Author Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai with reader having their picture taken by another reader. They are holding the author's book and stood in the Merton Arts Space at Wimbledon Library.

Authors and celebrities to attend Wimbledon Bookfest

The Wimbledon BookFest has been delivering on an exciting line up of authors, celebrities, entertainers and more this October.

The ten day festival takes place in Central Wimbledon from October 12 to 22 for its 16th year, featuring a range of speakers including Rick Stein, Clive Myrie, and Philippa Gregory.

Festival director and co-founder, Fiona Razvi said: “It brings people together to talk about the issues that are going on in the world through the writers that speak and share their ideas at the events.

“You often find that neighbours who’ve never spoken to each other might bump into each other at the festival and become connected.”

BookFest hosts talks and events designed to engage the community and deliver educational projects for schools and young people, with 10,000 children expected at this year’s festival according to festival director Razvi.

This year’s ethos is focused on community and inclusivity, introducing new educational programmes such as the Literacy Champions programme, funding 800 tickets to BookFest for state schools in Mitcham.

Educational initiatives and partnerships this year include the Merton Libraries Partnership, which will host many events throughout the Borough, and the ‘Merton Big Read’, a scheme aiming to connect the local community through reading.

Razvi said: “Fiction is important as it challenges your values, your thoughts, and your preconceptions.

“We’re living in a very polarised world, things are very two dimensional.

“If people can start seeing things in a different way, it can really help us have a more harmonious society.”

This year BookFest has placed importance on global connections, bringing events that celebrate South Asian voices.

Razvi said: “A really key partnership we’ve got this year is the Lahore Literary Festival, which is really about giving exposure to voices of stories that wouldn’t ordinarily get platforms.”

Wimbledon BookFest also runs Word Up, an education programme of events for schools. 

Word Up includes talks aimed at school children taking place during Wimbledon BookFest, and other events like the annual Young Writers Competition.

Wimbledon BookFest began in 2006, when its founders, Fiona Razvi and Tony Kane, decided to create a local annual arts festival that was inclusive, educational, and engaging.

The festival has grown from 1,000 visitors to over 20,000, including 10,000 South London schoolchildren. 

As a non-for-profit organisation with ticket sales making up half of their income, Wimbledon BookFest are rebuilding their audiences after the effects of Covid-19 and look for new sponsors and grants.

To support the event, you can become a BookFest friend receiving priority booking on tickets, or donate to support events for schools on the BookFest website.

For more details on this year’s festival visit the Wimbledon BookFest website.

Image credit: Fiona Razvi

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