LittleFest

After a fun-packed LittleFest programme in 2015, including the hugely popular BIG LittleFest Day Out in Penlee Park Open Air Theatre, LittleFest curators Lucy and Fran are taking time out in 2016.
 
We’d like to thank everyone who’s been involved in creating such an exciting programme of LittleFest events for schools, children, young adults and families – inspiring a love of words and sparking young imaginations.
 
Watch this space for news on future LittleFest events – information about past events remains on this page.

LittleFest public events

Our LittleFest events are open to all, especially children! Don’t miss our amazing BIG LittleFest Day Out!

Literary Fringe Event with music

Readings, Performances and Music along the theme of ‘Borderlines’

Walter de la Mare : dreams, death, and the fantasy worlds of childhood

A Talk by Jane Sand

Billy Whippet

Chris Cooper talks about “Billy’s Journey”, a tale of hope and healing, the true and heart-warming story of how Billy and his human Chris embarked on a journey of mind, body and soul in a battle against a devastating and life-threatening illness. Time to be confirmed

Barriers and Boundaries

A participatory experiential workshop. Come and experience a light-hearted exploration of the barriers we put up which keep us separated from others and begin to create some new boundaries to help us stay connected. This is a participatory experiential workshop. Please arrive on time.

SPEAKEASY – LitFest Fringe Special

Newlyn Art Gallery & The Exchange are teaming up with The Writers’ Block, to bring you a social evening with delicious food and fresh writing. Share your work, meet other writers and discover the new – a mix of story, poetry and song – with compere Betty Davies, developer of The Writers’ Block Speakeasy and resident poet [...]

The Hunt for Moby-Dick

A special screening to mark the 200th anniversary of Herman Melville’s birth, followed by a Q&A with Philip Hoare. Acclaimed writer Philip Hoare confronts our fascination with one of the most mysterious animals in the ocean, the whale. Travelling in the footsteps of Ishmael, the narrator of Herman Melville's Moby-Dick, he visits the whaling ports [...]

Can Palores (Song of the Chough)

Today marks the first performance in modern times of ‘Can Palores’ (Song of the Chough), a recently re-discovered song in Cornish, arranged by Ralph Dunstan in 1932. Following a talk, this and other songs will be performed by Keur Heb Hanow. Suggested donation £4. For tickets please contact enquiries@morrablibrary.org.uk or phone 01736 364474. www.morrablibrary.org.uk

Grace Vincent: Publicity – how to promote yourself and your book (Publishing Day Event)

The hard part is over. You’ve written a book. But how do you get anyone to know about it? Or even read it? In this session, senior publicist Grace Vincent from the Little, Brown Book Group will run through the basics of how book publicity works – within the publishing industry – and what you […]

You Will Be Safe Here: Damian Barr in conversation with Patrick Gale

You Will Be Safe Here is the powerful debut novel by Damian Barr, which The Guardian, Observer and Financial Times have included in their Books to Watch 2019. Set in South Africa, it uncovers the hidden history of the British concentration camps of the Boer War and links it to a present-day secret. Damian talks […]

Valles – Knowledge And The Possibilities Of Future Discoveries, with Dan James

What exactly is Valles Marineris? It’s a scar across the surface of Mars over 2,000 miles long, which some have called ‘the greatest abyss in the solar system’. First spotted by probes in the early 1970s, it has intrigued scientists ever since. Many theories have been put forward to explain its origin: water erosion, tectonic […]

Louise Boland: Publicity – small publishers championing new writers (Publishing Day Event)

These days, it is often smaller publishing houses who support and champion new authors. Established in 2017 and already making its mark in the world of literary prizes, Fairlight Books aims to publish and nurture new fiction writers. In this session, Fairlight’s CEO, Louise Boland looks at how small publishers differ from larger ones and […]

Lost Kingdoms, with Sara MacDonald and Jane Johnson

Sara MacDonald and Jane Johnson both share a love of Cornwall, but have crossed many borders while travelling and researching their books. Sara’s latest novel, In a Kingdom by the Sea, sweeps across generations from the stunning Cornish coast to the city of Karachi. It is a story of deception and betrayal but also of […]

RISINGTIDEFALLINGSTAR, with Philip Hoare

In his latest book, RISINGTIDEFALLINGSTAR, the Samuel Johnson Prize winner Philip Hoare looks at the ways in which human beings have explored the elusive, sometimes fatal lure of the sea and its enigmatic creatures. Philip is also the author of Leviathan or, The Whale and The Sea Inside. His BBC films include the feature-length ‘The […]

All Art Is Political In The Age Of Trump And Border Walls, with Hanna Jameson

Tipped as ‘One to Watch in 2019’ by The Observer and Stylist, Hanna Jameson’s thriller, The Last, is one we guarantee you won’t be able to put down. She was inspired to write the book partly by the non-stop discussion of nuclear war since Trump’s election and was also influenced by growing up into 9/11 […]

Chris Higgins: An author’s perspective – Insights into the publishing industry (Publishing Day Event)

Chris Higgins, a best-selling and award-winning author, has had 25 books published over the past 12 years in 13 different countries so can claim to be something of an expert in this area. Chris shares her insights into the changing face of the publishing industry. She also talks about how to get an agent, expectations […]

Borders With Time: Cornwall’s Paths To The Past, with Sue Kittow and Steph Hatton

The Tinners’ Way, an ancient track along the backbone of West Penwith, passes numerous ancient sites and previously linked rich mining areas, scattered settlements and harbours from where tin could be traded. Matt Watts, Access Officer for the Penwith Landscape Partnership, reveals the history and significance of this path and the work being done by […]

Some kids I taught and what they taught me, Kate Clanchy in conversation with Patrick Gale

An award-winning writer in several genres, a teacher and a journalist, Kate joins Patrick Gale to discuss England: Poems from a School – an anthology of poems by her students at Oxford Spires Academy – and her new book, Some Kids I Taught and What They Taught Me, praised by Philip Pullman as “The best […]

Rose Tomaszewska: What’s your novel about? It’s all in the pitch. (Publishing Day Event)

Have you ever been asked ‘What’s your book about?’ only to be self-deprecating, trip over your tongue or waffle nonsensically? Rose Tomaszewska commissions fiction and non-fiction for the Quercus literary imprint riverrun. Learn how she pitches books to her team and the publishing industry, and how this can help you get attention, summarise your work […]

Plen An Gwari: The Playing Places Of Cornwall, with Will Coleman

An illustrated lecture celebrating the extraordinary medieval theatre culture of Cornwall, explaining why the tradition flourished and died, and why it is so important for an understanding of Cornish history. Will Coleman, who calls himself a ‘cultural entrepreneur’, speculates about what attending such a spectacle would have been like and whether there are contemporary cultural […]

Brenda, Beyond Borders: Sue Ellery-Hill in conversation with Mike Sagar-Fenton

Author Sue Ellery-Hill’s other claim to fame is that she is the daughter of Brenda Wootton: the ‘Voice of Cornwall’. She talks to Mike Sagar-Fenton about how she came tell to her mother’s story in Brenda – For the Love of Cornwall. Despite her large size, her past-middle-age and her quiet village upbringing in the […]

Rebellion Adrian Rodda, An Gof and Special Guests

When does a protest movement become a rebellion? How does it feel to leave your home for unknown territory? What happens when you have to rely on the kindness of strangers? This performance, featuring aptly-named musicians ‘An Gof ’ (the term used to describe a Cornish patriot), tells in verse the story of the Cornish people’s march to London in 1497, to present […]

Beyond the line: poetry from paintings at Penlee

Join us to explore how the amazing paintings at Penlee House can be used to inspire words. Free event. Drop in any time. Children must be accompanied by an adult.

True Sanity on the Edge of Madness

A Talk by Jane Sand

Writing workshop with Jenny Kane: Location, location, location

Jenny Kane’s romances owe a lot to their Cornish setting. Location matters just as much as character. It’s impossible to develop a location on paper without applying our emotions, perceptions and preconceptions. Jenny shows you how to create the perfect location for your fiction – whether it’s a cupboard, town, city or planet. Use personal […]

Crossroads, with Liz Fenwick

Have you ever been at a crossroads in your life? You could go one way, maybe the easy way, you could take the uncharted one – or perhaps something pushes you off course to land in a place you never imagined. Award-winning author Liz Fenwick looks at how this can play out in fiction through […]

Long tales and tall from the long deep of Cornwall, with Des Hannigan

Travel writer and journalist Des Hannigan talks about his new book, The Long Deep, a close-quarters look at the Cornish coast and sea, illustrated with scenes that the selfie stick does not reach. Tales of shipwreck on Penzance seafront; international eavesdropping at Morwenstow; close encounters with sharks’ teeth; a bassoon-playing lighthouse-keeper and a Chinese junk […]

The Bad Bugs Bookclub: using fiction to engage with science, with Joanna Verran

Don’t be put off by the fact that Joanna Verran is Emeritus Professor of Microbiology at Manchester Metropolitan University. She has a passion for using arts and the humanities to help audiences engage with science. The Bad Bugs Bookclub gets scientists and non-scientists reading fiction that features infection and contagion – and that means vampires […]

The Postman Poet, with Liz Shakespeare

The extraordinary story of a forgotten 19th-century Devon poet. Despite attending school for only four months, Edward Capern achieved national renown for the poems he wrote while walking the Devon lanes on his postman’s round. Liz Shakespeare’s novel The Postman Poet draws on historical research and Capern’s own writing to tell his story, capturing the opportunities and […]

Landscapes of mind and memory, with Emma Timpany and Fiona Vigo Marshall

There are some interesting comparisons to be made between Fiona Vigo Marshall’s Find Me Falling and Emma Timpany’s Travelling in the Dark. Both novels portray natural environments that are almost characters in themselves, creating complex ‘psychogeographies’ that reflect emotional and psychological landscapes. In this session, the two authors investigate the unstable boundaries between past and […]

Have you always dreamed of writing a bestseller? Jane Corry reveals her top tips

Jane Corry tells the story behind her gripping new thriller, I Looked Away. The Sunday Times bestselling author of My Husband’s Wife and The Dead Ex will also give her ten top tips to help you succeed with writing your own bestselling novel. Jane’s experience as writer in residence for a high-security male prison helped […]

Writing workshop with Penny Shutt: Borderlines of the self

Where does personality end and illness begin? Where is the line between illness and who you are? Dr Penny Shutt leads this therapeutic writing workshop using the ancient wisdom of the Enneagram, prompts and the poems of David Whyte and Lao Tzu to get you writing to any illnesses or diagnoses you may have received […]

Borders, boundaries and big ideas, with Penwith Local History Group

Penwith Local History Group recently celebrated its 30th anniversary. The Group’s programme reflects its diverse and lively interests, ranging across Penwith. Join them to hear about the refugee artist Albert Reuss, the stories hidden in maps, colourful myths from Morrab Gardens… and much more. 

Everything you can think of is true, with Petrus Ursem

The border between children’s and grownups’ literature is fluid. A good story works for all readers – children have as much need to explore themes of life and the meaning of the world as older readers. Petrus Ursem reveals how the Cornish landscape released his love of writing, weaving past mysteries into heart-beating new adventures, […]

Adventures in an epic continent, with Nicholas Jubber

Journey from Turkey to Iceland, swim to the mouth of Hades, wade across Icelandic rivers, drink rakija with Balkan folk-singers and recite medieval verse at a Basque demonstration in the Pyrenees. These are just a selection from Epic Continent: Adventures in the Great Stories of Europe by award-winning travel writer Nicholas Jubber. He explores how […]

The Museum Of Broken Promises, with Elizabeth Buchan

Be among the first to hear extracts from the latest novel by Elizabeth Buchan, which is due out in September, along with a discussion of her most recent book The New Mrs Clifton. The Museum of Broken Promises is a beautiful, evocative love story and a heart-breaking journey into some of the darkest moments in […]

Why I live in a shed, with Catrina Davies

Faced with a personal housing crisis – part of a country-wide system of inequality – Catrina Davies took the radical decision to make a dilapidated shed into a home of her own, as told in her latest book, Homesick: Why I Live in a Shed. She talks – and sings – about how simplicity can […]

Alan Hollinghurst in conversation

The distinguished novelist Alan Hollinghurst discusses his life and work with the LitFest’s Rachel Viney. Alan is the recipient of numerous awards, among them the Somerset Maugham Award (The Swimming-Pool Library), the James Tait Black Memorial Prize (The Folding Star) and the Man Booker Prize (The Line of Beauty). His most recent novel, The Sparsholt Affair, […]

A Literary Walk, with Anna McClary

Join Anna McClary, who specialises in tours of Penzance and Mousehole. Walk with her through the town and parks of Penzance, learning about the authors who stayed or lived here – including some you may never have heard of – and what inspired them. Penzance may be at the end of the railway line, but […]

Dreamworlds: Everywhere at once, with Adele Jarrett-Kerr

Come along to support Adele Jarrett-Kerr’s debut performance as she reads from her collection of poems exploring the way migration disrupts and expands our sense of self as we learn to live in different places at once, constantly erecting dream worlds. Adele uses her experience of growing up in Trinidad and Tobago and finding herself […]

Life, Happiness and Everything, with Isabel Losada

Isabel Losada was named ‘the UK’s sassiest spiritual author’ by The Bookseller and is probably best known for her book The Battersea Park Road to Enlightenment, which obtained a surprise cult status. In this event with a difference – a mixture of stand-up comedy, vulnerable storytelling, inspirational talk and anonymous Q&A – Isabel may touch on […]

Living and Dying on the Borderline

A Talk by Jane Sand

Writing workshop with Angela Stoner: Writing between the tides

Not all borders are fixed. That between sea and land is fluid, as is the liminal space that inspires so many artists and writers. This workshop will provide writing exercises to explore such spaces, and bring back treasures to enrich your work. Borders can be barriers and sources of conflict – or they can be […]

Borderlines: almost what is expected, with Jak Stringer

Bordering 60, the writer Wilkie Collins was struggling with the battle of life. His readership had dwindled, reviews mocked him and he was in poor health – fearing blindness. But Collins never gave up. Jak Stringer has lived in west Cornwall for 37 years. “If you cut me open,” she says, “I would have Penzance […]

Body and Soul: Cornwall detective Frank Elder’s last case, with John Harvey

For many years, award-winning crime writer John Harvey lived in Zennor and remains a frequent visitor to the Cornish coast. In Body and Soul – the final novel of his career and the last case for his Cornwall detective Frank Elder – John explores the beautifully drawn borderlines between father and daughter, city and country […]

Ritual, history and landscape: A Cornish Year in poems and paintings, with Frank Pickering and Wendy Parkyn

Poet and musician Frank Pickering and artist Wendy Parkyn present their new, stunning volume of paintings and poems, A Cornish Year. With original words, images and music, this multi-talented duo will take you on a seasonal and cultural journey exploring the meaning of place and belonging. 

Women crossing cultural borders in 19th century India, with Barbara Eaton

Fanny Parks (1794-1874) rejected the accepted role of the conventional memsahib. Instead she led an adventurous life travelling independently through India on horseback and by boat on the dangerous, hair-raising Ganges. She spoke fluent Hindi and Urdu, became a close friend of a former Maratha warrior queen, stayed in luxurious rajahs’ palaces and harems, and […]

Behind the Lines, with Amanda Harris

Behind the Lines is the first full-length novel by Amanda Harris, a director of Kernow Education Arts Partnership and co-creator of The Story Republic and The Writers’ Block. The novel draws on the experiences of the Women’s Auxiliary Army Corps (WAACs), formed in 1917 to free men from backroom duties. Amanda’s grandmother Mabel Coole was […]

King of dust: adventures in forgotten sculpture, with Alex Woodcock

In King of Dust, Alex Woodcock explores the Romanesque sculpture of the south-west that inspired him to become a cathedral stonemason. Weaving together his own story of learning to work stone with the potency of the stone carvings and stories of their medieval carvers, his book is a meditation on craft, the importance of the […]

Writing Workshop with John Lugo-Trebble and Barbara Armstrong: Breaking the fourth wall – stepping inside a scene

Do you enjoy reading but you’re not sure that you can write? John Lugo-Trebble and Barbara Armstrong are about to break down that wall and bring you into the fold. Using a love of reading and working with images to create individual scenes, their wish is for every participant to leave with words on paper, […]

Crossing borders between worlds, with Victoria Osborne-Broad and DL Baylis

Victoria Osborne-Broad and DL Baylis talk about their work, including how a writer gets a first novel ‘out there’. DL shares the pitfalls and joys of writing about the ghost of Daphne du Maurier in her novel, Daphne’s Ghost. Victoria reflects on the challenges of bringing magic and time travel convincingly into contemporary west Cornwall […]

Borders of life and death: the tale of Elizabeth siddall, with Serena Trowbridge

Everybody enjoys hearing the story of Elizabeth Siddall, wife and muse of Pre-Raphaelite painter Dante Gabriel Rossetti: her fascinating and often sad life, early death and the exhumation of her body. But Elizabeth also painted, and wrote poetry. Serena Trowbridge’s talk will cover her life and work, particularly her haunting and rather melancholy poems, which […]

The Redeemed, with Tim Pears

The acclaimed novelist Tim Pears makes a welcome return to talk to discuss The Redeemed, the final instalment in his spellbinding West Country trilogy chronicling love, exile and belonging. Leo Sercombe’s journey began in The Horseman in 1911 and continued in The Wanderer. It is now 1916. In a world torn asunder by war, how can […]

Accidental erotica and Cornish romance, with Jenny Kane

In 2007 Jenny Kane accidentally wrote a short erotic story. She had no intention of doing anything with it and certainly wasn’t intending to become a writer but suddenly she found herself one of the UK’s bestselling erotica writers. A former archaeologist and medieval historian, Jenny traces her route from accidental erotica to coffee shop […]

Earwhacks, with Rob Barratt

Be entertained by Rob Barratt, a Dudley-born, brain-tickling, word-mangling comic poet, humourist and singer from North Cornwall who combines clever word play and song with satire, parody and audience participation. Rob deals with such important topics as squid, Neanderthal politics, the weather in Scotland, data-driven education, distressed furniture and his relationship with potatoes. But often, […]

The Great Big LitFest Quiz, with Spencer Smart

The Great Big LitFest Quiz is back. Spencer Smart once again poses some devilishly difficult and equally easy questions designed to test the limits of your literary and loosely book-related knowledge. Win or lose you’re guaranteed plenty of fun and a friendly atmosphere. Come as a team of up to four or make up a […]

Borderlines, with Telltales

We welcome Falmouth-based Telltales back for their regular LitFest slot. Now 10 years old, the group presents eight readers of poetry, prose and short stories who have created work in response to the 2019 festival theme: ‘Borderlines’. As usual, Telltales will entertain their LitFest audience in the wonderful surroundings and world stage of the Admiral […]

On the edge: the literary and folklore landscape of Zennor

Join us for a guided walk with Adrian Rodda to share the experiences of writers and painters who were influenced by liminal Zennor, living on the edge between the sea and sky and solid rock. Meet at the Chapel Car Park Zennor at 2.00pm (or at Penlee House Gallery & Museum at 1.15pm). Tickets £4 [...]

