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Bookfest 2017


Here are some highlights from our first Bookfest in 2017. Read on for comments and details about the great weekend.

We organisers of Bookfest – Sheila Chasser, Sue Laing, Angela Magness and Sheila Mortimer – have been inundated with comments following Bookfest and are so pleased that we seem to have produced something which has appealed to so many people.  Here is a selection!

“What a triumph! You absolutely nailed it. One of the nicest literary festivals I’ve been to (and I’ve been to a few…) Huge congratulations.”

“greatly enjoyed the festival. It all seemed to go seamlessly and  I had a wonderful time.”

“You deserve credit for a great festival.”

“Congratulations on yesterday .  Everything seemed to be efficiently managed while remaining friendly and congenial.  I hope you’ll think seriously about doing one next year, when you’ve recovered from this?”

“It was such a lovely festival with a great atmosphere and varied talks. I can’t believe this was your first .”

” … had a great time and thank you so much for asking me. There was a good vibe and it was busy and I hope you can build it on it next year as you’ve started a good thing. “

“… a memorable weekend in Cuckfield. It was a privilege to be invited to the inaugural bookfest and a delight to see what a resounding success it was. From the Friday night dinner to the last talk on Sunday, it was an unadulterated triumph and I know, from speaking to my friends who attended, how much they enjoyed the festival – entertaining, informative and engaging.”

“it was a wonderful festival – very warm and well-organised with an interesting variety.”

“What a triumph – thank you very much and congratulations!”

“Thank you all so much for your brilliant organising of the Bookfest.  The result was so enjoyable, entertaining and so professionally put together.”

“All the hard work you put in certainly paid off! Credit to you, well done.  Thank you for sorting everything out, especially the last minute requests!!”

“I just wanted to congratulate you and your team on an excellent debut Cuckfield Bookfest.”

“I was really impressed with the festival and with the lovely exhibition in the museum too – please pass on my thanks to the organisers.”

“It was a great pleasure.  The efficiency of it all was incredible and you and your team must be sincerely congratulated for a wonderful three days. – I do hope you will consider organising The Second Cuckfield Bookfest.”

“I think what you have achieved is incredible – you should be so proud of yourselves.  Participants, volunteers and audiences were so very happy with it all.  It was an honour to be involved.”

“I was reading my purchase of Les Parisiennes on the train on the way home and the young girl siting next to me interrupted me; she turned out to be French so we had quite a long chat about the history of Paris in the war years……………The influence of the Bookfest is already spreading…….well done!”

“Loved it – Very well done.”

“I was absolutely delighted with the event at Cuckfield – it was great to have such an engaged audience.  Congratulations on organising such a wonderful literary weekend.”

“A huge thank you for inviting me to the inaugural Cuckfield Book Festival.  I had a wonderful time and thoroughly enjoyed the event.”

“Yours was the best run event I’ve been to in a long time in terms of organization, programming, venue, marketing, friendliness, everything!”

“It all seemed very professional, including the little café!”

The opening supper at Ockenden Manor with Lord Saatchi as guest of honour and Greta Scacchi and Geofrey Streatfeild as star performers sold out very quickly and in the end, 96 people sat down on Friday 6th October for a literary supper with delicious food and wine, poetic interludes and Damian Barr providing a witty and engaging vote of thanks that delighted the guests.

Damian opened the proceedings on Saturday morning and his discussion with June Miles Kingston proved both moving and funny.  There followed a plethora of talks, covering such diverse subjects as life in English country houses between the wars, the story of the notorious spy, Guy Burgess, an account of  the Great Storm of 1987 and the worlds of Jane Austen and Charlotte Brontë.  Elly Griffiths discussed crime-writing and Saturday ended with a virtuoso session from Celia Imrie, surely one of our best-loved actors talking about her books. 

Sunday saw more people, who had obviously heard that Bookfest still had some treats in store, queuing up to buy tickets – a gripping account of the courage and innovation of the Long Range Desert Group opened the proceedings and Anthony Seldon then entertained his capacity audience, first as a moderator at a political session with Harrry Mount in which he fired questions at his listeners, then telling us all, encouraged by Julian Worricker, about Artificial Intelligence and how it will affect education. More delights with very different books about French women, one describing life in Paris during the Nazi occupation and the other about a self-taught girl who became one of France’s outstanding painters. Andrew Crofts then ended the festival with a fascinating account of the art of ghostwriting.

On the Saturday, children had poured into the room upstairs at Queen’s Hall to hear all about dinosaurs and then on to the museum to explore more treasures. Sunday saw them being entertained by Sally Symes, a Cuckfield children’s author, and Jill Lewis from Lindfield. 

Cuckfield’s first book festival could not have taken place without incredible enthusiasm and support from so many people – volunteers, cake-makers, museum staff, Cuckfield Dramatic Society etc etc.  Thanks to you all!