This was our third year as bookseller for the small but perfectly formed Kennington Literary Festival, a fantastic little festival which springs out of the passionate and thriving community surrounding Kennington Library - given added poignancy this year by the threats to the library's existence.
This year the festival welcomed the widest possible range of authors, from first time novelists to literary legends, poets, illustrators and local celebrities.
Newly-installed Oxford City Poet Kate Clanchy read poems, and extracts from her memoir Antigona and Me, in which Kate writes about the deepening friendship between her and a Kosovan immigrant whom she employed as a cleaner, and who becomes her friend. Kate uses her own story to explore many aspects of immigration, heimat and our treatment of immigrants in this country. We were also very pleased to have copies of the superb collection of science-inspired short stories she edited: Litmus (we have both books in the shop, and can really recommend them both).Korky Paul sketched dinosaur portraits and read from the original Winnie book (25 years old next year). Korky also announced and presented prizes to a story and illustration competition held in the run-up to the Festival.
Science Fiction legend Brian Aldiss talked about his life in writing, and also discussed Oxford as a centre for fantasy fiction, in conversation with fantasy author Juliet McKenna.
and definitely the grandmaster described on his website. He is also an accomplished poet and (exhibited) artist.
He and Juliet were heading off to the Cheltenham Festival that afternoon, and had other events lined up the following day. Truly inspiring.
Margaret Pelling and Frank Egerton spoke about their novels Diamond in the Sky and Invisible respectively. MG Harris talked about her bestselling books for confident readers The Joshua Files (and gave news of next year's final installment, with its sexy black cover).
Bill Heine was utterly compelling in talking about 25 years of the Headington Shark. Never heard of the Headington Shark? I'll bet this looks familiar:
It is frankly an incredible story, particularly concerning the court battles that Bill lost time and again (comprehensively, expensively) and yet the shark survived. Bill is a master storyteller, holding his audience rapt (albeit running out of time). The book has been beautifully produced by OxfordFolio and is a work of art itself, and of course we have signed copies in the shop...
After the authors had signed books and met fans, the local author and journalist Helen Peacocke led a local walk to tie in with her latest dog-friendly walking guide "Paws Along The Way".
Kennington has a very family-friendly reputation. The Friends of Kennington Library laid on tea, coffee and cake (amongst other refreshments) and lots of volunteers gave up a very sunny October Saturday to ensure the event was a big success. Thanks to them, to the authors - and thanks for inviting us to take part too.