Guest written by Sara Bullimore, Artistic Director of Newark Book Festival
2020 has been a roller coaster ride so far for us all that is fair to say, in March at the time of the news our Festival programme was about 75% confirmed, but we were lucky in that we were able to make decisions as to the way forwards before events went on sale. Much planning later and we decided that we would not cancel but would adapt and re-create a new series of mini festivals – from Chapters 1-5 taking place from July – February 2021.
We are forever thankful to all of the wonderful publishers, authors, artists, venues, friends, sponsors, funders and to the Arts Council England for emergency funding to enable us to take this path, unpicking a Festival and putting it back together again takes a lot of time and energy!
This July we are delighted to offer a virtual programme with a variety of author events, workshops and panel discussions which explore history, crime fiction, gothic and storytelling for everyone in the family. We will be celebrating our theme of anniversaries from 100 years of the 1st publication of an Agatha Christie novel to 35 years of Live Aid, bringing Nottinghamshire’s stories and history to people’s homes.
10-12th July – What can you look forward to?
Historian, Emily Brand from Nottinghamshire will share her new book, The Fall of the House of Byron, a sweeping history of the 18th Century through the eyes of one notorious family. The printing press on which Lord Byron’s first poems were printed now resides in Newark Museum, part of the Civil War Centre.
To mark the birth of Anne Brontë 200 years ago, our expert panel on Saturday 11th July will celebrate the life and works of the Brontës over the years. The panel will feature BookTuber , blogger and Young Adult fiction author of The Paper Hearts Society – Lucy Powrie, Lauren Livesey from the Brontë Parsonage Museum and returning to Newark, Sunday Times bestselling author Rowan Coleman.
For crime fiction lovers, our ‘Crime Through the Ages’ panel will host four crime authors including Mick Finlay, Frances Brody, Rod Reynolds and brought to you by resident Chair and organiser of Hull Noir, Nick Quantrill. Our Saturday evening headliner is the fabulous Sophie Hannah talking about Agatha, Poirot and Me and her coaching programme for writers. Sophie will also return in person to Newark in 2021!
Other author talks include a Gothic Fiction panel with Jess Kidd, Sarah Ward and debut author Francine Toon; historical fiction author Giles Kristian in conversation with Mark Turnbull, who launched his book on the history of the Civil War last year in Newark; Founder Director of the Women’s Prize for Fiction and international bestseller Kate Mosse and author of Jambusters and Dressed for War Julie Summers.
Not to be missed our digital Festival will still include events for children with a facebook live storytime from BeanBlock café and the whole family are invited to get involved as children’s author, Claire Barker shares her series of Picklewitch & Jack books, recommended for those aged 6-10 – this event sounds like it is going to be a lot of fun!
Not to be left out we have two workshops for aspiring writers, with our 2020 Poet in residence Leanne Moden hosting one ‘real’ writing for wellbeing workshop at Carriages and a memory writing workshop on zoom. And make sure you are on facebook at 12noon Friday 10th July…as we take our opening number online!
It’s really easy to book tickets and register for events, with author talks at just £2.50/Free to Festival Friends. To view the full programme and buy tickets for the events please visit the Festival website www.newarkbookfestival.org.uk/programme where you can browse or download a digital brochure.
Entries are still open for our annual competition too, in which we invite you to create your own little book, inspired by Charlotte Bronte. Categories are for Children, 11-15’s and adults and we have some fabulous prizes donated from the Bronte Parsonage Museum. You can find all the details on our website. This is open until 12th July.
Although we are just starting to finalise our Chapters 2-5, make sure you save the dates in your diaries for the following festival adventures and keep abreast of the news on our social media channels @newarkbookfest
Chapter Two – Saturday 19th September – We are off on tour to Edwinstowe! With stalls, music, poetry, workshops and storytime.
Chapter Three – Saturday 26th– Sunday 27th September – This weekend will feature some of our lovely local events, with the return of our much loved Literature Village, a wonderful new Literary Walk for Newark with Blue Badge Tourist Guide Felicity Whittle and an Afternoon Tea with Nottinghamshire’s favourite Cathy Bramley.
Chapter Four – Thursday – 21st January – This will be part of our School’s programme which will run as soon as our schools are ready. Our School’s Day at the Palace theatre will include a morning for Primary Schools and an afternoon for secondary schools, including author of The Last Paper Crane Kerry Drewery.
Chapter Five – Saturday – 27th February – a long time to wait but welcome to The Imaginarium, a Festival day just for our younger fans and their families! We are delighted to be welcoming Thomas Taylor, Frances Stickley and many more wonderful authors and artists to celebrate with us on this day!
Going forwards into 2021 will be a big challenge, we will have lost earned income and our people are only covered until September. We will need to fundraise, so please do come along and support events – virtual or real, become a Festival Friend, spread the word and join in – and help us to work with you to make sure we are back again better than ever in 2021!
With huge thanks to our 2020 funding heroes for helping us to get this far – Arts Council England, Newark & Sherwood District Council, Nottinghamshire County Council, Newark College, Tallents Solicitors, BNA Charity, Newark Youth Trust, Creative Apostrophe, Duncan & Toplis, Ambitions Personnel, Aura Business Centre, our crowdfunders and Karrot Animation.