Eight years of Wimborne Literary Festival

HISTORIC Wimborne is one of those beautiful small country towns which has everything you could wish for – a theatre/cinema, ancient Minster church, good restaurants, greengrocer, butcher, museum … and one of the area’s best bookshops.

Gullivers Bookshop, just a few yards from the Minster, is run by Anne and Malcolm Angel, organisers of the town’s literary festival which is now in its eighth year and this year runs from 12th to 22nd May.

The festival’s ethos remains “to bring Wimborne an eclectic, informative programme of authors, poets, workshops and events.” The 2018 programme lives up to that ambition, with leading authors, a golden jubilee display by the Wessex Guild of Bookbinders at Allendale House, poetry readings, a comedy night and a talk by the paleontologist Steve Etches, founder of The Etches Collection, Museum of Jurassic Life, at Kimmeridge.

Our continuing fascination with spies and the Second World War is the theme of a joint event, Spies, Seduction, the SS and the Stasi, with novelists David Young, author of the Cold War era detective Karin Muller crime thrillers, and Jane Thynne, creator of Clara Vine, an Anglo-German actress and British spy in pre-war and wartime Berlin. Their talk, at Allendale House, on Saturday 12th at 2pm, will include world exclusive photographs.

The war is also the theme of two more talks. Clare Mulley will be at the Allendale’s Quarterjack Suite on Monday 14th at 2pm, talking about her book,. The Women Who Flew for Hitler, “a true story of soaring ambition and searing rivalry” – the contrasting experiences of Hanna Reitsch, who tried to persuade Hitler to let her fly him to safety in April 1945, and Melitta von Stauffenberg, a secret supporter of the most famous attempt to assassinate the Fuhrer.

Second World War expert Rory Clements will be at the Methodist Church on Monday 14th at 4pm, talking about his murder story, Nucleus, set in 1939 at a Cambridge laboratory which is a Nazi target because Germany wants to prevent Britain winning the race for the atomic bomb.

Timothy West is not only one of our greatest actors, he is also an endearing and enthusiastic presenter of television programmes about canal journeys made with his wife, actress Prunella Scales. The simple formula of two national acting treasures and the beauties of England’s canals gradually evolved into something more profound, with the advance of Prunella’s dementia, a condition that touches the lives of so many people. Timothy comes to the Allendale’s Minster Hall on Tuesday 14th at 2pm to talk about his book, Our Great Canal Journeys: A Lifetime of Memories on Britain’s Most Beautiful Waterways.

So, What’s New, Walt? sees Malcolm Angel, Anne Peterson and Mike Lawrence taking a light-hearted poetic glimpse into the life of the medieval schoolmaster and satirical poet Walter of Wimborne – at the Library on Wednesday 16th at 11am.

Anyone who remembers the awful night 30 years ago when an estimated 15 million trees were destroyed will be fascinated to hear Tamsin Treverton-Jones, at the Library at 2pm on Wednesday 16th, talking about her book Windblown – Landscape, Legacy and Loss, The Great Storm of 1987.

Purbeck quarryman and stone expert Treleven Haysom will lead a guided walk and talk at the Minster, on Thursday 17th at 2pm, and later that afternoon, at 4pm, there is more history from the stones when Steve Etches talks at the CLARC Centre about his remarkable fossil discoveries.

Radical singer, thinker and speaker Billy Bragg looks at an almost forgotten musical sound of the 1950s in his book, Roots, Radicals and Rockers – How Skiffle Changed The World, and his talk at the Allendale Centre on Friday 18th at 7pm.

There is a double treat on Saturday 19th with best-selling crime novelist and Dorset resident Minette Walters, talking about the Black Death, the subject of her latest novel, The Last Hours, at the Quarterjack Suite at 2pm, followed at 4pm by Adam Hart-Davis, the energetic and eccentric inventor and television presenter talking about his book, Very Heath Robinson – Stories of His Absurdly Ingenious World.

Other speakers and events include Dorset’s senior Druid Dennis Andrew on Both Doors Open: A Journey of Mysticism and Awareness, Natasha Solomons on her latest novel House of Gold, Iain Gately on his book The Secret Surfer, historian WB Bartlett looking at the achievements of Richard the Lionheart, naturalist Dominic Couzens on understanding bird song and behaviour, historical novelist Harry Sidebottom on his Roman thriller, The Last Hour, Professor David Starkey on the alarming parallels between the Reformation and Isis, and the much-loved Pam Ayres, who brings the festival to an end with her wit and poetry, at the Tivoli Theatre on Tuesday 22nd at 7.30pm.

Programmes are available at Gullivers Bookshop and Westbourne Bookshop and for bookings and more information visit www.wimborneliteraryfestival.co.uk

Pictured: Minette Walters, photograph by Fabio de Paulo; Jane Thynne, David Young, Clare Mulley, Timothy West, Tamsin Treverton-Jones and Adam Hart-Davis.