Dorchester Literary Festival 2020Welcome to the Dorchester Literary Festival


We had a fantastic 2019 festival with a great array of writers, all of whom entertained and enlightened us. In our final event former poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy joined us at Thomas Hardye's School Theatre to read and talk about her work.

This was a truly memorable close to our festival which began with an evening in which Alexander McCall Smith regaled the captivated audience with hilarious stories about his writing career. The festival continued with appearances from novelists Tracy Chevalier, Tim Pears and Victoria Hislop who shared insights about their creative processes. Historians A N Wilson, Simon Heffer, Kate Williams, Fiona Davison, Martin Kemp and Leo McKinstry discussed subjects that included Prince Albert, World War 1, Mary Queen of Scots and Elizabeth I, forgotten gardeners, Leonardo and Attlee and Churchill. Cookery writers Prue Leith and Sabrina Ghayour revealed what lies behind their food inspiration. Intrepid travellers Raynor Winn, Henrietta Lovell and Dom Joly, talked about their adventures. Nature writers John Wright, Tristan Gooley and John Copley enlightened audiences on how to eat a flying ant, tell the time from shadows and what lives in the deepest oceans. The Countess of Carnarvon lifted the veil on life in Highclere Castle, the real Downton Abbey, and Adam Nicolson explored poetry in Somerset with Wordsworth and Coleridge. Farrow and Ball colour specialist Joa Studholme told us how to decorate our houses. All in all we hope we achieved our mission and there was something for every literary taste.

Planning is under way for this year's festival so do keep in touch with the latest news via our website. Meanwhile, scroll down to see  some pictures of last year's highlights.

If you enjoyed last year's festival and would like to benefit from special offers why not join us as a Friend and help support our festival. We look forward to seeing you soon.

 You can download the 2019 programme as a PDF file here.


Paul Atterbury and Janet Gleeson

Festival Directors


This Year's Events


Congratulations to the whole Lit Fest team. I am glad it has been such a well-deserved success! The huge effort put into it is very clear to see, it is great when that is acknowledged and rewarded! We have been very happy to host the event -we are all very proud to be involved with the Lit Fest...

Garry Batt, Duke's
Feedback From 2016 Festival

I SO enjoyed yesterday. It was a real pleasure to meet you all and what a lovely festival, lovely venue and lovely audience. And Jason was just brilliant. Thank you very, very much for inviting me.

Penny Junor
Feedback From 2017 Festival

Thank you very much for such a warm welcome and lovely (huge...) audience...Emma made the whole event such an easy pleasure for me.

Joanna Trollope
Feedback From 2018 Festival

Thank you for asking me to take part in the Hardy Today event. I enjoyed it very much.

Virginia Astley
Feedback From 2017 Festival

Thank you so much for inviting me to Dorchester, and looking after me so well. You and Paul run a great tight ship there and I was honoured to be a part of it this year.

Tim Pears
Feedback From 2019 Festival

I thought the event had a really good feel to it - and people couldn't have been friendlier and more welcoming. Good luck with future events.

Adam Ockelford
Feedback From 2017 Festival

With Grateful Thanks To Our Sponsors