2014 Festival Programme

Use the scrollbar next to each event to read more information. Or go back to Literary Festival 2014.

Morning & Afternoon Evening
13th October
James Taylor
Your Country Needs You – The Secret History of the Propaganda Poster
7.30pm, Grove Building, £6

The true story behind one of the world’s most iconic and recognisable images forever associated with World War 1.

This simple yet striking design with its short and simple slogan – Your Country Needs You – ensured popularity in an age when the poster was the only means of mass communication. But did this image really inspire millions of men across the British Empire to join up and fight in WW1?

James Taylor’s book is a myth buster! It tells the true story of one of history’s most celebrated propaganda images and its designer Alfred Leete.

Published this year by Saraband, the book also features over one hundredsuperb reproductions of posters by commercial artists of the early twentieth century many inspired by Leete’s cartoon, and also celebrates the work of women in poster production and distribution in WW1.

James Taylor is a writer on maritime art and maritime history, a lecturer for the National Association of Decorative and Fine Art Society, an exhibition organiser and art consultant.

Don’t miss this illustrated and interesting talk which opens the 2014 festival in the year we commemorate the centenary of the start of World War 1.
14th October
Mere Historical Society
Harry’s Story with Janet Way
10.15am, Grove Building, RD

Mere Historical Society provides a programme of talks and visits throughout the year.
Its informal morning talks are an opportunity for any member to talk about a subject that interests them. This one tells the story of the Hoare family of Stourhead House during World War 1 and the effects of the conflict on the future of Stourton.
The festival are delighted to include today’s talk by Mere resident, Janet Way, in its programme.
By Royal Appointment
with PHILIP COWARD of Mere’s Hill Brush Company on being a Royal Warrant Holder.
7.30pm, Grove Building, £6

The Royal Warrant acknowledges companies who demonstrate the highest standards of service, quality and excellence. Mere is rightly proud of the Hill Brush Company, founded in the town in 1922 by Fred and Bill Coward, and granted the Royal Warrant to H.M. The Queen in 1981. But there is much more to being a Royal Warrant holder than just supplying goods as Philip Coward, the company’s present Managing Director, will explain in tonight’s talk.

After graduating from Brunel University with a degree in Mechanical Engineering, Philip Coward worked first for the MOD. He then returned to the family business where he has worked for forty years. The Hill Brush Company now has a subsidiary in America, sells to eighty-five countries worldwide and to many Royal Households.

Philip Coward has been President of both the British and European Brush Manufacturers Associations and is still on the board of the latter. Last year he was President of the Highgrove Warrant Holders Association and met various members of the Royal Family.
Community Lunch
with with after coffee readings from Mere's Pennybank Writers.
12 Midday, The George Inn

The community lunch is now a popular feature of festival week. Join others for this informal get-together and be entertained over coffee by PennyBank Writers – The Mere & District Writing Group – who are increasingly in demand for readings.
It was a well thought out presentation…excellent and enjoyed by all of us. Salisbury Plain Wives Fellowship

2 course Lunch £ 9.95. Book with venue on 01747 860427.
15th October
Malcolm Welshman
Pets A-Plenty
2.30pm, Grove Building, RD

Hilarious encounters with pets and their owners. From being savaged by a hamster to being squeezed by an anaconda. Learn how animals have influenced Malcolm’s life as a vet, author and cruise ship speaker.

His first novel, Pets in a Pickle, reached number two on Kindle’s bestseller list and his third, Pets A-plenty, has just been published. He’ll relate encounters with the likes of a medium and her spooked cat, a monkey that swallowed some ironmongery, and what happened when Prudle, a parrot in the Guinness Book of Records for speaking 800 words, came to stay.

Malcolm is much in demand as a speaker. He has appeared at the Wells, Folkstone and Penzance Literary Festivals, and his last visit to Mere in 2007 was a fun filled afternoon. Don’t miss his latest tales of Pets A-plenty.
Christopher Nicholson
7.30pm, Grove Building, £6

This creative and insightful novel is set in the winter of 1924 and in the winter of Thomas Hardy’s life.

..a brilliant re-creation of Hardy’s later years.

It centres on the relationship between Hardy, his second wife, Florence, and young Gertrude Bugler who is cast as Tess in a local production of Tess of the D’Urbevilles - its first theatrical staging. It makes you re-live the story as Hardy, Florence and Gertrude must have experienced it, in the setting of Max Gate…. 5* Amazon Review.

A passionate portrayal of love in its many guises Country Life Magazine.

Christopher Nicholson’s first novel, The Fattest Man in America, was published in 2005. His second, The Elephant Keeper, was shortlisted for the Costa Best Novel and Encore Awards in 2009. Winter was published this year to rave reviews.
Devotees of Thomas Hardy should find much to treasure in Nicholson’s third novel… Sunday Times.

a wonderful novel, moving, gripping and illuminating. David Lodge

16th October
Becoming A Published Author
with Jennie Ann Rake
2.30pm, Grove Building, RD

Jennie Ann Rake is a former teacher who opened her own Fair Trade shop in 2005.

Writing has been one of her keen interests and, in quieter moments between serving customers, she decided to discover if there was a novel lurking in her brain. There was! In fact there was more than one.

Her first novel, Deception, Lies and Chocolate Muffins, was published in 2013 and its popularity has earned it a second reprint. A thoroughly enjoyable read…..Highly recommended. 5* Amazon Review

Jennie Ann Rake’s second novel, Forgetting Mr. Nice Guy, was published this summer.

This afternoon she recounts her path to publication.

