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Budleigh Salterton Literary Festival Celebrates 10th Anniversary in Style

Budleigh Salterton Literary Festival Celebrates 10th Anniversary in Style

One woman’s vision to make Budleigh Salterton the home of the best small literary festival in Britain has become a reality as organisers revealed nearly seven and a half thousand tickets were sold at this year’s tenth anniversary event.

The five-day Budleigh Salterton Literary Festival, which concluded on Sunday (September 23rd), featured a packed programme of presentations and workshops from authors, broadcasters and poets.

The Literary Festival was founded in 2009 by the late Susan Ward, whose aim was to attract critically acclaimed authors, poets and playwrights to Budleigh to share their work and experiences.

The Festival has more than doubled in size over the past ten years; the inaugural festival saw 24 events running across three days, with authors including Sir Michael Morpurgo, Dame Hilary Mantel, and Professor Martin Sorrell. This year’s festival saw 52 different talks, workshops and events across five days.


Budleigh Salterton Literary Festival

Author Sir Michael Morpurgo speaking at this years festival

Charles Ward, husband of Festival Founder who sadly died in 2012, explained:

“Susan wanted it to become the best small literary festival in the country and her programmes reflected her notice of the unusual or the novel.

“Wonderfully, the Festival has fulfilled Susan’s vision of being a nationally-established perennial event that brings credit to the small town of Budleigh Salterton.”

Supporting Susan’s vision was the first Festival President, the journalist and former BBC Radio 4 Desert Island Discs presenter Sue Lawley OBE, who was living in Budleigh at the time and was approached by Susan.

Sue Lawley explained:

“Ten years on, the Budleigh Salterton Literary Festival had proved – if any proof were needed – how successful the printed page remains in its ceaseless war with radio, television, talking books, Kindles and the internet. None of these adversaries had yet undermined the enjoyment of holding a good book in your hands.”


Budleigh Salterton Literary Festival 2018


The annual Festival increased in popularity year-on-year, with a fourth day added to the programme in 2014, and a further fifth day added in 2017.

Double Man Booker Prize Winner, Dame Hilary Mantel, took over the role of Festival President in 2012.

Dame Hilary said:

“Our town has three great advantages – its spectacular natural setting, its compact centre, and a corps of willing and charming volunteers, ready to make both writers and readers feel welcome.

“The Festival’s heart remains local, and its unique flavour comes from the contributions of those who, for no money and little glory, work year-round in the background. The sun sets on our last event and planning for next September begins.”

Highlights for 2018 included an exclusive writing masterclass by Dame Hilary, which offered ticket holders a chance to gather some tips on how to improve their writing. The bumper programme of workshops this year proved popular across the board, with audiences flocking to learn more at a writer’s workshop with Greg Mosse, a bookmaking workshop with Lina Avramidou, and comedy writing workshop with Dr Maggie Irving.

Many events were a sell-out, including celebrated philosopher, Julian Baggini; television and BBC Radio 4 presenter, Hannah Fry; two sessions with bestselling author and historian, Lucy Worsley; and ex-29 Commando and MP for Plymouth, Johnny Mercer.


Budleigh Salterton Literary Festival 2018

Annie Ashworth, Festival Artistic Director, said:

“Each year, we’re overwhelmed by the support of our audiences. People have travelled from all over the country to be amazed, inspired and challenged by our line-up of authors, broadcasters, poets and academics. We’re pleased to continue on this legacy and look forward to bringing literature to audiences for many years to come.”

Annie Ashworth joined the Budleigh Salterton Literary Festival in 2017, taking over from Sarah-Jane Roberts who held the role from 2013-2016.

The 2019 Budleigh Salterton Literary Festival will take place from Wednesday 18th to Sunday 22nd September. Find out more about the Festival at or follow the team on social media for updates: Twitter @BudleighLitFest, Instagram @budlitfest or Facebook BudleighSaltertonLiteraryFestival.

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