Writing workshop with Bridget Holding: Wild words: bring your writing to life

In this digital media age, when words are everywhere, how do we make our words count? How do we craft words to match the strength of our emotional and imaginative worlds? Exeter University tutor, writer, and psychotherapist Bridget Holding is ‘revitalising creative writing teaching’. In this one-day, creative writing workshop, she offers techniques for accessing […]

Line breaks: the 9th Poetry Open, with Diana Dixon

West Penwith poet Diana Dixon returns to lead the 9th Poetry Open at the LitFest. Open to all local poets who want to share their spoken work whether it explores perimeters, pentameters – or even parameters. The slots are six minutes long. Spaces are limited and fill up quickly; to reserve a slot please contact […]

Something of his Art, with Horatio Clare and the Heinichen Ensemble

Something of his Art recounts Horatio Clare’s thought-provoking recreation of Bach’s 1705 walk along the 250 miles from Arnstadt to Lübeck to hear his hero Buxtehude play the organ. It proved a ‘slow radio’ hit when broadcast on Radio 3. Horatio’s readings from the book will be interspersed with music by other composers on period […]

Studio voices: art and life in 20th-century Britain, with Michael Bird

Writer, art historian and broadcaster Michael Bird explores the extraordinary Artists’ Lives archive, the subject of his latest book. He samples highlights from this vast and still little-known collection of life-story interviews to create a fascinating audio-visual narrative of artists’ experiences in 20th-century Britain. We hear from Patrick Heron, Terry Frost, Paul Feiler, Eileen Agar, […]

My room is a bright glass cabin: the life and poetry of Charles Causley, with Laurence Green

In 2014, Laurence Green won a prestigious Holyer an Gof Award (set up to promote books about Cornwall, set in Cornwall or in Cornish) for his book, All Cornwall Thunders at my Door – A Biography of Charles Causley. Laurence will talk about the poet’s life in Launceston and in the wartime Royal Navy with […]

A fascination with frontiers, Horatio Clare in conversation with Philip Marsden

“I have a love-hate relationship with borders: the romance of them, the fear, the triumph of getting through, and the obscenity of the prevention of the free movement of most people.” The prolific travel and nature writer, memoirist and children’s author, Horatio Clare, discusses his work and his enduring fascination with ‘the edges of things’ […]

Can poetry be both funny and serious? with Gray Lightfoot

With a USP as the ‘bus driver poet’ and a first volume of poetry, A View from the Cab: the poetry and musings of a bus driver in Cornwall, which quickly sold out and had to be reprinted, Gray Lightfoot has broken down perceptions of what a poet can be. But what kind of poet […]

Refugee Tales, with Anna Pincus and Patrick Gale

The experiences of people trapped in indefinite immigration detention moved Anna Pincus to want to raise awareness of their plight and share their stories. Patrick Gale reads ‘The Embroiderer’s Tale’, his contribution to the latest volume of Refugee Tales. He also talks to Anna about her involvement with the Gatwick Detainees Group and the Refugee […]

At the edge of our language: why speech should be a river, with Ben Cox

Ben Cox is a student of myth and story whose work tracks along boundaries in search of nourishment for our times. There are many ways to speak using the same language. Forms can be changed. Borders may be moved. Ben imagines other ways in which we can work with the words we already possess, giving […]

A literary walk, with Anna McClary

Join Anna McClary, who specialises in tours of Penzance and Mousehole. Walk with her through the town and parks of Penzance, learning about the authors who stayed or lived here – including some you may never have heard of – and what inspired them. Penzance may be at the end of the railway line, but […]

Litfest at 10 Launch Party

It’s hard to believe that nine years have passed since the first Penzance Literary Festival set out its stall in 2010. Since then, we’ve been dubbed ‘the friendliest LitFest in the UK’ and are proud to have become a much-anticipated annual celebration of the written and spoken word. And celebrate we will with the ‘LitFest […]

From Mermaids and Werewolves to Vampires and E.T.

A Talk by Jane Sand

Psychedelics, Sentience, and N-Dimensional Space

Could a certain cognizance of n-dimensional space enhance our understanding of consciousness, and could certain psychedelic mindscapes facilitate such enhanced cognition?

Writer’s Cafe Takes Flight

Redwing Gallery Cafe

Birdman: Screening at Newlyn Filmhouse

Screening of ‘Birdman’ (2014) at Newlyn Filmhouse on Sunday 8th July at 17:40. Synopsis: A washed-up actor who once played an iconic superhero must overcome his ego and family trouble as he mounts a Broadway play in a bid to reclaim his past glory. For more information and to book tickets, please click here.

Feathery Legs!

The Crown

Jellyfish Thinking, Feeling, Being Workshop

Exchange Gallery

Birds in Literature with Jane Sand

Redwing Gallery

Taking Flight with Jago Stone – with Rob Donovan

Redwing Gallery

Thomas De Quincey: Flight into the Dark World of Dreams, Memory and Opium – with Jane Sand

Redwing Gallery

No Safe Anchorage with Liz MacRae Shaw

Redwing Cafe

Home of Springs, Trengwainton Heritage Project

Engine Room, The Exchange Gallery

The Life Cycle with Kate Rawles

Redwing Gallery

Stories that Take Flight with Rachel Joyce

Acorn Theatre

Song at St Mary’s with Timothy Dean

St Mary’s Church

Sarah Winman with Cathy Rentzenbrink: From Stage to Page

Acorn Theatre

The Great Big LitFest Quiz

Acorn Theatre

The Mysteries of Consciousness with Susan J Blackmore

Acorn Theatre

Jellyfish Thinking: Art and H.D.

Hypatia Trust

RNLI Lifeboat Station Histories with Elaine Trethowan and Martin Brockman

Acorn Cabaret Bar

Nine Lessons with Nicola Upson

Nicola Upson’s popular crime novels featuring the author Josephine Tey have been praised as ‘historical crime fiction at its very best’ (Sunday Times). Set in the 1930s, they weave original murder mysteries around a celebration of Tey’s life and work, bridging the Golden Age and the contemporary. The latest, Nine Lessons, takes readers from Cambridge […]

The No. 2 Feline Detective Agency with Mandy Morton

Mandy Morton’s dark and playful crime novels about The No. 2 Feline Detective Agency feature the trials and tribulations of the tabby cat Hettie Bagshot and her sidekick Tilly. For lovers of The Wind in the Willows and Midsomer Murders, there’s plenty to enjoy in Mandy’s unique series, which is proving to be a hit […]

The Redemptive Power of Walking with Raynor Winn

Acorn Theatre

Writing Workshop with Rachel Joyce

Acorn Theatre

Peter Clark’s Emirates Diaries: From Sheikhs to Shakespeare

Acorn Theatre

Natasha Carthew: All Rivers Run Free

Acorn Theatre

Michael Pennington: Sweet William

Acorn Theatre

Lydia Syson: Mr Peacock’s Possessions

Acorn Cabaret Bar

Penzance Stanza Poetry Group: Birds of a Feather

Acorn Cabaret Bar

Flights of Fancy with Penwith Local History Group

Penlee Coach House

Liz Hurley: Be your own publisher! It’s easy

St John’s Hall

Workshop on How to Write Comedy with Richard Smith

The Mythology of Birds or, Are the Starlings Watching Us? with Robert Lock

What do Mockingbirds,the Quetzal, Flaubert’s Parrot, Jemima Puddle-Duck and starlings have in common? Apart from feathers, that is. Test your avian book knowledge with a quiz and Have I Got News-style odd-one-out round! Be astounded by just how many metaphors these surviving dinosaurs have supplied us with! Find out the answers to these and many […]

Flights of Imagination and Desire: Love, Death, Art and Money in 19th-Century Bavaria with Robin Lenman

St John’s Hall

Writing the Self – From Heartbreak to Humour with Cathy Rentzenbrink and Nina Stibbe

St John’s Hall

Albert Reuss in Mousehole: The Artist as Refugee with Susan Soyinka

Born in Vienna, Ruess fled to England in 1938 to escape Nazi persecution, losing family, possessions and his reputation as an artist. After this his style changed dramatically, reflecting the trauma he had suffered. In 1948, he and Rosa moved to Mousehole, and the Newlyn Art Gallery holds much of his work. In researching his […]

29 Seconds – Flying out of the Comfort Zone with T M Logan

T M Logan’s debut thriller Lies was a number 1 e-book bestseller. Hear him talk about his second brilliant psychological thriller 29 Seconds, in which ordinary people are placed in extraordinary and terrifying situations.

Telltales Takes Flight with Alan Robinson

Showcasing new and original writing from Cornwall-based writers, based on the festival theme ‘Taking Flight’. Curated and presented by Telltales New Writing Group, it will be an evening of spoken word as fizzy and heady as a cocktail.

Writing it Out: A Memoir and Talk by Tessa Broad

Unable to have children after years of trying, Tessa Broad felt the need to write to the children she never had; to share her vision of the upbringing they would have had and the sort of mother she might have been. Tessa and Anna Burtt, publisher of Dear You, A Letter to my Unborn Children, […]

Cruising At Thirty Thousand Feet, With Dew Vardh And Guests

Five Cornish poets replace the in-flight movie with a session of variety, passion, wit, prose, pomes, chemistry and more. At the 2017 Lowender Peran Celtic Festival, Bert Biscoe, Pol Hodge, Megan Chapman, Des Hannigan and Johanna Egar assembled to provide a poetry afternoon. It was the first time they had all shared a bill and […]

Paper Wings: Introducing Cornish Short Stories, With Emma Timpany And Guests

Cornish Short Stories: A Collection of Contemporary Cornish Writing was published by The History Press in April. This bold and striking anthology showcases nineteen Cornish writers, giving wings to vibrant tales by both new and established voices. A lively session with readings and discussions about why Cornwall is such an inspirational place to work and […]

Writing Workshop with Jenny Alexander: Free-Range Writing

Jenny Alexander is a prolific writer herself but is also keen to help others engage in the adventure of writing. So if you can’t get started, can’t keep going or are simply feeling uninspired, this workshop is a great way to energise your creativity. Free ranging across different kinds of writing helps you find fresh […]

Writing Workshop with Elizabeth Ducie: The Business of Self-Publishing

Self-publishing is an important and growing facet of the world of books. Elizabeth Ducie has self-published fifteen books and believes passionately that it is a way of maintaining control over the content, the timelines and the finances of writing projects. But it is not an easy way out: with it comes the responsibility for a […]

Peter Pan with the John Daniel Players

The John Daniel Centre is a day centre for adults with learning and related disabilities. This production of Peter Pan is a combination of acting and shadow puppetry based on a loose interpretation of J M Barrie’s original story. It involves a diverse group of members and has been in rehearsal and flying training since […]

Imposter Syndrome, With Beth Sagar-Fenton

How often have do you feel like a fraud as you sit writing at your lap top? Do you find yourself making excuses when you tell someone that you’re a writer? Are you suffering from imposter syndrome and is it normal? Beth Sagar-Fenton, a radio scriptwriter for the BBC, is no stranger to this and […]

Writing Workshop With Alan Hines: Creating Characters – Writing Like An Actor

Award-winning novelist and screenwriter, Alan Hines trained as an actor: In this workshop, he shares some of the exercises that actors use to develop realistic, life-like characters and how the fiction writer can apply these techniques to shape a character on the page. There will also be chance to discuss a character in your own […]

The Archers: Behind The Scenes

Acorn Theatre

Sod It! I’ll Do It Myself : Ken McKechnie on Self-Publishing

The Morrab Library

Ken McKechnie: From the Wilderness to the West Country – A Geologist’s Journey from Fact to Fiction

Penlee Coach House

Iestyn Edwards: My Tutu Went AWOL

Acorn Cabaret Bar

David Taylor: The Mercenary from Marazion

Acorn Cabaret Bar

Adam Hart-Davis: The Weird and Wacky World of Comic Artist William Heath Robinson

Acorn Theatre

Saying the Unsayable – blogging without words with Bean

Within days of the accident and cancer diagnosis, Bean decided to blog about the experience, warts and all – a massive undertaking given his struggle to use a vocabulary and grammar the rest of the world can understand. It has been, and continues to be, a challenging journey. This session will explore the highs and […]

Broken Air by Third Knock Theatre

Broken Air is an imaginative solo physical theatre performance inspired by the tragic death of Cornish landscape painter Peter Lanyon. The show borrows its title from WS Graham’s posthumous poem, ͞The Thermal Stair͟. Like the poem, it doesn’t shy away from the circumstances of Lanyon’s death but celebrates the artist’s lust for life, his mischievous […]

Wrecker by Noel O’Reilly

With historical fiction set to be one of the biggest literary trends of 2018 and Cornwall heralded as the new literary capital of the UK, Wrecker is perfectly placed to make a huge splash in the summer. Noel was a student on the New Writing South Advanced writing course, and has worked as a journalist […]

The Lark above the Trenches: Timothy Dean and friends

St Mary’s Church

Toy Symphony and Peter and the Wolf Penzance Orchestral Society: a Family Concert with Zeb Soanes

St Mary’s Church

From German Exchange Visitor to Cornish Author – an uplifting talk by Birte Hosken

Birte Hosken grew up in Cuxhaven in northern German and came to Penzance in 1989 as part of the twinning exchange group. She met and fell in love with her future husband, choosing to make her life in Cornwall. Fast forward to 2016 and the publication of her debut novel, Petroc’s Rock. In this informative […]

Peter Pan in Penzance performed by the John Daniel Players

This will be a combination of acting and shadow puppetry with our usual loose interpretation of J M Barrie’s original story. Still not sure how our actors will fly.

