Dorchester Literary Festival 2018Welcome to the Dorchester Literary Festival


We've had a fantastic festival with a great array of writers, all of whom have 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 on 12th October 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.

We're already starting to plan next year's festival so do keep in touch with the latest news via our website. Meanwhile, scroll down to see  some pictures of this year's highlights.

If you enjoyed this 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


This year's festival was absolutely superb.

Sir David Haslam
Feedback From 2019 Festival

I very much enjoyed the events I came to at the Dorchester  Literary festival. It was all very well organised. The sessions on The Seabird's cry, Bee Quest, and The Otter's Tale were brilliant. 

Helen Austin
Feedback From 2017 Festival

Thank YOU for hosting us so brilliantly on Sunday. Dad and I had a great time and were both really impressed by the very smooth running of your festival. It was a total pleasure being there with you, Helen, and the team. Congrats to all concerned on a job well done. It was fun to be a part of it.

Ben Holden
Feedback From 2016 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 having me, it was so kind of you and such a wonderful event! I am so thrilled with the audience response and all the signing.

Professor Kate Williams
Feedback From 2019 Festival

On behalf of everyone at People First Dorset, I'd like to say a huge thank you for all your support...we've all loved being part of the. Festival.

Laura Kerr
Feedback From 2019 Festival

With Grateful Thanks To Our Sponsors