Taking a good book or two on holiday is such a treat. To be able to kick shoes off, put feet up (preferably beside the pool at Hillfield Village) and read a book is one of life’s pleasures. But sometimes there simply isn’t the time to enjoy choosing and buying the book – to browse the shelves, turn real pages, read extracts.
And what if you are stuck for ideas? Well there are always the ‘Best Books for Summer Reading’ recommendations in the weekend papers. Or, if you happen to be staying at Hillfield Village between July 8th and 18th, there’s Ways With Words Festival of Words and Ideas – one of the longest established literary festivals in the country that takes place at Dartington Hall and celebrates its 25th anniversary this year.
Over the ten-day festival more than 120 writers come to speak about books, ideas, the process of writing,and how they came to write a particular book. Subject matter covered at the festival is extremely diverse, ranging from reading water, to reporting from Afghanistan, to writing a novel about life in North London, to the lives of the Mitford Sisters. It’s probably best to pick up a programme from the local tourist information office and browse at your leisure (preferably with highlighter to hand). Or you can download the programme.
Events take place mainly in the Great Hall and the Barn, both of which flank the medieval courtyard at Dartington. The Great Hall hosts lots of well known names – leaders in the field of politics, philosophy, science, history and of course literature. This year’s glitterati include A.C. Grayling, Joan Bakewell, Ken Livingstone, Alice Roberts, Shirley Williams, Mark Haddon, Fay Weldon, Vince Cable… the list goes on.
The Barn is the smaller venue where the programme is rather more eclectic and divided into themed days such as ‘In the Wild’ ‘British Society’ ‘Womens’ Lives’ and ‘The Science of the Mind and Body’. Most speakers at Ways With Words have recently published a book, and these (and more) are for sale in the festival bookshop, which is run by Waterstones onsite in the Upper Gatehouse.
So, not only can you learn how the book came about, you can also buy it, get your first edition signed by the author, then take it ‘home’ to Hillfield Village to read at your leisure.
And while we are on the subject of homes and literature…
Greenway – Agatha Christie’s holiday home, which is now owned by the National Trust, has hosted its very own Writer In Residence for the past three months. The writer in question is the poet Miriam Nash and to mark the end of her residency at Greenway, which is perched beside the River Dart in Galmpton, Miriam has put together an exhibition of objects and images from her time there and this is on view on Tuesday 12 July from 11am until 1pm. The following day (Wednesday 13 July) Miriam will lead a creative writing workshop, ‘Writer as Collector’ from 7-9pm. Both events are free and the workshop is open to both experienced and novice writers.
For more information about ‘Writer As Collector’ click here.