A Darker State with David Young

Acorn Cabaret Bar

Flying with the Larks by Tim Brown

Acorn Cabaret Bar

To Soar Angelic: Humphry Davy and Psychedelic Sentience with Peter Sjöstedt-H

Penlee Coach House

Voices from the ‘Jungle’ – Stories from the Calais Refugee Camp

Acorn Theatre

Marie Duval: Rediscovering a Maverick Victorian Cartoonist – the story told by novelist and scholar Simon Grennan

Acorn Cabaret Bar

From Leeds to Penzance and Back Again with Patricia Le Gallez

In this session, Patricia Le Gallez will be introducing us to her debut memoir. The book came about when her mother died aged 95 and she realised how little she knew of her mother’s past. Patricia decided to write a memoir of her early life – the part with which her children are not familiar […]

Finding Eden: A Journey into the Heart of Borneo with Robin Hanbury-Tenison

Acorn Theatre

Taking Fright: Take-offs and Bad Landings in a Writer’s Life – Des Hannigan

An illustrated, informative and entertaining talk by Des Hannigan about the ups and downs of pursuing a writing career. “A writing career is like a flight – a struggle to take off and then to stay airborne through occasional turbulence, storminess, delays, missed flights, late arrivals, bumpy landings and boredom.” Des Hannigan Covering many of the […]

Midsummer Madness in Cornwall: The Topsy Turvy World of Cornish Festivals with Alan M. Kent

Acorn Cabaret Bar

Two South West Voices to Transport You with Denise McSheehy and Mary Druce

Acorn Cabaret Bar

A Woman in the Snow with Elizabeth Ducie

A talk with Elizabeth Ducie about her career in writing and experiences after the fall of the Soviet Union. Fifteen years of snow, roulette and vodka! In 1993, a naïve young woman got on a plane for Moscow. She’d been working in pharmaceuticals for more than ten years; she was experienced in modern manufacturing techniques; […]

‘A Boy Called Ocean’: Taking flight, or facing your demons? with Chris Higgins

Acorn Theatre

Penzance in 50 Buildings, with Mike Sagar-Fenton

A guided tour through a personal selection of remarkable and individual buildings – architectural beauties and horrors alike – each of which tells its own unique story of the town of Penzance. based on the latest book by Penzance author and native Michael Sagar-Fenton. From the granting of borough status in 1614 through to its development […]

The Thermal Stair: W S Graham & the Artists by David Whittaker

Acorn Theatre

Macbeth, with Fathom Theatre

Something wicked this way comes… Following their successful tour of Twelfth Night, the three witches of Fathom Theatre return with an atmospheric all-female adaptation of Macbeth. Fathom bring their signature blend of fast-paced multi-character storytelling to the Scottish play, with live music, puppetry and a bewitching sense of foreboding. Screw your courage to the sticking […]

Dalla Saffron Gold Tour 2017

Dalla are about to launch their new Saffron Gold Tour for 2017 which promises to be a proud mix of strong original but trad-inspired compositions and colourful treatments of purely traditional Cornish songs and tunes. Their concerts capture the sheer vitality and enthusiasm Dalla bring to their music creating a highly distinctive musical signature. They […]

The Last Bus, with Gray Lightfoot

Penzance’s very own bus driver poet presents The Last Bus, showcasing the poetry from his new book A View From A Cab.

St Mary’s Church Lunchtime Concert

The concert on Wednesday July 5th at 1.15 will be given by Elizabeth Scott, soprano, Pippa Drummond, flute and Rico Gerber, piano. Their recital includes the song cycle ‘To Music’ by Pippa Drummond.

The Poet Charles Causley

This film was directed by JANE DARKE who made the classic Cornish film THE WRECKING SEASON, about beachcombing in Cornwall, which was shown in the first years of Carn to Cove at village Halls all over Cornwall and on BBC 4 in 2005 and 2010. This, her fourth film, is about the well-loved Cornish poet […]

Crashaw and Rochester: poet or pornographer, with Jane Sand

These two 17th century poets used the hitherto uncharted waters of pornography as part of serious poetry. Two very different 17th century poets used very explicit, sometimes startlingly surprising sexual imagery for very different purposes. Crashaw, a Catholic convert whose work is reminiscent of the sensuality of Rubens and the ecxtasies of El Greco, he […]

Arthur Rimbaud, French Poetry’s Enfant Terrible, with Jane Sand

Rimbaud’s astonishing poems represent a creative leap into uncharted waters! Rebel and revolutionary in both his lifestyle, his ideas, his poetry, French literature has never been the same since Rimbaud. Escaping from a narrow, rigidly conformist background, he came to Paris at the age of 16, living rough and begging his way to the metropolis. […]

The sea, the sea. What strange mysteries lie beneath the sea?

The sea has fired the imagination in many artists and writers to create stories, myths, lost lands and mythical creatures that live under the sea, and has inspired many seafaring adventure and undersea exploration tales. Here are some of ours. There are real mysteries too. An afternoon of music, writing and poetry from local Writers’ Café […]

Visionary Children In The Poems Of Thomas Traherne

Traherne, with his radical insight into the uncharted waters of a child’s mind, took 17th century poetry to a new level. This is a talk on the urgent need for so-called superior adults to recapture the inspired child’s vision of the universe. The 17th century mystical poet Thomas Traherne, largely unknown until the early 2oth […]

Faeries, Demons, Witches And Magicians In Shakespeares Plays, with Jane Sand

The Renaissance, generally regarded as an era of enlightenment, was in fact penetrated through and through by the mystical and occult, ideas generally regarded as a philosophy combining Christian Cabala and hermeticism. Shakespeare’s plays, written roughly between 1590 and 1610, show in their treatment of supernatural beings and wisdom figures many of the typical features […]

Uncharted Waters – Jago Stone, burglar-turned-artist, with Rob Donovan

Jago Stone (1928-88) claimed in his autobiography (1975) that he had sold more paintings than any other English artist. My biography has the form of an online detective story. It tells the story of a man who won the Arthur Koestler award for prison art twice before his release in 1967 after serving over fifteen […]

Uncharted Waters – Drink in 19th century England, with Rob Donovan

My doctoral thesis (2003) maintains that Victorian social cohesion depended on drink. In Norwich, as in other urban centres, population growth led to an expansion of the supply of drink. Inadequate sanitation and water supply problems meant that beer answered a dietary need for a liquid that was safe to drink. Alcohol provided depressant comfort […]

Uncharted Waters – the Road to Corbyn, with Rob Donovan

‘The Road to Corbyn’ is my cross-genre literary homage to John Bunyan’s ‘The Pilgrim’s Progress’.  In my secular fantasy, the search for truth leads to a vision of ‘Socialism for the 21st Century’ and not to evangelical Christianity. My pilgrim’s journey is through the social and political landscape of the UK between 2010 and 2015. […]

A Cornish Tea-treat with the Branwells of Chapel Street

The History: Maternal relations of the Brontës in Penzance The Writing Table: A display of Branwell-Carne-Brontë literature & art, with accompanying film. Actress Angela Crow will give a brief talk about Maria Branwell who left home in Penzance in 1812, to journey to Yorkshire – a trip that changed her life forever. Cornish cream tea. […]

The Wormery

A welcome return of The Wormery, the Gallery’s reading portal which will discuss text and images inspired by themes of A Certain Kind of Light led by Prof Penny Florence and artist Lucy Stein. . Text and images provided on the day. Please book through Eventbrite at https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/the-wormery-tickets-34851649221  

Meet the author: Sharon Tregenza

Come along and meet award-winning writer Sharon Tregenza, author of Tarantula Tide and The Shiver Stone, and hear all about her work. Try mazes and muses and dot-to-dots and whatnots – lots of fun things to do for all the family. There will be prizes! FREE; drop in any time. Children must be accompanied by […]

Build-a-book

Words can be spoken, written or sung, but many of our favourite stories are found in books. Get ready to celebrate the Penzance Literary Festival by creating your very own hand-made book. Design a cover, bind with a ribbon, and fill with ideas, stories, poems or prose. FREE; drop in any time. Children must be […]

Pisky-led: a guided walk with stories

Stories run deep in the Cornish landscape. Almost every hill, carn and rock has a tale to tell. Join Adrian Rodda and Lucy Cooper on an expedition into the wild moors and tales of West Penwith. Step off the map and enter the uncharted realm of folktales and faerie. Visit the Hooting Carn where a […]

The Hidden Room, with Stella Duffy

“Nobody turns the screw of tension tighter than Stella Duffy, giving it a final twist that left me gasping” Val McDermid After 12 years, two-time CWA Short Story Dagger winner Stella Duffy returns to crime fiction with The Hidden Room, a gripping novel of psychological suspense. Stella Duffy has written fifteen novels, over sixty short […]

The Horseman, with Tim Pears

From the prize-winning author of In the Place of Fallen Leaves comes The Horseman. Set in Devon in 1911, it tells of an unlikely friendship between two children and the loss of innocence. Evoking the realities of agricultural life with precise, poetic brushstrokes, Tim Pears has created a masterful, Hardyesque pastoral novel.

Life Behind Bars, with Jane Corry

Jane Corry tells the story behind her first psychological thriller, My Husband’s Wife, which was a Sunday Times bestseller in 2016, and her new book, Blood Sisters, in the same genre. She describes how working as writer-in-residence in a high-security prison has influenced her dark and complex novels. My Husband’s Wife has now been shortlisted for the […]

Cove: Cynan Jones in conversation with Tim Hannigan

“It does not matter who you are… it only matters what you are, right now.” Cynan Jones, one of the most distinctive voices in British fiction, talks about ripping the ground out from under a narrative and the challenge of setting a character adrift in his latest short novel, Cove.

The Button Box, with Lynn Knight

An inlaid wooden chest the size of a shoebox holds Lynn Knight’s button collection, a collection that has been passed down through three generations of women. Lynn’s book The Button Box traces the story of women at home and in work from pre-First World War domesticity, through the first clerical girls in silk blouses, to the […]

Love stories in a time of war: Louisa Young in conversation with Patrick Gale

Louisa Young’s best-selling, award-winning WW1 novel, My Dear I Wanted to Tell You, set her off following two families through the 20th century, as politics, war, injury and race buffet love, friendship and family life. The third of the series, Devotion, reaches 1930s Rome, where Tom loves Nenna, Nenna loves her father, and her (Jewish) […]

Revolutionary Dreams, with Charlotte Hobson

The decade following the Russian Revolution in 1917 was one of unrivalled creativity and experimentation in art. The Avant-Garde dreamed of a Utopian future in which their modernist designs, plus Socialism, would transform people’s lives. Talking kiosks! Flying cities! People that move with the efficiency of machines! A Laboratory of Sleep! Charlotte Hobson, whose debut […]

The Man Who Thought Outside the Box, with Ryan Danes

Dr Who fan Ryan Danes is a long-time admirer of Sydney Newman, the show’s creator. Featuring interviews with Sydney and his contemporaries, together with previously unseen photographs, Ryan’s latest book is an account of the extraordinary life and times of a legendary figure in British broadcasting. Signed copies of Ryan’s book The Man Who Thought Outside […]

You couldn’t make it up, with Peter Fluck, Terry Stiastny and Alex Wade

You couldn’t make it up – but Peter Fluck and Terry Stiastny did. The co-founder of Spitting Image and the BBC journalist turned novelist talk politics, satire and alternative facts with lawyer and writer Alex Wade (himself no stranger to fiction).

Short, cutting, poignant: drawings based on haiku

Japan’s traditional haiku form seeks to capture life’s decisive moments as revealed in nature. Artist Ant Viney combines traditional and contemporary haiku with his own expressive drawings in this small but fascinating exhibition at Chapel House PZ, Chapel Street.

The Battle of the Somme: orchestral film screening

To mark the centenary of the Battle of the Somme, the Imperial War Museum has not only restored the legendary silent documentary shot at the battle, but commissioned composer, Laura Rossi to write a haunting new soundtrack for it. Penzance Orchestral Society, 110 this year, is proud to be one of a hundred orchestras around […]

Bowie in the Bar, with Nicholas Pegg and members of the Bowie Lounge

The Litfest celebrates a musical genius. Nicholas Pegg, one of the world’s foremost authorities on the life and work of David Bowie, talks to Keith Sparrow about his book The Complete David Bowie, described by the Times Literary Supplement as the work against which “all Bowie books must now be measured”. Following their conversation, Keith […]

Individual medley, with Katrina Quinn

Q: What happens when you move a 12-year-old girl from Basingstoke to a remote corner of Southern Africa? A: She swims. Join Katrina on an energetic, poetic journey as she discovers boys, boobs, backstroke and borders. This is an accessible and touching solo show about the search for ‘home’, combining storytelling, poetry and movement. Downstairs […]

Deeper than Indigo: voyages in search of forgotten explorer Thomas Machell, with Jenny Balfour Paul

Explorer, author and indigo expert Jenny Balfour Paul reveals the story of forgotten adventurer Thomas Machell, whose remarkable illustrated journals she discovered in the British Library. In her highly-acclaimed book, Balfour Paul weaves in her own extraordinary travels, by land and sea, through India, China, the Arab World and Polynesia – even, like Machell, dodging […]

Writing workshop with Stella Duffy: impro for writers

A fun and physical workshop using improvisation techniques to support your writing, overcome blocks and remind yourself of the value of play. All are welcome, whether you are a tired old hand or brand new to writing. A novelist and playwright, Stella is also Co-Director of Fun Palaces, the campaign for community at the heart […]

Writing workshop with Tim Pears: character – helping the reader write the book

How do readers gain insights into our subjects’ personalities, without feeling that we, as writers, have laid it on for them with straightforward descriptions of people’s strengths and weaknesses, foibles and flaws?  Come and explore some possibilities with a writer who grapples with this challenge. Tim Pears is an acclaimed novelist and an experienced teacher of creative writing.

Writing workshop with Jane Corry: how to create an unreliable narrator

Who is telling your story – and are they being truthful? You can create great twists in your plot by introducing main characters who should (or should not) be believed. This workshop from Sunday Times best seller Jane Corry (My Husband’s Wife) will show you how to do this in a session that will be particularly […]

From Cornwall to Ladakh: travels of a Victorian lady, with Jean Burnett

Maria Caroline Bolitho came from a distinguished Cornish family near Penzance. An intrepid traveller, she was one of the first women to be admitted as a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society. Her secret diaries describe a journey from Kashmir to Ladakh in 1896, across the Himalayan passes and have now been discovered and published […]

Poetry Open, with Diana Dixon

All newcomers and established poets are welcome to the seventh Poetry Open (formerly Open Mic). A forum for poets living or working in West Penwith – and visiting poets – who enjoy reading/performing their work in a supportive ambience. Slots are of a 5 and 8 minute duration and participants are able to choose their place in the […]

Breaking from the past: Cassandra Parkin in conversation with Teresa Benison

Lily’s House, the insightful new novel from Cassandra Parkin, tackles the sensitive and important topic of abusive relationships. It depicts how sudden changes cause pause, breaking points bring reflection and new motivations can lead to a better way forward. Cassandra will discuss with Teresa Benison the various forms abuse can take, the effects of abusive […]

Art of the Islands: Celtic, Pictish, Anglo-Saxon and Viking visual culture, with Michelle Brown

This illustrated talk, based on the latest book from the best-selling author of The Lindisfarne Gospels, describes the rich heritage left by the peoples who inhabited Britain and Ireland from Roman times to the Norman Conquest. Monuments such as the Lindisfarne Gospels, Book of Kells, Bodmin Gospels, carved crosses and rich metalwork both illuminate their […]

A Star to Steer Her By: a 19th-century mariner’s manuscript, with Steph Haxton

The tale of a mariners’ manuscript: In 1803 teenager John Tregerthen Short was studying trigonometry. In the Cornwall Records Office his notebook, not just tasks in maths, is a beautiful example of the art of navigation. Yet behind the penmanship Steph Haxton has discovered a prisoner of war, poetry, inspired teaching and a man who epitomise […]

On staying sane in insane places, with Lynne Jones

What’s it like to be a twelve-year-old and see all your family massacred, or be the sole survivor of an earthquake? Is it true that everyone caught up in a war or disaster will suffer from post-traumatic-stress disorder? Come and hear a practising psychiatrist discuss the myths and realities of helping people recover normality in […]

Writing workshop with Jenny Kane: life writing – turn your experiences into fiction

Everyone has a story to tell. This is your opportunity to learn how to take your life experiences and turn them into a fictional adventure for others to enjoy. Writing about the places you’ve seen, and the paths you’ve trodden, can form an excellent basis for a work of fiction in any genre. Jenny Kane […]

In uncharted waters, with Rob Barratt

“His head is well and truly located in ‘Planet Barratt’, clearly a place of wonderfully bizarre inspiration.” Coventry Telegraph Dudley-born and Cornwall-based, comic poet, humorist and singer Rob deals with such essential topics as squid, data-driven education, Neanderthal politics, the weather in Scotland, distressed furniture and tuk-tuks. Rob has appeared at folk, literature and arts […]

Life Girl, with Jane Pugh

A one-woman comedy performance, Life Girl explores being single and living alone by comparing life for the single woman with Robinson Crusoe. It’s mainly funny with a couple of sad bits. In addition to her work as a screenwriter, playwright and writing tutor, Jane Pugh is a regular storyteller and stand-up performer in and around Penzance […]

Flack’s Last Shift: Alex Wade in conversation with Kirstie Newton

Alex Wade is an established non-fiction writer whose debut novel, Flack’s Last Shift, is now out in paperback. Inspired by Alex’s time working as a lawyer on Fleet Street, it tells the story of a night lawyer and his attempts to bring down the editor of a national newspaper. With Cornwall Today editor, Kirstie Newton, Alex will explore the nature of truth […]

Archaeology and Landscape at the Land’s End, with Jacky Nowakowski

For 35 years, pioneering archaeological and conservation projects have captured the scope and variety of West Penwith’s historic landscapes and sought a deeper understanding of the distinctive character and personality of this rugged peninsula. A leading local archaeologist introduces Archaeology and Landscape at the Land’s End, a fully illustrated book that both documents and celebrates […]

Star shine: A magical musical fantasy, with the John Daniel Players

The John Daniel Players proudly present the magical story of a boy, Jack, who sets off to find a fallen star for his girlfriend. Several others, with evil intent, are also trying to find the star, but in the end our hero wins out – in more ways than one… Please note: The John Daniel […]

Writing workshop with Caroline Carver: thinking outside the box

Please – if you can – bring a jam jar with a screw top. We’ll send messages from desert islands, think about escaping vs. staying put, shark-infested waters, and the mantra of a Canadian communications guru: how you put your words out is as important as the words themselves. “The medium is the message,” he […]

Uncharted waters, with Penzance Local History Group

Join Penwith Local History Group for a series of short dips into uncharted waters. Topics will include Victorian Bathers, Nelson in Hot Water, Finding Penzance’s Shoreline Boundary and Cross-currents and Doldrums: you never know where historical research will lead. There will be plenty of time for questions – and, we hope, answers.

