Robertsbridge Literary Festival

Robertsbridge Literary Festival

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For the first time since 2019 we are delighted to bring back the ROBERTSBRIDGE LITERARY FESTIVAL

Friday 21st, Saturday 22nd and Sunday 23rd April

Amongst many events for all ages, there will be story telling for children, and the return of the ever-popular Pile By My Bed.   Other highlights to include competitions, window displays, and an Open Mic session.

The Festival begins in The Club at 8pm on Friday 21st April with the inimitable Madame Galina in My Tutu Went AWOL!

A rare and perfect synthesis of art and larkiness.’  The Times    (Photo credit: Luke Casey-Brown)

When Olivier-Award-winning Iestyn Edwards took Russian ballerina, Madame Galina, to entertain the troops, he didn’t quite realise what he was letting himself in for.   In My Tutu Went AWOL he recalls how Galina danced Sugarplum on a misguided tour of Afghanistan and Iraq.

‘Only the divinely unique Iestyn Edwards could be in a tutu in war-zones and talk about it so perfectly.  Fascinating, moving and completely hilarious.’  Miranda Hart 

‘Achingly funny.’  Daily Mail

A revue with song and dance for ADULTS only. 

TICKETS:  £10, RAP members £8 – available on TICKETS page at and at Judges. 

AUTHORS’ TALKS – Upstairs at The Ostrich

Charlotte Moore – an interactive workshop on ‘getting’ poetry!

Saturday 22nd April 11am – 12.30 at The Ostrich, upstairs   

What makes a poem work?  Poetry, said A E Housman, is “not the thing said but the way of saying it”; how do poets get their words to fall into place so that they delight us, refresh us, amuse us, console us, move us?    Charlotte Moore has lived in close companionship with poetry all her life, as a reader, a teacher, a lecturer and an editor. She holds a weekly poetry reading group at her home in Whatlington; from this arose her anthology The Magic Hour, a selection of favourites chosen by herself and by members of the group.   In this workshop she will present several poems, some well-known, others fresh discoveries, and will discuss the variety of ways in which they take on aspects of the world and transform them for us.
Whether you’re a habitual poetry reader or a complete novice, you’re welcome to attend; the only thing you need to bring with you is an open mind. 
Charlotte is an author, journalist and public speaker. She has published four novels, four historical books for children, George and Sam – a memoir of life with her autistic sons, and Hancox – a family history. 

Annette Lloyd Thomas – Mad Jack: The many lives of John Fuller squire of Brightling.

Saturday 22nd April 1pm – 2pm at The Ostrich, upstairs

Local legend has it that John ‘Mad Jack’ Fuller sits inside his mysterious pyramid tomb at a table set with a roast chicken and bottle of port. Curious stories such as this overshadow Fuller’s true philanthropy and patronage of the arts and sciences, while his arrest in the House of Commons is now better known than the details of his long political career.  Nearly 200 years after his death, Fuller is chiefly remembered as a typical English eccentric: a wealthy eighteenth century squire who built whimsical follies around his Brightling estate in Sussex.  This is, however, a narrow view of a man who took on many roles in his lifetime.

In her biography, Annette Lloyd Thomas delves beneath the myths and tall tales to examine more closely the life of a colourful, charismatic and often contradictory character who is as controversial today as he was in his own time.  Annette believes everyone has a story worth telling and is particularly drawn to people deemed ‘eccentric’ by society.  She has an obsession with Georgian Britain where eccentrics abound.  An unashamed bibliophile, she enjoys debunking historical myths and challenging popular misconceptions.  After exhaustive research, her first book – “Mad Jack: The Many Lives of John Fuller, Squire of Brightling”, was published in 2020. 

While graduating in Geography, History and Education from York University, Toronto Annette learned the value of unearthing primary documents and original sources. In her long career as a teacher, she encouraged critical thinking and debating skills in her students. She believes it is better to find the truth than to be right. 

Born in Sussex, Annette moved to Canada with her family as a child. Now retired, she has returned to her roots and currently lives in Chichester.


Tim Devlin – Cracking Humpty Dumpty: Famous Nursery Rhymes – What they really mean.

Saturday 22nd April 3pm-4pm at The Ostrich, upstairs

Almost everyone in the English speaking world knows a nursery rhyme. They help young children to speak and read, and have become part of the fabric of life and our social history. Some are nonsense, some are scurrilous and some are dark, but what do they mean? In Cracking Humpty Dumpty, Hastings author, Tim Devlin, follows an investigative trail of discovery, debunking myths surrounding these comforting rhymes and revealing the stories behind them.

Tim Devlin, former journalist and education correspondent of The Times, is co-author of books on what we should teach in schools, famous people and where they went to school, and a real murder mystery in his home county of Sussex. He lives in Hastings Old Town, and spends some of his time crocheting presents for friends and family and hat bases for the long-running musical The Lion King.


Paul Dawson – The Book Beautiful: John Ruskin, William Morris, George Allen and The Private Press Movement  

Saturday 22nd April 5pm-6pm at The Ostrich, upstairs



G.D. Harper – The Maids of Biddenden  

Saturday 22nd April 7.30pm at The Ostrich, upstairs

The Maids of Biddenden is inspired by the real-life story of conjoined twins Mary and Eliza Chulkhurst, born in 1100 into a wealthy family from a small Kent village.  The two women lived to be 34 and left their land to charity when they died. An annual dole from the proceeds of their estate is still paid out to the poor and elderly every Easter, and they are commemorated on the sign seen when entering the village.

Little is known about Eliza and Mary Chulkhurst, so GD Harper (Glyn) has taken the real-life historical events and characters of the time and used them to create an entertaining and inspirational story about their life.

In an interview with fellow-novelist, Elena Kravchenko, Glyn will talk about the history of the maids and tell us a little about his book.

Despite his Scottish accent, Glyn was born in Kent and has lived in Sussex for the last 30 years He currently resides in Punnetts Town, near Heathfield, and has published four novels. 

The Maids of Biddenden is currently shortlisted for this year’s London Book Fair independent publisher award, was shortlisted for the 2021 Impress Prize, longlisted for the 2021 Exeter Novel Prize, the 2021 Cheshire Novel Prize and the 2021 Flash 500 Novel Award, and was a 2021 Page Turner Writer Award finalist.

Elena Kravchenko was a top international cat-walk model based in Paris at the beginning of millennium, working with the Valentino, Dior and Giorgio Armani fashion houses and photographed by the likes of Helmut Newton.  Her debut novel, Breathe, about the Boxing Day tsunami in Thailand, was the runner-up at last year’s London Book Fair for the best independently published novel.


Paul Roberts – Lord Byron and Franz Liszt: the ultimate Romantic hero worship

Sunday 23rd April  11am – 12 midday at The Ostrich, upstairs

Byron – the idolised virtuoso poet, and Franz Liszt – the irresistible virtuoso of the piano, were dominating figures of the post-Napoleonic age. Liszt was 13 when Byron died, but just over 10 years later he followed his hero’s path to the Swiss Alps where the poet had once taken refuge from a scandalised British public. Liszt was similarly escaping…The fruit of this journey was one of his greatest piano works, replete with extended quotations from Byron.

Paul Roberts, pianist, writer, lecturer, has just published his fourth book, Reading Franz Liszt: Revealing the Poetry behind the Piano Music. ‘Dazzling and richly informed’ – International Piano Magazine

Details of other events and activities during the Festival on the Robertsbridge Arts Partnership website.

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