Celebrate the written word with top literary talent in Hastings fest

Patrick Gale
Patrick Gale

Hastings is a town with more festivals than most, celebrating everything from jazz to herring.

Yet two local authors thought it needed one more, and so, from August 31 - September 2 the first Hastings Literary Festival is set to welcome some of the UK’s best-known and best-selling writers, performers and poets.

The exciting line-up includes Patrick Gale, Sophie Hannah, Simon Mawer, Alison Moore, Michael Arditti, and Mavis Cheek. Other speakers and performers include Rianna Walcott, Rachel Malik, poets John McCullough and Jackie Wills, crime writer Marnie Riches, and authors of books for children and young adults Kate O’Hearn and Kevin Brooks, and many more.

In all, the festival offers a range of over 30 events including writing workshops, author talks, films, plays, and performances by renowned chamber ensemble The London Mozart Players and comedy theatre company The Pantaloons. There will also be a poetry evening, opportunities to meet a literary agent, activities for children, a book fair at the Stade Hall - and look out for actor Julian Sands appearing at the opening at Opus Theatre on August 31.

Patron is St Leonards-born playwright, screenwriter and director Sir David Hare, who will be introducing a special screening of Oscar-winning film The Hours, about the life of Virginia Woolf, for which he wrote the screenplay.

The Guardian’s chief crime fiction reviewer Laura Wilson will be hosting a crime fiction panel and a second panel discussion, on writing for children and young people, will be chaired by Sunday Times children’s books editor Nicolette Jones.

The festival has been running three competitions, for a short story, a crime novel and sports journalism, and results will be announced on Sunday September 2 at the Royal Victoria Hotel, where actor Amanda Burton will be presenting the prizes. They have also attracted around 60 LitFest Volunteers who will be out and easily spotted prior to and during the festival in their orange t-shirts. Venues include the Opus Theatre, Jerwood Gallery, the White Rock Hotel, Kino-Teatr, the Electric Palace Cinema, and Hastings Library. Find out more and book tickets at www.HastingsLitFest.org.