Prelude Event: Friday 13th May 2022
Annie Garthwaite – Arts Centre Readers’ Group Q & A
Venue: Ilminster Arts Centre – Refreshments available
Tickets: £3.00 on the day
A special Question & Answer session with the Centre’s monthly book club, which this month is open to non-members. Annie’s debut novel, Cecily was a Waterstones Best Book of 2021 and a Times & Sunday Times top pick. “… a vivid and compelling portrait of a formidable figure from the 15th century, and a heroine for our times.”
Paperback: Penguin, ISBN: 9780241990971
Hardback: Viking, ISBN: 9780241476871
Prelude Event: Wednesday 18th May 2022
Children’s Poetry Recital Final
Venue: Greenfylde School
Tickets: Not required
We have held Poetry Recital Competitions in all our Literary Festivals to date, with some outstanding winning performances. Greenfylde School will again be hosting the competition this year. Children of all ages from local schools have been invited to perform a chosen poem, adding intonation, action, and excitement, and the winners from the local heats are competing tonight in the Final. We hope to see many young people from the area bringing performance poetry to life. All finalists will be awarded a certificate, and the winners and runners up each receive a splendid book, complete with an Ilminster Literary Festival bookplate to remind them in later years how well they did.
Saturday 21st May 2022
Daisy Waugh – The Tode Hall Mysteries: Writing Humour in 2022
Daisy Waugh has great fun mixing cosy crime capers with elements of Brideshead Revisited, her grandfather’s novel. In the Crypt with a Candlestick stars the Tode family, who have owned the magnificent money pit that is Tode Hall for generations. The mental instability of the heir persuades Lady Tode to bring in some more distant relatives to run the house, and mayhem ensues.
Daisy has been an agony aunt, a travel writer, a reviewer of restaurants and of luxury houses. She has written columns in The Independent on Sunday, the Times & Sunday Times, the Sunday Express, The Indy, and Standpoint Magazine.
Harry Venning – Release Your Inner Cartoonist
Cartoons are great and so are cartoonists. Become part of this elite branch of the arts at Harry’s cartoon workshop. Learn how to transform a flat piece of paper into a riot of laughs, an explosion of adventure, a cacophony of sound and a gobsmack of disbelief. All shot through with the real emotion that comes from drawing eyebrows in just the right position. Suitable for all the family (except the miserable ones).
Harry Venning is a comedy writer, cartoonist, and lecturer. His awards include a Sony Radio Award For Comedy and UK Strip Cartoonist Of The Year. For 25 years he drew The Guardian’s weekly strip cartoon Clare In The Community, which he developed into the successful BBC Radio 4 sitcom.
South Somerset Choral Society – Concert: Spring, Summer – and Jubilation!
Venue: The Minster, Ilminster
A celebration of Spring, Summer, and the Queen’s Jubilee with a programme of song, verse and prose covering more than 600 years. There’s more than a smattering of love, and the other important things that the fancy of a young man (or woman) might turn to at this special time of year as well. And for those of slightly more mature years – you’ll just have to come along and hear for yourselves.
South Somerset Choral Society is one of the premier choirs in this area with an enviable reputation for the quality of the music and programmes they deliver.
Sunday 22nd May 2022
Cara Hunter – Detective Thriller Author; with Lynda Creek
Venue: Ilminster Arts Centre
Cara Hunter is the author of the Sunday Times bestselling crime novels Close to Home, In the Dark, No Way Out, All the Rage and The Whole Truth all featuring DI Adam Fawley and his Oxford-based police team. Close to Home was a Richard and Judy Book Club pick and was shortlisted for Crime Book of the Year in the British Book Awards 2019. No Way Out was selected by the Sunday Times as one of the 100 best crime novels since 1945. And The Whole Truth was a Richard and Judy pick in 2021. Cara’s novels have sold more than a million copies worldwide, and the TV rights to the series have now been acquired by the Fremantle Group.
Graham Hurley – Is There Life After Crime Fiction?
Venue: Ilminster Arts Centre – Bar Open
Graham is best known for creating the character of DI Joe Faraday. Gétévé and France Télévisions started adapting Graham’s Faraday stories in 2011 through 90-minute television films under the title Deux Flics sur les Docks (literally Two Cops on the Docks). Desperate for a new challenge, a chance encounter prompts a WW2 novel, Finisterre, short-listed for the Wilbur Smith Adventure Writing Prize. Among other things, Graham will discuss the perils of being captured by a particular genre – in his case crime fiction – before describing his journey from yet another contemporary homicide to the very different world of our parents’ war – how it happened, why it happened, where it led him, and what it has taught him so far.
Monday 23rd May 2022
Sophy Layzell – Local and Debut Authors’ Forum
Have you ever thought of writing a book? Have you already made a start but need advice about what to do next? Sophy will be talking to three local women about their publishing journeys and how they were compelled to write following their own life experiences. They will discuss the publishing journey and the different pathways to getting published.
