University of Winchester sponsors a new festival for booklovers and writers

9 Mar 2023
Women stood in front of a banner saying 'Winchester books festival'

The University of Winchester recently hosted a launch event for the inaugural Winchester Books Festival which will take place between 21 and 23 April 2023 with a vibrant programme of events in a variety of locations across the city. The University of Winchester is proud be the Festival sponsor. 

The Winchester Books Festival will present a varied selection of authors and books from established as well as debut writers. Founded by three book-obsessed friends who felt that Winchester’s lively schedule of festivals was missing one dedicated to books and reading, they decided to create one themselves.  

Celebrated authors speaking about their books this year include Charles Spencer, Bill Browder, Marina Wheeler, Marc Morris, Gill HornbyAlice Loxton in conversation with Dan Snow and Rebecca Abrams. With a determination to support local writers, the Festival is thrilled to be hosting the launch party of award winning local author and University of Winchester alumna Claire Fuller’s latest book The Memory of Animals on the eve of the Festival opening. Debut writers including Sarah Barclay (Eden's Keepers) will also be showcased. The opening evening event will be a talk by Winchester resident, Mandy Hickson, one of the first women to qualify as a fast jet pilot to celebrate her book An Officer, Not a Gentleman which will be held at The Theatre Royal. 

For those who are hoping to see their own books in print, Dr. Judith Heneghan, senior lecturer in Creative Writing at the University of Winchester, will host a panel discussion with three best-selling authors– Claire Fuller, Frances Liardet and Chibundu Onuzo – who will reveal their own writing journeys and tips for successful writing and getting published. With a keen wish to appeal to the whole community, there will be two events for children and families on Saturday 21 April – Jennie Maizel, bestselling local author and illustrator will run a workshop at which children can learn and create their own pop up of London, and Winchester Poetry Festival will run a children’s poetry event in the afternoon. 

The broad theme of the Festival this year is ‘Empathy’ – this will be marked at the closing event of the festival in the grounds of the Cathedral in which Sue Stewart-Smith (A Well Gardened Mind), local GP Will Liddell and Charlie Corbett (12 Birds to Save Your Life) will discuss how important Nature is to physical and mental wellbeing, and strategies for incorporating nature into daily life.  

The Festival’s main sponsor is the University of Winchester.  Professor Sarah Greer, Vice-Chancellor of the Univesrity of Winchester, said: "We are delighted to be sponsoring the Winchester Books Festival, and helping both to celebrate our talented local authors and to welcome many other fantastic authors to the city. 

 “A love of learning is at the heart of the University of Winchester and this is such a special way to encourage people to enjoy the written word. We wish the inaugural event well and look forward to the Winchester Books Festival becoming an integral part of the cultural life of our city.”

Winchester BID’s Festival Co-ordinator Sarah Davis said: 

"The Winchester Books Festival is a lovely addition to the broad range of festivals to be enjoyed in our city. We have some amazing bookshops here as well as some hidden pre-loved stores such as The Winchester BookshopThe Deanery Bookshop and the Oxfam Bookshop in Parchment Street. This will raise the profile of authors, books and reading and bring a valuable new element to the regular festival programme. Having the opportunity to meet and speak with authors is so rare. This festival provides a great opportunity for city residents, visitors and students.” 

Winchester Books Festival founders Sian Searles, Louisa Symington and Sophie Liardet said: 

‘Creating this Festival from scratch has been a roller coaster ride, from a kernel of an idea at a kitchen table, we’ve been overwhelmed by the support from organisations and individuals within Winchester who have helped us bring this to fruition. We are particularly grateful to the University of Winchester – academics and students - who are not only our main sponsors, but who have also been so generous with advice and practical help. This year it is a pilot festival but we very much hope that this will the first of many annual Winchester Books Festivals and events throughout the year, that will encourage a love of reading and books and support to authors established and debut.’ 

Students from the University of Winchester’s School of Media and Film attended the Festival launch to film a promotional video which will be available soon.  

Tickets can now been booked for all Winchester Books Festival events via the Festival website 


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