Arundel Literary Festival – Saturday 9th March

Daytime sessions in the Red Room 9th March

A whole day of readings, talks, presentations, discussions and opportunities to get involved with creative writing at all levels.

Tickets options are
– £20 for an all day ticket (all 8 sessions throughout the day)
– £12 for a half day ticket (either the 4 sessions 10-2 or the 4 sessions 2-6)
– £5 per session on the day, not bookable in advance

All tickets subject to availability. We will try not to allow changes to the programme to occur, but things happen, and your understanding in that circumstance is appreciated 🙂

In the Red Room

10:00 – 11:00

Sarah Waights recounts her successful journey to publication. In her talk she goes through all the steps through from finding an agent to choosing a publisher and describes the ongoing reality of life as a traditionally published author. She has so far written ten commercial women’s fiction novels under three writing names, currently writing as Poppy Alexander for Avon, Harper Collins in the US. Her books have also been published in several languages and – once – she even sold the film and TV rights for one of her stories!

11:00 – 12:00

Chris Hare, who worked in Adult Education and now manages a variety of heritage projects through History People UK, will talk about his book Hilaire Belloc-The Politics of Living (published 2022). Belloc, a brilliant essayist and polemicist, also cared deeply about his adopted county of Sussex (a fact that may surprise those brought up on the poem Tarantella set in the high Pyrenees). Chris examines the man, his life, and his beliefs, considers Belloc’s great book, The Four Men, and reads extracts from the many poems with a Sussex theme. Writing one hundred years ago, Belloc also perceived the dangers and challenges we now face.

12:00 – 1:00

Meet the Swanbourne Poets. A number of local poets, members of Arundel’s resident poetry group will explain the group’s history, and what happens at meetings. Then members read their poems, leaving discussion time for audience reactions.

1:00 – 2:00

What matters when writing for children?

Kathryn Evans, Lexi Rees and Christine Chambers , all published writers of books for children, living mostly in West Sussex and covering between them the ages 3-15, will relate their experience. They share views on some of the issues to be borne in mind when writing for children, such as finding topics appropriate to different ages, what makes a successful series, how much stereotyping matters or not, as well as touching on different approaches to getting published. This will be aimed at people taking up writing for children and anyone else interested. Come with questions for a lively discussion.

2:00 – 3:00

Janice and Dónall Dempsey, based in Guildford, are both published poets, Janice with two and Dónall with five collections. Together they founded Dempsey & Windle/VOLE Books, and have published several West Sussex poets. They offer a programme of poetry: ‘In Celebration of Childhood’, reading themselves and joined by three West Sussex poets, Pratibha Castle, Claudia Court and Ted Gooda. Who has not been delighted by the innocence and freshness of children’s early perceptions of the world? Who does not look back at their own childhood for memories that help understand who they have become?

3:00 – 4:00

Michael Ward, who once worked in local Government and as CEO of the London Development Agency, and Jane Winter (see her session on March 8) have each written biographies based on reforming figures who lived through the first half of the twentieth century and many of whose interests overlapped. They will discuss aspects of Michael’s book Unceasing war on poverty; Beatrice and Sidney Webb and their World, ( hopefully copies will be available). Also they will consider some of the commonalities of political and social values shown by their central subjects in connections to movements like the Cambridge Fabians, the Neo-Pagans, and to the Bloomsbury set. Many of these values are once more under debate and attack today.

4:00 – 5:00

Ex youth worker Steve Couch, based in Bournemouth, relates how he wrote his debut novel Dead Man Singing, the story of a has-been rock star who fakes his death to boost record sales, then goes out on the road as his own tribute act. Steve also explores the challenges of making music an essential part of the narrative.

The talk will include a musically-enhanced reading from the book, aided by musician Olly Hopper-Pay from The Clams.

5:00 – 6:00

Mansell David, TV and radio actor and writer, performs his own monologue, Take Desire Away: The queer sensibility of A.E. Housman about the renowned classics scholar whose self-published 1896 poem cycle A Shropshire Lad became a publishing phenomenon and connected deeply with thousands of young men. Mansell brings a clear, queer eye to performance of A.E. Housman’s words – both his wistful poems and very funny letters – and discovers the yearning and passion burning beneath them.  

See also…
Thursday daytime sessions 10am – 6pm in the Red Room – click here for full details
Friday daytime sessions 10am – 6pm in the Red Room – click here for full details

Evening concerts 7:30pm – 10pm
Thursday evening concert 7:30pm in the Red Room – click here for full details
Friday evening concert 7:30pm in the Red Room – click here for full details
Saturday evening concert 7:30pm in the Red Room – click here for full details

In The Studio

Introduction to writing poetry with Theresa Gooda

10:00am – 1:00pm : £20

This workshop will explore what poetry is and what makes it different from other forms of writing. Writing activities will focus on the power of objects and visual images to harness ideas for creating poetry, as well as drawing on memory and experience. Participants will also consider the interplay between language and poetic form.

For beginners to experienced writers.

Maximum of 10 participants, please book in advance.

In The Green Room

Orientation desk explaining what’s available and when.

Ticket office taking cash and card payments.

Book stall selling signed copies of each contributor’s books. Cash and cards accepted.

Breakout area serving tea and coffee. Bring your own buns!


Arundel Literary Festival is kindly supported by Arundel Town Council.

If you’d like to be involved in any way with the day as a volunteer please email

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