Literary Events

Charleston Festival

Charleston, Firle

Friday-Monday May 18-28

Described as “the home of lively conversation and a search for truth in the spirit of the Bloomsbury Group”, the Charleston Festival this year boasts David Attenborough (pictured above) as its star speaker. Announced as the winner of the annual Charleston-EFG John Maynard Keynes Prize, he will deliver the annual lecture on the divisive question of whether some animals can justifiably be described as artists. Among other speakers and writers are last year’s Turner Prize winner Lubaina Himid, the author Jeanette Winterson, Hollywood actress Gemma Arterton (pictured below), broadcaster David Dimbleby, author Robert Harris, the biographer Claire Tomalin, author Ali Smith, broadcasters Evan Davis, the Newsnight presenter, and Jon Sopel, the BBC’s North America editor, who gives an insider’s account of Donald Trump’s presidency, Fat is a Feminist Issue author Susie Orbach, authors Aida Edemariam, Kevin Powers, Kamila Shamsie, Neel Mukherjee and Alexander McCall Smith, poet Simon Armitage, comedian, actor and writer Robert Webb and author Alan Hollinghurst.

Read our feature on the Charleston Festival.

Phone 01323 811626 or visit

Steyning Festival

Various venues in Steyning, Bramber, Beeding, Ashurst, Washington and Ashington

Saturday-Saturday May 26-June 9

Local, national and international talent is showcased during a fortnight of diverse programmed events, an artistic festival run by the community with the community and for the community. The programme covers theatre, music, visual arts including an art trail, walks and tours, literature, talks and community events.

Phone 01903 812062 or visit

Wild Writing with Xaverine Bates

Wilderness Wood, Hadlow Down

Wednesday May 30, 10.30am-12.30pm

£10. Booking essential

Xaverine Bates, a writer and artist from Hastings, leads this creative writing workshop inspired by the woods, aimed at for graduates of the Wilderness Wood’s roots and wings programme and other young women members of the wood (age 12 plus). Participants should bring a journal and will be led through the woods to draw and write poems and prose inspired by the woods and everything that grows within them. This is a chance to find your voice, to share or simply just to write for yourself.

Phone 01825 830509 or visit

The Brighton Crime Wave: An Evening with Mark Billingham and Phoebe Locke

Waterstones, 71-74 North Street, Brighton

Tuesday June 5, 7.30pm

£3 including a glass of wine on arrival

Multimillion copy No1 bestselling author Mark Billingham talks about his new Tom Thorne thriller The Killing Habit, in which DI Thorne sees the chance to stop a series of homicides before they happen after he is tasked with catching a notorious killer of domestic cats. Taking her place in the hot seat for a ‘grilling’ will be debut author Phoebe Locke taking the audience through the creation of her novel The Tall Man, about three chilling events connected by the shadow he casts.

Phone 01273 206017 or visit

Kate Mosse

All Saints Church, The Drive, Hove

Thursday June 7, 7pm

Tickets £8

Chichester-based international bestselling author Kate Mosse, whose novels include Labyrinth, Sepulchre and Citadel, introduces her new book The Burning Chambers, the first in a series bringing 16th century Languedoc vividly to life. It is set against the backdrop of three hundred years of history, from 16th century France to 19th century Southern Africa. The characters and their families, unless otherwise specified, are imagined, though inspired by the sort of people who might have lived. Ordinary women and men, struggling to live, love and survive against a backdrop of religious war and displacement. Picture of Kate Mosse: Ruth Crafer.

Phone 01273 725306, email or visit

Meet Victoria Aveyard

Waterstones, 71-74 North Street, Brighton

Friday June 8, 12noon

Victoria Aveyard, the No1 bestselling author, will be signing copies of War Storm, the much anticipated fourth and final book in the Red Queen series. Picture of Victoria Aveyard: Stephanie Girard.

Phone 01273 206017 or visit

Evening Talk with Genevieve Fox

The Rye Bookshop, 25 High Street, Rye

Wednesday June 13, 6.30pm


Writer Genevieve Fox is giving a talk about her memoir Milkshakes and Morphine, an excavation of mother love, a candid account of the agonies – and absurdities – of the cancer experience, and a doggedly optimistic paean to life. 

Phone 01797 227442 or visit

Henry Normal – A Normal Family

Ropetackle Arts Centre, Little High Street, Shoreham-by-Sea

Wednesday June 13, 7pm

Tickets £8

BBC Radio 4 comedian Henry Normal, a poet, writer, broadcaster, and film and TV producer who lives in Brighton, has written two award-winning Radio 4 shows, A Normal Life and A Normal Family. He and his wife Angela, a writer for film and TV, take alternate chapters to tell the story of their book, Everyday Adventures with Our Autistic Son. Johnny is 19 and he likes music, art and going to the beach. He is also autistic and will probably never get a job, have a girlfriend or leave home. The book tells of the hope, the despair and the messy, honest and sometimes funny day-to-day world it brings. Picture: Jim Holden.

Phone 01273 464440 or visit

Boy Erased: An Evening with Garrard Conley

Waterstones, 71-74 North Street, Brighton

Wednesday June 13, 7.30pm

Tickets £3 including a glass of wine on arrival

American author Garrard Conley is in conversation with author Matt Cain, whose forthcoming novel is The Madonna Of Bolton. Gerrard  talks about his powerful memoir Boy Erased, and in particular the harrowing experience of being forced to attend a church-supported conversion therapy programme. The son of a Baptist pastor and deeply embedded in church life in small town Arkansas, as a young man Garrard was terrified and conflicted about his sexuality. When he was a 19-year-old college student, he was outed to his parents, and was forced to make a life-changing decision: either agree to attend a church-supported conversion therapy program that promised to “cure” him of homosexuality; or risk losing family, friends, and the God he had prayed to every day of his life. His story is soon to be a major movie starring Lucas Hedges, Russell Crowe and Nicole Kidman, written and directed by Joel Edgerton.

Phone 01273 206017 or visit

An Author Supper with Robert Goddard

Sussex Produce Cafe, 88 High Street, Steyning

Thursday June 14

Tickets £35 including a two-course meal and a copy of Panic Room

Bestselling author Robert Goddard, who has written 27 novels including The Wide World trilogy, Fault Line and Past Caring, introduces his 27th novel Panic Room, a contemporary thriller set in Cornwall. He will talk about the background to Panic Room, his research and inspiration, his past bestsellers and how he creates suspense and plotting. 

Phone 01903 812062 or visit

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