The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop

Tetbury Book Festival

15th – 17th September 2023

Ed Gillett – Party Lines: Dance Music and the Making of Modern Britain

Date: 15th September
Time: 6:00pm
Location: Tetbury Goods Shed Arts Centre

Why are the authorities so keen to stop the young having fun? Party Lines helps answer that question. It is a buzzing, restless, bolshy, passionate book about the politics and history of dancing. It looks at the history of dance music in the UK since the 1980s, and explores its role in the social, political and economic shifts over that time. Brought to life with stunning clarity and depth, this is social and cultural history at its most immersive and vital.

From the illicit reggae blues dances and acid-rock dance music festivals of the 1970s to the ecstasy-fuelled Second Summer of Love in 1988, how have we arrived at the increasingly corporate music culture of the post-Covid era?

Author Ed Gillett is a writer and film-maker whose highly-acclaimed documentary work and writing have appeared on the BBC, Channel 4, The Guardian, Frieze, DJ Mag and many others. He will be in conversation with Matt Thorne, a novelist, lecturer and author of the definitive biography of Prince.

Vermeer: The Greatest Exhibition

Date: 15th September
Time: 8:00pm
Location: Tetbury Goods Shed Arts Centre

In the spring of 2023, the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam opened its doors to the largest Vermeer exhibition in history. The show sold out within days of going on sale. The catalogue became a bestseller and had to be reprinted. Our first festival event this year is a screening of the acclaimed film of the exhibition, a privileged view, accompanied by the director of the Rijksmuseum and the curators of the show: ‘an improvement on the in-person experience: no fighting through crowds, or craning to see over a coach-party’s heads’.

With loans from across the world, this major retrospective brought together Vermeer’s most famous masterpieces including Girl with a Pearl Earring, The Geographer, The Milkmaid, The Little Street, Lady Writing a Letter with her Maid, and Woman Holding a Balance. In all, 28 of his surviving 35 works. A truly once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to discover the genius of Vermeer and his fascinating and mysterious life.

The catalogue will be available for sale on the evening with 20% (£10) off the retail price.

Coffee, Cake and Persephone Books

Date: 16th September
Time: 11:00am
Location: Tetbury Goods Shed Arts Centre

‘The nearest thing British publishing has to a cult’ - The Observer

A chance to have a chat with Persephone Books’ Francesca Beauman. Persephone Books has been reprinting neglected fiction and non-fiction, mostly by women writers and mostly mid-twentieth century, since 1998. The original concept was to publish a handful of ‘lost’ or out-of-print books every year, most of them inter-war novels by women. The name Persephone was chosen as a symbol of female creativity, as well as of new beginnings (the daughter of Zeus is associated with spring).

All 147 of their books are intelligent, thought-provoking and beautifully written, chosen to appeal to busy people wanting titles that are neither too literary nor too commercial.

And we’ll provide the coffee and the cake.

Sally Bayley: The Green Lady

Date: 16th September
Time: 1:00pm
Location: Tetbury Goods Shed Arts Centre

“We eat stories as cows eat fodder.”

Sally Bayley’s 'The Green Lady' is a masterpiece of creative writing. Blending fiction, history, and biography, she brilliantly explores the relationships between children and their teachers.

While the book's starting point is the inspiration of her female teachers, Bayley's story is framed both by her maternal ancestors, and other independent women (including educational suffragist Mary Neal, actress Margaret Rutherford, and poet Stevie Smith) - a common thread being how social convention and a lack of space (the 'room of one’s own’), combine to inhibit creativity,

Sally is a Lecturer in English at Hertford College, Oxford, and will be in conversation with novelist and critic Alice Jolly. The Green Lady is a stand alone novel, but can also be seen as the third in a biographical series.

