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Festival Events

Our Book Group Event

The Festival’s Book Group event has always been a popular choice, regularly selling out very quickly. Reviews of this year’s book have been glowing, so we are preparing for a similar reaction for the event on Sunday 29 October. The formula for this popular event is very much that of book groups up and down the country – namely a group discussion of a chosen book; except this one is extended to include the author! It is a rare treat for readers to enjoy this privilege and at Wells we ensure that the whole event ‘belongs’ to the audience.

Although created with book clubs 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 club, please make sure we have the details so that we can contact you.

The Queen of Dirt Island Cover

In 2023 we will be welcoming Donal Ryan to Cedars Hall with his wonderful novel the queen of dirt island

Maggie O’Farrell describes this book as ‘a beautiful, compassionate novel’.

Ian Rankin agrees: ‘Beautifully poised, sad, poetic and human … I loved every single line.’

The Aylward women of Nenagh are mad about each other, but you wouldn’t always think it. You have to know them to know that – despite what the neighbours might think – the Aylward house is a place of peace, filled with love, a refuge from the sadness and cruelty of the world. The story is set in Tipperary and involves wives and widows, gunrunners and gougers, sinners and saints. It’s a story of terrible betrayals and fierce loyalties, of isolation and togetherness, of transgression, forgiveness, desire, and love. It’s about all the things family means and also where it can fail. More than anything, it is an uplifting celebration of fierce, loyal love and the powerful stories that last generations.

In short, the author has succeeded in capturing to perfection all the ‘broken beauty’ of the world and recreating it in a one tiny little corner of Ireland.

“The team really looked after me and gave me such a warm welcome, and the event was incredibly well organised, with a very engaged audience.”

Claire Fuller 2022

Waterstones Wells and Bailey Hill BookShop Castle Cary are offering a 10% discount when you buy the queen of dirt island . Just mention at the till that you are attending the Wells Festival of Literature.

Literary Lunches

A very special feature of our popular Literary Lunches is that the speaker joins the audience in the Dining Hall and makes a point of talking to everyone. What’s more, 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 in the Cedars House Dining Hall, which is just a short stroll across to Cedars Hall where the talk starts at 2.00pm.

This year we have three magnificent Literary Lunch speakers, accompanied by three mouth-watering Literary Lunches:

Tuesday 31 October 
Gail Simmons 
Between the Chalk and the Sea: A Journey on Foot into the Past 
In conversation with Christopher Somerville 

Gail will explain how this ancient forgotten path took her deep into history, exploring our past and telling a story of kings and knights, peasants and pilgrims, of ancient folklore and modern politics. 

Lunch: courgette, leek and goats cheese soup followed by chocolate and raspberry panna cotta with berry compote.

Wednesday 1 November 
Sander van der Linden 
Foolproof: Why We Fall for Misinformation and How to Build Immunity 

Despite what we may believe, we are all susceptible to fake news in some form. What can we do about it? Come and listen to Sander van der Linden’s advice! 

Lunch: Thai chicken soup followed by Belgian chocolate fondant and honeycomb ice cream.

Friday 3 November 
Stephen Moss 
Ten Birds that changed the World 

Where would we be without our feathered friends?

Lunch: French onion soup followed by lemon tart with clotted cream.

Please indicate at time of booking if you have any special dietary requirements.

Talk only tickets are also available and the talk will start at 2.00pm

Wells Literary Quiz
Who knows what about books?

For the first time in its 31-year history the Festival features a Literary Quiz created for us by Gary Wigglesworth, mastermind of books and author of the hugely successful Book Lover’s Quiz Book which will be available at the Festival bookshop in Cedars House. Gary has been taking his quiz ( on the road for several years, during which time bookworms have enjoyed discovering what they know – or don’t – about books. How would you fare? Come and find out – and bring your friends! Prizes galore!

‘…jam-packed with literary delights and run in a humorous and fun-loving style. Our audience was equally appreciative of the brain-taxing elements and the light-hearted enjoyment’.

Up to six in a team.
£4 per person (plus £1 booking fee).
Tickets from the Festival website or the booking line 01749 834483.
Pay bar and light refreshments available.

WFL Quiz Logo