A unique celebration of literature, organised by pupils from Monmouth’s three senior schools, is back for its fourth year
BBC Radio 1 DJ, Gemma Cairney, and children’s author, Bali Rai, feature in Monmouth Literary Festival’s exciting schedule, which runs between 21 and 29 June.
The public is invited to a thrilling free evening of crime fiction and real-life investigation at The Savoy Theatre from 7pm on Friday, 23 June.
Hosted by an expert panel including BBC reporter Jeremy Cooke, crime author Matthew Hall and forensic scientists David Scaysebrook and Hannah Hardinge, A Mysterious Affair at Monmouth will shed light on the stories behind the crime scenes.
Planned by volunteers from Monmouth School, Haberdashers’ Monmouth School for Girls and Monmouth Comprehensive, the festival unites the community in its love of reading and inspires thousands of youngsters to discover new writers.
Edward Sleath, a committee member from Monmouth School, said: “Back in Year 8, I helped out a lot in the library, and I liked the idea of learning about the management and logistics involved in organising and running a festival, so I thought I might give it a try.
“I love the way that books and literature can create different worlds and kingdoms which you become part of as you read the books, whether it is a detective crime thriller or a magical fantasy novel. I am most excited for the crime panel. I love both crime novels and TV series and it will be amazing to compare them to the real-life scenarios and stories.”
The 15-year-old believes helping to run the festival and secure funding has taught him invaluable skills.
He added: “I have definitely improved my collaboration skills and learned more about team management, as I was at one time heavily involved in running the volunteers’ program. I’ve also improved my time-management and simple language skills like letter-writing and speech-making which was great for my GCSE studies.”
The majority of events held throughout the festival, including a Romeo and Juliet workshop, motivational talks from Gemma Cairney and ‘Strategy Man’, Derri Llewellyn Davis, are exclusively for local schoolchildren.
Allan Hope, a 17-year-old pupil at Monmouth Comprehensive, said: “I love the way literature can be interpreted in so many ways and each person can have their own ideas about the same piece of work. I think literature is a tool that allows people to push social boundaries and it has the power to connect almost anyone in its expanse of topics.
“Being on the committee this year has been very rewarding. As someone who hasn’t experience event organisation before, it has been great getting the writers involved, especially seeing the wide enthusiasm of many well-known authors. The festival is important because it not only encourages a love of literature among younger pupils, but it also unites the three schools and involves the wider community.”
Members of the public are also invited to an afternoon with Flora Fraser, author of Beloved Emma, at The Savoy Theatre from 2pm on Sunday, 25 June.
The writer will be talking about her biography on Lady Hamilton, a woman who has strong connections with the town and whose part in history is now being radically reassessed.
Georgina Feltham-White, a 17-year-old festival committee member from HMSG, said: “I decided to become fully involved with the literary festival because I have seen how successful it has been in the past and really wanted to be a part of that. I am an avid reader and I think the greatest part of reading is letting the book take you to another culture, world or event and learning something new.
“For me, the biggest challenge of organising the festival this year was having to come out of my HMSG bubble and put forward my ideas in the MLF community council.
“I think the festival benefits the local community profusely as it brings attention to Monmouth and helps the young people in our community by encouraging them to read and become involved in literature.
“The Monmouth Literary Festival gives pupils an amazing opportunity to develop within a team from different backgrounds and ages. It enables you to become goal-focused during a time of examinations and study.”
For information on the public events, visit monmouth-savoy.co.uk