Marlborough LitFest 2020 has been struck down by the COVID-19 crisis. The festival, which was due to take place from September 24 to 27, cannot go ahead due to the current restrictions. However, many of the planned outreach community activities such as the Big Town Read, author talks for primary schools and competitions can take place mainly online.
A statement issued by the LitFest committee says: “It is with great sadness that we have decided to cancel the main programme for this year’s LitFest. So much of the festival is about lively debate, authors mingling with the audience and the buzz of the Town Hall, all of which are hard to replicate while following the essential guidelines to keep everyone safe from COVID-19.
We’ve been excited to see the range of virtual events on offer from other larger festivals and would love to have created something similar. But, as a small volunteer team, we would rather focus our energy on providing a few activities over the coming months to keep our audience sharing views about books and reading.
For now we are thrilled to see The White Horse Bookshop open again in Marlborough High Street. We will keep talking to them and other local organisations about ways in which the Marlborough LitFest can contribute to supporting the arts at this challenging time. And of course we look forward to seeing everyone for the return of the festival from 30 September – 3 October 2021.”
The 2020 Big Town Read is Platform Seven, the latest novel by bestselling author Louise Doughty, who was due to come to Marlborough for the festival. Every year the Marlborough LitFest, along with the support of local libraries, chooses a book which is suggested for local reading groups and individuals to read, ahead of the author appearing at the LitFest.
Louise Doughty is the bestselling author of nine novels, including the number one bestseller, Apple Tree Yard – subsequently a hugely successful TV adaptation. She has also written one work of non-fiction and five plays for radio. Previous Big Town Read authors have included Laline Paull, Sathnam Sanghera, Jackie Kay, Rachel Joyce and Raynor Winn.
Louise Doughty will now hold an online session at 6pm on Saturday 26 September. There will also be an opportunity for the audience to put questions to Louise.
The LitFest is passionate about encouraging a love of reading and books to its younger audiences and has organised an annual series of live author talks to local primary and secondary school children. This year, these are likely to be online, taking into account safety guidelines at the time.
Two competitions are being organised by LitFest and these are already going ahead.
A children’s competition for local primary schools entitled ‘Greek Gods Top Trumps’ focuses on Greek mythology. The competition was sent out to local primary school teachers just before lockdown and will hopefully give some entertainment to children at home. Entries need to be submitted by 11 September, with prizes sponsored by Haine and Smith Opticians in Marlborough.
New for 2020 is the ‘Love Books’ Competition for adults and young people, run in association with English Literature Department at Bath Spa University. Entrants explain their choice of favourite book, poem or play in either 750 words or in a video (no more than four minutes), with prizes of £300 for the winner in each age group and £100 for each runner-up. Entries close on 17 July. for more information on the competition, visit: www.lovebookscompetition.org
For updated Festival information, please visit: www.marlboroughlitfest.org
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