Programme 2020

WIll Self
Will Self
Join cultural and political icon Will Self as he makes a welcome return to Faversham to talk to writer Lee Rourke about his memoir, 'Will', which opens up about his drug addiction, life as a young adult and his fictional trajectory ­– a funny, intense and anarchic journey into the mind of one of Britain’s most daring writers.
Sarah Perry
Sarah Perry
A masterly new work from the author of 'The Essex Serpent'. Unnerving and unsettling, 'Melmoth' is a haunting tale about guilt, forgiveness, moral reckoning and how we come to terms with our actions in a conflicted world. ‘Scary and smart, but also a philosophical inquiry into the nature of love and will.’ Host Alex Preston.
Ned Palmer
Ned Palmer
Cheese lovers rejoice! Cheesemonger and professional cheese taster Ned Palmer is coming to Faversham for the opening night of the festival to talk us through the history of cheese, from prehistoric Celts to postmodern foodies, and how key moments and major currents in our history are embodied within our food.
Clare Pollard
Clare Pollard
An eye-opening journey in a pea-green boat, 'Fierce Bad Rabbits' is a fascinating and insightful examination of the stories behind our best-loved childhood stories. Sparkling with wit, magic and nostalgia, it weaves tales from Clare's own childhood, her re-readings as a parent, and fascinating facts and theories about the authors behind the books. Introducing you to new treasures while bringing your childhood favourites to vivid life, it will make you see afresh even stories you've read a hundred times. Host Daniel Hahn.
Michael Rosen
Michael Rosen
Much-loved author, poet and broadcaster Michael Rosen, author of more than 200 books for children and adults, asks what it means to play with a Dickens plot, as he did in 'Bah! Humbug!' and 'Unexpected Twist!' and considers Dickens's life when he was a child. He also reads some of his funniest poems and shares wisdom from his latest 'Book of Play', in which he delves into the history of play via puns, nonsense, improvisation and toys. This event celebrates the 150th anniversary of Charles Dickens's death. Suitable for all ages.
Lara Maiklem
Lara Maiklem
Kent-based Lara Maiklem’s search for urban solitude and history on the River Thames, what she calls ‘the longest archaeological landscape in the world’. Known as the ‘London Mudlark’, Lara has been larking along the Thames for over 15 years, unearthing finds from Neolithic, Roman, medieval and Victorian eras that tell her about London and its lost ways of life. Host: Julia Wheeler.
Jenny Eclair
Jenny Eclair
With her inimitable wit and observational humour, the writer, comedian and TV personality talks to Julia Wheeler about her latest novel, 'Inheritance', a compelling tale of tragedy and turmoil across generations set in a mansion in deepest Cornwall. Expect liberal helpings of laughter and tears.
Jack Straw
Jack Straw
In 2001 Jack Straw became the first senior British Foreign Secretary to visit Iran since the 1979 revolution and has developed a growing interest in the country ever since. His book sheds new light on Britain’s difficult relationship with Iran and explores the culture, psychology and history of this fascinating country. He will discuss the consequences of domestic repression in Iran, the future of the Islamic Republic and its relations with the west. Host Julia Wheeler.
Sarah Churchwell
Sarah Churchwell
'The American dream is dead' Donald Trump said when announcing his candidacy for president in 2015. How would he revive it? By putting 'America First'. The phrase has become the anthem of his presidency and is adored by his supporters. As America struggles to project a shared vision, to itself and to the world, Sarah Churchwell argues that only by understanding the origins and aspirations of its mantras, and those who first used the expressions, can the true spirit of America be reclaimed. Be prepared to have everything you thought you knew about the United States turned on its head. Host Julia Wheeler.
Gavin Esler
Gavin Esler
The former Newsnight presenter’s frank guide to the most momentous change in British life for decades, revealing the facts about how Brexit will affect our daily lives. Will Brexit boost jobs? Or wreck the NHS? Or cause food shortages? It may not be the Brexit you thought you were getting. Host Julia Wheeler.
Joan Bakewell
Joan Bakewell and Maggie Gee
Short stories from a stellar list of women novelists, authors Dame Joan Bakewell and Maggie Gee talk with Sarah Hosking, founder of the Hosking Houses Trust for women writers, about women's writing and the question behind the book: What does it mean to 'kiss and part'?
Lemn Sissay
Lemn Sissay
Awarded an MBE for services to literature, 'My Name Is Why' is the poet’s story of neglect, misfortune and triumph. In this moving and timely memoir he talks to host Julia Wheeler about his childhood, Britishness, the institutional care system, race, family and the meaning of home.
