While everyone has heard of Christopher Columbus, few know of his son Hernando. Dr Edward Wilson Lee intends to change that, and his new book The Catalogue of Shipwrecked Books gives us insight to the incredible life and accomplishments of one of the most under-discussed historical figures to date. Born in 1509 in Spain as the bastard son of the coloniser Christopher Columbus, Hernando Colón was determined to surpass his father’s world-altering legacy, and he set about making a mark before he died at the age of just 49. In that short time, Hernando made possible the unbelievable.
Travelling all across Europe and buying every book he could get his hands on, Hernando put into motion his dream of creating one huge, universal library, in which all information would be available to everyone. Essentially, Hernando worked tirelessly to make what Edward Wilson Lee calls “the world’s first search engine”, and his collection reached 15,000 books which was completely unprecedented. As well as this, Hernando formed a dictionary and geographical encyclopaedia of Spain, and lent his skill to creating the first modern maps of the world, setting the basis for cartography today.
Edward’s talk will be a voyage of discovery into one of the most influential yet unspoken minds, and just how modern seemingly ancient ideas really are. Be sure to book tickets while you still can!
Friday 9th Nov / Event 29 11.30 AM £10 The Bull Hotel
100 years have passed since the birth of the RAF, and a mere 74 years have passed since the World War II Normandy Landings we have collectively come to know as D Day. In the run up to the largest seaborne invasion in history, however, was the largest battle by air that anyone had known. This was Operation Argument, and bestselling historian and broadcaster James Holland tells the story of the unbelievable events that took place in his new book, Big Week.
Explaining and detailing Operation Argument and the plan to force the German Luftwaffe to submit in one fell swoop, James delves into the complex history and the stunning reality of World War II, contextualising the crucial actions on the ground that lead to those in the sky. The story of Operation Argument and the Big Week that followed it is audacious, thrilling, and, at times startling – and all true. James will be delivering a fantastic illustrated talk at this year’s festival about his new book with pictures, mind blowing facts, and captivating insight to the strategies and strikes that were instrumental to victory, to which we owe the world as we know today.
Make sure to book tickets while they’re still available, it’s set to be an enthralling and illuminating talk about a topic so close to the heart of our history.
Sunday 4th Nov / Event 24 11 AM £10 The Electric Palace *Please note the new date, time, and venue*
Cooking queen, entertainer extraordinaire and all-round national treasure, Prue Leith’s is a household name. Known as a beloved TV personality following her appointment as a judge to The Great British Menu, and – one for the hall of fame – the nation’s favourite The Great British Bake-Off, Prue has a well earned reputation as an aficionado of cookery. In between campaigning for better food standards in schools and hospitals and being the founder of Leith’s School of Food and Wine, writing is one of Prue’s most admirable talents.
Not only has she penned cookbooks such as Leith’s Cookery Bible and her personal memoirs, Relish: My Life on a Plate, Prue has also made waves as a novelist with a wide range of fiction books, including The Prodigal Daughter and A Serving of Scandal. At this year’s BridLit festival, Prue will be making an appearance in conversation with Val Hudson, when she will be dishing up the stories and secrets; ranging from tales of The Great British Bake-Off and the Hollywood Handshake, to her methodology in fiction writing and how she realises her ideas for a novel, to her own anecdotes and culinary tips and tricks.
Be sure to book your tickets for this rare treat! See Prue live and take home a slice of her wisdom.
Saturday 10th Nov/ Event 35 2.30 PM £10 The Electric Palace
Penny Junor will be replacing Bryony Gordon in Event 34, as unfortunately Bryony has had to withdraw from this year’s lineup on the advice of her doctors.
Penny Junor has spent a lifetime with the Royal Family. Having attended school with Princess Anne and spent years at the side of the Windsors, she knows better than most of the truths, told and untold, of the British Royal Family. In her new biography, All The Queen’s Corgis, Penny reveals what the lives of Queen Elizabeth II’s most beloved creatures are really like, and how the humble Corgi found itself comfortably seated inside Buckingham Palace. This book is an affectionate, heartwarming, and deeply intimate account of one of the fondest quirks of Royal life, and Penny discusses much more than the origin of the Dorgi – the accidental Dachshund-Corgi cross!
