2019 and early 2020 saw Bewdley Festival Literary Events attracting some very high profile writers and sadly having one cancelled event.
In March we welcomed the writer of the Villainelle novels, Luke Jennings, whose appearance could not have been more timely following the BBC screening of the first ‘Killing Eve’ series that was based on his work. His two part show focused firstly on getting the work commissioned by BBC America and then in the second half he gave us intimate details of the filming and insights into his characters.
The audience loved his appearance and it has been gratifying to see him go from strength to strength, with ‘Killing Eve’ now into its third series with another to come. It was superb to have a writer who had caused such a stir with the originality of his work and his mesmerising characters, join us so readily in Bewdley.
Our planned Crime writers event In June was reluctantly cancelled due to the personal circumstances of Mark Billingham who could not be with us. The event was more than made up for in February 2020 with our Ann Cleeves evening, but more of that later.
The appearance of poet, actor and musician Benjamin Zephaniah at the October festival to a sold out audience was a joy to behold. Based on his autobiography entitled, ‘The Life and Rhymes of Benjamin Zephaniah’, he gave us an account of his rise from Birmingham gang leader to celebrated poet, actor and national treasure, liberally interspersed with his poems. The audience was treated to anecdotes galore and from start to finished his engaging and exciting delivery was warmly appreciated. After the show he talked to audience members for an hour and a half! What a lovely man in all respects.
In December we welcomed Heather Wastie, former Worcestershire Poet Laureate and the Bewdley Bards to St. George’s Hall for an afternoon of poetry and prose readings with a few songs from Heather performed too. It was fantastic to see local artists deliver and discuss their work and it was also wonderful to hear the poetry written by audience members who participated. Lashings of Baileys hot chocolate were consumed and a lovely pre-Christmas celebration of local talent was enjoyed by all.
In February we were lucky enough to bring the “Queen of Crime” to St George’s Hall. Ann Cleeves, author of the Vera and Shetland novels, joined a capacity audience to talk about her work, the television series made of her novels and the process of crime writing itself. She delighted the audience with her musings and gave advice to budding writers as well.
Her latest book entitled, ‘The Long Call‘, featuring her new detective creation Matthew Venn and set in North Devon, has already been signed for a new TV series and Ann was excited to introduce us to her new sequence of novels. It was a privilege to have her in Bewdley and she thoroughly enjoyed the experience, as did her delighted audience of fans.
Sadly, due to the Covid 19 crisis, we were forced to postpone ‘An Evening With Mike Gayle’ in March but we hope to reschedule this event when the time is right. Despite the drawbacks and disappointments I think it is true to say that writers enjoy their experience of performing in Bewdley and we very much hope to build on our success so far to bring even more literary talent to the town.