Sherborne Literary Festival 2017

The Sherborne Literary Society was formed in 2012 and is open to everyone. The society organises the Sherborne Annual Literary Festival, which in 2017 will take place from 11th – 15th October.

For lovers of good books and creative expression this annual festival in the town of Sherborne includes a variety of author talks, writing workshops, and children’s events.

Whether you’re an avid reader, writer, or just someone who likes to sit back and be entertained, the fifth annual Sherborne Literary Festival has something for you.

The festival itself is organised under the auspices of the Sherborne Literary Society. Taking place from Wednesday, 11th to Sunday, 15th October the festival offers fascinating and entertaining speakers from a broad spectrum of literature. With talks, tours, workshops and an exciting programme for local schools there is so much to offer.

Where does the Festival take place?

With most functions taking place at The Digby Hall in Hound Street, events will also be held at other venues around town. Ticket prices vary and full details of locations and cost can be found online at  Tickets are now on sale online.  and are also available through the Tourist Information Centre (Digby Road, Sherborne). Brochures will be available on 1st September.

The Digby Hall has ample parking, with additional spaces for other events in various public car parks throughout the town, and on street parking after 6pm in certain locations. All events are within 20 minutes walking distance of Sherborne’s mainline train station which runs hourly services to and from Yeovil Junction, Crewkerne and Exeter, as well as to Gillingham, Templecombe, Salisbury and London Waterloo in the other direction. There are taxi services available from the station, together with limited bus services.

Festival Events

For the full schedule please see or pick up a brochure.

Giles Milton: historian and author of ‘Churchill’s Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare’

11 am   11 Oct 2017

Giles Milton – a return performance to Sherborne for this popular author whose latest book Churchill’s Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare, provides a fascinating insight into some of the less well known unconventional acts that helped towards victory in the Second World War.

Ysenda Maxtone Graham: author of ‘Terms and Conditions’

2.30 pm   11 Oct 2017

Ysenda Maxtone Graham – author of Terms and Conditions, a hugely popular account of life in girls’ boarding schools between the years of 1939 and 1979. Ysenda is a well-known writer, reviewer and columnist for the Spectator magazine.

Sir Jeremy Greenstock: diplomat and author of ‘Iraq – the Cost of War’

7 pm   11 Oct 2017

Sir Jeremy Greenstock – diplomat and author of Iraq – the Cost of War, written about his experiences as ‘UK Special Representative to Iraq on the Coalition Provisional Authority’, publication of which was banned by the FCO for many years.

 Rory MacLean: well known, locally based travel writer

11 am   12 Oct 2017

Rory MacLean is a renowned, locally-based, travel writer whose latest book In North Korea: Lives and Lies in the State of Truth could not be more topical. Rory, once again, has teamed up with award-winning photographer Nick Danziger and together they have chronicled something of the lives of those who live under this extraordinary regime.

Who are the North Koreans? Who are the individuals whose active support – or cowed obedience – enables the regime to thrive? What do they think and feel? And to what ends will they go to change the world? Questions they have asked of a variety of Koreans.

This is a change in the original programme as it was felt that, with the imminent publication of this new book, the subject was just too topical to ignore.

Jonathan Aitken, author, broadcaster and campaigner for prison reform

14.30 pm   12 Oct 2017

Jonathan Aitken ­ – ex-MP and cabinet minister, author and a highly regarded speaker about  our penal system and campaigner for improvement in the process of rehabilitation of ex-prisoners. This is very much a follow up to the extremely well received talk last year by Noel ‘Razor’ Smith.

Rory Stewart, author, soldier, diplomat, journalist and MP

7 pm   12 Oct 2017

Rory Stewart – author of The Places in Between and The Marches(amongst other titles), who has crammed so much into his life already as a soldier, traveller, journalist, diplomat and, most recently, MP for Penrith and The Border.