As well as being a Royal insider, Penny is a writer and broadcaster, who has written many best-selling autobiographies on Prince Charles, Princess Diana, Duchess of Cornwall, Camilla, and two British Prime Ministers. A trusted and thorough voice to both the Royals and her readers, her biographical work illuminates the often-shrouded family at the heart of our United Kingdom.
Penny will be speaking at this year’s BridLit in conversation with Susannah Simons. Don’t miss your chance to book tickets to this fascinating talk!
Saturday 10th Nov/ Event 34 12.00 PM £10 The Electric Palace
Paul Henry and Brian Briggs are breathing life to an ancient tradition. Reinvigorating the oral storytelling of epic poems and blending with this the transporting magic of music and song, The Glass Aisle, the collaboration between poet Paul Henry and singer-songwriter Brian Briggs is a haunting and lyrical story. The tale takes place at a stretch of canal above Crickhowell, and we are introduced to the figure of a telephone engineer trying to reconnect a telegraph line back over the water to a block of homes converted from what once was an old union workhouse. Elegiac and masterfully told, the Henry-Briggs duo give a captivating performance.
Acclaimed poet Paul Henry has written 10 books of verse and is a Writing Fellow at the University of South Wales, who has presented for BBC Radio Wales, Radio 3 and Radio 4. He also has a background in songwriting, which is complemented by Brian Briggs’s musical skill – as the frontman of the band Stornoway – who has already been featured on BBC Radio 2 and at festivals across the country. The Glass Aisle has also been published as a book of poetry earlier this year, and it is a show that Carol Ann Duffy calls “virtuoso”, and Gillian Clarke praises as a musical collection that “leaves a reader’s mind full of phrases[…] that catch the heart and lodge in the memory”.
A chance to experience their unique blend of new storytelling with word and song, The Glass Aisle will be visiting Bridport for this year’s BridLit festival and is not to be missed.
Sunday 11th Nov/ Event 38 12.00 PM £10 or £35 with lunch Sladers Yard
If you haven’t yet met Beth and Ben of The Bookshop Band, this year’s BridLit festival relishes in presenting a rare treat for you! The pair take bookishness to a new realm – using music.
Capturing the essence of our beloved stories, The Bookshop Band pay tribute to the feeling, meaning, and most memorable moments of wondrous books ranging all the way from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland to Philip Pullman’s Book of Dust.
Composing each song shortly after finishing each book, their music is a unique celebration of literature and how it inspires our marvellous capacity for imagination. Visiting from Wigtown, renowned as Scotland’s Book Town, Beth and Ben will be taking to the stage in Sladers Yard for a beautiful, soulful, enchanting and funny live performance. They’ve been commissioned by The V&A Museum, Radio 3 and The National Portrait Gallery, so finding them in Bridport is a treat indeed!
Book tickets for this event to experience something magical. Don’t miss it, it’s a rare find and a special performance close to the heart of every bookworm!
Sunday 4th Nov/ Event 1 12.00 PM £15 or £35 with two-course lunch Sladers Yard
The year is 1939 and the world is, for the second time, at war. Oxford student Martin Preston is torn away from the love of his life, Nancy Whelan. In Simon Worrall’s debut novel that everyone’s talking about, The Very White of Love, love is both found and tested; told through the letters between Nancy and Martin. Far from life in Buckinghamshire, Martin is sent to fight in France, and a correspondence that transcends nations, situation, and confinements is born. When Nancy is left waiting in 1940 with no word from Martin for months, her own world threatens to crumble like the one outside her door – but she knows that he is alive, and what follows is a testament to the endurance of love.
A story told with such empathy and imbued with soul, this novel is based on incredible genuine letters that Simon found hidden in a chocolate box, written between his mother and her fiancé. Praised for its stunning detail and tangible storytelling, the book is a reminder that in the trenches of man’s most vicious hour, something innocent and pure may still flourish. Simon has visited over 70 different countries, speaks six languages, and has enjoyed countless adventures. His appetite for the vastness of the human experience can be felt in his book, and you can catch Simon in conversation with Sally Laverack this year at the BridLit festival, discussing The Very White of Love and the incredible true story that inspired Martin and Nancy’s narrative.
