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The first Ilminster Literary Festival

PUBLISHED: 14:58 27 June 2016 | UPDATED: 14:58 27 June 2016

Award-winning author and illustrator Petr Horacek is due to appear at the festival

Award-winning author and illustrator Petr Horacek is due to appear at the festival

© Anthony Pearson 2011

Well known for the Minster church, its distinctive market square and thriving arts centre, the town of Ilminster is preparing to host a literary festival too from 1-9 June. The idea for this ambitious event was spawned by Ilminster resident Brenda Lake who hopes it will put the town on the literary map and encourage visitors.

At Ilminster Literary Festival Sally Nex looks at life behind the scenes Chelsea Flower ShowAt Ilminster Literary Festival Sally Nex looks at life behind the scenes Chelsea Flower Show

Well known for the Minster church, its distinctive market square and thriving arts centre, the town of Ilminster is preparing to host a literary festival too from 1-9 June. The idea for this ambitious event was spawned by Ilminster resident Brenda Lake who hopes it will put the town on the literary map and encourage visitors.

She explains: “Ilminster Rotary Club has held several successful literary talks and poetry evenings and as some of us are regular visitors to the Hay-on-Wye Literary Festival, it seemed like a great idea to do something similar here. Our aim is to ensure that everyone enjoys themselves, so that they say: ‘That was fantastic, when is the next event?’ If we can achieve that, then we will be thrilled. We would love to hold this every year, and if it is the success we hope it will be, then that is what we shall aim for.”

Efforts to contact authors appealing to all age groups and interests, and ensuring that the festival is really inclusive, started almost a year ago. Although Brenda has been the driving force behind the project she has been assisted by fellow Rotarians, along with others from the local community, including the town’s two independent bookshops. Financial support has been provided by grants and sponsorship from many organisations and businesses across Ilminster, all contributing in some way to ensuring that the literary festival will be a success.

The intention is to promote local authors, drawing everyone interested in literature and the arts together. Kick starting at The Memory Café, which provides support for those with Alzheimer’s and their families, activities have been arranged at a wide range of venues to ensure the literary festival is as inclusive as possible.

The official opening ceremony, which will be followed by dinner with author and cricket commentator Anthony Gibson who will talk on Somerset Landscapes, guarantees a real ‘Somerset’ feel from the outset.

In total there will be 30 authors talking about their works, as well as a literary quiz, a children’s story-telling session, poetry competition, and a talk on old and antiquarian books.

Two former Members of Parliament, both authors in their own right, will be also be appearing. Ann Widdecombe will be doing a Q&A session, whilst Paddy Ashdown will be presenting prizes for the children’s poetry competition.

To become a Friend of the Ilminster Literary Festival, gaining priority event tickets and other benefits, contact Deryk Outram on 01460 259113 or visit ilminsterliteraryfestival.org

10 top literary facts

1. Alice in Wonderland was based on a girl named Alice Liddell.

2. The most read book in the world is the Bible.

3. None of the novels published in Jane Austen’s lifetime gave her name.

4. Harry Potter and JK Rowling share the same birthday, 31 July.

5. Poets Laureate are paid with a barrel of sherry.

6. Roald Dahl wrote his stories in pencil on yellow paper.

7. Wild Swans is the biggest selling non-fiction paperback.

8. Barbara Cartland holds the world record for most novels (23) written in one year.

9. As a child Queen Victoria wrote 141 volumes of journals.

10. Christopher Beale became the world’s youngest author at aged six years and 118 days.

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