You can purchase tickets online at;

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If you would prefer to book your tickets in person we have a pop-up box offices;

  • E & S Computers, 24a Ditton Street, Ilminster (opposite the Tesco Petrol Station) – Fridays 9am – 12pm (as of 1st October)
  • Market Square Ilminster, – Saturdays 9am – 12pm (as of 9th October)

Sunday 31st October 2021

Linda Vijeh
Quizmistress – Linda Vijeh

Ilminster Literary Festival Quiz ~ Linda Vijeh

Venue: Donyatt Village Hall Time: Doors open 12:30, Quiz starts 13:00
Tickets: £3.00 per person, pay on the day. Maximum 4 People per team. Refreshments: Bring your own food and drink.

Quizmistress Linda Vijeh has put together another mix of fun and interesting literary questions to challenge you. Make up a team of friends or colleagues (max of 4) or come along on your own and join a ‘harlequin’ team. The choice is yours! Bring your own food & drink.



Wednesday 10th November 2021

Tessa Boase
Tessa Boase – Photo: © A. Peacock

Tessa Boase – The Women Who Saved the Birds

Venue: Via Zoom* Time: 11:00 
Tickets: £5.00

Twelve years before the suffragette movement began dominating headlines, a very different women’s campaign caught the public imagination. Its aim was simple: to stamp out the cruel fashion for feathered hats. This is the extraordinary story of the RSPB’s birth – the subject of Tessa’s book, Mrs Pankhurst’s Purple Feather. Tessa has unearthed rare images, a cast of invisible characters – and a surprising political secret.

*You will need internet access, and will be emailed a link to the session. You do not need the Zoom app to join the meeting.

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Stephen Moss
Stephen Moss

Stephen Moss – Britain’s Favourite Birds

Venue: Monks Yard Time: 14:45
Tickets: £8.00 Refreshments: Café Open

What do the Robin, Wren, Swallow and Mute Swan have in common? They are amongst the best-known and best-loved of all Britain’s birds. In a talk illustrated with stills and video clips, naturalist and bestselling author Stephen Moss also reads from his ‘biographies’ of four of our favourite birds – and lifts some of the secrets of their fascinating and eventful lives. Stephen will answer questions after his talk, and bring a selection of books to sell – including the newly published biography of our largest and most majestic bird, the Swan.

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Tim Mirfin
Tim Mirfin

Tim Mirfin – An Opera Singer’s Life

Venue: Arts Centre, Ilminster Time: 19:15, Doors open at 18:45
Tickets: £10.00 Refreshments: Bar open

Tim is a professional opera singer who has performed across Europe and in the U.S., Australia, Russia, and the Middle East, singing a range of major operatic roles. He now lives in Devon, and continues to teach and perform, as well as being a freelance lecturer. If you like opera it’ll be a real treat; if you’re not a fan, it’ll still be one.

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Thursday 11th November 2021

Alan Johnson
Alan Johnson

Alan Johnson (with Mike Lanigan) – In My Life – A Musical Memoir (Pt 2) plus The Late Train to Gipsy Hill

Venue: Warehouse Theatre Time: 11:45
Tickets: £10.00 Refreshments: Tea & Coffee available

Former Labour Home Secretary, and now award-winning memoirist, Alan was such a big hit with the audience when he headlined our 2019 Festival that we’ve asked him to return for 2021. After the break, Alan will talk about his latest book The Late Train to Gipsy Hill – ‘a gripping slice of contemporary espionage that takes in shadowy conspiracy, the Russian mafia, and a beautiful woman on a train who may not be all that she seems’.

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Barry Venning
Barry Venning

Barry Venning – Giles: The Life, Times, and Cartoon of a National Treasure

Venue: Warehouse Theatre Time: 14:45
Tickets: £7.00 Refreshments: Tea & Coffee available

Through his cartoons, Carl Giles poked fun at authority in all its forms, his characters allowing him to say what he was too polite to say in person. Giles’ cartoons appeared in the Daily Express and Sunday Express newspapers, and he became a national treasure. The annuals of his work also sold in their millions. Giles was also a World War 2 war correspondent, witnessing the horrors of Belsen, where he is buried.

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John Crockford Crawley
John Crockford Hawley Photo: © Western Mercury

John Crockford Hawley – Potty Parsons

Venue: Ilminster Arts Centre Time: 19:30
Tickets: £7.00 Refreshments: Bar open

The Church of England is a treasure trove of expectation and failure. Clergy eccentricity and past naughtiness provide deliciously amusing tales, but, of necessity, this fully illustrated talk will concentrate on dead clerics whose litigious capability is somewhat limited.

John is an historian, writer and lecturer, a former Mayor of Weston-Super-Mare, and Chairman of North Somerset Council.

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Friday 12th November 2021

Abigail Ballinger
Photo: © Ian Reid

Abigail Ballinger – Secret Gardens of Somerset

Venue: Monks Yard Time: 11:30
Tickets: £5.00 Refreshments: Café Open

An illustrated tour of some of the most beguiling gardens in our much-loved area, defined by its distinctive horticulture, rolling hills, picturesque villages, and the most traditional English landscape. In the footsteps of artists and trend-setters from Victorian designers such as Harold Peto to planting visionary, Gertrude Jekyll, as well as contemporary pioneer Piet Oudolf, we find a series of captivating country gardens of different sizes and atmospheres, which have shaped the English identity, and in different ways express the ideals of English life.

