Online Chiswick Book Festival Hailed as 'Great Success'

Loyd Grossman tells Robert Elms it's 'a fantastic thing'

Loyd Grossman with Fr Kevin Morris
Loyd Grossman with Fr Kevin Morris

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This year’s online Chiswick Book Festival, which ended on Wednesday has been hailed a great success by authors and many readers who have enjoyed the videos and podcasts.

The Festival closed on Wednesday (16 September), with the last of three events with Ealing authors. Professor Emily Caston of the University of West London hosted a Zoom webinar about her new book ‘British Music Videos 1966-2006’ with a panel of producers and directors.

Torin Douglas, the director of the Chiswick Book Festival, said: “We started the Festival with William Hogarth, Sir John Soane and A Rake’s Progress and we ended with Neil Young, the Beatles and Bananarama – via cricket, gardens, food, politics and history. All human life is here! We’ve had a wonderful range of speakers and subjects – and the lockdown has forced us to be creative in the way we have used technology.”

Thirty of the sessions can be found on YouTube, as well as eight podcasts, via the Festival Catch-up page.

Those who wish to make donations can do so via DonorBox.

Loyd Grossman, whose new book is ‘An Elephant in Rome’, told Robert Elms on BBC London: “The Chiswick Book Festival is a fantastic thing that features both local and citywide and nationally celebrated authors. I filmed a wonderful interview with Fr Kevin Morris in St Michael & Angels, an Arts & Crafts church designed by Norman Shaw. It’s all online this year and it’s beautifully run.”

Ariana Neumann, who spoke about her memoir of her father, ‘When Time Stopped’, said on Twitter: “The marvellous @W4BookFest is all online this year. It was an honour to take part and chat with the brilliant @annesebba”. And Rosamund Lupton, whose new book ‘Three Hours’ is a Sunday Times bestseller, tweeted: “Loved being part of the Chiswick Book Festival”.

Montage of the events in the festival
Montage of the events in the festival

One reader who emailed the organisers wrote: “Congratulations to you all on a superb event. The opportunity to ‘catch up’ on talks has been much appreciated, and I look forward to hearing more in the coming days.”

Another wrote, “Great programme, really well executed – thank you for this welcome cultural diversion”. Others said “Thank you so much for some excellent talks”; “an amazing line-up of authors”; and “the filming allows close ups of the authors which you couldn't get sitting in the back row of the pews!”

Rosamund Lupton (left, with Rachel Schofield and Diane Chandler)Rosamund Lupton (left, with Rachel Schofield and Diane Chandler)

Several sessions were filmed by Chiswickbuzz in St Michael & All Angels Church, Chiswick House, Chiswick Playhouse and Gunnersbury Park & Museum, while others took place on Zoom. All were streamed over the Festival weekend on a specially designed Festival page on the Chiswickbuzz Live website. Podcasts were commissioned and streamed by The Chiswick Calendar and Belle Media

Torin Douglas said: “We’re particularly grateful to Chiswickbuzz and to The Chiswick Calendar, without whom we simply couldn’t have run the Festival in this way. Thanks too to our wonderful authors, who have given us some amazing talks, and also to our loyal sponsors for giving us the security to go ahead without any income from ticket sales.

“Thanks finally to those who have made donations – some extremely generous – to cover our costs and, if we make a surplus, to help our charities. We look forward to more donations as people catch up with more Festival sessions in days to come – and we hope we can all be back together next year.”

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September 20, 2020

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