Leo Aylen

Leo Aylen

Leo Aylen has had 9 poetry collections published. Melvyn Bragg called his latest poetry collection, The Day The Grass Came, “a triumph.” Simon Callow wrote “The underlying connections forging the whole piece into one great organic entity are profound and muscular. Stupendous.”

Leo has won prizes in 5 international poetry competitions, is published in 100 anthologies, and had 100 poems broadcast.Regularly commissioned to create poems on news stories for BBC Radio 4, he has created several poetry features for BBC Radio 3, 4, 5.

He has co-written the Hollywood blockbuster Gods and Generals, starring Robert Duvall, (Warner Bros 2003, directed films for BBC & ITV, won a BAFTA nomination. For Greenwich theatre he directed his translation of Sophocles’ Antigone, & wrote lyrics for musicals and a pantomime. He has written two books on the ancient Greek theatre.

Leo has performed his poetry on three continents, in theatres, night-clubs, schools, universities, hospitals, prisons, the Albert Hall, St Paul’s Cathedral, Queen Elizabeth Hall, Purcell Room, St John’s Smith Square, to 4000 Zulus on an open hillside. Three solo shows on USA nationwide TV (CBS).



Judith Barford


‘I am a local artist using a variety of media in my work and have exhibited both individually and as a member of the Cuckoo Farm Print Workshop.

My current work has been influenced by the contemporary issues and concerns about migration. While the present focus is very much on the war in Syria and refugees from the Middle East, migration has always been a significant part of human history, and has a place in the background of virtually all of us.

Throughout time people have not only fled conflict and natural disasters but just as frequently moved towards new opportunities for growth and the chance of a better life for themselves and their families. Therefore in our increasingly unequal world it is not surprising that poverty, war, famine and climate change are leading to ever more mass movements of people around the globe.

The figures I have made out of clay represent the diversity of people who now, and in the recent past, have moved from one place to another. Sometimes this was motivated by a desperate quest for survival and asylum but at others through imagining the possibility of a better life, or the embodiment of our natural curiosity about the world.

Making a new start requires courage and resilience and reflecting upon our own journeys may help us to understand those who journey now.’

Hugh Belsey

Hugh Belsey

Hugh Belsey is one of the foremost authorities on British eighteenth-century art. After studying at the universities of Manchester and Birmingham he became Curator of Gainsborough’s House in Sudbury, a post he held for twenty-three years. During his time there the collections were transformed and when he left he was awarded an MBE. He has lectured in Britain, Continental Europe, Australia and America and has written books, reviews and articles in a range of periodicals in both Europe and America. He is presently a Senior Research Fellow at the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art with the task of writing the definitive catalogue of portraits by Thomas Gainsborough.



Ella Berthoud

Ella Berthoud started reading on a journey from Tehran to London, on the parcel shelf of a Wolsey 1300 when she was five. She spent the next thirteen years reading books in inappropriate places like ski-lifts and trampolines. She studied English Literature at Cambridge University, where she read as many novels as she could at once. She continued on to University of East London where she studied Fine Art, and combined her twin passions of reading and painting by listening to books while creating works of art. She has worked as an artist in residence at Pentonville Prison, Friends School Saffron Walden and Queenswood School.

Ella first started talking about bibliotherapy with Susan Elderkin when they were at Cambridge together. Over the ensuing years they prescribed literature to their friends and family, while Ella worked as an artist and Susan wrote her own novels. In 2007 they developed the idea in conjunction with The School of Life into what it is today, a one to one service taking place in person, or over the phone. Since then, Ella and Susan have written two books, The Novel Cure: an A-Z of Literary Remedies and The Stoy Cure: How to Keep Children Happy, Healthy and Wise.


Terence Blacker

Terence Blacker is the author of five novels, and many books for children, and was a weekly columnist for the Independent for 14 years. As a singer-songwriter he has released two CDs, and once sang Noel Coward’s ‘There Are Bad Times Just Around the Corner’ on The World at One.


Ronnie Blythe





Ronald Blythe, now in his tenth decade, is the author of more than twenty books.