The Paradoxal Compass: Drake’s dilemma, with Horatio Morpurgo

On January 9th 1580, the Golden Hinde hit a reef off Indonesia. During its 20-hour stranding, Drake and his chaplain, Francis Fletcher, argued bitterly. Whilst the exact nature of that dispute was suppressed in the official narratives, Horatio Morpurgo reimagines it as part of a new narrative about the Tudor explorers and their meaning today, […]

Reinventing Victorian Cornwall with Dan Daddow’s Cornish Comicalities, with Alan M Kent

Acclaimed Cornish novelist Alan M Kent describes how he has reinvented the depiction of Victorian Cornwall in his latest work, Dan Daddow’s Cornish Comicalities, which looks at the seedy underbelly of Truro during the 1850s. In this session he discusses his research methods, his engagement in the writing process and reviews his work as a […]

Turbulent times and political fiction, with Terry Stiastny

The torrent of political events over the last year leaves many feeling that ‘you couldn’t make it up’. So what do you do if your job is precisely making it up? Terry Stiastny has been both political journalist and novelist – her latest novel is Conflicts of Interest. She discusses how fact influences fiction and […]

To Lyonnesse and back: Thomas Hardy in words and music

An exploration of the poetry of Thomas Hardy. Timothy Dean, Artistic Director of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland’s ‘Song Studio’, gives an informal introduction to Hardy’s work and an insight into how a composer goes about setting his poetry to music, with practical demonstrations. Robin Taylor will read selected poems, and song settings of Hardy […]

In uncharted waters, with Telltales

WRITERS, cast off upon the uncharted waters of the imagination. Send us your work on the festival theme to be included in the Telltales evening at the Litfest. LISTENERS, come aboard, sup grog, and hear these great stories hauled from the deep – and sing as we weigh anchor. Writers: The submission deadline for this […]

The Poetry Point presents…

Five young poets, working in different styles and subject narratives, perform their work, in an exciting performance that ranges from rap to experimental. With MCMC Spoken (Megan Chapman), Anna Cathenka, Gee Middleton, Alexandra Aerlin and Megan Lee Yendell. Your host will be Mac Dunlop, founder of The Poetry Point. Downstairs in The Acorn Bar

Seeing Myself: the new science of out-of-body experiences, with Susan J Blackmore

Susan Blackmore’s new book is an open-minded exploration of the theories behind tunnel and near-death experiences from a scientist who had just such an experience herself, aged 19, and has spent much of her career determined to find out the truth behind it. Susan is a distinguished psychologist and Zen practitioner who has spent years […]

Egyptian Houses, with David Devanny, Andrew Fentham and Jerome Fletcher

This site-specific poetry installation and performance explores Egyptian revival decorative arts in the context of the Egyptian houses of Penzance and Plymouth. A series of digital and printed text-based responses to the architecture of the building ask the extent to which Egyptianised architecture can be said to take British people into ‘uncharted waters’. We strongly […]

Egyptian Houses, with David Devanny, Andrew Fentham and Jerome Fletcher

This site-specific poetry installation and performance explores Egyptian revival decorative arts in the context of the Egyptian houses of Penzance and Plymouth. A series of digital and printed text-based responses to the architecture of the building ask the extent to which Egyptianised architecture can be said to take British people into ‘uncharted waters’. We strongly […]

Family life on a sailing lugger: handling the unexpected with no brakes, with Judy Brickhill

Join Judy for tales of Guide Me, a 106-year-old, engineless sailing lugger from Looe and her part in the life of a young family looking for a home. This is a story of dreams and intertwining currents, of steep learning curves, the effect of teamwork, and the discovery of the depths of personal resources that […]

Local panel, with Liz Fenwick, Jenny Kane and Chris Vick

Cornwall has long been a source of inspiration for writers. In this session, three novelists working in different genres but sharing a deep love of Cornwall explore with Teresa Benison how the local landscape influences their work, and discuss the joys and challenges of incorporating real places into works of the imagination.

Uncharted shores: Atlantic Cornwall and beyond, with Des Hannigan

Veteran Lonely Planet author Des Hannigan takes a rollercoaster ride, with a backpack full of memoir, verse and imagery, along the uncharted coastline of west Cornwall and across the Cornish sea to distant destinations. Seasickness pills and a head for heights are not required, seating is available, and you will never need to watch Bear Grylls […]

Home and abroad, with Roy Phillips

N R (Roy) Phillips, multi-award-winning writer and traveller, navigates the uncharted waters, deserts and jungles of his long and eventful life. Roy will introduce his new title, The Way of An Eagle, set in Yemen, and discuss earlier works, including The Saffron Eaters, which won the TSB Peninsula Prize, and his book on Cornish wildlife, […]

In search of Anne Brontë, Cornwall’s daughter, with Nick Holland

Anne Brontë was the youngest and in many ways the most revolutionary Brontë sister, challenging the conventions of her time. She died aged 29, but left behind two brilliant novels and a moving collection of poetry. Anne lost her Cornish mother when she was just one, but her Penzance-born aunt changed Anne’s life (and thereby […]

The pre-war adventures of Crosbie Garstin, with David Tovey

The poet and novelist Crosbie Garstin led an extraordinarily adventurous life overseas pre-1914. Whilst he did not make the fortune he craved, he returned with a wealth of experiences and anecdotes which he used in his work, including the Penhale trilogy. David Tovey, a leading Cornish art historian, has just published The Witty Vagabond, a […]

Writing Workshop with Sally Crabtree: CreativiTEA – wake up the wonder!

Take a sip of CreativiTEA and be amazed at how you can make edible haiku poetry, lyrics and a PinARTa full of poetic objets d’art. Sally Crabtree and Hiroshi Taniuchi combine the traditions of Cornish afternoon tea parties and the Japanese tea ceremony to create a celebratory, spiritual setting where creativity can be “ intelligence […]

Charles Causley at 100: a celebration

This special evening of words and music is dedicated to one of the finest English poets of the 20th century. Born in Launceston, where he spent most of his life and worked as a teacher, Charles Causley was greatly admired in his lifetime. One hundred years on from his birth, he continues to be remembered […]

Writing workshop with Megan Chapman: writing off the page

Move your writing away from editing and layout and onto a stage of freedom in this performance writing workshop with spoken word, poet and rap artist Megan Chapman (aka MCMC Spoken) Discover how your writing can be performed off the page and build confidence as you explore the outer reaches of your creative potential.

Writing workshop with Ellen Phethean: world-building

How do writers imagine and create a fictional world for their story? This workshop will look at some examples of alternative worlds across a range of genres. Using images, memory, history, artefacts, myth, texts and imagination we will kick-start our writing and begin to world-build, inventing and fleshing out our own imaginary universes.

Build-a-book

Words can be spoken, written or sung, but many of our favourite stories are found in books.  Get ready to celebrate the Penzance Literary Festival by creating your very own hand-made book.  Design a cover, bind with a ribbon, and fill with ideas, stories, poems or prose. FREE; drop in any time

Publishing Day

Penzance Literary Festival is delighted to be offering its second dedicated Publishing Day – an opportunity for authors to gain a deeper insight into the constantly changing publishing industry. Meet experts from inside the business, and find out what works and what not to do … This year we have a senior commissioning editor from Weidenfeld […]

Getting Published – the editor’s perspective with Sophie Buchan

Sophie Buchan, Senior Commissioning Editor at Weidenfeld & Nicolson Fiction, demystifies the world of publishing and explains what will help your book catch an editor’s eye. A session no aspiring writer can afford to miss. Sophie  publishes literary fiction, crime fiction and narrative non-fiction. Her authors include Michèle Forbes, Anna North, Walter Mosley and Bernhard Schlink. https://www.orionbooks.co.uk/

How to Get Published: the agent’s perspective, with Juliet Pickering

Juliet, who is with the Blake Friedmann Literary Agency, offers insights into the publishing process from polishing your novel to finding an agent and publisher. She will guide you through the process of securing your first book deal, and beyond, to what to expect as a published author. Juliet worked for Waterstones as a fiction buyer […]

Online Self-Promotion (That Won’t Make You Feel Slimy), with Laurie Garrison

Laurie, a digital marketer, will introduce writers to the most relevant tools of professional online marketers. Participants will leave with knowledge of techniques used in content marketing, search engine optimization and social media management—as practiced in online marketing agencies—as well as an understanding of how to set up a self-promotion schedule that does not feel uncomfortable, […]

The role of independents, with Karen Sullivan

Why small publishers have an important place in publishing today. Karen, founder of Orenda Books, will discuss the importance of independents in today’s publishing arena, and how authors benefit from being part of a smaller team. Karen Sullivan is publisher of Orenda Books, a small independent founded in late 2014 to publish literary fiction with […]

The Unmumsy Mum, with Sarah Turner

Sarah Turner started writing as The Unmumsy Mum in 2013 when, as a happy but sleep-deprived and stressed mother of a newborn and a toddler she became disillusioned with other online parenting literature – everyone seemed to be coping so well. In her hugely popular blog, Facebook page and now her book, Sarah writes candidly […]

Under Sea; Under Stone, with Penzance Local History Group

Four different takes on the underground theme provide something for everyone. Peacock to Camelia makes an unexpected link between Botallack Mine and the Spanish Armada, Hole in the Hedge leads you into a labyrinth of tunnels, Dreckly Express reveals the underground tramway on the Mount, and Scribblers in the Shaft reveals the Penwith mines through the eyes […]

The Life of a Scilly Sergeant, Colin Taylor in conversation with Jak Stringer

“Like Heartbeat but less frenetic.” From stories of resuscitating goldfish to dealing with drunken anchor thieves, keeping the streets safe on Scilly has become essential reading for millions thanks to Colin’s official Facebook page for the Isles of Scilly Police. Colin talks to Jak Stringer about his book and recalls some of his favourite incidents […]

Our World, with MCMC Spoken, Seth Hampshire and Tom Stockley

MCMC Spoken (aka Megan Chapman) is a performance word artist. Inspired by the music of Eminem she uses poetry, rap, freestyle and spoken word to communicate views of the world both as she sees it and through the eyes of others. Beat poet Seth Hampshire has been gigging since 2011. In 2013 he won the Penryn […]

Underground Heroes, with Gray Lightfoot and Colin Stringer

Two local poets, two fresh takes on the everyday. Gray’s verse contains a subtext of social commentary amid the wordplay and puns. What if starlings had to audition to take part in their murmurations? How did a dying replicant’s last words made him appreciate Cornwall? Ax Gimp, failed rock star (and Colin’s alter ego) presents […]

The Crossing, with Andrew Miller

Beginning in modern-day Britain before travelling to the southern hemisphere, The Crossing tells the story of an emotional journey and a dangerous voyage, each of which tests Maud to the limit.  She’s cool, calm and ostensibly in control, but is she really as detached as she seems? Is she running away or is she simply […]

Readings from The Ivy House Diary: with Martin Banks and Livia Morant

In The Ivy House Diary, Martin Banks and Rose-Mary Harrington (understudied here by Livia Morant) recall their part in the cultural revolution in 1960s London when they were at an esteemed yet anarchic drama school. There were demos to attend, draft-dodgers to hide, theatre to create and the underground culture to embrace. Their candid recollections […]

Images from the Depths, with Robin Lenman

Soon after the birth of photography in the 1830s, photographers were clambering into sewers, mines and caves, risking their lives to capture remarkable images. They plumbed other depths too – underground slums and terrible industrial conditions. This talk explores photography as a ‘dark’ medium, subverting the soothing images of corporate and government propaganda to reveal […]

Rachel Joyce in conversation

The author of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry and The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy talks to Rachel Viney about those best-selling novels and her other writing, which includes many original plays and classic adaptations for BBC Radio 4, including all of Charlotte Brontë’s novels.

Writing workshop with Jane Moss and Anne Taylor: dear Cornwall, dear homeland

What does Cornwall mean to you? Is it home, or do you wish it could be? In this practical writing session, hosted by Lapidus Cornwall, we will explore our deep connections to the landscapes of Cornwall, reflect on the meaning of ‘home’ and write letters to our homelands, whether ‘Dear Cornwall’ or elsewhere. Please bring […]

Words on the wave

Join us in creating poems, pictures and spoken word inspired by our latest exhibition of marine paintings.  From bobbing boats to ragged rocks, dive beneath the waves of our sea of sound and vision! FREE; drop in any time

Open Mic Night, with Spokes

“Come, be you poet, storyteller or singer. Bring something from your mind to ours.” Spokes, the open mic night with the emphasis on the spoken word, comes to Penzance! Originally set up by three creative writing students from Falmouth University, Spokes’ monthly nights at Penryn Town Hall draw large audiences who are treated to a […]

Dew Vardh, with Bert Biscoe and Pol Hodge

Bert Biscoe and Pol Hodge (Dew Vardh) are a pair of Cornish Bards who mix up languages with poems, songs, tales and chatter to evoke the modern Kernow, which they try to inhabit with energy, sympathy and laughter. They met before the Cornish were on the census – or a national minority, before Kernewek was […]

Incomplete Shakespeare, with John Crace and John Sutherland

Incomplete Shakespeare is a showcase for John Crace’s satirical talents (well known from his ‘Digested Reads’ for the Guardian) and John Sutherland’s professorialism. In this, the playwright’s anniversary year, the aim of this entertaining and self-confessed ‘oddball’ literary double act is to fizz up our response to Shakespeare.

Writing Workshop with Rachel Joyce: writing dialogue

As the writer of over 20 original afternoon plays for BBC Radio 4, major adaptations of classic novels and three critically-acclaimed novels of her own, Rachel is no stranger to writing dialogue. Join her for an introduction to this crucial part of the writer’s toolkit, and discover how to write dialogue that convinces and engages […]

The Swordfish and the Star, with Gavin Knight

The Penwith peninsula in Cornwall is where the land ends. In his book The Swordfish and the Star Gavin Knight takes readers right into this huddle of grey roofs at the edge of the sea. He catches the stories of a whole community, but especially those still working this last frontier: the Cornish fishermen. “Knight […]

The Natural World of Winnie-the-Pooh, with Kathryn Aalto

Join landscape designer, historian and writer Kathryn Aalto for a nostalgia, visually-rich journey into one of the most iconic settings in children’s literature: the Hundred Acre Wood, a real place in East Sussex called Ashdown Forest. This is where A. A. Milne lived and set the tender adventures of Winnie-the-Pooh and his band of friends. […]

The Land and Seascape of Cornwall, with Sue Kittow, Rachel Lambert and Lisa Woollett

Three writers and their relationship to the Land and Seascape of Cornwall A forager (Rachel Lambert), walking writer (Sue Kittow) and sea photographer and writer (Lisa Woollett) come together for the first time to discuss their personal takes on Cornwall’s natural environment; how it affects and inspires them. Through words and images, expect a dynamic […]

Dungeons and Dragons, with The John Daniel Players

This is the fourth time this remarkable band of players has worked on a piece for the Litfest, and the first time they’ve appeared at The Acorn. A beautiful princess is captured by a rather sensitive dragon. Three brave suitors set out to rescue her, but in the end it’s the dragon who is in trouble. […]

Inspired by Insurrection: hero or villain? with Steph Haxton and M J Logue

When historical novelist Steph Haxton was asked to contribute to the BBC’s show ‘Antiques Roadshow Detectives’, she unearthed links between the Cornish Royalist Lewis Tremayne and underground anarchist plots against Cromwell’s Commonwealth. While researching her latest novel The Serpent’s Root, M J Logue did some digging into the murky personal life of Richard Grenville – and […]

Underground Overseas, with Des Hannigan

A humorous exposé of the secret agents of travel writing – from Homer to those Lonely Planet slaves who mine information on everything from food to fashion, fleapits to fun palaces, boats, buses and bar-top dancers. Hear hair-raising tales of Grand Theft Camera in Granada, a military coup in Pakistan, passive stoning in Copenhagen, Komodo […]

Pool under The Prom, with History Through the Looking Glass

In 1890, two young women meet while taking the water. Over the years they continue to bathe – and a stream of stories trickles between them: peeping Toms, the Titanic, first world war loss, the scandal of the carnival queens…  This epic tale spans the 70 years of the life of the pool, until the […]

In Her Wake, with Amanda Jennings

A tragic family event reveals devastating news that rips apart Bella’s comfortable existence. Embarking on a personal journey to uncover the truth, she faces a series of traumatic discoveries that take her to the Cornish coast where hidden truths, past betrayals and a 25-year-old mystery threaten not just her identify, but also her life. Amanda […]

Writing Workshop with Patrick Barkham: nature in its own write

The natural world is a rich resource for writers and inspiration can be found everywhere: in our parks and back gardens as well as our Cornish coastlines and the wonderful Mounts Bay. This year we are delighted to be able to offer a full day workshop with Patrick Barkham who will explore fresh ways of looking at and […]

Hedluv + Passman’s Music Entertainment System

This Cornish duo are the musical equivalent of WWE – and as with wrestling some people will complain that it’s not real, that it’s not real music (it is performed mainly on Casio keyboards after all). But the sweat is real, the pained expressions are real, the level of effort is very real indeed … […]

Going Underground with Telltales

Telltales, wordsmiths of the South West, are back again to tease and entrance with their new set Going Underground, showcasing the brightest and best writers, both established and emerging, from Cornwall and beyond. We’re back at The Admiral Benbow, Chapel Street, Penzance the evening of 7 July, and we’ve adopted the festival theme: ‘Going Underground’ […]

Penwith’s Underworlds and Otherworlds, with Lucy Cooper and Adrian Rodda

Join writers and folklore experts Lucy Cooper and Adrian Rodda in an exploration of tales of Penwith’s underground realms. Meet a colourful cast of characters who encounter creatures from fogous, fairy hills and underwater caverns through the folktales of William Bottrell and Robert Hunt. Meet the guardians of giants’ hordes, mesmerising mermaids and riddling devils. […]

Thinking with the Hands, with Andrew Lanyon

In this session Andrew Lanyon presents more fruit gathered from over 15 years of observing illustrators, model makers, actors, singers, dancers and musicians at work. “Lanyon wears his learning lightly. All his disguises are a loose fit.” Patrick Hughes Winner of film, painting and book awards, Andrew has worked for Stanley Kubrick and as assistant editor […]

Coastlines: the story of our shore, with Patrick Barkham

Coastlines is award-winning author Patrick Barkham’s third book – a celebrated portrait of the most beautiful and interesting 742 miles of coastline in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Telling a profound story of our changing relationship with the coast, Patrick explores everywhere from mystical Penwith to eccentric islands such as Lundy.

