The girls and staff are delighted that the inaugural Hanford Literary Festival was such a resounding success.
The beautiful house and gardens provided the perfect setting for a festival celebrating creative writing and the spoken word. The visiting authors waxed lyrical about Hanford’s ‘Hogwarts’ hall, ‘magical’ box garden and ‘shady’ trees, on the hotter days one or two even chose to host their talks under the canopy of Hanford’s famous climbing cedar. It was a pleasure to welcome such a talented and impressive group of writers to the school whose work ranges from the fantastical and historical to the gritty and real. Hanford wanted to share this festival as widely as possible inviting local schools St Nicholas Child Okeford, Sandroyd, Leweston, Clayesmore, Knighton House and St Mary’s Shaftesbury to various events as well as the general public.
During the course of the week 14 authors hosted a staggering 27 talks and events. Highlights included one of our old girls, Santa Montefiore, returning to inspire a new generation of Hanford girls to write. Other highlights were Joanna Trollope sharing her passion for Jane Austen, Piers Torday talking about animals past, present and imaginary and Natasha Solomons explaining how the Dorset landscape can influence a writer. Damien Lewis brought a different, more gritty dynamic towards the end of the week, demonstrating how real and powerful events can be turned into dramatic fiction. Our closing speaker was the incomparable Philip Reeve who entertained with readings from his latest ‘Railhead’ series. Thanks also go to Olivia Tuffin, Maria Farrer, Emily Hennessey, David Solomons, Rebecca Westcott, Linda Coggin, Julia Golding, Adrian Boote and Lucy Bentley.
All of the authors involved have either a connection to the school or the West Country. Much credit for the success of the event should go to the passion and vision of Carrie Lewis, Head of English at Hanford, who wanted to provide an event that celebrates and encourages a love of literature in the girls and the wider community. Without her quiet, calm determination the event would never have taken place. So successful and well attended was this festival that plans are already afoot to hold another in a couple of years’ time.
Thank you also to Winstone Books a local independent bookstore based in Sherborne for supplying all the authors books for them to sign and for running a pop up shop in the library for the duration of the festival.