Literary festival in a day celebrates women writers

NNF14 - The Lives of Great Women Writers; A Literary Festival in a Day. Samantha Ellis talks about her literary heroines with Rachel Hore. Photo: Martin Figura. NNF14 - The Lives of Great Women Writers; A Literary Festival in a Day. Samantha Ellis talks about her literary heroines with Rachel Hore. Photo: Martin Figura.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014
1:07 PM

Great women writers were celebrated in a special day of literary events held at Norwich Cathedral’s Hostry.

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NNF14 - The Lives of Great Women Writers; A Literary Festival in a Day. Hermione Lee on the life and work of Penelope Fitzgerald. Photo: Martin Figura.NNF14 - The Lives of Great Women Writers; A Literary Festival in a Day. Hermione Lee on the life and work of Penelope Fitzgerald. Photo: Martin Figura.

The Lives of Great Women Writers: A Literary Festival in a Day took place on Sunday and was part of the Norfolk and Norwich Festival’s City of Literature programme presented in association with Writers’ Centre Norwich.

From debating about great heroines from the world of literature to hearing the first public reading of Norfolk-based author Raffaella Barker’s latest book, audiences were treated to an array of different talks and readings.

“We were delighted to be able to have the chance to bring so many great writers to Norwich to share with our audience,” said Sam Ruddock, from Writers’ Centre Norwich and who organised the day.

“It was a really great day of engaged events with a large and actively participating audience throughout.

NNF14 - The Lives of Great Women Writers; A Literary Festival in a Day. 
Bryan & Mary Talbot talk about Sally Heathcote, Suffragette, with Rachel Hore. Photo: Martin Figura.NNF14 - The Lives of Great Women Writers; A Literary Festival in a Day. Bryan & Mary Talbot talk about Sally Heathcote, Suffragette, with Rachel Hore. Photo: Martin Figura.

“We had five events. All of them were very different in their content and feel but worked well together to create a fantastic day.”

The series of five lectures began with biographer Dame Hermione Lee discussing the life and work of Booker Prize winner Penelope Fitzgerald whose novels include Offshore and The Blue Flower.

Playwright Samantha Ellis then took to the stage to read from her book How To Be A Heroine and discuss some of the greatest literary heroines including Cathy Earnshaw from Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre.

Mary and Bryan Talbot, the Costa Biography Award-winning team behind graphic novel Dotter of her Father’s Eyes, spoke about their latest work Sally Heathcote: Suffragette which includes imagery by illustrator Kate Charlesworth.

Novelist Diane Setterfield talked about the creation of her second novel, Bellman and Black, and the day finished on a Norfolk note with Raffaella Barker reading from her latest book From A Distance, a story of human connection and the yearning we have to belong.

Mr Ruddock said: “It was totally mind-blowing to see so many people out on a bright and sunny Sunday to engage with quality literature and to reflect on the lives of some of the great female writers that have been involved in literature over the last 200 years.

“It particularly links with our Kate Mosse event - the Harriet Martineau Lecture - which is also about celebrating women in literature.”

On Thursday at Norwich Playhouse novelist Kate Mosse, author of the best-selling novel Labyrinth, will give the second annual Harriet Martineau Lecture. The event celebrates the life and legacy of Harriet Martineau, a 19th century radical thinker and writer from Norwich and the world’s first female retained journalist.

• The Norfolk and Norwich Festival runs until Sunday. For more festival stories visit http://www.edp24.co.uk/what-s-on/norfolk-and-norwich-festival

• To book tickets for events visit www.nnfestival.org.uk or call the box office on 01603 766400.

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