Henley Literary Festival

You have probably guessed by now that I love books.  And reading.  Spending hours in book shops.  Listening to authors talk about their books.  And, well, just generally anything vaguely book related.

Last year I got wind of the fact that there was a Literary Festival just up the road in Henley.  Emma Freud was going to be interviewing Sarah Brown and via Twitter Emma said that I should come along.  Up to that point I have to say that I hadn’t heard of Henley’s Literary Festival.

Having Googled it I was astonished at the line up they had, over a whole week, in venues all over Henley.   I made sure that I signed up as a Friend of the Festival this year so I got first dibs on tickets as soon as they were released.

And I wasn’t disappointed!  The line up this year was phenomenal.   Ranging from Michael Palin and Jilly Cooper to David Baddiel and Rupert Everett.   I got tickets for JoJo Moyes, Emma Kennedy, Rachel Johnson, Clare Balding and Michael Palin.  #Greedy.

All the venues are incredibly intimate and so you really do get a sense of this just being a chat in the author’s own front room.

In fact a friend on Twitter (Caroline Cook @cazcook27) said:

It was a real treat to hear an actor of Rupert Everett’s calibre talk about his career in a venue like the Kenton Theatre.  He was wonderfully witty and it was an ideal way to spend a blustery autumn Sunday.  I’m already looking forward to next year’s festival

There were always time for questions at the end and you really can pick the brains of the author either about their life or their book.   And all talks are followed by a signing so you can have a book signed or a picture taken too.

I absolutely love this festival.  It is everything a literary festival should be.  It isn’t pretentious or too big for its own boots as I suspect some of them are.

I summed it up in a Tweet which got reproduced in the local paper:

@mummybarrow @gowercottage @henleylitfest Oooops! Forgot to attach the photo!!lockerz.com/s/250266964

— Polly Kemp (@lovewantneedit) October 4, 2012


So many highlights for me, including Emma Kennedy and Emma Freud who were possibly a tad fragile after the night before.   Emma Kennedy’s reading from “The Tent, The Bucket and Me” had the entire audience crying with laughter.

Or hearing where the inspiration for JoJo Moye’s best seller “Me Before You” came from.  (Ps if you haven’t read this or Emma Kennedy’s please please do)

And then there was Clare Balding who was just fabulous:

And throw it open to me she did.  At the beginning asking where I was.  I was mortified as I had spent the morning in a ditch and happened to have Tweeted Clare about said ditch.

But it all just adds to why this Festival is so fabulous.   Authors want to connect to their readers and we want to connect with them.   So Henley is perfect for that.

Next year it runs from September 30th to October 6th and if you know what is good for you, sign up to become a Friend so you get advanced notification of the tickets because this year every event was a sell out.

And to miss out would be a real shame.

For more info do check out Henley Literary Festival‘s website

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