Wimbledon Bookfest co-founder anticipates ‘critical’ 2012 event


Fiona Razvi believes next year’s event will be crucial in establishing the Wimbledon Bookfest as one of UK’s best following 2011’s success.


By James Pozzi

The co-founder of the Wimbledon Bookfest believes next year’s event will be critical in establishing it as one of the UK’s top literary festivals.

Event Organiser Fiona Razvi says the success of this year’s festival must carry over to next year in order for the event to grow further.

Speaking to the South West Londoner, Ms Razvi pinpoints Salman Rushdie’s appearance at last year’s festival as a breakthrough in raising the event’s profile and credibility within the industry.

And the aim is to continue in attracting the biggest and most relevant names on the literary circuit.

She said: “I took great inspiration from the Hay Festival originally, and the aim is to reach that calibre of event and become something quite spectacular.                                         

“Even though it’s in a city, Wimbledon can be a bit sleepy by nature so I was looking to kick start it by bringing something vibrant to a great location.”

Claire Tomalin and James Naughtie

A move to a bigger tent on the Wimbledon Common site was justified as the eclectic line-up ensured a number of sell out book discussions amid a high level of public interest.

This year’s festival attracted high-profile appearances, including former Chancellor of the Exchequer Alistair Darling, Sky News Presenter Kay Burley and Monty Python star Terry Jones.

And Ms Razvi, who has a background in publishing and journalism, says having established names mixed with a blend of local and international writers is the theme the organisers are aiming for.

“We don’t just aim to serve local interests and although there is a strong arts community in and around the area to cater for, we’d like to take it further,” she said.

Ms Razvi states the only funding the event currently receives from Merton Council is the sum of £1,500, and that she relies on a combination of grants and local funding to assist with its running.

A team of dedicated volunteers help out at the event, and the organisers believe they must now seek out a main sponsor in order to raise the profile further and run it as a viable business model.

The Wimbledon Bookfest was founded in 2006 by Ms Razvi and Tony Kane, who still acts as its chair.

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