Jo Simmons
Jo Simmons
Perfect for fans of David Baddiel's 'Birthday Boy' – a hilarious tale of wish fulfilment gone wrong, about a boy struggling to arrange the birthday he feels he deserves, after his parents let him down. A tale that every child will relate to. 'This cautionary tale will make children yelp in agreement and roll around with laughter, but ultimately leave them appreciating their brother or sister a little bit more...' Suitable for primary school children Year 3 to Year 6.
William Shaw and Maggie Gee
William Shaw and Maggie Gee
William Shaw’s taut thrilller 'Deadland', set in the brooding shadows of Dungeness, and Maggie Gee’s literary crime caper 'Blood', a black comedy set around Margate – the authors talk about Kent as the setting for their work and how they each confront its social divisions, with murderous results.
Luke Wright
Luke Wright
The unmissable Luke Wright is coming to Faversham and there are two chances to see him perform! Luke is feature poet at the Friday-night Poetry Slam event. A well-read scholar and master of poetic form, Luke's poetry – full of anecdote, historical vignettes, social commentary and acute observations on life – will leave you breathless. Fast-paced and exciting! Luke will be followed by the Slam event in which 10 Kent poets battle it out for the title.
Gareth Rees
Gareth Rees
A work of non-fiction taking a darkly satirical look at commonplace urban landscapes that are little-explored and rarely featured in art and music, yet they shape the aesthetics of our towns and cities, and are hotspots for crime, rage and sexual deviancy. Gareth E. Rees explores how the UK’s retail chain-store car park has as much mystery, magic and terror as any mountain, meadow or wood. Host Gary Budden.
Elizabeth Macneal and Naomi Wood
Elizabeth Macneal and Naomi Wood
Two powerful works of fiction set in times of radical change for art and society. Elizabeth MacNeal’s debut 'The Doll Factory', set in London in 1851, brings to life rivalries, ambitions and secrets in a world that the Pre-Raphaelite brotherhood was intent on changing. 'The Hiding Game' by Naomi Wood enters the Bauhaus art school in 1922, as political tensions escalate in Germany and the Bauhaus comes under threat. Host Daniel Hahn.
Peter Fiennes and Sara Wheeler
Peter Fiennes and Sara Wheeler
Sojourns around Britain and Russia in the company of great writers. In 'Footnotes' Peter Fiennes brings modern Britain into focus by peering through the lens of the past, following in the footsteps of some of our greatest writers, from Enid Blyton to JB Priestley. In 'Mud and Stars' travel writer Sara Wheeler takes us on a literary tour of Russia in the company of Pushkin, Tolstoy, Gogol and other greats. Host Alex Preston.
Sara Collins
Sara Collins
A compelling historical debut in which a former slave accused of murder recounts her life, Sara Collins' bold exploration of passion and the transgression of boundaries reveals a new literary star reminiscent of the best of Sarah Waters. Shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award 2019. Host Alex Preston.
Alia Trabucco Zerán and Sema Kaygusuz
Alia Trabucco Zerán and Sema Kaygusuz
Two powerful and topical narratives about historical memory. Shortlisted for the 2019 Man Booker International Prize, 'The Remainder' is Alia Trabucco Zerán's debut novel, exploring the repercussions of history for the children of those who fought against Chile’s dictatorship, told through a darkly comic road trip set in modern-day Santiago. It was chosen by El País as one of its top ten debuts of 2015.
Hamid Ismailov
Hamid Ismailov
‘Life in exile! May it be cursed. Once you have become a stranger, a stranger you shall remain.' Following the award-winning 'The Devils’ Dance', the Uzbek author has crafted another masterpiece about the search for truth and wisdom – a tale of exile featuring a wandering philosopher, a penniless writer and a bee forced from its hive. A masterpiece combining traditional oral storytelling with contemporary global fiction. Host Daniel Hahn.
The Art of Short Fiction
The Art of Short Fiction
Flash fiction, short stories, prose poems: all seem to be thriving these days. Three young specialists in the short form – Joe Dunthorne, Max Sydney Smith and Xanthi Barker – read extracts from their work and discuss their methods. Host Charlotte Newman. Organised in collaboration with Rough Trade Books.
Lee Rourke and Will Wiles
Lee Rourke and Will Wiles
Intellectually playful chronicles of modern Britain. In 'Glitch' Lee Rourke unflinchingly explores grief, family and the irregularities of everyday life, in what emerges as a moving and heartfelt depiction of a mother–son relationship. He is in conversation with Will Wiles, whose recent novel 'Plume' is a fast-moving Kafkaesque story about an alcoholic hack set in contemporary London.
