Marlborough’s literary festival, which kicked off at the town hall last night (Friday) with a reception hosted by its creative founder, the novelist Mavis Cheek, has been given the Golding touch.
The mantle of Marlborough’s greatest writer, the Nobel Laureate William Golding, fell on its shoulders with the applauded announcement that the Golding family’s Trust is to sponsor an annual Golding event.
The festival’s unexpected accolade has come thanks to Judy Carver, the daughter of the author of The Lord of the Flies, the superb novel that was rescued from a publisher’s reject pile to achieve world-wide acclaim.
Golding, who grew up on The Green, just behind the town hall, became a schoolmaster, just like his father, who taught at Marlborough’s old grammar school, before his novels took command, earning him a knighthood from the Queen.
Judy has written her own memoirs of her early days in Marlborough and will be recalling them at the literary festival tomorrow (Sunday).
And although she couldn’t be present at the reception, Judy told Marlborough News Online: “William Golding thought of himself as a storyteller. He valued and enjoyed his own capacity to imagine.
Robert Hiscox, High Sheriff of Wiltshire at the Literary Festival launch
“His family wish to encourage those two aspects of writing, especially in the town which gave his work so many powerful and resonant images.”
Her family’s legacy will do much to boost the fledgling literary festival, now in only its second year, but already a major attraction in its aim to avoid the celebrity culture that has shamed other festivals.
“This festival has begun in the spirit of fine literature in all its many forms,” Mavis Cheek told her guests, among them the distinguished biographer Sir Michael Holroyd, the first star attraction of this year’s festival.
“Marlborough has a connection with many fine writers, none more so than William Golding, who was both educated and lived here in Marlborough.
“He won the Booker Prize in 1980 and was Nobel Laureate of Literature in 1983. His daughter, Judy Carver, will be speaking here on Sunday.
“She and I could not be more pleased to announce that the Golding family’s Trust wishes to sponsor an annual Golding Author for our festival. This will always be a writer of fine fiction and our first Golding Reader will appear in 2012.”
And she added: “Judy can’t be with us tonight, but her message is that she and the trust are truly delighted. It’s a great fillip for the town, and an even greater one for our festival.
“And we thank the Golding family for their generosity.”
She warmly thanked too the festival’s main sponsors, ALCS, which protects author’s rights, Brewin Dolphin, one of Marlborough’s biggest companies, and Hiscox, the international insurance company, whose founder and chairman, Robert Hiscox, High Sheriff of Wiltshire, was among last night’s guests.
Others present included Marlborough’s mayor, Alexander Kirk Wilson, deputy mayor Edwina Fogg and her husband, Nick Fogg, twice mayor of Marlborough and one of this year’s festival performers, along with Sir John Sykes, chair of the literary festival committee.
And Mavis Cheek ended her reception speech by toasting the success of the literary festival — with all those present raising their glasses in salute.