Top names secure Sidmouth Literary Festival’s growing reputation

PUBLISHED: 15:30 20 June 2018

Festival organiser Jane Corry and Nicholas Parsons

Festival organiser Jane Corry and Nicholas Parsons


A successful weekend, including three sell out talks, means Sidmouth Literary Festival has now firmly set its deckchair on the front esplanade of literary events across the country.

Lord Tebbit spoke to a full houseLord Tebbit spoke to a full house

Appearances by light entertainment legend Nicholas Parsons, political giant Norman Tebbit and intrepid foreign correspondent Kate Adie packed in the crowds. Others, in an eclectic mix from the world of words, delighted audiences, while aspiring writers had the chance to get feedback on their work in one-to-one clinics.

Jane Corry, author and co-founder of the festival now in its fourth year, runs the event with a team of volunteer organisers and stewards. “This year we’ve gone from strength to strength. The word has spread,” she said. “When I speak to publishers they’ve heard of us and it puts Sidmouth on the map which is great.”

Hotels and guest houses in the town got behind the festival by providing free accommodation to visiting speakers.

Wayne Winstone, owner of Winstones bookshop and festival co-founder, said: “It’s gone extraordinarily well. Each year is different because of the speakers and this year the diverse mix has been really exciting.”

Festival steward and budding author Angie Gosse with Kate AdieFestival steward and budding author Angie Gosse with Kate Adie

Nicholas Parsons at 94 years young still showed his wit and verve despite having been ill recently and missing an episode of his popular radio show ‘Just a Minute. He regaled the audience with tales from his varied career.

The worst answer on his popular Sale of the Century TV show: when a woman, asked to complete the proverb ‘What should people in glass houses not do?’, answered: ‘Take baths’.

Norman Tebbit said the will of the people must be respected over the Referendum and the Government had not shown enough determination in its Brexit negotiations. He also spoke about his passion for game cooking, the theme of his book.

Other top authors included T.P. Fielden, who was interviewed by festival patron Judi Spiers, Mary Hollingsworth talking about the Medici family with Sidmouth-based historian Jonathan Walker and TV’s Green Goddess Diana Moran, now in her 80th year and still urging people to stay active.

Green Goddess Diana Moran with local poet Jeni Braund and literary editor Katy LoftusGreen Goddess Diana Moran with local poet Jeni Braund and literary editor Katy Loftus

Poets were well represented with an Open Mic event and a new departure was the romance and erotica talk. The Rev Angela Briscoe ran a ‘how to write a prayer’ workshop.

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