Alex Preston, Sara Collins and Sarah Churchwell
Alex Preston, Sara Collins and Sarah Churchwell
What is it to pursue a goal, to strive for an ideal, to follow a dream? These are the questions explored in 'Pursuit', a collection compiled by award-winning novelist Alex Preston. The stories – from some of the brightest and most exciting voices writing today – tell of determination, endeavour and perseverance against the odds.
Stephen Morris
Stephen Morris
Joy Division and New Order drummer Stephen Morris’s musical memoir 'Record Play Pause' recounts with deadpan wit his incredible career, taking a frank and profound look at the mythology of these iconic bands and music’s power to define who we are. A coming-of-age story with plenty of anecdotes and memories. Stephen Morris has been behind some of the most recognizable drumbeats in modern music. Part memoir, part aural history, his latest book reflects on growing up in north-west England during the 1970s and the impact that Joy Division has had from the late 1970s to the present day, taking in the brilliance of the music, lyrics and post-punk tension. Hosting the event is music journalist and author William Shaw.
Daniel Rachel
Daniel Rachel
Musician and award-winning author Daniel Rachel charts the epic highs and crashing lows of the 1990s and Cool Britannia, from Tony Blair to Noel Gallagher, Tracey Emin and Irvine Welsh. Erudite, thoughtful and funny, 'Don't Look Back in Anger' is an Evening Standard Book of the Year. Host Andy Miller of Backlisted Podcast fame.
Tracey Thorn
Tracey Thorn
The singer-songwriter behind Everything But The Girl takes us on a witty, insightful walk through the maligned commuter town of her youth spent in Hertfordshire. Returning to our roots can be tough, as Tracey Thorn discovers in 'Another Planet', which is full of bus shelters, local discos, aspirational parents and emotional cul-de-sacs. Host: Andy Miller.
Writing Women's Lives
Writing Women's Lives
Inspired by the life of Minnette de Silva – a forgotten feminist icon and one of the most important figures of 20th-century architecture – Shiromi Pinto charts de Silva's affair with infamous Swiss modernist Le Corbusier and her efforts to build an independent Sri Lanka. Compelling and provocative, Annabel Banks’s debut short-fiction collection draws upon the human need to be in control – no matter how devastating the cost. Linda Mannheim's short-story collection tells the stories of twelve people who have relocated, both voluntarily and involuntarily, and asks what happens when we leave the places we're from. What parts of our pasts are unshakeable?
Ken Livingstone
Ken Livingstone
Former London Mayor Ken Livingstone talks to Julia Wheeler about the people, places and the politics that have shaped the landscape, and how the city has changed dramatically over the last 60 years. With a witty and worldly eye he he shares his views on every aspect of the city, from playing on bomb sites in an era where St Paul's was the tallest building in the city, to 2019 where the gleaming towers of the Shard and Walkie Talkie dominate the skyline, thanks to new building rules introduced by his administration.
Christy Lefteri and David Herd
Christy Lefteri and David Herd
Giving voice to the Syrian refugee crisis, Christy Lefteri’s experience as a volunteer at a UNICEF-supported refugee centre in Athens informs 'The Beekeeper of Aleppo'. She is in conversation with David Herd, coordinator of 'Refugee Tales' – an ongoing project that calls to end indefinite immigration detention – writers have collaborated with people who have experienced detention, their tales appearing alongside first-hand accounts by people who have been detained. Host Janice Lowe, chairperson of Faversham & Villages Refugee Group.
Stephen Gillatt
Stephen Gillatt
‘I have been living with mental health problems for 25 years. This is my story.’ A wonderfully frank memoir by a Faversham-based author who talks openly in the hope that it will help others. Stephen has a close relationship with Abbey Physic Community Garden in Faversham, where he has spent much time to find new ways of coping and making changes in his life. Marnie Summerfield Smith joins him there to talk about his exceptional book. Proceeds from this event will go to Abbey Physic Community Garden.
Marie-Elsa Bragg
Marie-Elsa Bragg
The suicide of Melyvn Bragg's first wife cast a long shadow that forged an unbreakable bond between father and daughter. Now, many years later, Marie-Elsa returns to that night when she was just six years old. In a unique mix of prose and poetry, written partly as a series of unsent letters to both her mother and father, Sleeping Letters is a way of connecting to past family, an attempt to reconcile with loss, as well as a radical exploration of Marie-Elsa’s own faith. Host Marnie Summerfield-Smith.