Most famous for ‘Akenfield’, his wonderful survey of a Suffolk village, he has continued to chronicle country life in his Wormingford series. He has introduced readers to John Clare, William Hazlitt and George Herbert, as well as presenting his own reflections on nature, philosophy and religion. In ‘The Time by the Sea’ he vividly captured his early years at Aldeburgh with the likes of Benjamin Britten and E.M. Forster. He has also written short stories and novels and most recently published ‘Decadal’, a collection of his characteristically striking poems.

His ‘Recreations’ in ‘Who’s Who’ are listed as ‘Walking, looking, listening’. No-one has looked and listened harder than Ronald Blythe and we are honoured to have him at our festival.

Ronald Blythe:

Unfortunately, due to health considerations Ronald Blythe is unable to appear at the festival as advertised. Tickets can be used for other events or returned for refund. Please go to the information tent on the Village Green.

Richard Boden

Richard Boden’s first collection of poems, ‘The English Disease’, is about fathers, children and the Garden of Eden. Richard teaches English at the Sixth Form College, Colchester, and has written and published poems for a number of years.






Rachel & Liz Calder

Rachel & Liz Calder

 Literary legend Liz Calder worked as Editorial Director at Victor Gollancz and Jonathan Cape, and was a founder director of Bloomsbury Publishing.  She published some of the greatest writers of our time, from Margaret Atwood, Anita Brookner and Isabelle Allende, to John Irving and Scott Turow, to Salman Rushdie and Julian Barnes, and she will tell some stories about these writers and give you some insights about how the publishing process works. Literary agent Rachel Calder will talk about what literary agents do and what they are looking for in a manuscript.  She will also offer some advice about how to prepare your manuscript for submission to agents.


James Canton

James Canton has written widely in creative non-fiction forms and taught on the MA in Wild Writing at the University of Essex since its inception in 2009, exploring the fascinating ties between the literature and landscape of East Anglia. He has run many workshops to encourage writing on nature and landscape, and worked on Radio 4 exploring the writing and landscapes of Essex such as for ‘Something Understood’ on John Clare and Epping Forest (August 2014) and ‘Open Country’ on Tollesbury Wick and literary Essex (November 2015). His book Out of Essex: Re-Imagining a Literary Landscape (2013) is inspired by rural wanderings in the county. Combining detailed literary detective work with personal responses to landscapes and their meanings, Out of Essex offers a fresh vision of Essex, its cultural history and its living legacy of wilderness and imagination. His latest work Ancient Wonderings: Journeys into Prehistoric Britain is forthcoming with Collins in 2017.


Two novelists – one a debut author, one the author of nine novels  – discuss the perils and pleasures of publication.  Jill Dawson (author of nine novels, including The Crime Writer) runs Gold Dust, a mentoring scheme which pairs established authors with new and emerging writers. One such success story – a writer Jill also taught on the MA in writing at UEA, Emma Claire Sweeney, author of Owl Song at Dawn – will discuss with Jill the experience of being mentored, surviving as a writer, and publishing her first novel, as well as offering tips for any new writers hoping to do the same.



Jessica Jane Charleston

Jessica Charleston runs an independent publishing press in London and is currently on her post-graduate course at The Royal Drawing School. Born in Suffolk, Jessica returns regularly to be inspired by nature and local artists including James Dodds. An exhibition of hand printed etchings and letterpressed books will be on show at The Open Road Bookshop.




James Dodds

James Dodds started Jardine Press when living in Stoke By Nayland in 1984. The name comes from an 1890s platen press that was made by Jardine of Nottingham, so some of his first books where literally printed on the Jardine Press. Jess Charleston has recently collaborated with James hand setting and printing the ‘Green Children’ a retelling of a twelfth century story by Martin Newell. This was printed on another 1890s machine made by Wharfedale. James is perhaps better known for his linocuts and paintings which are seen and collected all over the world.



Ed Hutchings

Ed Hutchings writes articles for Bird Watching Magazine and The Telegraph, as well as contributing to several other publications. He also leads tours worldwide for David Lindo TUB Tours, Greenwings Wildlife Holidays and The Travelling Naturalist. Ed is passionate about birds and their ecology, with a particular interest in raptors. He is also fascinated by bird vocalisations and takes great pleasure in committing new ones to memory.



