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Ways with writers and their words

As you might guess, I had a wonderful time at the Ways with Words Southwold festival. Thrilled to talk to some 200 people about The Huntingfield Paintress. As well as showing slides with images of angels and the painted ceiling, I explored the personal, social and historical factors that influenced Mildred so it wasn't just a book 'plug'. Victorian women as wives and artists, rural parish life and the techniques used in her work were some of the topics that came up in the questions.

After that festival goers attended dinner in the lovely Swan Hotel. Penelope Lively spoke about writing and her long and successful career. This summer I Moontiger again (for which she won The Booker) which was brilliant. I've just finished her new book of short stories, The Purple Swamp Hen (see photo) which I loved. Many thanks to Kay Dunbar and her team for the invitation.

The following week, I spoke to a smaller group in Canterbury Library. Only four people were in the audience but the chat about literature, life and libraries was stimulating. I was grateful to the library staff for inviting me.

Tomorrow I leave for Loddon in Norfolk. A library event (Friday 25th November) where I hope to inspire Norfolk folk to overcome their rivalry with Suffolk and to visit the Huntingfield church!

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