Philip Serrell – What Am I Bid? My Life Under The Hammer
From the well-known TV auctioneer as seen on Antiques Road Trip, Celebrity Antiques Road Trip, Bargain Hunt, Flog It! comes the entertaining and informative memoir of life under the hammer. When Philip Serrell gave up teaching to become a professional auctioneer, he thought he was embarking on a sensible and safe career. . . a quiet life in the country with no surprises. How wrong he was. From dodgy cars to fakes in the saleroom; angry livestock, mangled silverware and tortuous, not to mention muddy, experiences in local markets and farm sales, Philip has been there, done that and got the hoofprints on his suit to prove it.
David Pugsley – Was Jane Austen’s Aunt A Shoplifter?
In one of the earliest cases about shoplifting in high society, Jane Austen’s wealthy aunt was accused of theft in Bath in August 1799 and tried at Taunton Assizes in March 1800. Was she guilty of theft or were the shopkeepers guilty of perjury? This talk will present the evidence and ask the audience for their verdict. There will be some references to characters or events in Jane Austen’s novels. Since 1993 David has been the Hon Archivist of the Western Circuit. He has a special interest in causes célèbres in the West Country in the 19th century.
Tuesday 24th May 2022
Huw Lawford – Inside the Mandela Revolution ~ A British Soldier’s Inside View of Rise to Power
Following the election of President Mandela, the South African security structure needed a radical transformation. The old system, that had been a threat to most of the nation, was to be replaced with one that was ethnically balanced and would provide security for all South Africans. It brought political and racial adversaries together and melded them into a unified force. The UK was asked to provide a team to oversee the transformation.
This is a story of creating success out of failure, of ensuring the political is above military necessity, and about a small team learning how to survive and, ultimately, influence all those around them to put the past behind them and look to the future.
Patrick Cockburn – What Really Happened in Afghanistan, and Why Did The Taliban Win?
Due to unforeseen circumstances. we’ve had to cancel this event.
Venue: Monks Yard – Café Open
Patrick has been a Middle East correspondent for the Financial Times and The Independent. He was also a correspondent in Moscow and Washington and is a frequent contributor to the London Review of Books. He won the Martha Gellhorn Prize in 2005, the James Cameron Prize in 2006, the Orwell Prize for Journalism in 2009, Foreign Commentator of the Year (Editorial Intelligence Comment Awards 2013), Foreign Affairs Journalist of the Year (British Journalism Awards 2014), and Foreign Reporter of the Year (The Press Awards For 2014).
Double Bill: Rob Barratt, plus the Sunset Café Stompers
Rob is a Dudley-born comic poet, humourist and singer from North Cornwall. His act combines clever wordplay with satire, verse, song, and audience participation. He deals with such important topics as second homes, squid, distressed furniture, data-driven education, Neanderthal politics, and his relationship with potatoes. But beneath the humour lurk serious issues.
The Stompers’ music is rooted in the bars and bordellos, the dance halls and the street parades of New Orleans in the 1910s and 20s, and later in the clubs and speakeasies of Chicago and New York, as musicians migrated to the big cities to find work. Apart from their more regular gig scene – playing in pubs, clubs, village halls, and at theatre and church concerts – they are invited each year to play at various jazz festivals, such as Bude, Upton Upon Severn, Swanage, and Pershore.
Wednesday 25th May 2022
Neil Hanson – Inn and Out at the Top
Neil Hanson has over 60 published books to his name. As well as his own, much-acclaimed work, he’s also a “ghost writer” for, among many others, sports stars, showbiz legends, captains of industry, SAS men, fast-jet pilots, a treasure diver, an explorer, a kidnap negotiator, a leading surgeon, and a spy. His talk “Inn & Out at the Top” is a tour of the highs and lows of his time running Britain’s highest inn back in the 1980s – so high above sea level that it had its own climate, with winds that could tear car doors off their hinges, and winter snows that cut off the inn for weeks on end.
Mary Chisholm – Quests in Architectural History: Adventures of a Blogger in Somerset
Venue: The Minster Rooms
Where is one of England’s oldest inns? Why did the Grand Duke of Tuscany visit Hinton St George in 1669? What links Montacute House to a Royal Oak? How did Cardinal Wolsey take revenge after being clamped in the stocks? Why was a plant grown in South Somerset key to the economy of England? Blogging can be a liberating method of publishing history online. Mary Chisholm is an architectural historian living in Somerset. She has her own website where she publishes blog posts based on research into local history. She might start with a building, an idea or an object and follows where the thread leads. In this talk Mary shares some of her adventures in Somerset and where they have led.
James Crowden – Cider Country: How an Ancient Craft become a Way of Life
Venue: The Courtyard Gallery @ Rose Mills – Refreshments available
How about a relaxing evening in out-of-the-ordinary surroundings? James is a well-known local author and poet and will focus on his latest book Cider Country (“Magisterial” – Tom Parker Bowles), which explores how an ancient craft at the heart of rural Somerset became a way of life. Burrow Hill Cider will be on hand to talk about the process and work involved in cider making, and the running of a well-known family business.
