After a fantastic first week of events, including our launch at Harwich Electric Palace Cinema with Blake Morrison and The Hosepipe Band – what a fabulous night that was! – we are really looking forward to all of the wonderful things in the mix for the rest of June.
Ones to watch out for, particularly in terms of ticket availability, are novelist Patrick Gale at Chelmsford Library on 22nd June and maverick crime-writer Mark Billingham at Billericay Library on 28th June.
Plus, our festival finale with the irrepressible Guardian columnist John Crace, who will be talking about his latest book A Farewell to Calm: The New Normal Survival Guide at Anglia Ruskin University on 30th June.
Another author not to be missed is leading historian and Joint Chief Curator at Historic Royal Palaces Tracy Borman. Tracy will be talking about her latest book Crown & Sceptre: A New History of the British Monarchy at Layer Marney Tower on 26th June. Crown & Sceptre looks back at the history and evolution of the monarchy from 1066 to the present day, feeding the renewed interest not just in the modern royals but in the predecessors who helped shape the institution into what it is today.
The Pleasure Garden
To say that we are excited about our special event – The Pleasure Garden – is something of an understatement. Aside from the obvious delight of welcoming Radio 4’s Today presenter Justin Webb to talk about his memoir The Gift of a Radio, a gripping, darkly funny and candid memoir, which offers an unflinching account of family dysfunction and education in a Quaker Boarding School, and an eye-opening portrait of 1970s Britain, we have a raft of exciting events on offer at Hylands House and Gardens on 19 June.
This includes an afternoon in the company of gardener and author Lulah Ellender, who will be talking to leading Radio 4 dramatist and avid gardener Robin Brooks, about her latest critically acclaimed book Grounding.
Lulah began writing Grounding: Finding a Home in a Garden after her mother’s death, when sorting through the family home, she found a diary that her mother kept recording the rhythms of her gardening year. In the words of Kathy Clugston, presenter of BBC Radio 4’s Gardeners’ Question Time: As Lulah sows, deadheads and weeds she explores her feelings of place and identity, fear and loss. A lyrical delve into how gardening literally roots us to places and helps us look towards an uncertain future with hope. Lulah and Robin are also both leading creative writing workshops as part of the day’s activities.
We are also delighted to be welcoming Dr Sarah Pye, award-winning Australian children’s author, to Essex. Sarah will be sharing the stage with her trusty orangutan puppet and sidekick Pongo. Not only will they be reading from Wildlife Wong and the Orangutan, an exciting adventure story about a real-life scientist in the jungles of Borneo, they will be teaching everyone how to build their own real-life orangutan nest in Hyland’s Pleasure Garden. Resist that at your peril!