Spotlight shines on local authors as Norwich Cathedral Hostry Festival prepares for finale

The written word has been celebrated at a special day focusing on Norfolk authors.

The Norfolk Authors in Profile event was held yesterday as part of this year's Hostry Festival at Norwich Cathedral, which ends tomorrow.

In the year that Norwich received the Unesco City of Literature status, the Hostry Festival organisers teamed up with independent book store The Book Hive, in London Street, and Writers' Centre Norwich to bring a selection of local authors to the stage to talk about their work.

Among the writers taking part was Itteringham-based Elspeth Barker whose first acclaimed novel was O Caledonia and who discussed her new book, a collection of selected writings, entitled Dog Days.

She told literary fans that her new book, published by Norwich-based Black Dog Books, is an eclectic mix of her writings over the last 20 years or so and takes its title from a piece of writing looking at four-legged friends that have featured in her life.

Seventy-one-year-old Elspeth, a mother of five and grandmother of four, and whose children include novelist Raffaella Barker, shares other snapshots of her life through the book – everything from growing up in Drumtochty Castle in Scotland, to her garden and her appreciation of the Norfolk landscape.

Elspeth, now married to the writer Bill Troop, also includes in her new book some writing about the loss of her first husband, the poet George Barker.

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North Norfolk-based Simon Gough discussed his latest book, The White Goddess; An Encounter, his first book of two, which concerns the extraordinary events surrounding his relationship with his great uncle Robert Graves.

While Suffolk-born Sarah Ridgard, who now lives in Norwich with her husband and two children, discussed her first novel, Seldon.

Other authors on the bill included Stash Kirkbride, Peter Beck, Peter Barrow, Dennison Smith and Doug Scroggins.

The Hostry Festival continues tonight with the final performance of Hamlet: The Undiscovered Country and Total Ensemble Theatre Company's Prologue show, from 7.30pm.

Then the festival concludes with a final day of events tomorrow, including cellist Claire O'Connell in concert with violinist Marcus Barcham-Stevens from 2pm.

For full details and ticket prices, go to, and to book tickets call the Norwich Cathedral box office on 01603 218 323 or 01603 218450.

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