Blog – What the LitFest means to Marlborough by John Sykes
Thursday, October 5th, 2017
In the eight years since the first Literature Festival, it has matured from small beginnings into a much-anticipated event of substance and reputation which has become an integral part of our cultural calendar. It has kept faith with its founding mantra, the celebration of fine writing, in contrast to many literature festivals which are not nearly so selective. Its consistent success is due to a committee of dedicated, knowledgeable, well-read and hard-working volunteers who are determined that the festival’s standards should be maintained, if not bettered, each year. Word is spreading amongst authors and publishers that this is a festival worth attending, being assured of interested audiences and a warm welcome (and remuneration!) from their hosts.
To those of a literary bent in Marlborough and often much further afield it introduces writers, often young and unknown, who have a platform for demonstrating their creativity and with enthusiasm for their subject draw us into their world and encourage our spirit of enquiry. Sometimes the Litfest picks a winner as, for example, Helen Macdonald’s H is for Hawk; she came here as a relative unknown in September 2014 but within a few months the book was topping the best-seller lists. It cannot be coincidental that we now have a reincarnated White Horse Bookshop providing a welcome ambience and wide-ranging choice.
The festival invigorates the town and brings in discriminating visitors who spend money here and spread the word about the Litfest and the other attractions of the town. Marlborough is a magnet for cultural activities of many kinds and the Litfest, by building on a strong local literary inheritance (William Golding, Siegfried Sassoon and John Betjeman amongst others), has made an invaluable contribution to the mix. Interest in good creative writing via the Litfest stimulates face to face discussion and exchange of ideas, an excellent antidote to the distractions of a technological age.