Book tickets while they are still available – the talk will be a stirring exploration of the human spirit and the nature of love.
Thursday 8th Nov/ Event 22 10.00 AM £10 The Bull Hotel Ballroom
Poet, author, social iconoclast and cultural icon, Oscar Wilde left his mark on the world with literary masterpieces such as The Ballad of Reading Gaol, The Importance of Being Earnest, and The Picture of Dorian Gray. Known for his hedonism and artistry, Wilde’s writing changed our 19th century culture and his ideas impacted countless creatives to come. Acclaimed biographer Matthew Sturgis brings Oscar Wilde’s own story to life in the first major biography written for thirty years, in Oscar Wilde: A Life.
A recent addition to the fantastic BridLit roster, Sturgis brings his research on Wilde to the table, as truth, in Wilde’s case, is as compelling as fiction. Sturgis will be giving a talk and presenting his biography this year, and he will be discussing Wilde’s life. As one of the first people to experience “celebrity culture”, one of the first men to break the 19th century taboo of homosexuality, and one of the most controversial figures of his day, Wilde’s history both reflects and generates much of our own culture today. The man who declared “I don’t regret for a single moment having lived for pleasure”, and ultimately died in a tragic way.
Chronicled with compassion and thorough attention, Matthew’s wealth of knowledge is eye-opening and reverential – do yourself a favour and don’t miss this event!
Thursday 8th Nov / Event 24a 2.30 PM £10 The Bull Hotel Ballroom
Owls have been mythic heralds, ancient hunters, and have struck a balance in the animal kingdom between a reputation of fable and fact. Miriam Darlington, bird-watching aficionado and expect owl finder, has made it her mission in her new book Owl Sense to capture the entwined truth and tale about these iconic birds. With one clawed foot in the barns and trees of the world we know, owls have always had the other talon upon the shoulder of ancient goddesses, carrying brooms to young wizards, or watching fairytales unfold from high boughs.
How did owls come to loom so large in our lives, and the ecosystems around them? Owl Sense is the book that asks and answers what sets them apart and what makes them special; from their prowess as birds of prey, to their legendary repute, to the magnificence of the creatures close up. At this year’s BridLit Miriam will be giving an illustrated talk, introduced by James Crowden, sharing her wisdom and passion for these brilliant birds in a celebration of the animal world and life on Earth. It will be enchanting and memorable, just like the birds.
Don’t miss your chance to secure tickets to this natural treat – book now!
Monday 5th Nov / Event 7 2.30 PM £10 The Bull Hotel Ballroom
Crime and Thriller are genres rarely shared with Comedy, and that is largely due to the fact that it takes a certain spin, a particular tone to marry the two. Multi award-winner Mick Herron strikes this balance with anti-protagonist Jackson Lamb, and a spy story suffuse with subterfuge, skulduggery, and side-splitting jokes.London Rules is the fifth explosive instalment of Mick Herron’s spy series, and it is a masterclass in simultaneously wielding comedy and tension. Set in our post-referendum world, MI5 agent Jackson Lamb brashly tackles terror and terrorism and the perils of our shifting society with pacing and wit that has us laughing and gasping in turns.
Applauded as “a very funny writer, but also a serious plotter” by The Guardian, Herron has a wealth of knowledge on what makes a spy story tick, which may be why he’s been drawing comparisons as the new generation’s answer to the legendary Le Carre! Ready to take to the BridLit stage soon, Mick will be discussing how he puts his imagination to task to create a crime story in conversation with fellow crime novelist Daphne Wright. This is a must for lovers of espionage – and those who enjoy belly laughter. With heart-racing plot twists and dark humour abundant, Mick’s event is set to be as fascinating as his novel.
Don’t miss this spectacular glimpse into the inner workings of a comic crime writer’s mind – book tickets while you still can!
Alongside London Rules, copies of another of Mick’s novels, The Drop, will be available for signing! The Drop is a tale of spooks, double agents and collateral damage –
“A drop, in spook parlance, is the passing on of secret information. It is also what happens just before you hit the ground.”
Friday 9th Nov/ Event 30 2.30 PM £10 Electric Palace