The Budleigh Salterton Literary Festival brings a virtual feast to the screen

PUBLISHED: 12:00 08 September 2020

Sir Kim Darroch is a speaker at this year's Budleigh Salerton Literary Festival

Sir Kim Darroch is a speaker at this year's Budleigh Salerton Literary Festival

Sir Kim Darroch

The Budleigh Salterton Literary Festival brings a virtual feast to the screen

Hilary Mantel - a key speaker at this year's Budleigh Salerton Literary FestivalHilary Mantel - a key speaker at this year's Budleigh Salerton Literary Festival

The literary world will stream into the heart of the home this year, when one of the country’s most-loved festivals is launched, in the virtual sense, this September.

Instead of its normal format, that sees multiple stages and venues across Budleigh Salterton come to life with a whirlwind of fiction and non-fiction, this year’s literary festival will illuminate the screens of readers of all ages, wherever they may be.

Organisers of the 2020 Budleigh Salterton Literary Festival have embraced technology to deliver an extensive programme of online events, designed for audiences to listen to and interact with acclaimed authors, and engage in challenging topics and lively panel discussions.

The digital platform will enable the five-day festival, running from Wednesday, September 16 to Sunday, September 20, to reach a very wide audience, but it will remain steeped in the unique location that makes it so special.

Sandi Toksvig will be discussing her memoirs at this year's Budleigh Salerton Literary FestivalSandi Toksvig will be discussing her memoirs at this year's Budleigh Salerton Literary Festival

Festival artistic director Annie Ashworth said: “Despite restrictions, it was unthinkable not to hold the festival when it is such an important part of the town’s calendar.

“We intend the festival to have a strong sense of its location, so we’ll be hanging out the bunting and banners as always and bringing some superb headline writers to our local audience, as well as welcoming people online who might never have discovered this beautiful corner of Devon.”

Headline speakers include Festival President Dame Hilary Mantel who will be talking in person to BBC special correspondent, James Naughtie, in her first face-to-face interview with a live, socially-distant audience since lockdown.

The event will be recorded live in Budleigh on Monday, September 14 and aired online a few days later on Saturday, September 19.

The distinguished author will share details about The Mirror and the Light, her hugely-acclaimed finale to the Booker prize-winning Cromwell trilogy, and also details of her new book of reflective essays, Mantel Pieces, for the first time.

James Naughtie will also present to a live audience on the Monday, adhering to social distancing guidelines, with the annual Susan Ward Lecture about his book On the Road, that reflects on a career spent reporting on the United States. The talk will be streamed on Friday, September 18.

Also, on the Friday, the former US Ambassador Sir Kim Darroch will speak exclusively to the BBC’s security correspondent Frank Gardner about his explosive book, Collateral Damage, on the realities of working with Trump’s White House.

Other highlights include a talk by former Great British Bake Off compère Sandi Toksvig, on Wednesday, September 16, who will discuss her thoughts behind her memoir Between the Stops, and Helen Macdonald, who will share her views on one’s place in the natural world from her much-anticipated new book, Vesper Flights, on Thursday, September 17.

The well-known nature broadcaster, Kate Humble, will look at the concept of happiness after a year lived simply in the Herefordshire countryside; the Poet Laureate, Simon Armitage, will give an exclusive reading from his shed in the Pennines, and local writers Graham Hurley and Mark Diacono will give an insight to their work and their love of East Devon.

A programme of free-of-charge virtual events is lined up for young people of all ages to enjoy too. The Horrible Histories illustrator Martin Brown will bring his Lesser Spotted Animals to life, while Matt Oldfield and Emily Gravett will delight younger children with stories and drawings.

It is free to register to watch all the events online. Audiences will be asked to make a donation to support the festival’s costs and outreach work.

Festival President Dame Hilary Mantel said: “We can’t usher you to your seats in the usual way, but you are still warmly welcomed to our mixed and lively programme.

“Festival speakers, organisers and friends have been ingenious and determined to create a programme that will inform and delight.

“Support us with a donation if you can, but above all, be present, sustain our community of effort, be an active part of our celebration of the written and spoken word.”

To find out more, visit www.budlitfest.org.uk.


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