Ottery's first ever Literary Festival, held between Thursday, October 20 and Sunday 23, has been described as 'a fabulous long weekend of literary indulgence' by its organisers, Ottery Writers.

There were short story and poetry workshops in the library, poetry writing at the Kings School, a quiz night at the Football Club, a Coleridge Heritage Walk, an illustrated Coleridge Talk, a Meet the Authors special and more. 

The unveiling of the Samuel Taylor Coleridge statue also took place during the festival, on Friday, October 21. 

There was also the awarding of prizes in the pre-festival flash fiction competition. Bella Tiley, 11, from Truro, won first prize in the under-18s category for her story My Safe Place, which she read out at the ceremony at Knightstone Manor on the Friday evening. She received her prize from Ottery mayor Vicky Johns. Vicky said how delighted she had been by the Festival, and hoped it would be followed by more in the future. Local resident Melanie Barrow took second prize in the over-18s category with her story The Lament of a Poet’s Wife. A total of 160 writers entered the competition. 

The Coleridge Heritage Walk on the Saturday, guided by Greville Gilbert, included so many cultural places of interest that the group covered only a small area of the town. It included the new statue of Coleridge as a young man outside the church.  

Three very different authors presented the stories of their writing lives in the parish church on the Saturday afternoon. Bethany Askew opened the audience’s eyes to Coleridge’s Nether Stowey days and the often overlooked perspective of his wife Sara. Brian Mountford from Oxford spoke about his autobiographical book Church Going Gone which described with anecdotes and humour his lifetime as a Church of England minister. Finally Karen Maitland from Devon was interviewed by Ottery Writers Group member James Armstrong about how she got the ideas for her historical novels. 

John Hall from Ottery Writers said: "This was no big and brash festival. It had that home town feel of people coming together and enjoying writing and writers always under the inspirational shadow of the town’s genius, Coleridge. We just want to encourage writers and writing."