Richard Mabey

After education at Oxford, Richard Mabey worked as a lecturer in Social Studies in Further Education, then as a Senior Editor at Penguin Books. He became a full-time writer in 1974. He is the author of some forty books, including  Whistling in the Dark:  In Pursuit of the Nightingale (1993), winner of the East Anglia Book Award, 2010, in a revised version entitled The Barley Bird.   Beechcombings: the narratives of Trees(2007). The ground-breaking and best-selling “cultural flora” Flora Britannica (1996), winner of  a National Book Award,  and Gilbert White, which won the Whitbread Biography Award in 1986,. His  memoir Nature Cure (2005), was short-listed for three major literary awards, the Whitbread, Ondaatje, and J.R. Ackerley prizes. His most recent book is The Cabaret of Plants. Botany and the Imagination. He writes for the Guardian, New Statesman and Granta, and contributes frequently to BBC radio.

In the 1980s he sat on the UK government’s advisory body, the Nature Conservancy Council. He has been awarded two Leverhulme Fellowships, and honorary doctorates by the universities of St Andrews, Essex and East Anglia.  He was awarded a Civil List Pension in 2008 for services to literature, and made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 2011. In 2014  he was visiting fellow at Emmanuel College, Cambridge.  He is an Honorary  Trustee of the arts and conservation charity Common Ground, President of Waveney and Blyth Arts, Vice-President of the Open Spaces Society, and Patron of the John Clare Society. He lives in Norfolk, in the Waveney Valley with his partner Polly Lavender.

Richard Mabey:

Unfortunately, due to health considerations Richard Mabey is unable to appear at the festival as advertised. Tickets can be used for other events or returned for refund. Please go to the information tent on the Village Green.



Mark Mason

Mark Mason is a lover of trivia, the ‘little facts that slip down the back of life’s sofa’. Before becoming a writer, he sold Christmas cards in Harrods, played guitar in a blues band, and made radio programmes for the BBC. His books include ‘The Importance of Being Trivial’, ‘Walk the Lines: the London Underground, Overground, ‘Move Along, Please: Land’s End to John O’Groats by Local Bus’ and ‘Mail Obsession: A Journey Round Britain by Postcode’. 





Adrian May

Adrian May performs songs from his books and CDs of poems and lyrics, in the duo Face Furniture with double bassist Murray Griffin. Books  include Comedy of Masculinity and the forthcoming Discovering England, both published by Wivenhoe Books. He writes essays and books about creative writing, including the forthcoming The Magic of Writing(Palgrave).



Deborah Moggach

Deborah Moggach

Deborah Moggach has written 19 novels, several of which she’s adapted as TV dramas. Her novel “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” was made into the hit movie, and “Tulip Fever” is due to be released early 2017, starring Judi Dench and Alicia Vikander. Her screenplay for “Pride and Prejudice”, starring Keira Knightley, was nominated for a BAFTA. Her latest novel is “Something To Hide”. She lives in London and Wales.






Jules Pretty

Jules Pretty is Professor of Environment and Society and Deputy Vice-Chancellor at the University of Essex. His sole-authored books include The East Country (Cornell University Press, 2017), The Edge of Extinction (Cornell University Press, 2014), This Luminous Coast (2011, 2014), The Earth Only Endures (2007), Agri-Culture (2002), The Living Land (1998), and Regenerating Agriculture (1995). He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology and the Royal Society of Arts, former Deputy-Chair of the government’s Advisory Committee on Releases to the Environment, and has served on advisory committees for BBSRC and the Royal Society. He was presenter of the 1999 BBC Radio 4 series Ploughing Eden, a contributor and writer for the 2001 BBC TV Correspondent programme The Magic Bean, and a panellist in 2007 for Radio 4’s The Moral Maze. He was appointed A D White Professor-at-Large by Cornell University from 2001, and is Chief & Founding Editor of the International Journal of Agricultural Sustainability. He was awarded an OBE for services to sustainable agriculture in the UK and overseas in 2006, and the British Science Association Presidential Medal in 2015. This Luminous Coast was East Anglian nature book of the year (2011), short-listed for Writers Guild non-fiction book of the year (2011), and winner of the New Angle Prize for Literature (2013).



Jude Pym

Jude Pym studied photography at Trent Poly, Nottingham. She has lived in Suffolk for the past 28 years, and has been recording life in and around Polstead.







