Fiction authors showcased in literary showcase in Dorset

LEADING and emerging fiction authors with Dorset connections will be showcased at a literary festival.

The Sturminster Newton Literary Festival will also celebrate the town’s associations with Thomas Hardy, William Barnes and Robert Young.

The festival runs from June 6-18 and offers a lively program of events.

The first week features writing by some contemporary Dorset authors and best-selling writer Natasha Solomons will be at the Exchange discussing her new novel, I, Mona Lisa, while at a literary lunch, Minette Walters will talk about The Swift and the Harrier, her historical novel on the horrors of the Civil War in Dorset.

Sally Page is the guest at a literary tea, where she will talk about the writing of her best-selling debut novel, The Keeper of Stories.

Award-winning crime author, Rachel McLean, will be discussing her Dorset crime series, and historical romance author Karen Dickson will discuss her recently published family saga, A Songbird in Wartime.

Jim Case of Newfoundland will join via Zoom to talk about his genealogical connections with Dorset’s cod fishing and swanskin industries and how he came to write his historical novel, Ananias, which is based on his family history.

During the second week, events will focus on the town’s literary heritage. Professor Angelique Richardson and Dr Steph Alder will be speaking about Hardy’s Correspondents, a collaborative project between Dorset Museum and the University of Exeter.

Former Yetties band member, Bonny Sartin, will discuss Thomas Hardy’s musical heritage – the music he played, his instruments and the references to traditional song, music and dance in his writing.

At a literary lunch, writer Christopher Nicholson will be speaking about the strange story of Hardy’s association with one of the rarest of all British birds, the cream-coloured courser.

And in his talk, Sturminster stalwart David Fox will share insights into the town’s past and Blackmore Vale life as depicted in the poetry and writings of William Barnes and Robert Young.

On Saturday, June 18, a Victorian-themed family fun afternoon will be held in Railway Gardens and Poet’s Corner area of ​​the town. There will be free village games and circus skills activities, plus side shows and various entertainment.

Two guided walks will highlight literary heritage in Bagber and Marnhull. There are also reading discussion groups and two weekend events for children.

One of the organisers, Michaela Knowles said, “We’re really looking forward to welcoming the programme’s authors and speakers to the town and are excited to be promoting such wonderful Dorset literature.”

Details of the talks can be found on and for more information about the festival visit

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