2018 Festival Programme

Printable 2018 Programme

Use the scrollbar next to each event to read more information. (T) = Events requiring a ticket. RD = Retiring Donations welcomed. Click here for more information about tickets, and to download a ticket booking form.

Morning & Afternoon Evening
8th October
Paul Kerensa ( T )
Hark! A Biography of Christmas
7.30pm, Grove Building, £7

Exiled Cornishman, Paul Kerensa, is one of the country’s top comedy writers and stand-up comedians. He writes for TV and radio comedy shows including Miranda and Not Going Out, and he has published several popular books praised for their wit and humour.

Paul tours the country with his comedy shows and book talks including a visit to MLF in 2013 which was definitely a Ho! Ho! Ho! evening. He is wildly enthusiastic about Christmas, regularly tours his show Comedians and Carols, and has now published Hark! A Biography of Christmas - a book full of festive facts, fun and culture.


‘This is a delightful, engaging book, deserving to be considered as much more than a mere stocking–filler.’ Revd.J.Davies

‘Paul Kerensa’s writing never fails to be uniquely funny and interesting.’ Miranda Hart

‘As effortless a writer as he is a performer.’ The Stage

‘‘This warm and witty book will appeal to Christmasaholics and history buffs alike.’ Amazon Review
Paul Kerensa
Mere Historical Society
Stephen Hyde Cassan – Curate of Mere & Bruton
with Justin Bailey
10.30, Grove Building, RD

Mere Historical Society provides a programme of talks and visits throughout the year. Its informal morning talks are an opportunity for members or their guests to talk about a subject that interests them.

Today’s talk is given by Justin Bailey on the life of a nineteenth century cleric who is part of the history of Mere. His biography,Lives of the Bishops of Winchester, remains an important reference book and part of the Royal collection.

Mere Historical Society
Keggie Carew ( T )

7.30pm, Grove Building, £7

Winner of the Costa Biography Award 2016 & Sunday Times Top Ten Bestseller

Part memoir and part detective story, this award winning book recounts a daughter’s search to unravel her father’s history as his grip on reality and life slip away.

Tom Carew was a war hero, a member of the Jedburgh unit of SOE during World War 2. A brilliant leader of irregular soldiers, he worked behind enemy lines in France and Burma and was celebrated as ‘the Lawrence of Burma’.

These were Tom Carew’s ‘glory days’ and he never successfully adjusted to peacetime. He was an unorthodox, engaging and complicated father but as his daughter noticed his failing memory, she determined his story should be told.

Keggie Carew has given talks about her book at many literary festivals including Bath, Hay and the Chalk Valley History Festival. Earlier this year she visited India to speak about Dadland at the Jaipur Literary Festival.

‘ ..a journey into uncharted territory.’ ‘This is the most moving and constantly enthralling book.’

‘A beautifully written piece about a truly inspirational man.’

‘A thrilling history of Churchill’s SOE combined ingeniously with a tender, moving, funny portrait of the author’s father.’.
Nick Hornby, The Observer

‘Part memoir, part biography, part military history, Dadland is also a lovingly unconventional elegy for a generation.’.
Dawn Raffel. San Francisco Chronicle
Keggie Carew
9th October
Community Lunch
with talk by Gwilym Hitchcock
12 Midday, The George Inn

The community lunch is now a popular feature of festival week. Join others for this informal get-together.

Over coffee, local resident Gwilym Hitchcock, will share events in his long career with BA and some of the celebrities and interesting people he met as he worked his way up from Steward to Cabin Service Director. Don’t miss the flight!

2 course Lunch £ 9.95. Book with venue on 01747 860427
Community Lunch
Open Meeting at the Mothers’ Union with Trevor Stubbs

2:45pm, The Grove Building

Trevor Stubbs is a priest who has worked here and overseas. He has a special interest in helping young people cope with life’s problems. He writes fantasy fiction for young adults but his books also appeal to older readers.

The series, White Gates Adventures, comprising – The Kicking Tree, Ultimate Justice, Words & Wonders, The Spark, take the reader on roller-coaster adventures when the teenage characters open white gates that shouldn’t be there – but are! Sales of Trevor’s books help the charity.

‘…a master story teller and a magical weaver of tales…’
That’s Books & Entertainment

Mere MU extend an open invitation to this event. Trevor Stubbs’ talk will begin at 2.45p.m. and all are welcome to attend.
Trevor Stubbs
10th October
Nuremberg's Voice of Doom
Official Launch with Paul Hooley
2.30pm, Grove Building, RD

The Autobiography of the Chief Interpreter at History’s Greatest Trials, Edited by Paul Hooley

Wolfe Frank spent his final years in Mere and it was here that he completed his memoirs recounting an extraordinary life lived in extraordinary times.

