Packed Out Chiswick Book Festival Goes From Strength To Strength
Organisers say it was 'best ever' festival with big increase in ticket sales
Image - Alastair Hilton
Ticket sales at this year’s Chiswick Book Festival rose by 40 per cent, as a succession of high-profile names attracted hundreds of book-lovers to venues across Chiswick. And Waterstones, the Festival bookseller, had record sales of the authors’ books.
The Festival ended on Monday night with a full house at Chiswick Library, after playing to packed audiences at Chiswick House, ArtsEd’s Andrew Lloyd Webber Theatre, the Tabard Theatre and St Michael & All Angels Church and Parish Hall.
Torin Douglas, image by Alastair Hilton
“We said that last year’s Festival was the best ever but we seem to be going from strength to strength” said Torin Douglas, the Festival director. “We’ve had wonderful feedback from our authors and audiences and our strong ticket sales mean we should be able to give even more money to our three reading charities.”
The Festival’s opening event at Chiswick House – Victoria in Fact & Fiction – set the tone for this year’s successful weekend. AN Wilson and Daisy Goodwin, the writer of ITV’s Victoria series, entertained a packed house in the Burlington Pavilion, with actress Anna Wilson Jones (who plays Lady Portman in the series) reading extracts from the Queen’s diaries. More than 1,000 people watched it live on Facebook, streamed by the series producers.
There was also an exhibition ‘Queen Victoria in Chiswick’ describing the Queen’s visits to Chiswick House, including the first public showing for several years of the picture ‘The Royal Garden Party at Chiswick’. It is hoped that the exhibition material will be put on display in Chiswick Library in the near future.
Cressida Cowell - Image; Alastair Hilton
The children’s authors Dame Jacqueline Wilson and Cressida Cowell both spoke to large audiences in St Michael & All Angels Church. Afterwards Cressida tweeted ; “Thankyou to @W4BookFest for organising a lovely event today and to all who came - you were a great audience”
Cressida Cowell also presented the prizes for the Festival’s annual Young People’s Poetry Competition and tweeted a photograph: “With promising young writers who won prizes @W4BookFest poetry competition today”. The winning poems are now on display in Waterstones in Chiswick High Road.
The 28 winners were given books donated by Trotters in Turnham Green Terrace, which also organized the Odd Dog Out event with Rob Biddulph and the Turnham Green Terrace Treasure Hunt.
The vicar of St Michael & All Angels Church, Fr Kevin Morris, was delighted with the success of the event. He said: “It was such a varied and stimulating programme, ranging from serious discussion of politics and economics to wonderfully entertaining sessions with writers like Andy Hamilton and the Ladybird book authors. And quite often – as with AN Wilson and Daisy Goodwin – it managed to inform and entertain at the same time.”
Much of this year’s success has been credited to two new members of the Festival team - Jo James, the author programme director, who created the programme and liaised with the publishers and authors, and the new Festival administrator, Jill Sinclair, who did much of the organization.
Torin Douglas said: “I think it’s a testament to the strength of the Festival – and the support we get from St Michael & Angels and our many local volunteers – that we were able to do so well with a largely new team.”
As well as record ticket sales, the Festival attracted substantial sponsorship and support from local firms and educational institutions. Profits from the Festival will go to three reading charities: Doorstep Library, which brings books and reading into homes in deprived parts of London; RNIB Talking Books; and InterAct Stroke Support, which provides actors to read to stroke patients in Charing Cross Hospital.
Among several Festival prizes, Leiths School of Food and Wine held a draw to win a place on its food-writing course with Andy Lynes. It was open to anyone who came to the Foodie Question Time at Sunday lunchtime with food writers and winners from Masterchef and Great British Bake Off.
The prize was won by Richard Evans, a Chiswick casting director who leads workshops for actors on audition technique and is the author of Auditions: The Complete Guide and Self Taping: The Actor’s Guide.
Children's Poetry Award
He said: “I’m surprised and delighted. As a great lover of food and someone who believes that there’s always something new to learn, I’ll relish going on this course and working on acquiring a new skill.”
There is still a chance to enter the annual Festival anniversaries quiz, with a chance to win a beautiful three-volume edition of Shakespeare from Foster Books. The Festival quiz sheet can be picked up for £2 in St Michael & All Angels Church. And also a prize draw to win a £1,000 voucher from SofaWorkshop in Chiswick High Road, which sponsors the Festival marquee.
There are more photographs, plus news, prizewinners and information about the Festival and its charities and partners at www.chiswickbookfestival.net
September 23, 2016