 Joshua Levine, historian and author of ‘Dunkirk’

11 am   13 Oct 2017

Joshua Levine – who will be returning to the Festival to talk about his latest book Dunkirk. Joshua was a brilliant speaker last year on the unspoken goings-on during the London Blitz. 
Joshua was the Historical Advisor on Dunkirk, Christopher Nolan’s epic adventure movie set during the Dunkirk evacuation of May/June 1940. Inspired by Joshua’s oral history Forgotten Voices of Dunkirk, the film features Mark Rylance, Kenneth Branagh, Tom Hardy and Cillian Murphy, and was released in July 2017.

Rosamund Young, pioneering organic farmer and author of ‘The Secret Life of Cows’

2.30 pm   13 Oct 2017

Rosamund Young is a farmer in the Cotswolds and was one of the pioneers of organic farming in the UK. Her fascinating and highly original book The Secret Life of Cows describes the individuality of our domesticated farm animals, which is often overlooked by larger-scale more conventional stockowners. 

Simon Weston, Falklands war veteran, author and inspirational speaker

6.00 pm   13 Oct 2017  at Sherborne School for Girls

As part of the Festival Schools’ Programme Simon Weston will be speaking to an audience at Sherborne Girls’ School. There will be limited tickets for this event available to the general public when the online booking opens on 1st August.

 Gulwali Passarlay, Afghan refugee and author of ‘The Lightless Sky’

8 pm   13 Oct 2017

 Gulwali Passarlay – author of The Lightless Sky, an amazing book about the year he spent travelling as a refugee aged 11, using his own initiative, from his native Afghanistan to the UK. Gulwali has since completed his education at Manchester University and is an extraordinary inspirational speaker.

His book has now been been published in 6 languages and 7 different countries with 10 editions. The few people who were lucky enough to hear him speak at the Cheap Street Church last year will provide ample plaudits to encourage you to hear him on this second visit to Sherborne.

Ben Freeth, Zimbabwe farmer and author of ‘Mugabe and the White African’

2.30 pm   14 Oct 2017

 Ben Freeth – author of Mugabe and the White African, an account of the incredibly brave action he and his father in law took when they challenged President Mugabe in the international courts over the seizing of their farm in Zimbabwe.

Through the Mike Campbell Foundation, Ben’s main focus is on restoring justice, the rule of law and human rights in Zimbabwe. A committed Christian, Ben assists dispossessed and destitute farmers and farm workers.  He works closely with Foundations for Farming in Zimbabwe, a Christian organisation, to provide training in conservation, agriculture and to teach impoverished farm workers and others how to feed their families.

Natalie Haynes, classicist, broadcaster, former stand-up comedian and author of ‘The Children of Jocasta’

7 pm   14 Oct 2017

 Natalie Haynes is a writer and broadcaster, best known for her amazing ability to bring classics alive to a new and younger audience. She is the author of The Amber Fury, which was shortlisted for the Scottish Crime Book of the Year award, and a non-fiction book about Ancient History, The Ancient Guide to Modern Life.

She has written and presented two series of the BBC Radio 4 show, Natalie Haynes Stands Up for the Classics. In 2015, she was awarded the Classical Association Prize for her work in bringing Classics to a wider audience.

Her latest book, The Children of Jocasta, is a stunning reimagining of the Oedipus and Antigone stories told from the perspectives of the women the myths overlooked; retelling the myth to reveal a new side of an ancient story.

Roger McGough and LiTTLe MACHiNe – poetry and music

7 pm   15 Oct 2017

 Roger McGough and LiTTLe MACHiNe – The well known poet and host of BBC Radio 4’s Poetry Please will provide a wonderful finale to the Festival when he recites many of his poems with a musical backing from the band. This will be a two act performance.

Many will remember Roger when he was in the Scaffold and there will be a certain reminder of those days during this highly entertaining event.


Sherborne Literary Festival would like to thank it’s main sponsor, Rolfe East for their kind support.




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