Shackleton: the man and the myth, with Michael Smith

Sir Ernest Shackleton, one of history’s great explorers, became a legend on four epic voyages of discovery to the Antarctic.  Michael Smith, Shackleton’s newest biographer, commemorates the centenary of the famous Endurance expedition by recalling the compelling story of a complex and charismatic man who touched greatness on the ice but struggled to come to […]

Writing Workshop with Angela Stoner: Dreaming Underground

This year local author Angela Stoner, author of the Mazemaker’s Daughter, is offering a workshop that looks at dreams as a resource for writers. Dream can inspire and enrich our writing, giving it depth and scope. Not to be missed. Bring pens, bring paper but above all, bring your dreams….

God, Free Will and the NHS, with Raymond Tallis

Professor Raymond Tallis is a philosopher, poet, novelist, cultural critic, and a retired physician and clinical neuroscientist. In his latest collection of essays he meditates on the complexity of human consciousness until his thoughts are interrupted by discovering Tory barbarians destroying the NHS, tearing apart the welfare state and turning England into an undeveloping country.

The Coast is Clear, with Mike Sagar-Fenton

This year Mike Sagar-Fenton, author of Penzance – The Biography turns his attention to the real story of Cornish smuggling, and the extraordinary facts behind the romance. Born and bred in Penzance, Mike is a regular columnist in the local press and author of eight published books on local themes. His satirical play, The Rise and Fall […]

The Fish Ladder, with Katharine Norbury

Combining travelogue, memoir, exquisite nature writing and fragments of poems with tales from Celtic mythology, The Fish Ladder has a rare resonance. Katharine’s moving and lyrical story of self-discovery is a portrait of motherhood, of a literary marriage, a hymn to the adoptive family – but perhaps most of all it is a meditation on […]

West Country Noir with John Martin

From Conan Doyle and Agatha Christie onwards, the West Country has been a favoured setting for crime writers. In this talk, crime fiction expert John Martin explores the works of many of the wonderful crime novelists who have set their books in the area between Bristol and Land’s End, introducing some of the world’s greatest […]

Clay Phoenix: the life and writing of Jack Clemo, with Luke Thompson

2016 is the centenary of one of Cornwall’s most extraordinary literary figures, the deaf and blind clay country poet Jack Clemo. Last year, Luke edited Clemo’s Selected Poems and this year he released the first full-length biography, Clay Phoenix. In this session Luke will introduce Clemo, read his poetry and explore the difficulties of writing […]

Charles Williams: the Third Inkling, with Grevel Lindop

Charles Williams was central to the Inklings, the group of Oxford writers that included Tolkien and CS Lewis. An Arthurian poet admired by Eliot and Auden, and a fantasy novelist who still has a cult following, he was a devout Christian but deeply involved in the occult. Grevel Lindop has recreated his extraordinary life from […]

The Stopped Heart: Julie Myerson in conversation with Patrick Gale

In the words of the Observer, the best-selling author Julie Myerson “has a talent for making the unthinkable readable”. Her latest novel, The Stopped Heart, with its devastating depiction of profound loss, sexual longing, love and true evil, is no exception. Julie will be discussing her haunting, chilling and atmospheric writing with fellow novelist, Patrick Gale. […]

Writing Workshop with Bridget Holding: how to eat an elephant

Following last year’s sell-out workshop on a sunny day in Morrab Gardens, Bridget Holding returns with another exciting offering. The writing process can sometimes feel overwhelming. In this workshop you’ll learn a system for chunking down any project into bite-size, do-able pieces. After all, you wouldn’t try and eat an elephant whole, would you? Suitable […]

Reflections Of Cornwall In Words And Music: Haunting, Magical, Mystical

Performers, writers, musicians and poets. Intro –  Starting with an Instrumental landscape  of ‘Lady of Lyonesse’, on CD ,created by Richard Shiells. Also featuring Celtic music. Cornwall is one of the most inspirational locations for poets, writers and artists, and has been the focus of some outstanding creative works. Today we offer you some of […]

Mining Memory

Prize-winning poet Katrina Naomi will be discussing how she uses memory in her writing, including her latest collection of poetry The Way the Crocodile Taught Me (published by Seren in 2016).  She will consider the ethics of writing about other people and examine how far we need to stay true to our memories in the search for […]

The Bookshop Band in Concert

Now in its sixth year, and with an ever-growing reputation, The Bookshop Band makes a welcome return to the Litfest with a new programme of songs inspired by books – some of them by authors appearing at this year’s event. Fans of the Band’s unique sound won’t want to miss this. And if you’re new to the work of these […]

Writing Workshop with Katrina Naomi: writing ourselves

“All poetry is autobiographical … you don’t have to say ‘I’ but it helps.” Blake Morrison. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced poet, come and discuss some truly inspiring autobiographical poetry. At this workshop you’ll hear lots of new ideas and leave with at least one solid draft of a fresh poem in your […]

Wave Hub: a reading

Do you want to hear who’s making waves in the Cornish poetry scene? This reading from the anthology Wave Hub will introduce new and authentic writers who derive inspiration from Cornwall in many unexpected ways. Thematically and linguistically innovative, their poems offer a fresh, real and unconventional insight into Cornish landscape, lifestyle and philosophy. (Event […]

Writing Workshop with Wyl Menmuir: scratching the surface

A workshop that explores how we can scratch at the everyday to uncover narrative truths. Through a series of exercises and a focused walk, we’ll gather raw materials for you to use in your fiction writing, giving you sources of unexpected inspiration. Some of the session will take place outside, so please dress appropriately. Bring […]

Drama Workshop with Gill McNeill: going underground dramatically

Gill McNeill has been teaching and directing drama for many years. For Litfest 2016 she is offering a half day workshop designed to get the creative and performance juices flowing. Who? Where? When? Why? An opportunity to engage in a creative, contemplative and fun session exploring what ‘Going Underground’ might mean. Discover a tried and tested […]

Speakeasy

Get into the Litfest mood a few days early – join the Speakeasy community for their monthly Sunday afternoon session. Bring something to read or perform with an underground theme (no more than five minutes long, please) – or just relax with a beer and enjoy listening. There’s no need to book, simply turn up […]

The Great Big Litfest Quiz

Pencil-chewing puzzlers of Penwith – get ready! The Litfest quiz is back, with devilishly difficult and equally easy questions designed to test to the limit your literary and general knowledge. Quizmaster Patrick Gale will ensure the questions come thick and fast. Win or lose, you’re guaranteed plenty of fun and a friendly atmosphere. Come as […]

Guided Literary Tour of Penzance, with Anna McClary

Join Penzance town guide Anna as she takes you to places you will not find on apps or maps.

Guided Literary Tour of Penzance, with Anna McClary

Join Penzance town guide Anna as she takes you to places you will not find on apps or maps.

Trevilley Trio Concert

The Trevilley Trio will be playing a free concert at St Mary’s Church, Chapel Street, featuring trios for flute, piano and cello by Pleyel and Martinu: Pippa Drummond – flute Patrick Gale – cello Stella Pendrous – piano Free admission

Unearthing the Past: the museum as muse

Historian and historical novelist, or gamekeeper turned poacher, Steph Haxton has always looked into the past for inspiration.  In both roles, she tells history – or her-story – using the historical evidence uncovered in her research.  This workshop will explore ideas inspired by the paintings, pieces and people associated with Penlee House Gallery & Museum […]

Litfest Last Night Party with Djazz Celtica

Join the Litfest team and volunteers to bring the 2016 Penzance Literary Festival to a close on a high note. Our special guests Djazz Celtica charm their audiences with lively jigs, reels, Bossa’s, horas and waltzes as well as “breathtaking evocations of the jazz swing of the Hot Club of France”. Djazz Celtica are Pam Betowski: violin, […]

LittleFest school events

For 2015 we are running some special events just for schools. If we haven’t been in contact and you would like to be involved with these events, please email kids@pzlitfest.co.uk.

Literary Fringe Event with music

Readings, Performances and Music along the theme of ‘Borderlines’

Walter de la Mare : dreams, death, and the fantasy worlds of childhood

A Talk by Jane Sand

Billy Whippet

Chris Cooper talks about “Billy’s Journey”, a tale of hope and healing, the true and heart-warming story of how Billy and his human Chris embarked on a journey of mind, body and soul in a battle against a devastating and life-threatening illness. Time to be confirmed

Barriers and Boundaries

A participatory experiential workshop. Come and experience a light-hearted exploration of the barriers we put up which keep us separated from others and begin to create some new boundaries to help us stay connected. This is a participatory experiential workshop. Please arrive on time.

SPEAKEASY – LitFest Fringe Special

Newlyn Art Gallery & The Exchange are teaming up with The Writers’ Block, to bring you a social evening with delicious food and fresh writing. Share your work, meet other writers and discover the new – a mix of story, poetry and song – with compere Betty Davies, developer of The Writers’ Block Speakeasy and resident poet [...]

The Hunt for Moby-Dick

A special screening to mark the 200th anniversary of Herman Melville’s birth, followed by a Q&A with Philip Hoare. Acclaimed writer Philip Hoare confronts our fascination with one of the most mysterious animals in the ocean, the whale. Travelling in the footsteps of Ishmael, the narrator of Herman Melville's Moby-Dick, he visits the whaling ports [...]

Can Palores (Song of the Chough)

Today marks the first performance in modern times of ‘Can Palores’ (Song of the Chough), a recently re-discovered song in Cornish, arranged by Ralph Dunstan in 1932. Following a talk, this and other songs will be performed by Keur Heb Hanow. Suggested donation £4. For tickets please contact enquiries@morrablibrary.org.uk or phone 01736 364474. www.morrablibrary.org.uk

Grace Vincent: Publicity – how to promote yourself and your book (Publishing Day Event)

The hard part is over. You’ve written a book. But how do you get anyone to know about it? Or even read it? In this session, senior publicist Grace Vincent from the Little, Brown Book Group will run through the basics of how book publicity works – within the publishing industry – and what you […]

You Will Be Safe Here: Damian Barr in conversation with Patrick Gale

You Will Be Safe Here is the powerful debut novel by Damian Barr, which The Guardian, Observer and Financial Times have included in their Books to Watch 2019. Set in South Africa, it uncovers the hidden history of the British concentration camps of the Boer War and links it to a present-day secret. Damian talks […]

Valles – Knowledge And The Possibilities Of Future Discoveries, with Dan James

What exactly is Valles Marineris? It’s a scar across the surface of Mars over 2,000 miles long, which some have called ‘the greatest abyss in the solar system’. First spotted by probes in the early 1970s, it has intrigued scientists ever since. Many theories have been put forward to explain its origin: water erosion, tectonic […]

Louise Boland: Publicity – small publishers championing new writers (Publishing Day Event)

These days, it is often smaller publishing houses who support and champion new authors. Established in 2017 and already making its mark in the world of literary prizes, Fairlight Books aims to publish and nurture new fiction writers. In this session, Fairlight’s CEO, Louise Boland looks at how small publishers differ from larger ones and […]

Lost Kingdoms, with Sara MacDonald and Jane Johnson

Sara MacDonald and Jane Johnson both share a love of Cornwall, but have crossed many borders while travelling and researching their books. Sara’s latest novel, In a Kingdom by the Sea, sweeps across generations from the stunning Cornish coast to the city of Karachi. It is a story of deception and betrayal but also of […]

RISINGTIDEFALLINGSTAR, with Philip Hoare

In his latest book, RISINGTIDEFALLINGSTAR, the Samuel Johnson Prize winner Philip Hoare looks at the ways in which human beings have explored the elusive, sometimes fatal lure of the sea and its enigmatic creatures. Philip is also the author of Leviathan or, The Whale and The Sea Inside. His BBC films include the feature-length ‘The […]

All Art Is Political In The Age Of Trump And Border Walls, with Hanna Jameson

Tipped as ‘One to Watch in 2019’ by The Observer and Stylist, Hanna Jameson’s thriller, The Last, is one we guarantee you won’t be able to put down. She was inspired to write the book partly by the non-stop discussion of nuclear war since Trump’s election and was also influenced by growing up into 9/11 […]

Chris Higgins: An author’s perspective – Insights into the publishing industry (Publishing Day Event)

Chris Higgins, a best-selling and award-winning author, has had 25 books published over the past 12 years in 13 different countries so can claim to be something of an expert in this area. Chris shares her insights into the changing face of the publishing industry. She also talks about how to get an agent, expectations […]

Borders With Time: Cornwall’s Paths To The Past, with Sue Kittow and Steph Hatton

The Tinners’ Way, an ancient track along the backbone of West Penwith, passes numerous ancient sites and previously linked rich mining areas, scattered settlements and harbours from where tin could be traded. Matt Watts, Access Officer for the Penwith Landscape Partnership, reveals the history and significance of this path and the work being done by […]

Some kids I taught and what they taught me, Kate Clanchy in conversation with Patrick Gale

An award-winning writer in several genres, a teacher and a journalist, Kate joins Patrick Gale to discuss England: Poems from a School – an anthology of poems by her students at Oxford Spires Academy – and her new book, Some Kids I Taught and What They Taught Me, praised by Philip Pullman as “The best […]

Rose Tomaszewska: What’s your novel about? It’s all in the pitch. (Publishing Day Event)

Have you ever been asked ‘What’s your book about?’ only to be self-deprecating, trip over your tongue or waffle nonsensically? Rose Tomaszewska commissions fiction and non-fiction for the Quercus literary imprint riverrun. Learn how she pitches books to her team and the publishing industry, and how this can help you get attention, summarise your work […]

Plen An Gwari: The Playing Places Of Cornwall, with Will Coleman

An illustrated lecture celebrating the extraordinary medieval theatre culture of Cornwall, explaining why the tradition flourished and died, and why it is so important for an understanding of Cornish history. Will Coleman, who calls himself a ‘cultural entrepreneur’, speculates about what attending such a spectacle would have been like and whether there are contemporary cultural […]

Brenda, Beyond Borders: Sue Ellery-Hill in conversation with Mike Sagar-Fenton

Author Sue Ellery-Hill’s other claim to fame is that she is the daughter of Brenda Wootton: the ‘Voice of Cornwall’. She talks to Mike Sagar-Fenton about how she came tell to her mother’s story in Brenda – For the Love of Cornwall. Despite her large size, her past-middle-age and her quiet village upbringing in the […]

Rebellion Adrian Rodda, An Gof and Special Guests

When does a protest movement become a rebellion? How does it feel to leave your home for unknown territory? What happens when you have to rely on the kindness of strangers? This performance, featuring aptly-named musicians ‘An Gof ’ (the term used to describe a Cornish patriot), tells in verse the story of the Cornish people’s march to London in 1497, to present […]

Beyond the line: poetry from paintings at Penlee

Join us to explore how the amazing paintings at Penlee House can be used to inspire words. Free event. Drop in any time. Children must be accompanied by an adult.

