Dorchester Literary Festival – an interview with Janet Gleeson

Next week is the Dorchester Literary Festival in Dorset, now in its fourth year & with a fab line up I caught up with Co-Director Janet Gleeson to get the low down on the festival.

Hi Janet, thank you for agreeing to chat with Country Bumpkin Chic…

For those who’ve not heard about the Dorchester Literary Festival, can you give us a brief overview?

It’s an annual 5-day event where we invite a very broad range of leading writers and other inspirational people to come to Dorchester to talk about their latest book. Talks last for about an hour, some are interviews or ‘in conversation events’ some standalone talks, but we always leave time for the audience to ask questions. Afterwards, you can buy the books and have them signed.

How long has the Dorchester Literary Festival been running for?

This is our fourth festival. In our first year, we began with just three days and 15 events, but it’s grown and now we have around double that.

How long have you been involved in the festival & what’s your role?

I’m a founding Co-Director and started the festival with a friend and fellow author Paul Atterbury. This means I get to choose the speakers and chat with them when they visit. But it also means making all the arrangements and worrying if things go wrong.

Paul & Janet

Which authors are coming to Dorchester?

We have an amazing line up this year including Judy Murray, Jeremy Vine, Joanna Trollope, Mark Billingham, Lisa Jewell, Peter Snow, Mark Austin, Lynne Truss and Julian Fellowes are some of the great names. The books we are featuring cover all sorts of subjects: the Suffragettes, Byron, Health, Yetis, Foraging, Rainforests, Orchids, International Veterinary practice, and much more.

Where can we go & watch them?

Events are held at three main locations in Dorchester – Duke’s Galleries, The Corn Exchange, and Thomas Hardye School Theatre. Our website has all the details.

Who is the Dorchester Literary Festival aimed at?

Anyone and everyone – we deliberately choose as varied a programme as possible so there’s something for everyone, whatever their interests.

Who are you most looking forward to watching or meeting? Will you get a chance to go to all the events?

I don’t see them all as I’m usually rushing about although I see snippets of most. This year I am really excited about the incredible Tara Westover, who was raised in a Mormon family, didn’t go to school till her late teens, yet managed to get to Cambridge – Her book Educated is a wonderful memoir and she’s only 29. The book was a best seller, book of the week on Radio 4, Barrack Obama has tweeted about her – and she’s coming to Dorchester!

Have you been to any other Literary Festival’s this year?

No – I’ve been too busy sorting out the Dorchester Festival and moving house, but I love Appledore in Devon, it’s in a really beautiful location.

And what book are you currently reading? And which one of the authors coming to the DLF are you most looking to read?

I’m reading Dr Dawn Harper’s book Live Well to 101 and trying to take the advice on board! I’m going to read more Lisa Jewell, she’s one of our featured crime writers – her books are real page turners!

Finally, where can we buy tickets from?

You can buy online from the website or from Dorchester Tourist Information Centre in Dorchester Library. Tickets are £10 or three for £25.



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