Find reviews of events so far on the Festival Blog


Around 250 people attended the United Reformed Church service on Sunday 27th September to hear Rev. Robin Hine conduct the official festival service. 

Read Robin’s thoughtful and literary sermon here

Festival Bistro

The Festival Bistro menu is now available for review and download here. You are strongly advised to book tables ahead, especially if you are fitting in a meal between events.

The festival Bistro operates from the URC Meeting Place on both Saturdays of the festival, starting at 9am on the first day and 11am on the second Saturday.

The Bistro will be open until 8pm, but last orders are at 7pm.

You may bring bottles of wine or beer with you. There is a £1 corkage charge.

The Angelic Hound?

The Festival Society chair, David Penrose, will be reading Arthur Conan Doyle’s “The Hound of the Baskervilles” on Angel Radio in eight instalments broadcast daily at 7.45am and 11.30pm starting on 25th September.

You can find Angel locally to Havant on 101.1 FM or wherever you are via the Internet at . There is even a listen again feature – choose “second chance” on the Angel home page. Angel Radio are valued supporters and partners of the Festival and are sponsoring the Ghost Walk this year.

Writing on the Wall

The Romans did it.  Vikings did it in ancient tombs in Orkney.  Kilroy did it, and generally claims to be first.  In Bristol Banksy does it. Now graffiti is back where it belongs – in the smallest room.  The walls of the facilities in Havant’s own independent bookshop and gallery, Nineveh in the Pallant, have been specially cleared for the festival to allow festival goers to participate in a very traditional way.  Be it a pithy aphorism, a short poem or just a cry for help, Nineveh is encouraging you to write on the wall.  Pens provided

Guerilla Poets

Watch out for Guerilla poetic action on Saturday 26th as the second day of the Festival is enlivened by a bunch of guerilla-trained poets who will hit the most unlikely of targets.   There is no hiding from this lot.  You never know when they may strike.  You could be sipping a pint or doing your laundry, having your hair cut or just out shopping.  But don’t worry, just remember “it could be verse”.

Short Story competition winner and runner up announced.

This year’s Short Story Competition, organised in association with the Havant Writers’ Circle has been won by Don Nixon with Night Crossing.  Ann Jolly was runner up.

For full details see

HLF Poetry Competition

This year’s poetry competition, on the theme of Water, has been a great success with more than double the number of entries from last year.

Many thanks to our hard working judge, Anne Stewart, who read all of the entries personally.  And the winner is… Gill McEvoy with a poem entitled Football, Kuala Lumpur. 

Gill will be presented with her prize at the Festival opening ceremony on Friday 25th of September.

Further details of the prize winners and commended entrants can be found at

New Literary Festival

We are pleased to note that the first Stoke Charity literary festival (near Stockbridge) runs from 17th to 20th September.  Details on their web site at  

It is good to see literary festivals bursting out all over Hampshire!   We wish this exciting new
venture well.

Change of Venue – Poetry and Pints – Thursday 1st October

This event will now take place at  The Robin Hood and will be free of charge

IMG_0010 crp1 190 flipCarol Ann Duffy’s First Poem as Laureate

For her first official offering, the new poet laureate has penned a searing attack on politicians’ expenses. 

Read it here

Debate: Is the Book Dead?

The Mayor of Havant will introduce a debate: ‘This House believes the Book is Dead’ on Wednesday, 30 September at 2.30pm in the Council Chamber. More details will follow.  For regular Festival news and updates, join the mailing list. Just send an e mail with ‘Subscribe’ in the subject heading to

Children’s Laureate
The new Children’s Laureate 2009 – 2011 is author and illustrator, Anthony Browne. He hopes to encourage multi-age use of reading books: ‘picture books are perfect for sharing, and not just with the youngest children. We have in Britain some of the best picture book makers in the world, and I want to see their books appreciated for what they are – works of art.’

Bench Theatre Prize Winner
Congratulations to Angela Pressland, whose prize-winning play A Higher Education will premiere on 22 September 2009 at Havant Arts Centre. Two performances will form part of Havant Literary Festival.

Jonathan Ross has launched a new book club on Twitter – and could take over from ‘Richard & Judy’.

Intriguing article here:

Short Story Competition
The HLF 2009 short story competition has now launched. The theme is A Journey and the closing date for applications is 31 July.

For full details, visit the Havant and District Writers’ Circle website here:

Maggie Gee
The Booker nominated author of My Cleaner, My Driver, The White Family, The Flood and many others will appear at HLF on Saturday, 26 September. Maggie will talk about creating memorable characters, read from her work and take questions from the audience. More details will follow.

For regular Festival news and updates, join the mailing list.  Just send an e mail with ‘Subscribe’ in the subject heading to

Booker Prize
Congratulations to Canadian short story writer Alice Munro, winner of the Man Booker Prize 2009. The distinguished international short list included V S Naipaul and Mario Vargas Llosa.

Hayling Island Bookshop
And congratulations too, to Hayling Island Bookshop, now officially the best independent bookshop in the South of England! For full details,  see the Festival Blog page.

Happy Birthday Truman
As part of the Festival Crime strand, the film Capote, starring Philip Seymour Hoffman, will be screened at Havant Arts Centre on Wednesday, 30 September – which would have been Truman Capote’s 85th birthday!

William Cobbett
The hugely influential writer and political reformer William Cobbett was also a Hampshire farmer, and he particularly admired the agricultural land in this area. His life and work is celebrated in a talk by WEA tutor Christine Houseley during the Festival week and by a walk and readings at Old Bedhampton on Sunday, 4 October – tea included. More details will follow.

E Readers
Promoters of electronic reading devices, like the Sony Reader and the Amazon Kindle, predict a time when 50% of all reading will be done through this kind of gadget. Teenage readers from Penguin Spinebreakers however voiced their preference at the London Book Fair for the look, the feel and even the smell of a real book. There is one area where the e reader wins hands down though – it’s a lot easier to read a newspaper onscreen in a crowded train carriage than it is to grapple with a broadsheet!

Arthur Conan Doyle
Popular local historian Madeleine Selby will give a talk Conan Doyle in Portsmouth on Wednesday, 30 September, in Emsworth. She recounts the story of how he came to the city, established himself as a doctor in Southsea – and had an idea for a short story about a gentleman detective and his doctor sidekick . . .

Book Crossing
Book Crossing is the act of leaving a book in a public place for someone else to find and enjoy, as defined by the Oxford English Dictionary. Look out for details of a great Book Crossing event at the Festival, linked with the three sub themes of Crime, Water and Journeying.
In the meantime, visit the Book Crossing shelf at Havant Arts Centre or the international site at:

Literary Quiz
Are you a quiz fiend? The Festival newsletter which is sent out monthly by e mail always contains a short quiz often on a linked theme. To join the mailing list and receive regular news and updates, send an e mail with ‘Subscribe’ in the subject heading to:

West End Transfer
Congratulations to Festival patron Ronald Harwood, whose plays Taking Sides and Collaboration open at the Duchess Theatre, Covent Garden on 20 May, after two outstandingly successful seasons at Chichester Festival Theatre.brick slant 2

Book Fair
HLF’s Book Fair will take place on Saturday 3rd October, at St Faith’s Church Hall, East Pallant, Havant and will offer a range of quality books. For further details and booking arrangements contact: Nancy Hamilton at

Synechdoche – Say What?
Charlie Kaufman’s new film, Synechdoche, New York is proving a headache in the pronunciation department. ‘Synechdoche’ is of course a figure of speech where the part stands in for the whole (and vice versa). But how do you say it? For an entertaining short article follow this link:

New Mayor, New Patron
Congratulations to the new Mayor of Havant appointed on 7 May, Councillor Jackie Branson. Jackie is not only a patron of HLF, but also serves on the Executive Committee and helped out with stewarding last year. In her inaugural speech she congratulated HLF on the first, outstandingly successful Festival last year and said she could personally recommend the Ghost Walk!

Return of the Shed!
Another roaring success from 2008 returns to the Borough in 2009 – look out for details of a new location – and a new shed – for Shedman! For regular Festival news and updates, join the mailing list at: Just send an e mail with ‘Subscribe’ in the subject heading.

The Suspicions of Mr Whicher
Great to see Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction winner, The Suspicions of Mr Whicher still riding high in the best seller charts. Author Kate Summerscale was of course one of the highlights of the 2008 Festival.

Poet Laureate
Congratulations to Carol Ann Duffy, confirmed in her new post on 1st May 2009.