We’re delighted to be using a new venue for this event – Rose Mills Studio on the edge of Ilminster, where seating is a random collection of old sofas, picnic chairs and stools. Leave the smart clothes at home, find your Bohemian side, and come along to a warm welcome and a Festival event with a difference!
Thursday 26th May 2022
Sally Nex – How to Garden the Low Carbon Way
Venue: Seavington Millennium Hall – Tea and Coffee from 10:30
Is it OK to use potting compost? Which plants are best for absorbing pollution? What’s the alternative to carbon-packed fertilisers? How can I cut out single-use plastics? Aspects of gardening can actually be bad for the environment. But make a few changes and you can significantly reduce the carbon imprint of your outdoor space, and even use it to lessen the impact of your other activities. Sally discusses how to make gardening easy, enjoyable, and eco-friendly. Sally worked as a journalist on BBC radio, television, and World Service for 15 years. Since leaving the BBC, she writes, teaches, and gives talks on vegetable growing, self-sufficiency, and sustainable gardening.
Jean Vernon with Ken Dewsbury – The Secret Lives of Garden Bees (Walk & Outdoor Talk)
Venue: Cottage Garden, Jordans Courtyard – Refreshments available
Bee walks are a great way to learn more about the pollinating bees in our gardens. Jean will introduce some of the bees that we might see. Then she’ll talk about which plants are best for bees. And if we’re lucky the bees might come and join us. Jean likes to safely catch a few bees as we walk, and pass the little magnifying pots around so that we can see the bees close up. (No bees are harmed when she does a bee walk). Bring a brolly if wet – bees still fly in the rain! Ken will be on hand afterwards to chat about keeping honeybees.
Antiques Call My Bluff – A joint event with the Rotary Club of Ilminster
Venue: The Shrubbery Hotel
Tickets: £17.50, Ploughman’s supper included, Bar Open
Friday 27th May 2022
Roger Doughty – Computing & Staying Safe Online
Roger had a successful career in city banking before moving to the West Country. Since 2000 he has taught and serviced computers in return for charitable donations. In 2012 he helped set up and run the Horton Computer Hub, a community group based at the Methodist Church in Horton, Ilminster. It offers not-for-profit technology teaching across a host of Microsoft and Apple products including laptops, tablets and smartphones. If you need friendly, expert help with understanding, using, and protecting your computer, this session is for you. This talk is not a hands-on session, so please don’t bring laptops, etc.
Joan Greening – The Comedy and Tragedy of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival
Joan Greening is an award-winning playwright. She created ITV situation comedies including The Cabbage Patch and Troubles and Strife. Her theatre plays are performed nationally and internationally. She has premiered many new plays at the Edinburgh Festival over the past few years. In this session, she will share the experience of presenting live performance at the Festival. “I have been associated with the Edinburgh Fringe for many years and I am absolutely sure that there will never be another one like 2021!”
Saturday 28th May 2022
Julie Summers – Dressed for War: The Story of Vogue editor, Audrey Withers, from the Blitz to the Swinging Sixties
Vogue’s editor, Audrey Withers, kept the magazine going in the toughest of circumstances. Julie describes Audrey’s life up to and including the war, and reveals how she came across a treasure trove of material in the Conde Nast Archives in New York that re-wrote British Vogue’s history.
Julie Summers is a bestselling writer and historian. Her books include The Quest for Sandy Irvine (a biography of her grandfather, the man who built the ‘real’ bridge over the River Kwai), When the Children Came Home – a social history of servicemen returning to their families from the Second World War, and Our Uninvited Guests, about the wartime requisitioning of thousands of houses to provide accommodation for the armed forces, secret services and government offices, as well as vulnerable children, the sick and the elderly.
Darrell Warner – From the Somerset Levels to the Hollywood Hills: The Life of the Graphite Gangster
An international award-winning artist and illustrator, Darrell initially began his freelance career in the advertising and publishing markets before making a switch to the film world. Darrell specialises in the very disciplined area of costume concept and illustration for major feature films. From Pirates of the Caribbean to Doctor Strange, Guardians of the Galaxy to James Bond, his biography amasses some 50+ Hollywood Blockbusters to date.
This is a rare insight into the oft very secret world of pre-production procedures of a concept artist in film, a job very few have even heard of let alone be aware of…
“Things were never quite the same again; the snug days had gone for good. Then the
vicar discovered me reading Brave New World and took it away and burnt it. It was the
end, in a way, of my country childhood and its carefree acquiescence.”
Laurie Lee – I Can’t Stay Long
Vic Marks – Late Cuts: An Evening with Vic Marks – In Conversation with Roger Swann
Vic Marks is a sports journalist and former professional cricketer. He played in 6 Test matches and 34 One-Day Internationals. His entire county cricket career was spent with Somerset. After retiring as a professional cricketer, he became a regular on Test Match Special, and writes for The Observer. He is currently Chairman of Cricket at Somerset. Whether revisiting his playing days to reveal the secrets of bowling a killer spell, and what it feels like to be heckled by a riled-up crowd, or ruminating on the current state of the game (don’t mention The Hundred!), this talk is bound to delight all cricket lovers – and others!