Bestselling authors come together as Wimbledon BookFest 2013 kicks off


The festival began in 2007.


By Jack Crone

With a long and colourful history of talented individuals and cultural contribution, Wimbledon has always punched well above its weight. Nowhere is this more evident than at Wimbledon Bookfest which kicked off at the weekend.

The festival, which debuted in 2007, has gone from strength to strength and this year will feature an ensemble of high profile stars including Roddy Doyle, Darcy Bussell, John Boyne and the hugely popular Michael Palin.

Also among the cast are Wimbledon-based writers Phillip Kerr, Michelle Paver and Jane Thynne as well as ‘The Wimbledon Poisoner’ author Nigel Williams, who will be talking about his first book release for a decade.

Festival director Fiona Razvi sees the event as part of a wider goal of encouraging arts in the area and is thrilled to be featuring work from local authors.

“It’s all about embracing the creative industries,” she said

“There are a few great authors from Wimbledon speaking and I’m looking forward to hearing Paul O’Prey talk about the war poet Robert Graves.”

Fiona launched the Bookfest, a charitable organization, alongside Tony Kane whilst they were working at Time and Leisure magazine. Both were already interviewing authors at the time and after visiting Hay Festival of Literature and the Arts, the idea was born.

“There was a real energy for community engagement at the time and this was before the recent explosion of festivals,” said Fiona.

“I had just been to Hay and afterwards I thought – this could work in Wimbledon.”

Last year the event sold 6,000 tickets and was a huge success gaining attention from public figures such as Jack Straw.

He said on twitter: “Everybody says that printed books are dying. This is not true. The fantastic explosion in the interest in book festivals, especially in Wimbledon, proves the opposite.”

2013 will see several developments including a partnership with Roehampton University as well as the birth of the ‘William Morris Tent’, a tribute to the arts and crafts pioneer who established Merton Abbey Mills.

The seventh year will also see ticket sales move closer to 8,000, firmly establishing the Bookfest as one of the big events on London’s art scene.

Tomorrow’s schedule features talks on Benjamin Britten and Sir John Betjeman and there will also be a Poetry Takeaway on The Piazza, producing poems on any given subject free of charge.

The remainder of the festival will see shows take place around Wimbledon and Wimbledon village and tickets can be bought at

Photo courtesy of Sharon Drummond, with thanks.

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