Batool Showghi

Batool Showghi

‘As a multidisciplinary artist I have a passion for making artists’ books and family albums. My work moves between photography, illustrations, painting and textiles evolving from single images to books, images in boxes or larger mixed media pieces. My artwork is concerned with my cultural heritage, memory, identity and loss. The installation shown here is about family disintegration and was dedicated to my father who was a Sufi. The disintegration took place during the Iran and Iraq war (it is ironic to talk about it now as there is another war going on at this moment!) I made a shrine in the shape of a hexagon (the shape and colour are symbolic) to put all the images in. The shrine is made of MDF. I carved my father’s hand-writing (a section of a letter to me) into the wood. There is light and music, which is shedding around the object. The photographs of the family hang inside it and you can see them through the carvings. Each image was stitched and inserted into a little parcel. Each parcel looked like a prayer. The photos of the family are brought together creating a fantasy. The light, which is shed through the carved letters, dances around the box resembling a Sufi’s ritual dance.’


Will Stone

Will Stone is a poet, essayist and literary translator who lives in Suffolk. His first poetry collection Glaciation (Salt, 2007), won the international Glen Dimplex Award for poetry in 2008. The sequel Drawing in Ash, was published to critical acclaim in May 2011 (Salt). Shearsman Books have recently reissued these collections in new editions and published his third collection The Sleepwalkers in March 2016. His translations published by Arc, Menard and Hesperus include works by Verhaeren, Rodenbach, Trakl, Rilke, Nerval and Roth. Pushkin Press published his first English translation of Stefan Zweig’s Montaigne in August 2015 and Zweig’s essays and speeches from the 1930’s as Messages from a lost world appeared in January 2016. Future published translations will include: A Selected Poems of the Belgian symbolist poet Georges Rodenbach (Arc, November 2016). Encounters and Destines, a further collection of Zweigs essay portraits of fellow writers and artists (Pushkin, October 2017). An expanded collection of the poetry of Georg Trakl (Seagull Books, 2017). Will is also currently writing a book on the lesser known cultural and historical landscapes of Belgium. He writes regularly for The London Magazine and also contributes to the TLS, Apollo art magazine, Poetry Review and Agenda. Will is reading at the Poetry in Aldeburgh Festival in November. He has published a dozen books of literature in translation and has written for the London Magazine, The Times Literary Supplement and Apollo magazine. He won the international Glen Dimplex award for Poetry in 2008.


Natalya Lowndes is the fiction writing pen name of the art historian Sarah Symmons who has taught eighteenth-century art history at the universities of Essex, Cambridge and the Courtauld Institute of Art. She has published six historical studies in her own name and four novels and a number of short stories as Natalya Lowndes. Her first novel, Chekago and her Phaidon biography of Francisco Goya were both international best sellers and two of her short stories have been shortlisted for literary prizes. She is at present writing a biography of the Honourable Mary Graham, Gainsborough’s most beautiful female model, and has recently become Visual Arts Editor of the Hispanic Research Journal.

Stephen Varcoe

Stephen Varcoe

Stephen Varcoe has had a long career as a professional singer, appearing in concerts and operas around the world. He has also recorded a large number of works on CD, ranging from Bach and Monteverdi to Schubert, Fauré and Britten. In addition to his singing, he has taken part in many recitals and entertainments combining songs with the spoken word, and has taken the spoken role in Walton’s Façade and Poulenc’s L’Histoire de Babar.

Kit Wright

Kit Wright

Kit Wright was born in Kent and lives in Hackney, East London. He has been a Lecturer in English at Brock University, Ontario, Education Secretary for the Poetry Society, Fellow Commoner in the Creative Arts at Trinity College, Cambridge, and Resident Poet for The Oldie. He is a free-lance writer, performer, teacher and broadcaster and is well-known for his poetry collections for both adults and children.

For adults these include The Bear Looked Over the Mountain (Alice Hunt Bartlett Prize, Geoffrey Faber Memorial Award), The Day Room, Bump-Starting the Hearse, Short Afternoons (Hawthornden Prize for Literature, RSL’s Heinemann Award), Hoping It Might Be So, Talking to the Weeds and Ode to Didcot Power Station. He is a Fellow of the RSL and a Fellow of the English Association.