Jon Henderson
Jon Henderson
Can you recall when football’s greatest players shared a bond of borderline poverty with the fans they entertained? Shortlisted for The Telegraph Sports Book Awards 2019, 'When Footballers Were Skint: A Journey in Search of the Soul of Football' is an important historical record and immensely entertaining, based on the first-hand accounts of players from a fast-disappearing generation. Jon Henderson talks to Roger Alton, former editor of The Observer and The Independent.
Tim Dee
Tim Dee
BBC radio producer Tim Dee explores the idea of spring. Following the seasonal migration paths of birds as they travel from African winters in the desert, north to the Arctic, he finds inspiration in their travels to create his own paths through the wilds of England, from Cornwall to Shetland. Is it possible to keep in step with a season? Host Callum Beesley.
Caroline Greville
Caroline Greville
A reflective and poetic portrait of how a Kent family became acquainted with their local badger clan. In this extraordinary tale of human–animal interconnectedness Caroline Greville recounts in exquisite prose that being an avid nature lover is not incompatible with all the rest of life – indeed, it is the thing that makes it possible for 'all the rest' to be kept in balance. Host Caroline Millar.
Caroline Crampton
Caroline Crampton
A remarkable, lyrical meditation on the Thames, tracing the course of England’s longest river to reveal how the waterway helped shape our nation, finding epic feats of Victorian engineering, artist retreats, shipwrecks, old trade routes and wild riverbanks along the way. Host: Peter Fiennes.
Peter Williams
Peter Williams
Tens of thousands of coal miners settled in Kent from all over Britain. Many stayed on after the collieries closed in the 1980s. Faversham resident Peter Williams MBE, who has interviewed Kent miners over several decades, tells their full story for the first time – a story that is riveting, moving, and sometimes violent. Host Christine Rayner.
Katherine May
Katherine May
Part memoir, part exploration of a human condition, 'Wintering' explores the healing nature of the great outdoors, the author's own year-long journey through winter and how she found strength and inspiration when life felt frozen. Host: Anna Stanford.
John McCullough
John McCullough
John McCullough’s new collection 'Reckless Paper Birds' is published by Penned in the Margins and was shortlisted for the Costa Poetry Award 2019. His second collection Spacecraft (Penned in the Margins, 2016) was named one of The Guardian’s Best Books for Summer 2016, and was a Book of the Year for both Sabotage Reviews’ Critic’s Choice and the London Review Bookshop. His first collection, The Frost Fairs, won the Polari First Book Prize in 2012. It was a Book of the Year for The Independent and The Poetry School, and a summer read for The Observer. He teaches creative writing at the Open University and New Writing South, and lives in Hove, East Sussex.
Poets for the Planet
Poets for the Planet
Eco-poems from Maggie Butt, Cheryl Moskowitz, Julian Bishop and Sarah Doyle. Plus Open Mic. Readers from the floor are encouraged to bring two short eco or nature poems. Poets for the Planet is a community of kindred poets, performers, artists and creative activists raising their voices to engage with climate and ecological emergency through poetry in all its forms. poetsfortheplanet.org Part of the Poetry Hub.
Rosemary McLeish
Rosemary McLeish
Rosemary McLeish is a poet and an outsider artist. A late starter, she began to write when she was around 40. She has had poems published in many anthologies and magazines, self-published two pamphlets, and her first collection, I am a Field, was published early in 2019. In December 2018 she won 2nd Prize in the MsLexia/PBS poetry competition, and in January 2019 2nd prize in the Bedford International poetry competition. She has frequently displayed poems in exhibitions and made some of them into artworks. She has an MPhil in Creative Writing from Glasgow University (2005).
John Gregory-Smith
John Gregory-Smith
The food writer and chef shares stories and dishes from Lebanon, having travelled the country's length and breadth to bring back its most inspiring cuisine - street food, delicate pastries and little-known Druze recipes from a land of bold colours, exquisite flavours and hidden beauty. John will be in conversation with food writer, chef and Great British Bake Off finalist Chetna Makan.
Julie Wassmer
Julie Wassmer
Whitstable-based author Julie Wassmer talks about her two most recent tales set in Kent and the importance of location to her writing. The event will include stunning photography of Oare, Faversham Creek and surroundings.
Jane Wenham-Jones
Jane Wenham-Jones
Local Broadstairs author Jane Wenham-Jones's laugh-out-loud, feelgood-factor novel about four friends... one very big birthday! Jane talks to local crime writer Julie Wassmer about the inspiration for the book and how fab it is to be coming of age at 50! Expect lots of laughs.

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