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Winchester Books Festival 2024 launches at University

Winchester Books Festival, sponsored by the University of Winchester, is ready for its second chapter which is set to be even bigger and better than the first.

The three-day event, which made its successful debut in 2023, returns next month (19-21 April) and the University hosted a launch event at its West Downs Centre on Thursday (7 March) World Book Day.

Big names lined up for 2024 include BBC security correspondent Frank Gardner, best-selling author and screenwriter Daisy Goodwin, top historian and podcaster James Holland, and cosmetics tycoon and wellbeing expert Liz Earle.

The University’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sarah Greer told the launch night audience:

“I don’t believe there is a better kind of festival for the university to sponsor than one that celebrates books and the written word.

“In our view, this festival speaks to some of our deepest values. We have a fundamental belief that learning should be lifelong and that it should be accessible for everybody.”

Professor Greer said the festival not only added to the cultural life of Winchester it showcased the city as “a wonderful place to live and work and study”.

The Vice Chancellor added that once again the Festival was providing opportunities for real world life experience” for the students from Film and Media, Music and Sound Production, and Event Management who help to run the events.

Guests at the launch saw a film of last year’s festival shot and edited by University Film Production students.

Festival Co-Founder Sophie Liardet said:

“We want Winchester Books festival to offer something for everyone. We have expanded this year not by days but by content.”

Sophie explained that additions this year included:

  • Children’s Festival featuring former Children’s laureate Lauren Child who will be at the Theatre Royal to discuss her new Clarice Bean book.
  • We Write  – an event aimed at budding writers with an expert panel talking about how to write your book and get it published
  • We Read – a book club event with authors Alice Peterson and Claire Fuller

Fellow co-founder Sian Searles said this year’s festival was built around the word ”Community” and added: “It’s our ambition to connect people through through books.”

More than just a sponsor

In addition to being the main sponsor, the University is also a venue for several events, including a Whodunnit – a sequel to a successful murder mystery run as part of last October’s Winchester Cathedral’s Justice Week.

As before Natacha Harding, Head of the Department of Policing, Criminology and Forensics, has penned the tale – this time it centres on the slaying of a podcaster visiting the university to plug her latest series. The public can play detectives and follow the case from crime scene to courtroom.

Whodunnit is staged on 19 April when the University will also be hosting four events with a crime theme:

  • Best-selling mystery writer SJ Parris will be talking about her latest novel featuring her 16th century spy hero Giordano Bruno
  • Forensic psychiatrist Dr Sohom Das will be discussing his new book In Two Minds: Stories of Murder, Justice and Recovery from a Forensic Mind
  • Wendy Joseph will be speaking about her new book Unlawful Killings: Life, Love and Murder: Trials at The Old Bailey
  • Liza Kavanagh, editor of the Winchester Magazine, will be in conversation with Winchester prison governor James Bourke and discussing her book Doing Time: 175 Years of Winchester Prison

This years’ festival also includes a Children’s Books Festival featuring former Children’s laureate Lauren Child who will be at the Theatre Royal to discuss her new Clarice Bean book.

A separate brochure for children’s festival has been produced for which Lisa Baldwin, Senior Lecturer in the University’s Education department, helped devise the back cover which features a list of tips on how to encourage children and young people to read.

Thursday’s launch event was filmed by Film Production students from the University.

As with last years’ festival a team of students will shoot events and interviews throughout the festival which will be edited into a film to be uploaded to the festival’s website.

Student Adeliia Niemchunova has also been employed to run the festival’s social media including videos for TikTok.

For more details about book festival events visit Home – Winchester Books Festival.

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