Event 1. Friday 11 May at 18.30. Kevin Crossley-Holland: a North Norfolk Man


Kevin Crossley-Holland raises the curtain on the festival he founded 21 years ago. Kevin’s roots in the coast go back to his childhood, and he now lives here permanently. A poet, librettist and novelist with a global reputation, his best-known work is his Arthurian trilogy, for which he won the Guardian Prize. A former winner of the Carnegie medal and president of the School Library Association, his latest book is Norse Myths: Tales of Odin, Thor and Loki. Kevin will be talking about his sense of place, and how the coast inspired some of his finest poetry. His talk will be supported by a short film.

Event 2. Saturday 12 May at 9.30. Godfrey Sayers. The Shape-Shifting Coast 

Charles Tunnicliffe said that you could not paint a pig unless you had held one.  Not sure how that works with tigers and elephants, but his general meaning holds.  You cannot paint this coast, or write about it, or understand its processes unless this is true. It is the case with Godfrey Sayers. Just as the wind and sea have shaped the beaches and dunes, so too they have shaped his life. As a child running wild on the marsh, as a bait digger, a mussel fisherman, a longshoreman, and for the last 40 years a painter and writer. In this talk he casts his mind back to the coast’s past to imagine what the future holds for this exquisite yet fragile margin. ‘Here at the quiet limit of the world……’

Event 3. Saturday 12 May at 11.00. D.J. Taylor. The Great Eastern Land: writers and Norfolk 


David Taylor is the author of two acclaimed biographies, Thackeray (1999), and Orwell: the Life, which won the Whitbread Biography Prize in 2003.  He has written eleven novels, including The Windsor Faction (2013), joint winner of the Sidewise Award for Alternate History, and Derby Day (2011). His new novel, Rock and Roll is Life, is published later this summer.  A Norfolk writer himself, David has immersed himself in the work of those contemporaries and predecessors who have celebrated this unique and beautiful county and coast; in this talk he celebrates their sense of place.

Event 4. Saturday 12 May at 12.30. Gail Pirkis and Hazel Wood: Behind the Scenes at ‘Slightly Foxed.’ 


There are thousands of good books in print that are never mentioned in the literary pages, but most people have no way of knowing what they are, or which ones may appeal to them. Slightly Foxed fills this gap, introducing, or reintroducing, its readers to all those wonderful books that languish on publishers’ backlists but have too often disappeared from bookshops. Founded fourteen years ago by Gail Pirkis and Hazel Wood, it’s a literary phenomenon, a bastion of traditional values in a changing world. Hazel and Gail will talk about the genesis of Slightly Foxed, how they keep it fresh and growing, and perhaps even the secret of their success.

Event 5. Saturday 12 May at 14.00. Rachel Hore: ‘Last Letter Home.’


Rachel Hore worked in London publishing for many years before moving with her family to Norwich, where she teaches publishing and creative writing at the University of East Anglia.  She is the author of nine novels, many of which have East Anglian settings.  They include The Dream House, The Glass Painter's Daughter, which was shortlisted for the 2010 Romantic Novel of the Year award, A Place of Secrets, selected by Richard and Judy for their book-club, and the latest bestsellers The Silent Tide, A Week in Paris and The House on Bellevue Gardens.  In this talk Rachel previews her new novel, Last Letter Home, which is set partly in Second World War Norfolk.

Event 6. Saturday 12 May at 15.30. Sam Llewellyn: Britain and the Sea


Sam Llewellyn writes a novel most years, contributes to the Daily Telegraph, and is a columnist for Practical Boat Owner and Classic Boat. As if that weren’t enough to keep him busy he is also founder and editor of Marine Quarterly, the journal of the sea. Sam will talk about cruising among our islands, with a nod at sea power past and present, and discuss living up to a proud tradition that embraces (to name but a few) Drake, Raleigh, Nelson, and Titty and Roger from Swallows and Amazons.

Event 7. Saturday 12 May at 17.00. Peter York: Trumpery


Author and broadcaster Peter York is best known for his writing in Harpers and Queen’s and for The Official Sloane Ranger Handbook – which he wrote with Ann Barr. He is also a columnist for The Sunday Times, GQ and Management Today, and an Associate of the media, analysis and networking organisation Editorial Intelligence. In this radical yet riveting performance Peter describes the semiotics of Donald Trump and Trumpland; the President's clothes, houses and entourage and the messages they're sending to the rest of us. He analyses the stylistic origins and parallels of the Trump Tower penthouse, he looks at the women in DJT's life, from the first wives to Melania. And he characterises the women in team Trump from Ivanka to Hope Hicks and asks why that bright red shiny tie is quite so long.

Event 8. Saturday 12 May at 18.30. John Mullan: Jane Austen  


John Mullan is a professor of English at UCL. He is a specialist in eighteenth-century literature, currently writing the 1709-1784 volume of the Oxford English Literary History. He has written a weekly column on contemporary fiction for The Guardian, and reviews for the London Review of Books and the New Statesman. He was a The Best of Booker judge in 2008 and for the Man Booker Prize itself in 2009. Here he explores just why Jane Austen, who died 201 years ago, is more popular today than she was in her lifetime.  

Event 10. Saturday 12 May 2018 at 11.00 in Wells-next-the-Sea Library: Sally Festing: North Norfolk Poems/Open Mic - £5 - PLEASE PAY ON THE DOOR.

Some saw the Open Mic as the highlight of the original Poetry-next-the Sea-festival. Sally Festing re-introduces this event with some North Norfolk poems of her own and a preview of her fifth collection, which will be published next year. In the second half of the event she invites guests to present their own poem on the coastal theme, either their own compositions or by others. (These should be restricted to a maximum of thirty lines). Besides writing poetry, Sally has written fine biographies of Gertrude Jekyll and Barbara Hepworth; she runs the Saltmarsh poetry group in the Burnhams.

Event 9: Saturday 12 May at 09.30 in Wells-next-the-Sea Library: Elaine Ewart: From the Fens to the Frisian coast - £10 - PLEASE PAY ON THE DOOR. To register in advance email:


Elaine Ewart is on a literary journey along the North Sea coast of the Netherlands and Germany, finding in these underexplored regions a mirror of the shifting, amphibious borderlands of her home in the Cambridgeshire fens – not to mention some echoes of North Norfolk. A writer of poetry and creative non-fiction, Elaine is fascinated by representations of place. In 2015 she won second prize in the New Welsh Writing Awards and was shortlisted for the Resurgence Ecopoetry Prize. She held the post of Fenland Poet Laureate in 2012, and is currently studying for a PhD in Creative Writing at the University of Essex.