Film Show
The Book Thief
7.00pm, Lecture Hall, £6

Presented by Mere Film Shows and Wilts. Moviola

Starring Geoffrey Rush & Emily Watson.

The film of Markus Zusak’s acclaimed novel.

Based on the brilliant book by Mark Zusak, this is the story of young Liesel Meminger who, in 1938 in Germany, is sent with her brother to foster parents. On the journey her brother dies and beside his grave she finds a book, The Gravedigger’s Handbook, and steals it. So begins her fascination with words and books. As the effects of war escalate in her life, Liesel is caught up in the need to survive all things.

17th October
John O'Neill
Mum is in Charge
2.30pm, Grove Building, RD

Set in Filton, Bristol, it tells the story of a family struggling to get by in war torn Britain as seen through the eyes of the youngest child. It will remind many of their own childhood and is a timely tribute to the part played by mothers left in sole charge of their families at that turbulent time.

John O’Neill was born into a military family, but his own career was in the Radio & TV industries. On retirement he devoted his time to charitable fund raising and served on the first fund raising committee of the Prince’s Trust. A former president of the Radio & TV Industries Club, he is now honoured as a Companion, and is also a Companion of the Grand Order of Water Rats.

It was a joy to read, a pleasure to recommend…a special book… 5* Amazon Review

Katie Campbell
British Gardens in Time
7.30pm, Grove Building, £6

Published to accompany the recent BBC4 series, Katie Campbell’s book tells the story of four great British gardens, Stowe, Biddulph Grange, Nymans and Great Dixter, their creators and events that shaped them.
Stories that include obsession, escape, social ambition, political intrigue, heartbreak, bankruptcy, disaster and the place of each garden in the overall history of British gardening.

With commissioned photographs by Nathan Harrison and archive material from many historical sources, the book brings to life the history of landscape design.

Beautifully illustrated I found this book a joy. Reckless Gardener Magazine.

Katie Campbell was a journalist and fiction writer before turning to garden history. She lectures widely and has taught courses at various universities. She also writes for a number of publications and leads garden tours.

Katie Campbell leaves no stone unturned in her book in her search for the heart of our gardening nation… Blackmore Vale Magazine.

A must for all who love gardens and gardening

Writing Workshop
with Jennie Ann Rake
10.00 - 12.15pm,
Methodist Church Schoolroom, £6

A chance for aspiring writers to learn from one of the country’s best-selling authors who has achieved success and critical acclaim for his books of Fiction, Non- Fiction and Ghost Writing.

Don’t miss this opportunity at a fantastic price.
World War I Commemorative Concert

Songs, Poetry & Prose
7.30pm, Lecture Hall, £6

The 2014 festival commemorates the centenary of the start of World War 1 in a concert of songs, poetry and prose.

Presented by:

MERE GRACENOTES - led by Jane Hurd




Songs that have stood the test of time to sing along with, local references, trench and homespun humour and inspiring poetry.
18th October
Children's Event
with Rebecca Wescott.
2.15pm, Library, Free Ticket

Rebecca Westcott started writing a diary at the age of eight little realizing it would help her write her first book, Dandelion Clocks. The book was launched at a Mere School event. It sold out and has received rave reviews from young and older readers.

This book should be sold with a large box of tissues. Jacqueline Wilson

Rebecca’s second book, Violet Ink, followed quickly and a third is in progress. She will talk about her writing and lead activities for children aged 7+ - but adult members of the family are welcome too.
Damien Lewis
Judy - A Dog in a Million
2.30pm, Grove Building, £6

Damien Lewis is one of Britain’s ‘20 Favourite Authors’ and he proved a favourite with audiences at the Mere Festival last year.

Excellent, riveting & illuminating talk.’   Superb evening   WOW!   Inspirational!

He returns to talk about his latest book, the story of Judy, a dog in a million, which was published this summer by Quercus.
A beautiful liver and white English pointer, Judy was awarded the Dickin Medal, the Animal VC, for the help and friendship she offered while sailing on British warships and in the hellish environment of a Japanese P.O.W. camp. Her uncanny abilities and unbreakable spirit saved lives and brought inspiration to the British, Australian, American and other Allied servicemen who fought to survive alongside her.

Her incredible story is told using the testimonies of the last few veterans who knew her.

One of the most famous animals of the Second World War. Daily Express

Damien Lewis has regularly topped the best-seller lists worldwide and is published in some thirty languages. His books include the best-sellers Apache Dawn, Fire Strike 7/9 and Zero Six Bravo. He has raised tens of thousands of pounds for services and dog-related charities.
19th October
Award Ceremony
with a talk & book signing by GILLA PRIMROSE aka ANNA BIRCH Author of Call the Vet, set in Dorset
3pm, Lecture Hall, Free

Call the Vet is fast heading up the best-seller charts and attracting much attention in the Blackmore Vale where the author now lives.
It is a memoir describing Anna’s first year as a vet working in the Dorset countryside. A year of farmers, dramas and disasters and the new vet has much to learn.

She has to learn how to handle not just animals ... but their owners too. Blackmore Vale Magazine

It is a frantically busy life but Anna finds time for romance and, in spite of using a pen-name and pseudonyms, she was soon recognized by locals who know her as Gilla Primrose.

Call the Vet was a lovely read that had me laughing one minute and crying the next. It will appeal to anyone who loves animals, especially fans of James Herriot stories.

The literary love child of James Herriot and Bridget Jones. Dorset Life

..the many fans Gilla will win with this warmhearted and entertaining book will be eagerly awaiting a sequel. Blackmore Vale Magazine