Copyright of Laura Richards
By Story Star correspondent Jane Haynes
If you weren’t at the picturesque Holland Park this weekend, you would have missed an amazing showcase of intelligent voices, literature and a passionate audience, to say the least.
Book worms and lovers of all things literary were in for a real treat last weekend as London prepared for a brand new literary festival. Words in the Park, a three-day festival which ran from Friday 18th to Sunday 20th May. The festival had already generated considerable momentum and interest across the social media platforms, with big names such as comedian Jimmy Carr and journalist and broadcaster Jeremy Paxman all set to make an appearance over the course of the literary celebration.
The Words in the Park festival is the brainchild and product of the Ways with Words group. The group, consisting of Festival Directors and book lovers Kay Dunbar, Stephen Bristow, and Chloe and Videl Bar-Kar, initially set up the organisation with the idea to stage a “one-off literary festival”, which they succeeded in doing in 1991 at Darlington Hall. However, due to the overwhelming success of the event they have gone on to organise a number of popular literary festivals each year ever since, turning the Ways with Words initiatives into annual book celebrations.
This year’s Words in the Park festival lived up to the reputation and high calibre which the group have set in previous years, with a host of noted authors, journalists and celebrities assembling to complete a stellar line-up. The opening day of the festival saw author and comedienne Sandi Toksvig and House of Commons speaker John Bercow take to the stage; joined by Sophie Dahl, former model- turned- cooking writer and granddaughter of the legendary author Roald Dahl. The Saturday and Sunday line-ups were equally impressive, with journalist and broadcaster Jeremy Paxman, Sunday Times and Vanity Fair critic AA Gill and political commentator Andrew Marr added to the schedule.
The fusion of literature and journalism with elements of the political and entertainment realms is infinitely refreshing to the concept of the literary festival and would undoubtedly draw a diverse audience to the festival. Indeed, in a statement on their official website, the Ways with Words founders (directors of Words in the Park) state their goal and aspiration for this and every event that they organise as “to bring people together in beautiful surroundings to make contact with writers, journalists and experts in various field.”
As with any literary festival or event worth its salt in this modern technological era, Words in the Park has gained significant momentum across the online sphere and the social media platform. As well as the Ways with Words official website, keeping subscribers and browsers up to date with all the latest and up-to-date news regarding the festival, Ways with Words has been blasting the event from their Facebook and Twitter pages. The power of celebrity has also came into play significantly with avid Tweeters Sophie Dahl promoting the festival heavily and urging book lovers to attendance through her account.
We look forward to another fantastic book festival like this soon! For another great festival of words and ideas, consider the Telegraph Ways with Words festival between the 6 – 16 July this year at the majestic Dartington Hall in South Devon. Speakers include Michael Palin, Fay Weldon, Jeremy Vine and many more.