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Festival Events

Our Book Group Event

The Festival’s Book Group event is always popular choice, so it was no surprise that the 2023 event – Donal Ryan discussing his wonderful novel the queen of dirt island – was one of the early sell-outs.

Reviews of the book were glowing, and it was evident from the questions and comments posed by the packed audience that Donal’s work is much loved.

The formula for this popular event is that of book groups up and down the country – namely a group discussion of a chosen book. This particular event though is extended to include the author! It is a rare treat for readers to enjoy this privilege so at Wells we are careful to ensure that the whole event ‘belongs’ to the audience.

Donal enjoyed the event as much as his audience did: he even took a photo of his named car park space as a souvenir!

Although created with book groups in mind, this event can be enjoyed by everyone although we do recommend that you read the featured book in advance to gain the very most from the discussion. If you belong to a book group, please make sure we have the details so that we can contact you. And keep an eye on the website so that you’re prepared for the 2024 Book Group Event.

We are very grateful to Waterstones Wells and Bailey Hill Book Shop Castle Cary who traditionally offer a 10% discount to customers who buy the Book Group Event featured book before attending the Wells Festival of Literature.

“Donal Ryan was a real joy to listen to at the Wells Literature Festival Book Club event. His book ‘Queen of Dirt Island’ was an excellent read and hearing him answering questions on the inspiration for the characters gave extra depth to my understanding of the matriarchy so well drawn in the novel.  His self-imposed 500 word chapters worked really well.  Engaging and honest; a thought provoking and interesting afternoon.”

Westbury Book Club Member 2023

Literary Lunches

Our Lunches have been an integral ingredient of the Festival since the very beginning, offering audiences the chance to meet the speaker in an informal and enjoyable way. After a delicious light lunch in the Cedars Dining Hall (just a short stroll from the event auditorium) the speaker makes a point of moving around and talking to everyone. Equally important – the lunch itself makes a perfect appetizer for the talk ahead: a delicious bowl of home-made soup accompanied by freshly baked artisan bread and followed by a yummy dessert. Irresistible!

The lunch begins at 12.30pm giving you plenty of time to chat before the starts at 2.00pm.

Our Lunchtime speakers offer variety and choice. In 2023 we welcomed

Gail Simmons who chatted to Christopher Somerville about her wonderful Between the Chalk and the Sea: A Journey on Foot into the Past

Sander van der Linden with his unsettling yet intriguing Foolproof: Why We Fall for Misinformation and How to Build Immunity

Stephen Moss, Somerset’s very own bird expert with his fascinating description of Ten Birds that changed the World

We are pleased to report that the speakers themselves are full of enthusiasm for our Lunches as well!

‘I had an absolutely wonderful time at the Wells Festival of Literature. The beautiful scenery, warm welcome, and a truly enthusiastic crowd so passionate about all of the amazing authors and diverse talks really makes this festival one of a kind. I highly recommend it.’

Sander Van Der Linden

Wells Literary Quiz
Who knows what about books?

A first for the Festival this year was the Literary Quiz, hosted by The White Hart in Sadler Street on Sunday evening and a sell-out within days of the box-office opening. Gary, professional quizmaster and author of The Book Lover’s Quiz Book, presided over proceedings and was thoroughly entertaining. He had written a quiz especially for the Festival which included a Somerset round as well as references to some of this year’s speakers. Teams of six contestants were greeted with a set of pictures to stimulate the grey matter and competitors also encountered Gary’s clever cryptic drawings along the way. There was something for everyone including a selection of inter-round brain-teasers. The promise of ‘prizes galore’ was definitely not an exaggeration! 

The quiz was not only popular with locals, Festival speakers were also attracted. In fact, the winning team – The Gooles – was led by Dominic Dromgoole who had just been talking about his new book Astonish Me! and rushed to The White Hart straight after his book-signing. The consensus was that the quiz had been an excellent and enjoyable addition to the programme, one that might well become a regular feature.

WFL Quiz Logo