True Sanity on the Edge of Madness

A Talk by Jane Sand

Writing workshop with Jenny Kane: Location, location, location

Jenny Kane’s romances owe a lot to their Cornish setting. Location matters just as much as character. It’s impossible to develop a location on paper without applying our emotions, perceptions and preconceptions. Jenny shows you how to create the perfect location for your fiction – whether it’s a cupboard, town, city or planet. Use personal […]

Crossroads, with Liz Fenwick

Have you ever been at a crossroads in your life? You could go one way, maybe the easy way, you could take the uncharted one – or perhaps something pushes you off course to land in a place you never imagined. Award-winning author Liz Fenwick looks at how this can play out in fiction through […]

Long tales and tall from the long deep of Cornwall, with Des Hannigan

Travel writer and journalist Des Hannigan talks about his new book, The Long Deep, a close-quarters look at the Cornish coast and sea, illustrated with scenes that the selfie stick does not reach. Tales of shipwreck on Penzance seafront; international eavesdropping at Morwenstow; close encounters with sharks’ teeth; a bassoon-playing lighthouse-keeper and a Chinese junk […]

The Bad Bugs Bookclub: using fiction to engage with science, with Joanna Verran

Don’t be put off by the fact that Joanna Verran is Emeritus Professor of Microbiology at Manchester Metropolitan University. She has a passion for using arts and the humanities to help audiences engage with science. The Bad Bugs Bookclub gets scientists and non-scientists reading fiction that features infection and contagion – and that means vampires […]

The Postman Poet, with Liz Shakespeare

The extraordinary story of a forgotten 19th-century Devon poet. Despite attending school for only four months, Edward Capern achieved national renown for the poems he wrote while walking the Devon lanes on his postman’s round. Liz Shakespeare’s novel The Postman Poet draws on historical research and Capern’s own writing to tell his story, capturing the opportunities and […]

Landscapes of mind and memory, with Emma Timpany and Fiona Vigo Marshall

There are some interesting comparisons to be made between Fiona Vigo Marshall’s Find Me Falling and Emma Timpany’s Travelling in the Dark. Both novels portray natural environments that are almost characters in themselves, creating complex ‘psychogeographies’ that reflect emotional and psychological landscapes. In this session, the two authors investigate the unstable boundaries between past and […]

Have you always dreamed of writing a bestseller? Jane Corry reveals her top tips

Jane Corry tells the story behind her gripping new thriller, I Looked Away. The Sunday Times bestselling author of My Husband’s Wife and The Dead Ex will also give her ten top tips to help you succeed with writing your own bestselling novel. Jane’s experience as writer in residence for a high-security male prison helped […]

Writing workshop with Penny Shutt: Borderlines of the self

Where does personality end and illness begin? Where is the line between illness and who you are? Dr Penny Shutt leads this therapeutic writing workshop using the ancient wisdom of the Enneagram, prompts and the poems of David Whyte and Lao Tzu to get you writing to any illnesses or diagnoses you may have received […]

Borders, boundaries and big ideas, with Penwith Local History Group

Penwith Local History Group recently celebrated its 30th anniversary. The Group’s programme reflects its diverse and lively interests, ranging across Penwith. Join them to hear about the refugee artist Albert Reuss, the stories hidden in maps, colourful myths from Morrab Gardens… and much more. 

Everything you can think of is true, with Petrus Ursem

The border between children’s and grownups’ literature is fluid. A good story works for all readers – children have as much need to explore themes of life and the meaning of the world as older readers. Petrus Ursem reveals how the Cornish landscape released his love of writing, weaving past mysteries into heart-beating new adventures, […]

Adventures in an epic continent, with Nicholas Jubber

Journey from Turkey to Iceland, swim to the mouth of Hades, wade across Icelandic rivers, drink rakija with Balkan folk-singers and recite medieval verse at a Basque demonstration in the Pyrenees. These are just a selection from Epic Continent: Adventures in the Great Stories of Europe by award-winning travel writer Nicholas Jubber. He explores how […]

The Museum Of Broken Promises, with Elizabeth Buchan

Be among the first to hear extracts from the latest novel by Elizabeth Buchan, which is due out in September, along with a discussion of her most recent book The New Mrs Clifton. The Museum of Broken Promises is a beautiful, evocative love story and a heart-breaking journey into some of the darkest moments in […]

Why I live in a shed, with Catrina Davies

Faced with a personal housing crisis – part of a country-wide system of inequality – Catrina Davies took the radical decision to make a dilapidated shed into a home of her own, as told in her latest book, Homesick: Why I Live in a Shed. She talks – and sings – about how simplicity can […]

Alan Hollinghurst in conversation

The distinguished novelist Alan Hollinghurst discusses his life and work with the LitFest’s Rachel Viney. Alan is the recipient of numerous awards, among them the Somerset Maugham Award (The Swimming-Pool Library), the James Tait Black Memorial Prize (The Folding Star) and the Man Booker Prize (The Line of Beauty). His most recent novel, The Sparsholt Affair, […]

A Literary Walk, with Anna McClary

Join Anna McClary, who specialises in tours of Penzance and Mousehole. Walk with her through the town and parks of Penzance, learning about the authors who stayed or lived here – including some you may never have heard of – and what inspired them. Penzance may be at the end of the railway line, but […]

Dreamworlds: Everywhere at once, with Adele Jarrett-Kerr

Come along to support Adele Jarrett-Kerr’s debut performance as she reads from her collection of poems exploring the way migration disrupts and expands our sense of self as we learn to live in different places at once, constantly erecting dream worlds. Adele uses her experience of growing up in Trinidad and Tobago and finding herself […]

Life, Happiness and Everything, with Isabel Losada

Isabel Losada was named ‘the UK’s sassiest spiritual author’ by The Bookseller and is probably best known for her book The Battersea Park Road to Enlightenment, which obtained a surprise cult status. In this event with a difference – a mixture of stand-up comedy, vulnerable storytelling, inspirational talk and anonymous Q&A – Isabel may touch on […]

Living and Dying on the Borderline

A Talk by Jane Sand

Writing workshop with Angela Stoner: Writing between the tides

Not all borders are fixed. That between sea and land is fluid, as is the liminal space that inspires so many artists and writers. This workshop will provide writing exercises to explore such spaces, and bring back treasures to enrich your work. Borders can be barriers and sources of conflict – or they can be […]

Borderlines: almost what is expected, with Jak Stringer

Bordering 60, the writer Wilkie Collins was struggling with the battle of life. His readership had dwindled, reviews mocked him and he was in poor health – fearing blindness. But Collins never gave up. Jak Stringer has lived in west Cornwall for 37 years. “If you cut me open,” she says, “I would have Penzance […]

Body and Soul: Cornwall detective Frank Elder’s last case, with John Harvey

For many years, award-winning crime writer John Harvey lived in Zennor and remains a frequent visitor to the Cornish coast. In Body and Soul – the final novel of his career and the last case for his Cornwall detective Frank Elder – John explores the beautifully drawn borderlines between father and daughter, city and country […]

Ritual, history and landscape: A Cornish Year in poems and paintings, with Frank Pickering and Wendy Parkyn

Poet and musician Frank Pickering and artist Wendy Parkyn present their new, stunning volume of paintings and poems, A Cornish Year. With original words, images and music, this multi-talented duo will take you on a seasonal and cultural journey exploring the meaning of place and belonging. 

Women crossing cultural borders in 19th century India, with Barbara Eaton

Fanny Parks (1794-1874) rejected the accepted role of the conventional memsahib. Instead she led an adventurous life travelling independently through India on horseback and by boat on the dangerous, hair-raising Ganges. She spoke fluent Hindi and Urdu, became a close friend of a former Maratha warrior queen, stayed in luxurious rajahs’ palaces and harems, and […]

Behind the Lines, with Amanda Harris

Behind the Lines is the first full-length novel by Amanda Harris, a director of Kernow Education Arts Partnership and co-creator of The Story Republic and The Writers’ Block. The novel draws on the experiences of the Women’s Auxiliary Army Corps (WAACs), formed in 1917 to free men from backroom duties. Amanda’s grandmother Mabel Coole was […]

King of dust: adventures in forgotten sculpture, with Alex Woodcock

In King of Dust, Alex Woodcock explores the Romanesque sculpture of the south-west that inspired him to become a cathedral stonemason. Weaving together his own story of learning to work stone with the potency of the stone carvings and stories of their medieval carvers, his book is a meditation on craft, the importance of the […]

Writing Workshop with John Lugo-Trebble and Barbara Armstrong: Breaking the fourth wall – stepping inside a scene

Do you enjoy reading but you’re not sure that you can write? John Lugo-Trebble and Barbara Armstrong are about to break down that wall and bring you into the fold. Using a love of reading and working with images to create individual scenes, their wish is for every participant to leave with words on paper, […]

Crossing borders between worlds, with Victoria Osborne-Broad and DL Baylis

Victoria Osborne-Broad and DL Baylis talk about their work, including how a writer gets a first novel ‘out there’. DL shares the pitfalls and joys of writing about the ghost of Daphne du Maurier in her novel, Daphne’s Ghost. Victoria reflects on the challenges of bringing magic and time travel convincingly into contemporary west Cornwall […]

Borders of life and death: the tale of Elizabeth siddall, with Serena Trowbridge

Everybody enjoys hearing the story of Elizabeth Siddall, wife and muse of Pre-Raphaelite painter Dante Gabriel Rossetti: her fascinating and often sad life, early death and the exhumation of her body. But Elizabeth also painted, and wrote poetry. Serena Trowbridge’s talk will cover her life and work, particularly her haunting and rather melancholy poems, which […]

The Redeemed, with Tim Pears

The acclaimed novelist Tim Pears makes a welcome return to talk to discuss The Redeemed, the final instalment in his spellbinding West Country trilogy chronicling love, exile and belonging. Leo Sercombe’s journey began in The Horseman in 1911 and continued in The Wanderer. It is now 1916. In a world torn asunder by war, how can […]

Accidental erotica and Cornish romance, with Jenny Kane

In 2007 Jenny Kane accidentally wrote a short erotic story. She had no intention of doing anything with it and certainly wasn’t intending to become a writer but suddenly she found herself one of the UK’s bestselling erotica writers. A former archaeologist and medieval historian, Jenny traces her route from accidental erotica to coffee shop […]

Earwhacks, with Rob Barratt

Be entertained by Rob Barratt, a Dudley-born, brain-tickling, word-mangling comic poet, humourist and singer from North Cornwall who combines clever word play and song with satire, parody and audience participation. Rob deals with such important topics as squid, Neanderthal politics, the weather in Scotland, data-driven education, distressed furniture and his relationship with potatoes. But often, […]

The Great Big LitFest Quiz, with Spencer Smart

The Great Big LitFest Quiz is back. Spencer Smart once again poses some devilishly difficult and equally easy questions designed to test the limits of your literary and loosely book-related knowledge. Win or lose you’re guaranteed plenty of fun and a friendly atmosphere. Come as a team of up to four or make up a […]

Borderlines, with Telltales

We welcome Falmouth-based Telltales back for their regular LitFest slot. Now 10 years old, the group presents eight readers of poetry, prose and short stories who have created work in response to the 2019 festival theme: ‘Borderlines’. As usual, Telltales will entertain their LitFest audience in the wonderful surroundings and world stage of the Admiral […]

On the edge: the literary and folklore landscape of Zennor

Join us for a guided walk with Adrian Rodda to share the experiences of writers and painters who were influenced by liminal Zennor, living on the edge between the sea and sky and solid rock. Meet at the Chapel Car Park Zennor at 2.00pm (or at Penlee House Gallery & Museum at 1.15pm). Tickets £4 [...]

Writing workshop with Bridget Holding: Wild words: bring your writing to life

In this digital media age, when words are everywhere, how do we make our words count? How do we craft words to match the strength of our emotional and imaginative worlds? Exeter University tutor, writer, and psychotherapist Bridget Holding is ‘revitalising creative writing teaching’. In this one-day, creative writing workshop, she offers techniques for accessing […]

Line breaks: the 9th Poetry Open, with Diana Dixon

West Penwith poet Diana Dixon returns to lead the 9th Poetry Open at the LitFest. Open to all local poets who want to share their spoken work whether it explores perimeters, pentameters – or even parameters. The slots are six minutes long. Spaces are limited and fill up quickly; to reserve a slot please contact […]

Something of his Art, with Horatio Clare and the Heinichen Ensemble

Something of his Art recounts Horatio Clare’s thought-provoking recreation of Bach’s 1705 walk along the 250 miles from Arnstadt to Lübeck to hear his hero Buxtehude play the organ. It proved a ‘slow radio’ hit when broadcast on Radio 3. Horatio’s readings from the book will be interspersed with music by other composers on period […]

Studio voices: art and life in 20th-century Britain, with Michael Bird

Writer, art historian and broadcaster Michael Bird explores the extraordinary Artists’ Lives archive, the subject of his latest book. He samples highlights from this vast and still little-known collection of life-story interviews to create a fascinating audio-visual narrative of artists’ experiences in 20th-century Britain. We hear from Patrick Heron, Terry Frost, Paul Feiler, Eileen Agar, […]

My room is a bright glass cabin: the life and poetry of Charles Causley, with Laurence Green

In 2014, Laurence Green won a prestigious Holyer an Gof Award (set up to promote books about Cornwall, set in Cornwall or in Cornish) for his book, All Cornwall Thunders at my Door – A Biography of Charles Causley. Laurence will talk about the poet’s life in Launceston and in the wartime Royal Navy with […]

A fascination with frontiers, Horatio Clare in conversation with Philip Marsden

“I have a love-hate relationship with borders: the romance of them, the fear, the triumph of getting through, and the obscenity of the prevention of the free movement of most people.” The prolific travel and nature writer, memoirist and children’s author, Horatio Clare, discusses his work and his enduring fascination with ‘the edges of things’ […]

Can poetry be both funny and serious? with Gray Lightfoot

With a USP as the ‘bus driver poet’ and a first volume of poetry, A View from the Cab: the poetry and musings of a bus driver in Cornwall, which quickly sold out and had to be reprinted, Gray Lightfoot has broken down perceptions of what a poet can be. But what kind of poet […]

Refugee Tales, with Anna Pincus and Patrick Gale

The experiences of people trapped in indefinite immigration detention moved Anna Pincus to want to raise awareness of their plight and share their stories. Patrick Gale reads ‘The Embroiderer’s Tale’, his contribution to the latest volume of Refugee Tales. He also talks to Anna about her involvement with the Gatwick Detainees Group and the Refugee […]

At the edge of our language: why speech should be a river, with Ben Cox

Ben Cox is a student of myth and story whose work tracks along boundaries in search of nourishment for our times. There are many ways to speak using the same language. Forms can be changed. Borders may be moved. Ben imagines other ways in which we can work with the words we already possess, giving […]

A literary walk, with Anna McClary

Join Anna McClary, who specialises in tours of Penzance and Mousehole. Walk with her through the town and parks of Penzance, learning about the authors who stayed or lived here – including some you may never have heard of – and what inspired them. Penzance may be at the end of the railway line, but […]

Litfest at 10 Launch Party

It’s hard to believe that nine years have passed since the first Penzance Literary Festival set out its stall in 2010. Since then, we’ve been dubbed ‘the friendliest LitFest in the UK’ and are proud to have become a much-anticipated annual celebration of the written and spoken word. And celebrate we will with the ‘LitFest […]

From Mermaids and Werewolves to Vampires and E.T.

A Talk by Jane Sand

Psychedelics, Sentience, and N-Dimensional Space

Could a certain cognizance of n-dimensional space enhance our understanding of consciousness, and could certain psychedelic mindscapes facilitate such enhanced cognition?

Writer’s Cafe Takes Flight

Redwing Gallery Cafe

Birdman: Screening at Newlyn Filmhouse

Screening of ‘Birdman’ (2014) at Newlyn Filmhouse on Sunday 8th July at 17:40. Synopsis: A washed-up actor who once played an iconic superhero must overcome his ego and family trouble as he mounts a Broadway play in a bid to reclaim his past glory. For more information and to book tickets, please click here.

Feathery Legs!

The Crown

Jellyfish Thinking, Feeling, Being Workshop

Exchange Gallery

Birds in Literature with Jane Sand

Redwing Gallery

Taking Flight with Jago Stone – with Rob Donovan

Redwing Gallery

Thomas De Quincey: Flight into the Dark World of Dreams, Memory and Opium – with Jane Sand

Redwing Gallery

No Safe Anchorage with Liz MacRae Shaw

Redwing Cafe

Home of Springs, Trengwainton Heritage Project

Engine Room, The Exchange Gallery

The Life Cycle with Kate Rawles

Redwing Gallery

Stories that Take Flight with Rachel Joyce

Acorn Theatre

Song at St Mary’s with Timothy Dean

St Mary’s Church

Sarah Winman with Cathy Rentzenbrink: From Stage to Page

Acorn Theatre

The Great Big LitFest Quiz

Acorn Theatre

The Mysteries of Consciousness with Susan J Blackmore

Acorn Theatre

Jellyfish Thinking: Art and H.D.

