Date Posted: 2nd June 2024


Only 3 days to go before WORDS BY THE WATER book festival opens in Keswick and the team roll into town. There has been a long gap – too long – and we need to make it a success for it to continue. It offers a brilliant varied programme. I am looking forward to chairing a few things particularly Blake Morrison, an old friend, who will be talking about his latest book TWO SISTERS which is the book he told me some years ago he would never write. I wonder why he changed his mind – I may find out on Wednesday. He wrote the bestselling memoir AND WHEN DID YOU LAST SEE YOUR FATHER  which was made into a film with Colin Firth playing Blake and Jim Broadbent his father and THINGS MY MOTHER NEVER TOLD ME but I didn’t expect  this  deeply sad memoir about his 2 sisters.

The festival has packed a brave ambitious programme into 5 days. It is managed by Leah  Varnell who you will recognize from previous festivals and Gwenda and Lucy Matthews at Bookends. There are workshops, a poetry breakfast, discussions and music. I am particularly looking forward to Cumbrian Kenneth Wilson telling us the story of THE HIGHWAY CELLO about his bike ride from Hadrian’s Wall to Rome, towing his cello all the way and giving recitals across Europe.  There is no way I will miss Ina Christova’s book THE FABERGE GIRL a novel about Alma Pihl who designed and made The Winter Egg – one of the finest of Faberge eggs which I have coveted ever since I first set eyes on it in the Kremlin in Moscow and journalist Luke Harding - one of the first to arrive in Ukraine after the Russian attack -  to give a first hand description in his book HUMAN STORIES.

 Nearer to home Helen Rebanks is talking about her best selling book A FARMER’S WIFE and Ros Roberts has been rifling Keswick Museum again to find out more about THE KESWICK PAINTER, James Durden who  lived in Applethwaite and painted sumptuous portraits of his daughter Betty and other friends.

Throw into the pot Stuart Maconie  on his travels around the UK, (THE FULL ENGLISH) and Polly Toynbee on THE CLASS SYSTEM and even an evening with Noddy and Big ears  in a revelation about THE SECRET LIFE OF ENID BLYTON.

We may not have many big celebrity names this time (just give it a chance) but we do have a wonderful range of  writers, experts and their subjects. Try it and see. Book now on line or telephone box office on  017687 774411 or