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Caroline Newark
Caroline Newark

Caroline Newark – Arts Centre Readers’ Group Q&A

Venue: Ilminster Arts Centre Time: 14:00
Tickets: £3.00 on the day Refreshments: Café Open

A special Question & Answer session with the Centre’s monthly book club which this month is open to non-members. Caroline’s books are about the women in her mother’s family tree, beginning in 1299 with a marriage between the Royal Houses of England and France. Come and hear about her plans for the 22 books (one book for each generation). We will also be discussing her sixth and latest book – The Making of a Tudor [Matador (ISBN: 978-1-80046-434-6)].



Dr Lucy Pollock
Dr Lucy Pollock

Dr Lucy Pollock – The Book About Getting Older

Venue: Monks Yard Time: 14:00
Tickets: £8.00 Refreshments: Café open

Lucy trained in medicine at Cambridge University and Barts Hospital and now lives and works in Somerset as a Consultant Geriatrician. The Book About Getting Older (for people who don’t want to talk about it) was published earlier this year. Widely acclaimed for its depth of knowledge, compassion and humour, it has featured on both Woman’s Hour and Radio 2’s Good Morning Sunday. Lucy’s talk will be a kind, candid and funny exploration of things we all need to know. Let’s face it, we’ve all got a vested interest in knowing more about older age from someone who truly understands it, so this is an unmissable session!

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Andrew Lownie
Photo: © James Gifford-Mead

Andrew Lownie – The Duke of Windsor, Traitor King

Venue: Warehouse Theatre Time: 19:30
Tickets: £8.00 Refreshments: Tea & Coffee available

Beginning his astonishing biography at the moment most turn away, bestselling historian Andrew Lownie reveals the dramatic lives of the Windsors post-abdication. This is a story of a Royal shut out by his family and forced into exile; of the Nazi attempts to recruit the Duke to their cause, and of why the Duke, as Governor of the Bahamas, tried to shut down the investigation into the murder of a close friend. It is a story of a couple obsessed with their status, financially exploiting their position, and manipulating the media to portray themselves as victims. 

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Saturday 13th November 2021

Helen Fry
Helen Fry
Photo: © Greg Morrison

Helen Fry – MI9: A History of the Secret Service for Escape and Evasion in World War Two

Venue: Warehouse Theatre Time: 14:30
Tickets: £8.00 Refreshments: Tea & Coffee available

Drawing on declassified files and eye-witness testimonies from across Europe and the United States, Helen Fry provides a significant reassessment of MI9’s wartime role. Central to its success were figures such as Airey Neave, Jimmy Langley, Sam Derry, and Mary Lindell-one of only a few women parachuted into enemy territory for MI9. This astonishing account combines escape and evasion tales with the previously untold stories behind the establishment of MI9-and reveals how it saved thousands of lives.

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Brian Freeland
Brian Freeland
Photo: © Mac McNamee Images Photography

Brian Freeland – Around the World in 80 Plays / 50 years of Seaside Entertainment

Venue: Ilminster Arts Centre Time: 19:30
Tickets: £10.00 Refreshments: Bar open

Brian’s last visit was one of the highlights of the 2018 Festival, and he returns this year with another Double Bill. AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 PLAYS tells of tours which took him to over forty different countries with entertainment ranging from the London Festival Ballet to one-man-shows. The trials and tribulations of those tours turn into a bundle of laughs in Brian’s capable hands. And no doubt there’s a story in his new book Searching for my Tambourine which will feature somewhere! After the break Clarkson Rose will help Brian tell the story of FIFTY YEARS OF SEASIDE ENTERTAINMENT, bringing the festival to a light-hearted close with memories of the Minstrels, the Pierrots, the Concert Parties and the Holiday Camps. You will be expected to join in the choruses. Oh yes you will!

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Sunday 14th November 2021


Ilminster Entertainments Society
Ilminster Entertainments Society

Ilminster Entertainments Society – Tone Clusters – by Joyce Carol Oates
A One-Act Play directed by Valda Dagnell

Venue: Warehouse Theatre Time: 14:30 (Doors open 13:45)
Tickets: £10.00 Refreshments: Tea and Coffee available

Tone Clusters first saw the light of day at the Warehouse Theatre as one of three one-act plays, performed in February 2020. Covid prevented the company from taking the play into the 2020 Somerset Fellowship of Drama Festival of One-Act Plays, to compete for a place in the All-England Theatre Festival. Over a year later they found themselves competing in Frome at the Western Area Final of the All-England Festival. Against some stiff competition they came through to a place in the Final in Bridlington, where they gained silver.
Tone Clusters, described as ‘a strange but intriguing play’, is based on the true story of a horrific murder in New York State in 1989, the names of the innocent and the guilty being changed by the author. After the performance, Mick & Irene Glynn, who play Frank & Emily Gulick, will talk about the real-life case.