Hypatia Trust

RNLI Lifeboat Station Histories with Elaine Trethowan and Martin Brockman

Acorn Cabaret Bar

Nine Lessons with Nicola Upson

Nicola Upson’s popular crime novels featuring the author Josephine Tey have been praised as ‘historical crime fiction at its very best’ (Sunday Times). Set in the 1930s, they weave original murder mysteries around a celebration of Tey’s life and work, bridging the Golden Age and the contemporary. The latest, Nine Lessons, takes readers from Cambridge […]

The No. 2 Feline Detective Agency with Mandy Morton

Mandy Morton’s dark and playful crime novels about The No. 2 Feline Detective Agency feature the trials and tribulations of the tabby cat Hettie Bagshot and her sidekick Tilly. For lovers of The Wind in the Willows and Midsomer Murders, there’s plenty to enjoy in Mandy’s unique series, which is proving to be a hit […]

The Redemptive Power of Walking with Raynor Winn

Acorn Theatre

Writing Workshop with Rachel Joyce

Acorn Theatre

Peter Clark’s Emirates Diaries: From Sheikhs to Shakespeare

Acorn Theatre

Natasha Carthew: All Rivers Run Free

Acorn Theatre

Michael Pennington: Sweet William

Acorn Theatre

Lydia Syson: Mr Peacock’s Possessions

Acorn Cabaret Bar

Penzance Stanza Poetry Group: Birds of a Feather

Acorn Cabaret Bar

Flights of Fancy with Penwith Local History Group

Penlee Coach House

Liz Hurley: Be your own publisher! It’s easy

St John’s Hall

Workshop on How to Write Comedy with Richard Smith

The Mythology of Birds or, Are the Starlings Watching Us? with Robert Lock

What do Mockingbirds,the Quetzal, Flaubert’s Parrot, Jemima Puddle-Duck and starlings have in common? Apart from feathers, that is. Test your avian book knowledge with a quiz and Have I Got News-style odd-one-out round! Be astounded by just how many metaphors these surviving dinosaurs have supplied us with! Find out the answers to these and many […]

Flights of Imagination and Desire: Love, Death, Art and Money in 19th-Century Bavaria with Robin Lenman

St John’s Hall

Writing the Self – From Heartbreak to Humour with Cathy Rentzenbrink and Nina Stibbe

St John’s Hall

Albert Reuss in Mousehole: The Artist as Refugee with Susan Soyinka

Born in Vienna, Ruess fled to England in 1938 to escape Nazi persecution, losing family, possessions and his reputation as an artist. After this his style changed dramatically, reflecting the trauma he had suffered. In 1948, he and Rosa moved to Mousehole, and the Newlyn Art Gallery holds much of his work. In researching his […]

29 Seconds – Flying out of the Comfort Zone with T M Logan

T M Logan’s debut thriller Lies was a number 1 e-book bestseller. Hear him talk about his second brilliant psychological thriller 29 Seconds, in which ordinary people are placed in extraordinary and terrifying situations.

Telltales Takes Flight with Alan Robinson

Showcasing new and original writing from Cornwall-based writers, based on the festival theme ‘Taking Flight’. Curated and presented by Telltales New Writing Group, it will be an evening of spoken word as fizzy and heady as a cocktail.

Writing it Out: A Memoir and Talk by Tessa Broad

Unable to have children after years of trying, Tessa Broad felt the need to write to the children she never had; to share her vision of the upbringing they would have had and the sort of mother she might have been. Tessa and Anna Burtt, publisher of Dear You, A Letter to my Unborn Children, […]

Cruising At Thirty Thousand Feet, With Dew Vardh And Guests

Five Cornish poets replace the in-flight movie with a session of variety, passion, wit, prose, pomes, chemistry and more. At the 2017 Lowender Peran Celtic Festival, Bert Biscoe, Pol Hodge, Megan Chapman, Des Hannigan and Johanna Egar assembled to provide a poetry afternoon. It was the first time they had all shared a bill and […]

Paper Wings: Introducing Cornish Short Stories, With Emma Timpany And Guests

Cornish Short Stories: A Collection of Contemporary Cornish Writing was published by The History Press in April. This bold and striking anthology showcases nineteen Cornish writers, giving wings to vibrant tales by both new and established voices. A lively session with readings and discussions about why Cornwall is such an inspirational place to work and […]

Writing Workshop with Jenny Alexander: Free-Range Writing

Jenny Alexander is a prolific writer herself but is also keen to help others engage in the adventure of writing. So if you can’t get started, can’t keep going or are simply feeling uninspired, this workshop is a great way to energise your creativity. Free ranging across different kinds of writing helps you find fresh […]

Writing Workshop with Elizabeth Ducie: The Business of Self-Publishing

Self-publishing is an important and growing facet of the world of books. Elizabeth Ducie has self-published fifteen books and believes passionately that it is a way of maintaining control over the content, the timelines and the finances of writing projects. But it is not an easy way out: with it comes the responsibility for a […]

Peter Pan with the John Daniel Players

The John Daniel Centre is a day centre for adults with learning and related disabilities. This production of Peter Pan is a combination of acting and shadow puppetry based on a loose interpretation of J M Barrie’s original story. It involves a diverse group of members and has been in rehearsal and flying training since […]

Imposter Syndrome, With Beth Sagar-Fenton

How often have do you feel like a fraud as you sit writing at your lap top? Do you find yourself making excuses when you tell someone that you’re a writer? Are you suffering from imposter syndrome and is it normal? Beth Sagar-Fenton, a radio scriptwriter for the BBC, is no stranger to this and […]

Writing Workshop With Alan Hines: Creating Characters – Writing Like An Actor

Award-winning novelist and screenwriter, Alan Hines trained as an actor: In this workshop, he shares some of the exercises that actors use to develop realistic, life-like characters and how the fiction writer can apply these techniques to shape a character on the page. There will also be chance to discuss a character in your own […]

The Archers: Behind The Scenes

Acorn Theatre

Sod It! I’ll Do It Myself : Ken McKechnie on Self-Publishing

The Morrab Library

Ken McKechnie: From the Wilderness to the West Country – A Geologist’s Journey from Fact to Fiction

Penlee Coach House

Iestyn Edwards: My Tutu Went AWOL

Acorn Cabaret Bar

David Taylor: The Mercenary from Marazion

Acorn Cabaret Bar

Adam Hart-Davis: The Weird and Wacky World of Comic Artist William Heath Robinson

Acorn Theatre

Saying the Unsayable – blogging without words with Bean

Within days of the accident and cancer diagnosis, Bean decided to blog about the experience, warts and all – a massive undertaking given his struggle to use a vocabulary and grammar the rest of the world can understand. It has been, and continues to be, a challenging journey. This session will explore the highs and […]

Broken Air by Third Knock Theatre

Broken Air is an imaginative solo physical theatre performance inspired by the tragic death of Cornish landscape painter Peter Lanyon. The show borrows its title from WS Graham’s posthumous poem, ͞The Thermal Stair͟. Like the poem, it doesn’t shy away from the circumstances of Lanyon’s death but celebrates the artist’s lust for life, his mischievous […]

Wrecker by Noel O’Reilly

With historical fiction set to be one of the biggest literary trends of 2018 and Cornwall heralded as the new literary capital of the UK, Wrecker is perfectly placed to make a huge splash in the summer. Noel was a student on the New Writing South Advanced writing course, and has worked as a journalist […]

The Lark above the Trenches: Timothy Dean and friends

St Mary’s Church

Toy Symphony and Peter and the Wolf Penzance Orchestral Society: a Family Concert with Zeb Soanes

St Mary’s Church

From German Exchange Visitor to Cornish Author – an uplifting talk by Birte Hosken

Birte Hosken grew up in Cuxhaven in northern German and came to Penzance in 1989 as part of the twinning exchange group. She met and fell in love with her future husband, choosing to make her life in Cornwall. Fast forward to 2016 and the publication of her debut novel, Petroc’s Rock. In this informative […]

Peter Pan in Penzance performed by the John Daniel Players

This will be a combination of acting and shadow puppetry with our usual loose interpretation of J M Barrie’s original story. Still not sure how our actors will fly.

A Darker State with David Young

Acorn Cabaret Bar

Flying with the Larks by Tim Brown

Acorn Cabaret Bar

To Soar Angelic: Humphry Davy and Psychedelic Sentience with Peter Sjöstedt-H

Penlee Coach House

Voices from the ‘Jungle’ – Stories from the Calais Refugee Camp

Acorn Theatre

Marie Duval: Rediscovering a Maverick Victorian Cartoonist – the story told by novelist and scholar Simon Grennan

Acorn Cabaret Bar

From Leeds to Penzance and Back Again with Patricia Le Gallez

In this session, Patricia Le Gallez will be introducing us to her debut memoir. The book came about when her mother died aged 95 and she realised how little she knew of her mother’s past. Patricia decided to write a memoir of her early life – the part with which her children are not familiar […]

Finding Eden: A Journey into the Heart of Borneo with Robin Hanbury-Tenison

Acorn Theatre

Taking Fright: Take-offs and Bad Landings in a Writer’s Life – Des Hannigan

An illustrated, informative and entertaining talk by Des Hannigan about the ups and downs of pursuing a writing career. “A writing career is like a flight – a struggle to take off and then to stay airborne through occasional turbulence, storminess, delays, missed flights, late arrivals, bumpy landings and boredom.” Des Hannigan Covering many of the […]

Midsummer Madness in Cornwall: The Topsy Turvy World of Cornish Festivals with Alan M. Kent

Acorn Cabaret Bar

Two South West Voices to Transport You with Denise McSheehy and Mary Druce

Acorn Cabaret Bar

A Woman in the Snow with Elizabeth Ducie

A talk with Elizabeth Ducie about her career in writing and experiences after the fall of the Soviet Union. Fifteen years of snow, roulette and vodka! In 1993, a naïve young woman got on a plane for Moscow. She’d been working in pharmaceuticals for more than ten years; she was experienced in modern manufacturing techniques; […]

‘A Boy Called Ocean’: Taking flight, or facing your demons? with Chris Higgins

Acorn Theatre

Penzance in 50 Buildings, with Mike Sagar-Fenton

A guided tour through a personal selection of remarkable and individual buildings – architectural beauties and horrors alike – each of which tells its own unique story of the town of Penzance. based on the latest book by Penzance author and native Michael Sagar-Fenton. From the granting of borough status in 1614 through to its development […]

The Thermal Stair: W S Graham & the Artists by David Whittaker

Acorn Theatre

Macbeth, with Fathom Theatre

Something wicked this way comes… Following their successful tour of Twelfth Night, the three witches of Fathom Theatre return with an atmospheric all-female adaptation of Macbeth. Fathom bring their signature blend of fast-paced multi-character storytelling to the Scottish play, with live music, puppetry and a bewitching sense of foreboding. Screw your courage to the sticking […]

Dalla Saffron Gold Tour 2017

Dalla are about to launch their new Saffron Gold Tour for 2017 which promises to be a proud mix of strong original but trad-inspired compositions and colourful treatments of purely traditional Cornish songs and tunes. Their concerts capture the sheer vitality and enthusiasm Dalla bring to their music creating a highly distinctive musical signature. They […]

The Last Bus, with Gray Lightfoot

Penzance’s very own bus driver poet presents The Last Bus, showcasing the poetry from his new book A View From A Cab.

St Mary’s Church Lunchtime Concert

The concert on Wednesday July 5th at 1.15 will be given by Elizabeth Scott, soprano, Pippa Drummond, flute and Rico Gerber, piano. Their recital includes the song cycle ‘To Music’ by Pippa Drummond.

The Poet Charles Causley

This film was directed by JANE DARKE who made the classic Cornish film THE WRECKING SEASON, about beachcombing in Cornwall, which was shown in the first years of Carn to Cove at village Halls all over Cornwall and on BBC 4 in 2005 and 2010. This, her fourth film, is about the well-loved Cornish poet […]

Crashaw and Rochester: poet or pornographer, with Jane Sand

These two 17th century poets used the hitherto uncharted waters of pornography as part of serious poetry. Two very different 17th century poets used very explicit, sometimes startlingly surprising sexual imagery for very different purposes. Crashaw, a Catholic convert whose work is reminiscent of the sensuality of Rubens and the ecxtasies of El Greco, he […]

Arthur Rimbaud, French Poetry’s Enfant Terrible, with Jane Sand

Rimbaud’s astonishing poems represent a creative leap into uncharted waters! Rebel and revolutionary in both his lifestyle, his ideas, his poetry, French literature has never been the same since Rimbaud. Escaping from a narrow, rigidly conformist background, he came to Paris at the age of 16, living rough and begging his way to the metropolis. […]

The sea, the sea. What strange mysteries lie beneath the sea?

The sea has fired the imagination in many artists and writers to create stories, myths, lost lands and mythical creatures that live under the sea, and has inspired many seafaring adventure and undersea exploration tales. Here are some of ours. There are real mysteries too. An afternoon of music, writing and poetry from local Writers’ Café […]

Visionary Children In The Poems Of Thomas Traherne

Traherne, with his radical insight into the uncharted waters of a child’s mind, took 17th century poetry to a new level. This is a talk on the urgent need for so-called superior adults to recapture the inspired child’s vision of the universe. The 17th century mystical poet Thomas Traherne, largely unknown until the early 2oth […]

Faeries, Demons, Witches And Magicians In Shakespeares Plays, with Jane Sand

The Renaissance, generally regarded as an era of enlightenment, was in fact penetrated through and through by the mystical and occult, ideas generally regarded as a philosophy combining Christian Cabala and hermeticism. Shakespeare’s plays, written roughly between 1590 and 1610, show in their treatment of supernatural beings and wisdom figures many of the typical features […]

Uncharted Waters – Jago Stone, burglar-turned-artist, with Rob Donovan

Jago Stone (1928-88) claimed in his autobiography (1975) that he had sold more paintings than any other English artist. My biography has the form of an online detective story. It tells the story of a man who won the Arthur Koestler award for prison art twice before his release in 1967 after serving over fifteen […]

Uncharted Waters – Drink in 19th century England, with Rob Donovan

My doctoral thesis (2003) maintains that Victorian social cohesion depended on drink. In Norwich, as in other urban centres, population growth led to an expansion of the supply of drink. Inadequate sanitation and water supply problems meant that beer answered a dietary need for a liquid that was safe to drink. Alcohol provided depressant comfort […]

Uncharted Waters – the Road to Corbyn, with Rob Donovan

‘The Road to Corbyn’ is my cross-genre literary homage to John Bunyan’s ‘The Pilgrim’s Progress’.  In my secular fantasy, the search for truth leads to a vision of ‘Socialism for the 21st Century’ and not to evangelical Christianity. My pilgrim’s journey is through the social and political landscape of the UK between 2010 and 2015. […]

A Cornish Tea-treat with the Branwells of Chapel Street

The History: Maternal relations of the Brontës in Penzance The Writing Table: A display of Branwell-Carne-Brontë literature & art, with accompanying film. Actress Angela Crow will give a brief talk about Maria Branwell who left home in Penzance in 1812, to journey to Yorkshire – a trip that changed her life forever. Cornish cream tea. […]

The Wormery

A welcome return of The Wormery, the Gallery’s reading portal which will discuss text and images inspired by themes of A Certain Kind of Light led by Prof Penny Florence and artist Lucy Stein. . Text and images provided on the day. Please book through Eventbrite at https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/the-wormery-tickets-34851649221  

Meet the author: Sharon Tregenza

Come along and meet award-winning writer Sharon Tregenza, author of Tarantula Tide and The Shiver Stone, and hear all about her work. Try mazes and muses and dot-to-dots and whatnots – lots of fun things to do for all the family. There will be prizes! FREE; drop in any time. Children must be accompanied by […]

Build-a-book

Words can be spoken, written or sung, but many of our favourite stories are found in books. Get ready to celebrate the Penzance Literary Festival by creating your very own hand-made book. Design a cover, bind with a ribbon, and fill with ideas, stories, poems or prose. FREE; drop in any time. Children must be […]

Pisky-led: a guided walk with stories

Stories run deep in the Cornish landscape. Almost every hill, carn and rock has a tale to tell. Join Adrian Rodda and Lucy Cooper on an expedition into the wild moors and tales of West Penwith. Step off the map and enter the uncharted realm of folktales and faerie. Visit the Hooting Carn where a […]

The Hidden Room, with Stella Duffy

“Nobody turns the screw of tension tighter than Stella Duffy, giving it a final twist that left me gasping” Val McDermid After 12 years, two-time CWA Short Story Dagger winner Stella Duffy returns to crime fiction with The Hidden Room, a gripping novel of psychological suspense. Stella Duffy has written fifteen novels, over sixty short […]

The Horseman, with Tim Pears

From the prize-winning author of In the Place of Fallen Leaves comes The Horseman. Set in Devon in 1911, it tells of an unlikely friendship between two children and the loss of innocence. Evoking the realities of agricultural life with precise, poetic brushstrokes, Tim Pears has created a masterful, Hardyesque pastoral novel.