‘I had been involved in the writing of a chapter of human history that would be talked about and remembered forever.’
Wolfe Frank

The manuscript, which Wolfe Frank hoped would be published posthumously, then lay hidden in a local attic for twenty-five years until recently discovered. Now compiled, edited and amplified by local writer and historian, Paul Hooley, it is published this October by Frontline Books, a division of Pen & Sword. Mere Literary Festival is proud to have been chosen for the launch of this important historic record.

I had been more totally and decisively immersed in recording the horrors of the war than most of the millions who fought in it. A lifetime is too short for such horrors to be filed away in the annals of history as something destined to be forgotten.’
Wolfe Frank

Although his role as the ‘finest interpreter in the world’ at ‘the greatest trial in history’ is well documented what is now brought to light is information never previously revealed including Wolfe Frank’s exchanges with Goering, Ribbentrop, Speer and others, and the part he played in collecting material and confessions for the prosecution of Nazi war criminals.

Wolfe Frank
Austen's Arcadia
with Dawn Collins
Hosted by Mere Gardening Club
7.30pm, Grove Building, RD

In Jane Austen’s novels and letters there are many references to the joy of growing things. She learnt this in early childhood watching her mother grow vegetables and her father farm the glebe land in Steventon.

Dawn Collins’s talk is an introduction to the development of Georgian Gardens, how they are reflected in the novels of Jane Austen and how the gardens she grew up in and those she knew later, influenced her depiction of both cottage garden and country estate.

Dawn Collins worked in Garden Design for many years and now combines that with her love of history to give talks both here and overseas.
Georgian Garden
11th October
Julia Grigg
The Eyes That Look: The Secret Story of Bassano’s Hunting Dogs
10.00am, Grove Building, RD

The creativity and intrigue of Renaissance Italy brought to life in this historical novel, published 1st October 2018.

Jacopo da Bassano’s 1548 portrait, Two Hunting Dogs, is an extraordinary painting with an unexplained past.

In Julia Grigg’s richly-imagined story, Jacopo’s son, Francesco, sets out to unravel the mystery of the portrait. He wants information that will guarantee his father a favourable mention in Vasari’s Lives of the Artists.

Francesco’s search takes him across northern Italy to the world of the Renaissance artists. In their studios he witnesses the era’s masterpieces taking shape, as well as such practicalities as making pigment and cleaning brushes.

On his journey of self-discovery, art and adventure Francesco also learns of the bond between man and dog, and the two loyal hounds featured in the painting play a pivotal role in the story.

‘Every Secret Thing is perfectly crafted, brilliantly written and totally un-put-downable.’
Musicmum 5* Amazon Review

‘... an important and knowledgeable book about art history which also happens to be a beautifully written novel.’ Fay Weldon

‘…Julia Grigg makes us live, breathe, smell, taste and walk the streets of Renaissance Venice, Verona and Florence,...’ Celia Brayfield

A must for all artists, art groups, history buffs and dog lovers!

Julia Grigg
Film Show ( T )
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
7.30pm, Lecture Hall, £6

Starring Lily James, Michiel Huisman, Glen Powell, Tom Courtney, and Penelope Wilton.

Based on the best-selling novel by Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows. A compelling romantic drama with an intriguing mystery at its heart, set on the lovely island of Guernsey.

Film Show
12th October
Dr. Keith Hooper
Charles Dickens and Wiltshire
2.30pm, Grove Building, RD

Keith Hooper is establishing himself as an expert on the great Victorian author and focuses on less explored facets of Dickens’s life and work.

In 2009 Keith Hooper was awarded a doctorate from the University of Exeter for his thesis on Dickens and commended for his extensive knowledge of Dickens’s work. He has gone on to write articles for The Dickensian and a commissioned biography, Faith, Angels and the Poor, which explored Dickens’s beliefs and the religious aspects of his work.

Keith Hooper has spoken at the Swindon Festival of Literature and the Westbury Festival. At Mere he will share some of his latest research into Charles Dickens’s links with Wiltshire.

‘…an important addition to our understanding of the author, what he wrote and what he believed.’ Review - Faith. Fiction. Friends.
Dr Keith Hooper
Chritopher Nicholson ( T )
Among the Summer Snows
7.30pm, Grove Building, £7

Snow that lingers has its own special fascination. Many of us will note a solitary patch of winter snow on Mere Down …‘hanging about for some more’… until, finally, it melts away.

In the Scottish Highlands a few snowbeds – some as big as icebergs - survive the summer hidden in isolated, difficult-to-get-to places away from the sun.

Christopher Nicholson goes in search of this summer snow as others have done in the past. As he tramps and climbs in the Scottish mountains there are personal and natural reflections, chance meetings, historical references, anecdotes and vivid descriptions - all as fascinating as the summer snow itself.

As well as non-fiction books, Christopher Nicholson is the author of three novels, including The Elephant Keeper, which was short-listed for the Costa Novel Award and Encore Prize. His acclaimed novel, Winter, set in the winter of Thomas Hardy’s life, was featured at MLF 2014. Those of you who were at his talk then will not want to miss tonight’s event.

