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Literary Festival delights all ages in Salisbury


This week’s Literary Festival at Godolphin School in Salisbury has been a resounding success, attracting audiences totalling well over a thousand who varied in age from nursery children to senior citizens.

The School was full of aspiring feature writers following Giles Hattersley’s opening talk. He grabbed everyone’s attention with his tales of interviewing stars ranging from Mary Berry to Ariana Grande in his years as chief interviewer at The Sunday Times. When the newly appointed Features Director of Vogue let slip that one of his early interviews had been with Justin Bieber, the teenagers in the audience sat up, and his many anecdotes about different celebrities’ behaviour amused all ages.

On Tuesday night, Tracy Chevalier’s arrival created a huge buzz. Topping the bill, the internationally renowned novelist is best known for her story Girl with a Pearl Earring, which was made into a film starring Colin Firth and Scarlett Johansson, and her talk attracted a large audience into Godolphin. She discussed her latest book, New Boy, a retelling of Othello which she has set in a playground in 1970s America and reminisced about her own primary school years in Washington.

The Festival's last evening event was pure entertainment with comedy writing duo Jason Hazeley and Joel Morris explaining the stories behind their pastiches of Ladybird Books. Writing their gags mostly for television, including ‘That Mitchell and Webb Look’ and ‘Charlie Brooker's Screenwipe’, their ever-growing list of Ladybird Books have been a runaway success and the laughter emanating from the auditorium was testimony to their comic timing. On discovering that every single piece of artwork from Ladybird Books had been kept, collated and filed online they started on their journey re-captioning the original illustrations with new text commenting on many areas of modern life. They have now written 32 books, and their latest titles include The Sister, The Baby, The Nerd and The Ex, and they enjoyed one suggestion from the audience that they write 'The Teenager' next.

300 pupils from 13 primary and secondary schools in and around Salisbury also visited for a full schools’ programme which included talks by children’s authors Kiran Millwood Hargrave, Waterstones 2017 Children’s Book Prize winner, and Moira Young, winner of the Costa Children’s Book Prize. Other authors attending include Marion Molteno, Sarah Govett and award winning-illustrator Jennie Maizels. Visiting schools also got the chance to try out their own skills in a writing workshop with Godolphin English teacher and published author, Tamar Hodes.

Organiser of the Festival, Davina Jones, said, ‘What a fantastic week we’ve had! Feedback has been so positive and it has been thrilling to see the audience engagement with all our brilliant speakers. Thank you to every one of them for making the Festival such a success.’

Published: October 26 2017

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