge’s birth. There will be a short church service, a reception and a guest speaker, with the event finishing in the early afternoon. 

There will be an evening event at Knightstone Manor, during which the prizes for the festival’s writing and photographic competitions – which have attracted large numbers of entries - will be awarded.  

On Saturday morning there will be a Coleridge Heritage Walk, followed by three author talks and book launches at the Parish Church in the afternoon. Brian Mountford, Acting Chaplain at Corpus Christi College, Oxford, will discuss his biography Church Going Gone and his book Religion and Generation Z. Novelist Bethany Askew will present Three Extraordinary Years: The Coleridges at Stowey. Karen Maitland will talk about her latest historical crime thriller, Traitor in the Ice

In the evening there will be an illustrated talk on Coleridge by Tom Mayberry Of South West Heritage Trust, at The Institute. 

On Sunday morning John Hall of Ottery Writers will give a talk on Coleridge’s theology and spiritual life as part of the morning service at the Parish Church. The festival will finish with a celebration party at Higher Holcombe on Sunday afternoon. 

A spokesperson for Ottery Writers said: “We are indebted to Ottery St Mary Council for their financial help and guidance in organising this festival. Undoubtedly it is a fantastic opportunity to celebrate and encourage the literary talents of East Devon. Hopefully, this will become a regular event on the literary events calendar.”