Life Behind Bars, with Jane Corry

Jane Corry tells the story behind her first psychological thriller, My Husband’s Wife, which was a Sunday Times bestseller in 2016, and her new book, Blood Sisters, in the same genre. She describes how working as writer-in-residence in a high-security prison has influenced her dark and complex novels. My Husband’s Wife has now been shortlisted for the […]

Cove: Cynan Jones in conversation with Tim Hannigan

“It does not matter who you are… it only matters what you are, right now.” Cynan Jones, one of the most distinctive voices in British fiction, talks about ripping the ground out from under a narrative and the challenge of setting a character adrift in his latest short novel, Cove.

The Button Box, with Lynn Knight

An inlaid wooden chest the size of a shoebox holds Lynn Knight’s button collection, a collection that has been passed down through three generations of women. Lynn’s book The Button Box traces the story of women at home and in work from pre-First World War domesticity, through the first clerical girls in silk blouses, to the […]

Love stories in a time of war: Louisa Young in conversation with Patrick Gale

Louisa Young’s best-selling, award-winning WW1 novel, My Dear I Wanted to Tell You, set her off following two families through the 20th century, as politics, war, injury and race buffet love, friendship and family life. The third of the series, Devotion, reaches 1930s Rome, where Tom loves Nenna, Nenna loves her father, and her (Jewish) […]

Revolutionary Dreams, with Charlotte Hobson

The decade following the Russian Revolution in 1917 was one of unrivalled creativity and experimentation in art. The Avant-Garde dreamed of a Utopian future in which their modernist designs, plus Socialism, would transform people’s lives. Talking kiosks! Flying cities! People that move with the efficiency of machines! A Laboratory of Sleep! Charlotte Hobson, whose debut […]

The Man Who Thought Outside the Box, with Ryan Danes

Dr Who fan Ryan Danes is a long-time admirer of Sydney Newman, the show’s creator. Featuring interviews with Sydney and his contemporaries, together with previously unseen photographs, Ryan’s latest book is an account of the extraordinary life and times of a legendary figure in British broadcasting. Signed copies of Ryan’s book The Man Who Thought Outside […]

You couldn’t make it up, with Peter Fluck, Terry Stiastny and Alex Wade

You couldn’t make it up – but Peter Fluck and Terry Stiastny did. The co-founder of Spitting Image and the BBC journalist turned novelist talk politics, satire and alternative facts with lawyer and writer Alex Wade (himself no stranger to fiction).

Short, cutting, poignant: drawings based on haiku

Japan’s traditional haiku form seeks to capture life’s decisive moments as revealed in nature. Artist Ant Viney combines traditional and contemporary haiku with his own expressive drawings in this small but fascinating exhibition at Chapel House PZ, Chapel Street.

The Battle of the Somme: orchestral film screening

To mark the centenary of the Battle of the Somme, the Imperial War Museum has not only restored the legendary silent documentary shot at the battle, but commissioned composer, Laura Rossi to write a haunting new soundtrack for it. Penzance Orchestral Society, 110 this year, is proud to be one of a hundred orchestras around […]

Bowie in the Bar, with Nicholas Pegg and members of the Bowie Lounge

The Litfest celebrates a musical genius. Nicholas Pegg, one of the world’s foremost authorities on the life and work of David Bowie, talks to Keith Sparrow about his book The Complete David Bowie, described by the Times Literary Supplement as the work against which “all Bowie books must now be measured”. Following their conversation, Keith […]

Individual medley, with Katrina Quinn

Q: What happens when you move a 12-year-old girl from Basingstoke to a remote corner of Southern Africa? A: She swims. Join Katrina on an energetic, poetic journey as she discovers boys, boobs, backstroke and borders. This is an accessible and touching solo show about the search for ‘home’, combining storytelling, poetry and movement. Downstairs […]

Deeper than Indigo: voyages in search of forgotten explorer Thomas Machell, with Jenny Balfour Paul

Explorer, author and indigo expert Jenny Balfour Paul reveals the story of forgotten adventurer Thomas Machell, whose remarkable illustrated journals she discovered in the British Library. In her highly-acclaimed book, Balfour Paul weaves in her own extraordinary travels, by land and sea, through India, China, the Arab World and Polynesia – even, like Machell, dodging […]

Writing workshop with Stella Duffy: impro for writers

A fun and physical workshop using improvisation techniques to support your writing, overcome blocks and remind yourself of the value of play. All are welcome, whether you are a tired old hand or brand new to writing. A novelist and playwright, Stella is also Co-Director of Fun Palaces, the campaign for community at the heart […]

Writing workshop with Tim Pears: character – helping the reader write the book

How do readers gain insights into our subjects’ personalities, without feeling that we, as writers, have laid it on for them with straightforward descriptions of people’s strengths and weaknesses, foibles and flaws?  Come and explore some possibilities with a writer who grapples with this challenge. Tim Pears is an acclaimed novelist and an experienced teacher of creative writing.

Writing workshop with Jane Corry: how to create an unreliable narrator

Who is telling your story – and are they being truthful? You can create great twists in your plot by introducing main characters who should (or should not) be believed. This workshop from Sunday Times best seller Jane Corry (My Husband’s Wife) will show you how to do this in a session that will be particularly […]

From Cornwall to Ladakh: travels of a Victorian lady, with Jean Burnett

Maria Caroline Bolitho came from a distinguished Cornish family near Penzance. An intrepid traveller, she was one of the first women to be admitted as a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society. Her secret diaries describe a journey from Kashmir to Ladakh in 1896, across the Himalayan passes and have now been discovered and published […]

Poetry Open, with Diana Dixon

All newcomers and established poets are welcome to the seventh Poetry Open (formerly Open Mic). A forum for poets living or working in West Penwith – and visiting poets – who enjoy reading/performing their work in a supportive ambience. Slots are of a 5 and 8 minute duration and participants are able to choose their place in the […]

Breaking from the past: Cassandra Parkin in conversation with Teresa Benison

Lily’s House, the insightful new novel from Cassandra Parkin, tackles the sensitive and important topic of abusive relationships. It depicts how sudden changes cause pause, breaking points bring reflection and new motivations can lead to a better way forward. Cassandra will discuss with Teresa Benison the various forms abuse can take, the effects of abusive […]

Art of the Islands: Celtic, Pictish, Anglo-Saxon and Viking visual culture, with Michelle Brown

This illustrated talk, based on the latest book from the best-selling author of The Lindisfarne Gospels, describes the rich heritage left by the peoples who inhabited Britain and Ireland from Roman times to the Norman Conquest. Monuments such as the Lindisfarne Gospels, Book of Kells, Bodmin Gospels, carved crosses and rich metalwork both illuminate their […]

A Star to Steer Her By: a 19th-century mariner’s manuscript, with Steph Haxton

The tale of a mariners’ manuscript: In 1803 teenager John Tregerthen Short was studying trigonometry. In the Cornwall Records Office his notebook, not just tasks in maths, is a beautiful example of the art of navigation. Yet behind the penmanship Steph Haxton has discovered a prisoner of war, poetry, inspired teaching and a man who epitomise […]

On staying sane in insane places, with Lynne Jones

What’s it like to be a twelve-year-old and see all your family massacred, or be the sole survivor of an earthquake? Is it true that everyone caught up in a war or disaster will suffer from post-traumatic-stress disorder? Come and hear a practising psychiatrist discuss the myths and realities of helping people recover normality in […]

Writing workshop with Jenny Kane: life writing – turn your experiences into fiction

Everyone has a story to tell. This is your opportunity to learn how to take your life experiences and turn them into a fictional adventure for others to enjoy. Writing about the places you’ve seen, and the paths you’ve trodden, can form an excellent basis for a work of fiction in any genre. Jenny Kane […]

In uncharted waters, with Rob Barratt

“His head is well and truly located in ‘Planet Barratt’, clearly a place of wonderfully bizarre inspiration.” Coventry Telegraph Dudley-born and Cornwall-based, comic poet, humorist and singer Rob deals with such essential topics as squid, data-driven education, Neanderthal politics, the weather in Scotland, distressed furniture and tuk-tuks. Rob has appeared at folk, literature and arts […]

Life Girl, with Jane Pugh

A one-woman comedy performance, Life Girl explores being single and living alone by comparing life for the single woman with Robinson Crusoe. It’s mainly funny with a couple of sad bits. In addition to her work as a screenwriter, playwright and writing tutor, Jane Pugh is a regular storyteller and stand-up performer in and around Penzance […]

Flack’s Last Shift: Alex Wade in conversation with Kirstie Newton

Alex Wade is an established non-fiction writer whose debut novel, Flack’s Last Shift, is now out in paperback. Inspired by Alex’s time working as a lawyer on Fleet Street, it tells the story of a night lawyer and his attempts to bring down the editor of a national newspaper. With Cornwall Today editor, Kirstie Newton, Alex will explore the nature of truth […]

Archaeology and Landscape at the Land’s End, with Jacky Nowakowski

For 35 years, pioneering archaeological and conservation projects have captured the scope and variety of West Penwith’s historic landscapes and sought a deeper understanding of the distinctive character and personality of this rugged peninsula. A leading local archaeologist introduces Archaeology and Landscape at the Land’s End, a fully illustrated book that both documents and celebrates […]

Star shine: A magical musical fantasy, with the John Daniel Players

The John Daniel Players proudly present the magical story of a boy, Jack, who sets off to find a fallen star for his girlfriend. Several others, with evil intent, are also trying to find the star, but in the end our hero wins out – in more ways than one… Please note: The John Daniel […]

Writing workshop with Caroline Carver: thinking outside the box

Please – if you can – bring a jam jar with a screw top. We’ll send messages from desert islands, think about escaping vs. staying put, shark-infested waters, and the mantra of a Canadian communications guru: how you put your words out is as important as the words themselves. “The medium is the message,” he […]

Uncharted waters, with Penzance Local History Group

Join Penwith Local History Group for a series of short dips into uncharted waters. Topics will include Victorian Bathers, Nelson in Hot Water, Finding Penzance’s Shoreline Boundary and Cross-currents and Doldrums: you never know where historical research will lead. There will be plenty of time for questions – and, we hope, answers.

The Paradoxal Compass: Drake’s dilemma, with Horatio Morpurgo

On January 9th 1580, the Golden Hinde hit a reef off Indonesia. During its 20-hour stranding, Drake and his chaplain, Francis Fletcher, argued bitterly. Whilst the exact nature of that dispute was suppressed in the official narratives, Horatio Morpurgo reimagines it as part of a new narrative about the Tudor explorers and their meaning today, […]

Reinventing Victorian Cornwall with Dan Daddow’s Cornish Comicalities, with Alan M Kent

Acclaimed Cornish novelist Alan M Kent describes how he has reinvented the depiction of Victorian Cornwall in his latest work, Dan Daddow’s Cornish Comicalities, which looks at the seedy underbelly of Truro during the 1850s. In this session he discusses his research methods, his engagement in the writing process and reviews his work as a […]

Turbulent times and political fiction, with Terry Stiastny

The torrent of political events over the last year leaves many feeling that ‘you couldn’t make it up’. So what do you do if your job is precisely making it up? Terry Stiastny has been both political journalist and novelist – her latest novel is Conflicts of Interest. She discusses how fact influences fiction and […]

To Lyonnesse and back: Thomas Hardy in words and music

An exploration of the poetry of Thomas Hardy. Timothy Dean, Artistic Director of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland’s ‘Song Studio’, gives an informal introduction to Hardy’s work and an insight into how a composer goes about setting his poetry to music, with practical demonstrations. Robin Taylor will read selected poems, and song settings of Hardy […]

In uncharted waters, with Telltales

WRITERS, cast off upon the uncharted waters of the imagination. Send us your work on the festival theme to be included in the Telltales evening at the Litfest. LISTENERS, come aboard, sup grog, and hear these great stories hauled from the deep – and sing as we weigh anchor. Writers: The submission deadline for this […]

The Poetry Point presents…

Five young poets, working in different styles and subject narratives, perform their work, in an exciting performance that ranges from rap to experimental. With MCMC Spoken (Megan Chapman), Anna Cathenka, Gee Middleton, Alexandra Aerlin and Megan Lee Yendell. Your host will be Mac Dunlop, founder of The Poetry Point. Downstairs in The Acorn Bar

Seeing Myself: the new science of out-of-body experiences, with Susan J Blackmore

Susan Blackmore’s new book is an open-minded exploration of the theories behind tunnel and near-death experiences from a scientist who had just such an experience herself, aged 19, and has spent much of her career determined to find out the truth behind it. Susan is a distinguished psychologist and Zen practitioner who has spent years […]

Egyptian Houses, with David Devanny, Andrew Fentham and Jerome Fletcher

This site-specific poetry installation and performance explores Egyptian revival decorative arts in the context of the Egyptian houses of Penzance and Plymouth. A series of digital and printed text-based responses to the architecture of the building ask the extent to which Egyptianised architecture can be said to take British people into ‘uncharted waters’. We strongly […]

Egyptian Houses, with David Devanny, Andrew Fentham and Jerome Fletcher

This site-specific poetry installation and performance explores Egyptian revival decorative arts in the context of the Egyptian houses of Penzance and Plymouth. A series of digital and printed text-based responses to the architecture of the building ask the extent to which Egyptianised architecture can be said to take British people into ‘uncharted waters’. We strongly […]

Family life on a sailing lugger: handling the unexpected with no brakes, with Judy Brickhill

Join Judy for tales of Guide Me, a 106-year-old, engineless sailing lugger from Looe and her part in the life of a young family looking for a home. This is a story of dreams and intertwining currents, of steep learning curves, the effect of teamwork, and the discovery of the depths of personal resources that […]

Local panel, with Liz Fenwick, Jenny Kane and Chris Vick

Cornwall has long been a source of inspiration for writers. In this session, three novelists working in different genres but sharing a deep love of Cornwall explore with Teresa Benison how the local landscape influences their work, and discuss the joys and challenges of incorporating real places into works of the imagination.

Uncharted shores: Atlantic Cornwall and beyond, with Des Hannigan

Veteran Lonely Planet author Des Hannigan takes a rollercoaster ride, with a backpack full of memoir, verse and imagery, along the uncharted coastline of west Cornwall and across the Cornish sea to distant destinations. Seasickness pills and a head for heights are not required, seating is available, and you will never need to watch Bear Grylls […]

Home and abroad, with Roy Phillips

N R (Roy) Phillips, multi-award-winning writer and traveller, navigates the uncharted waters, deserts and jungles of his long and eventful life. Roy will introduce his new title, The Way of An Eagle, set in Yemen, and discuss earlier works, including The Saffron Eaters, which won the TSB Peninsula Prize, and his book on Cornish wildlife, […]

In search of Anne Brontë, Cornwall’s daughter, with Nick Holland

Anne Brontë was the youngest and in many ways the most revolutionary Brontë sister, challenging the conventions of her time. She died aged 29, but left behind two brilliant novels and a moving collection of poetry. Anne lost her Cornish mother when she was just one, but her Penzance-born aunt changed Anne’s life (and thereby […]

The pre-war adventures of Crosbie Garstin, with David Tovey

The poet and novelist Crosbie Garstin led an extraordinarily adventurous life overseas pre-1914. Whilst he did not make the fortune he craved, he returned with a wealth of experiences and anecdotes which he used in his work, including the Penhale trilogy. David Tovey, a leading Cornish art historian, has just published The Witty Vagabond, a […]

Writing Workshop with Sally Crabtree: CreativiTEA – wake up the wonder!

Take a sip of CreativiTEA and be amazed at how you can make edible haiku poetry, lyrics and a PinARTa full of poetic objets d’art. Sally Crabtree and Hiroshi Taniuchi combine the traditions of Cornish afternoon tea parties and the Japanese tea ceremony to create a celebratory, spiritual setting where creativity can be “ intelligence […]

Charles Causley at 100: a celebration

This special evening of words and music is dedicated to one of the finest English poets of the 20th century. Born in Launceston, where he spent most of his life and worked as a teacher, Charles Causley was greatly admired in his lifetime. One hundred years on from his birth, he continues to be remembered […]

Writing workshop with Megan Chapman: writing off the page

Move your writing away from editing and layout and onto a stage of freedom in this performance writing workshop with spoken word, poet and rap artist Megan Chapman (aka MCMC Spoken) Discover how your writing can be performed off the page and build confidence as you explore the outer reaches of your creative potential.

Writing workshop with Ellen Phethean: world-building

How do writers imagine and create a fictional world for their story? This workshop will look at some examples of alternative worlds across a range of genres. Using images, memory, history, artefacts, myth, texts and imagination we will kick-start our writing and begin to world-build, inventing and fleshing out our own imaginary universes.

Build-a-book

Words can be spoken, written or sung, but many of our favourite stories are found in books.  Get ready to celebrate the Penzance Literary Festival by creating your very own hand-made book.  Design a cover, bind with a ribbon, and fill with ideas, stories, poems or prose. FREE; drop in any time

Publishing Day

Penzance Literary Festival is delighted to be offering its second dedicated Publishing Day – an opportunity for authors to gain a deeper insight into the constantly changing publishing industry. Meet experts from inside the business, and find out what works and what not to do … This year we have a senior commissioning editor from Weidenfeld […]