25th May 2023
This year’s Guernsey Literary Festival, which finished on Sunday, has been hailed as ‘another triumph’ by its honorary chairman Terry Waite CBE.
More than 65 events, most featuring writers and speakers from the UK, were organised over two weeks to celebrate the joy of books, writing and big ideas and, including the education, community and outreach programmes, more than 7,000 people attended.
‘It’s been an amazing two weeks,’ says Festival Director Claire Allen. ‘There’s been such a buzz this year. The Festival gives people in Guernsey the chance to listen to and meet their favourite writers – and maybe to be inspired by writers they’ve not known before.’
‘We’ve had many sell-out events, including David Dimbleby and Dan Walker at St James. In a recent edition of National Geographic Magazine, the Guernsey Literary Festival was listed in the top five spring book festivals in the UK, coming second just behind the Hay Festival, and comments from those who attended and the visiting writers have been brilliant.’
‘All this is good for Guernsey,’ says Claire Allen.
She paid tribute to the work of those involved in planning and organising the Festival, all volunteers, and all those who helped as stewards and drivers to get the writers and speakers to and from their events. She also paid tribute to the many sponsors and partners, without whom the Festival would not be able to exist.
The Guernsey Literary Festival also organised the Guernsey International Poetry Competition, which had 1600 entries from all over the world – the winner, from Chicago, flew in for the presentation during the Festival – and there was a record entry of more than 800 in the WriteStuff writing competition for Bailiwick pupils. All four of the UK judges came to the island to take part in the Festival and the WriteStuff presentation.
The Festival also organised 17 events in local schools with visiting authors, including the children’s laureate Joseph Coelho, as well as a community and outreach programme with events taking place in the prison, care homes and St Peter’s Church.
‘Now we take a short break to look at what worked well and what could be improved before we start planning next year,’ says Claire, ‘but we’re delighted by how this year’s Festival has gone.’
Quotes from visiting writers and speakers:
“I really enjoyed my visit to the Literary Festival. All the arrangements were impeccable and best of all the audience was lively and interesting – so much so that we overran our time and could have gone on for longer. Oh, and I signed more books here than at any of the other festivals I have been to, which can’t be bad.” David Dimbleby, journalist, and broadcaster.
“My mind was slightly blown last night when I came on stage and there were 400 people at the Guernsey Literary Festival event. Thanks for inviting me, thanks for coming (and hanging around afterwards) and thanks to Hannah MacInnes for hosting” Dan Walker, journalist, newsreader and television presenter.
‘Once again the Guernsey Literary Festival has attracted record audiences to its many events. Several authors have taken part in the educational programme in schools and the children’s writing competition attracted over 800 entries. It’s been another triumph for the Festival organisers.’ Terry Waite CBE, honorary chairman of the Festival.
‘Huge thanks to everyone who came to see me at the Guernsey Literary Festival. It was great to meet such enthused and engaged children, all of whom were talented artists! There must be something in the water! My only regret is that I couldn’t stay longer as there were so many author events I wanted to see! Next time…’ Rob Biddulph, children’s author, and illustrator.
‘One of the MANY things I loved so much was that all the outreach and education parts of the festival are fully integrated, it’s not a tokenistic add-on but absolutely a key part of what you do – and the fact that you proactively go out, not just into schools but into care homes and the prison, honestly, I can’t tell you how rare and special that is.’ Liz Hyder, novelist, and children’s author.
‘Wonderful books. Inspiring talks. And such warm audiences. Happy to play a small part in bringing writers and readers together.’ Huw Lewis-Jones, writer, explorer, and guest curator
‘Thank you to the Guernsey Literary Festival, the Guille-Alles Library and all the souls who came to listen to my event. A dream beyond a dream.’ Onjali Rauf, award-winning children’s writer.
‘Thank you to the amazing Guernsey Literary Festival. I had the best time. Gorgeous to meet readers in the sunshine and explore the beautiful island.’ Georgina Moore, writer of best-selling The Garnett Girls.
