Fringe Box



Petworth Literary Festival ‘Bigger And Better’

Published on: 2 Oct, 2019
Updated on: 2 Oct, 2019

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Festival press releases all too often boast ‘bigger and better’ almost by default. But Petworth Festival’s Literary Week is by any standards bigger and better this coming autumn.

Now in its ninth year, the festival has expanded into a second week while the list of household names appearing continues to grow.

Announcing this year’s programme, artistic director Stewart Collins enthused over both the quality of the speakers and the breadth of appeal of a festival that will see more than 30 events taking place across four venues.

He said: “Without any doubt, we have an unprecedented line up of big hitters this coming year. I am confident we will continue to see a continuing growth in our audience numbers thanks to the events with the likes of Hugh Bonneville, James Naughtie, Prue Leith OBE, Jenni Murray, George Alagiah and David Suchet.

Hugh-Bonneville (credit Stuart McClymont).

“But it is the fact that renowned experts – and as importantly, great communicators – will be joining us to talk about the widest possible range of subjects that gives the programme its depth and character.

“Historians will be fascinated by Max Hastings’ new study of the World War II Dambusters raid; sports fans will be delighted to see Test Match Special’s Vic Marks on the bill; science lovers will be transfixed by BBC science correspondent David Whitehouse’s remarkable study of the Apollo 11 moon landing; readers of crime novels will be spoilt by Lynne Truss’s conversation with fellow writer Simon Brett, and so on.”

Prue Leith ‘Prue My All Time Favourite Recipes’.

Politics will, of course, feature large in this year of all years, with journalists, Steve Richards and Charles Moore reflecting on recent residents of 10 Downing Street, while Labour MP Rachel Reeves and former parliamentarian, now Director of the V&A, Tristram Hunt, will doubtless also be drawn on current affairs.

Having increasingly been focused on incorporating young people’s events into the fabric of the festival, lovers of poetry and creative writing will be able to sample the best of a series of specially written poems from pupils attending schools across the area.  It is one of the festival’s most relaxed events, the Poetry Breakfast on Sunday, November 3, and it is run in association with the South Downs Poetry Festival and The Arts Society Young Arts.

David Suche ‘Behind the Lens’.

Reflecting on the year overall, Stewart was struck by the dramatic growth of the festival organisation as a whole in the last two years. “Remarkably, and at a time of some uncertainty in the country overall, the Petworth Festival, both the summer and autumn literary events together, has grown by 40% since 2017.

“This is down to at least two factors. Firstly a genuinely engaged audience who really support and take an interest in everything we present, and secondly the fantastic financial support we receive annually from a substantial group of sponsors. The combination is clearly highly effective and everyone benefits.”

Max Hastings (credit Toby Madden).

With a presence throughout the week from regular partner, The Petworth Bookshop, the festival runs from Saturday, October 26 – Sunday, November 3.

You can book tickets from Wednesday, October 2 online at or by telephone on 01798 344576 (Monday to Saturday 10am to 1pm). Alternatively, you can download a booking form from the website and post it to the festival office at 151 Whites Green Lodge, Lurgashall, Petworth GU28 9BD.

We all look forward to a great festival this year and to seeing you there.

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