‘‘I loved this book….By the end I felt as if I had had an evening in a Highland pub with a wise, old friend.’ 5* Amazon Review

Christopher Nicholson
Writers and Readers Coffee Morning
Coffee - Local Authors - Silver Crow Book Brand
10am - 12:30, Grove Building, Free

An informative morning at the Grove Building for all who love reading & writing with book sales and author signings.

10am - Coffee
10.15am - Local Authors, publishing my book.
11.30am - Silver Crow Book Brand, helping you to publication.

Camilla Nelson - Language artist & small press publisher based in Mere.

Pauline Morphy – Author of a popular children’s pony book, and member of PennyBank Writers.

Mary Arden aka Evelyn Warton (Salisbury), author of an exuberant memoir of World War 2. Evelyn’s story features in a Dan Snow podcast.

Ross Thompson - Non-fiction Religions & Faith Local author & member of PennyBank Writers.

Gail Garbutt - Local author of ‘Spot On’ – good names for dogs and all manner of doggy facts, quotes and poetry.

Jane Wade Scarlet - Author of the novel ‘Wolf Wind’, longlisted for the Yeovil Prize 2015 and for the Dorchester Literary Festival Prize 2018. A member of PennyBank Writers.


A Stepping Stone on the journey to getting published.

Two years ago, Frome Writers’ Collective set up the innovative Silver Crow Book Brand, which bridges the gap between traditional publishing and ‘going it alone’. Four authors who have published under the brand will explain the Silver Crow process, recount their individual routes to publication and read extracts from their books:

- Nikki Coplestone
- Brenda Bannister
- Wendy Worley
- Dizzy Greenfield,

This presentation will be of interest to writers and readers alike and questions will be welcomed.
Writers and Readers Coffee Morning
The Yirdbards ( T )
Great Clattinger
7.30pm, Grove Building, £7

A homage to the wild flower meadows of Wiltshire in music, words and pictures brought to you by The Yirdbards.

Clattinger Farm in North Wiltshire was once a traditional dairy farm and is now a series of wildflower meadows managed by Wiltshire Widlife Trust. Paul Darby of the Yirdbards worked at the reserve and has compiled this celebration of the rich biodiversity that now thrives there.


The Yirdbards, which translates as ‘The Earth Poets’, played their first gig at the Village Pump Folk Club, Trowbridge, in 2010. Based in the Pewsey area, Paul Darby, Verity Sharp, Patrick Randall and Iona Hassan have gained a reputation for their sensitive and moving interpretations of songs reflecting our countryside and landscape. The group’s line-up of cello, guitars, fiddles, mandola and accordion creates rich textures within their music. Their third album, Smiled on by the Sun, was released in Spring 2016.

‘This is an album from the heart of Wiltshire…full of thoughtful songs and spirited instrumentals… An album shot through with a love of nature and English history.’
Johnny Coppin BBC Radio Glos.

The Yirdbards
13th October
Printing Fun For Everyone
10:00 to 12:00 Noon,
The Town Clock

Children are the most likely to want to have a go at this fun printing but there’s no reason why adults can’t release their inner child and have a go!

At the Town Clock (By kind permission of Mere Town Council)

Town Clock
Puppet Theatre Joe Gladwin's Paperplays presents The Tinderbox or The Magic Mobile
4pm, The Lecture Hall
Children Free, Adults £1

Suitable 4+ Years.
Running Time 40 minutes.

This Hans Christian Anderson fairytale has been adapted and updated by Joe to suit a 21st century audience. The story remains the same but the old fashioned tinderbox is now transformed into a smart phone with magical powers.

Our hero soldier gains a fortune, falls in love with a princess and finds himself condemned to death! Can he escape his execution and marry the princess? Watch this colorful production to find out.

The Magic Mobile
14th October
Award Ceremony
with author Damien Lewis
3pm, Lecture Hall, Free
Book Stalls from 2.30pm.

Announcing the winners of the Festival’s WRITE-in-the-WEEK Competition and the school awards.

Meet DAMIEN LEWIS one of the nation’s ‘Top Twenty Favourite Authors’.

Prolific author, Damien Lewis, regularly tops the best-seller lists worldwide and he is published in over thirty languages. Many of his books have been made into films or TV series some of which he has scripted himself. His latest book is SAS Italian Job, recounting an impossible mission in wartime Italy. He has always been a popular speaker at the Mere Literary Festival particularly when speaking about the bravery and loyalty of dogs in wartime, such as the story of Judy. This year he has also published the story of Smoky the Brave.


THE FOX’s Lament and other stories Today, as Adrienne Howell steps down as organizer of MLF after 22 years, she launches a collection of her short stories published by Sundial Press.

‘Sundial is doing great work, and there is more to come…’ The Daily Telegraph

The Fox’s Lament and many of the stories in the anthology have featured in the prize lists of major short story competitions. Purchase your signed copy at today’s book launch.

Damien Lewis