‘It’s been a wonderful festival. It was a real honour to read the wonderful WriteStuff stories by young environmentalists. Such talented young writers.’ Sita Brahmachari, Write Stuff judge and herself an award-winning children’s (YA) writer.
‘It was a genuine pleasure to speak at the Guernsey Literary Festival. The organisation was absolutely flawless from first to last and the audience incredibly warm and receptive. Guernsey can be very proud to host such an inspirational event.’ Phil McNulty, BBC chief football writer, who talked about the rivalry between Liverpool and Man Utd with fellow national football writer Jim White.
‘Thanks for having me and congratulations to all the chosen poets. Hope you enjoy seeing the poems “on the move” on the buses in Guernsey!’ Jackie Kay, award-winning poet, and judge of the Guernsey International Poetry Competition.
‘What a great festival!’ Manni Coe, writer of the powerful and emotional book brother.do.you.love.me.
‘It was such a pleasure to be part of the Guernsey Literary Festival this year. The island, although small, has an amazing literary heritage and you can see that still in a programme that succeeded in being high reaching and also community led. It was a huge privilege to meet writers living in Guernsey prison as part of a memoir writing workshop set up by the festival, and hear their rich and varied stories. This is the first time I’ve been able to go into a prison as part of a literary festival and really set the event apart.’ Mim Skinner, author of Living Together: Searching for Community in a Fractured World.
‘The book festival in Guernsey is an eye opener, brilliantly organised and fun to attend. The conversation about talks continues long after on twitter on the island too!’ Danny Dorling, author of Finntopia: What We Can Learn from the World’s Happiest Country.
‘Thank you so much to all the brilliant Guernsey Literary Festival team. What a great few days!’ Paul Sexton, music writer and biographer and Rolling Stones expert.
‘Thank you for organising such a brilliant festival. Hope to be back again one day!’ Memoir and travel writer Gail Simmons.
‘Many thanks to the Guernsey Literary Festival team, the Lieutenant-Governor, Lt Gen Richard Cripwell, Rob Shepherd and to a great audience. Handsome, historical town – with a new Victor Hugo exhibition and coronation bunting everywhere.’ Robert Hardman, royal biographer.
‘Huge thanks to the Guernsey Literary Festival for such a nourishing few days of poetry, political and social commentary, and debate. I’ve gathered new ideas and friends and some fab new books to read.’ Emily Kenway, writer, and activist-researcher.
‘It was wonderful to return to Guernsey as an author for the Literary Festival. I think sport is a powerful reminder that we should celebrate our bodies for what they can do, not just what they look like. With that in mind, I was really glad to include a visit to a local school as part of my involvement with the festival.’ Laura Kennington, writer and adventure athlete.
‘I just wanted to say a massive thank you to you all! The residents haven’t stopped talking about how interesting the talk by Terry Waite was.” Karyn Wherry, Guernsey Cheshire Home.
‘I am writing to express my heartfelt thanks to you and your organisations for your role in organising Education events at the Guernsey Literary Festival this year, and to Rothschild & Co for their sponsorship. Terry Waite’s inspirational talk was potentially life-changing for many of our older students and staff, while Rob Biddulph was hugely entertaining but also inspirational in a completely different way for our younger pupils. Thank you again for all you do to connect children with exceptional authors.’ Jenny Toerien, Blanchelande School
Next year’s Guernsey Literary Festival takes place from 1-5 May 2024. The Festival would like to thank the following festival sponsors for their support: Butterfield, BWCI Group, Carey Olsen, Dorey Financial Modelling, Guernsey Arts, Guernsey Post, Health Connections, Hiscox, Investec, The John Ramplin Charitable Trust, Julius Baer, Praxis, Rawlinson & Hunter, Rothschild & Co, Specsavers, Spring Insure Guernsey, St Pierre Park Hotel, Spa & Golf Resort, TPA, Vive La Vallette, Walkers and Walter Property.
For more information on the Guernsey Literary Festival visit: