Launch of 2021 Swindon Festival of Literature programme

By Barrie Hudson - 8 April 2021

Arts and CultureAttractionsCommunity

This year's Swindon Festival of Literature programme has been launched.

  • Festival director Matt Holland speaking at the launch ceremony

    Festival director Matt Holland speaking at the launch ceremony

Those set to take part include poet Blake Morrison,  journalist and broadcaster Miranda Sawyer and author Jasper Fforde, whose novels set in an alternate Swindon are bestsellers.

The festival will run from May 3 to 9 and more than 40 events are scheduled.

Festival director Matt Holland said: "Here we are again, one year on from our last enforced online lockdown launch. . . but also one year more grateful for human ingenuity, cutting edge science, and digital technology that made it possible not only to find ways of keeping a virus at bay but also, to make it possible for this show to go on, or at least, to go on online.

"And the adverse effects of the virus and the challenge of having to present authors and performers online have been a kind of strange ill wind that has blown the festival some good.

"Once upon a time, we were no more than a long-running well-supported town festival with a reputation for not having spelling mistakes, keeping to time, being serious without being solemn, knowing how to laugh, and providing something of interest for everyone. 

"Since covid-19 forced us to become an online festival, we have spread our wings, worldwide. Last year we had new festival followers emerging from the USA, Australia, Spain, Botswana, Paraguay, and many other far flung places. Overnight, we’d become an international festival! 

"The dream of ‘putting Swindon on the map’ was becoming a reality, on the world map!  

"And this year, we hope and expect to maintain that global momentum, which, let’s hope, is good for literature, good for humankind, and best of all, good for Swindon!"

Mr Holland, who has guided the festival throughout its history, added: "We certainly have a festival line-up that should have town-wide, all-age, and universal appeal. 

"It includes authors, speakers, performers, and workshop leaders who celebrate spring, nightingales, running, publishing, life, nature, stories, hugging, health, remarkable women, missing men, life, poems, writing, boxing, tribes, sympathy groups, music, games, acrobatics, life, mortality, radio, lifestyles, circus, science, life, rest, and the art of succeeding without trying too hard.

"Authors include Richard Thompson, Rowan Williams, Miranda Sawyer, Blake Morrison, Jasper Fforde, Ella Al-Shamahi, Natalie Haynes, Ollivier Pourriol, Sally Bayley, Richard Durrant, and Claudia Hammond.

"We hope that everyone will find plenty to enjoy in this year’s programme."

The festival is supported by Arts Council England, Swindon Borough Council and Lower Shaw Farm.

Details can be found at and hard copies can be obtained by calling 01793 771080 or emailing

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