Barbara Burman: The Point of the Needle – Why Sewing Matters

Date: 16th September
Time: 3:00pm
Location: Tetbury Goods Shed Arts Centre

Tens of millions of people sew for necessity or pleasure every day, yet the craft is surprisingly under-appreciated. This book argues for sewing’s place in our lives, celebrating not only sewing’s recent resurgence but sewists’ creativity, well-being, and community. Barbara Burman chronicles the voices of people who sew today, by hand or machine, to explore what they sew, what motivates them, what they value, and why they mend. Inevitably, this leads to revealing insights into sewing’s more intimate stories.

In our age of superfast fashion with its environmental and social injustices, this eloquent book makes a passionate case for identity, diversity, resilience, and memory—what people create for themselves as they stitch and make.

Barbara is a writer and former academic at both the University of Southampton and the University of the Arts, London. She has written extensively about women, dressmaking, sewing and the cultures of consumption. Barbara will be in conversation with novelist and seamstress Sarah Steele.

Tom Parfitt and Rebecca Lowe: Modern Odysseys – From the Caucasus to Tehran

Date: 16th September
Time: 5:00pm
Location: Tetbury Goods Shed Arts Centre

Tom and Rebecca are writers who both made extraordinary and dangerous journeys. Scarred by his experiences as a journalist, especially the Beslan school siege, Tom undertook a thousand-mile walk in search of personal peace across Georgia, Chechnya and Dagestan, from the Black to the Caspian Seas.

Rebecca cycled some 7000 miles across Europe and the Middle East to Tehran. Hers was an odyssey through landscapes and history that captured her heart, as well as a deeply challenging cycle across mountains, deserts and repressive police states. Plagued by punctures and battling temperatures ranging from -6 to 48C, she was rescued frequently by farmers and refugees, villagers and urbanites alike, and relied almost entirely on the kindness and hospitality of locals.

Tom and Rebecca reflect on the wisdom of their journeys, and what they learned.

Simon McBurney: Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead

Date: 16th September
Time: 7:00pm
Location: Tetbury Goods Shed Arts Centre

Simon is an actor, writer, director and co-founder of Complicité, one of the most original and inventive theatre companies in the world. Their acclaimed production of Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead, taken from the novel by Nobel winning Polish writer Olga Tokarczuk, is currently touring Europe.

This is a rare chance to hear Simon talking about his work – his deeply researched and highly collaborative approach brings books to life, giving their words extra nuance, life and meaning.

Ticket holders will be able to buy a copy of Drive Your Plow for a one off price of £6 in advance of the Festival (in our shops or online using the discount code MCBURNEY).

Coffee, Cake and Nature’s Calendar – with Rowan Jaines and Lulah Ellender

Date: 17th September
Time: 11:00am
Location: Tetbury Goods Shed Arts Centre

How does our understanding of the seasons affect how we view nature and the environment? Nature’s Calendar is a book that celebrates each small turn of the year by focusing on 72 five-day segments (an idea based on a Japanese ancient lunar calendar). Rowan and Lulah are part of the 4-woman team who began the Noticing Nature project online in 2021.

Nature’s Calendar opens our eyes to the sheer abundance and vitality of the natural world. It is an irrepressible and joyous celebration of the small and the local, and a genuine contribution to the question of how to preserve and protect these natural riches. As such, it is also a positive and enabling environmental call to arms.

We’ll provide the coffee and the cake.

Rowan Jaines lectures in Human Environmental Geography at Sheffield University, and Lulah Ellender is an writer and gardener, whose latest book is Grounding: Finding Home in a Garden. They will be in conversation with Bristol University’s Ralph Pite, a Professor of English with a special interest in writing and the environment.

Claire Ratinon: Unearthed – on race and roots, and how the soil taught me I belong

Date: 17th September
Time: 1:00pm
Location: Tetbury Goods Shed Arts Centre

Unearthed was one of Gardens Illustrated's books of the year when it came out in hardback last year. Now in paperback, we welcome Claire to Tetbury to talk about her 'outstanding work of storytelling and nature writing'.

Her writing has a wonderful empathy with the British countryside, which she describes beautifully. It is a privilege to share her pleasure in growing vegetables, but she also talks about how her own journey into growing food and gardening made her reflect on her identity. How did the colonial history of her homeland, Mauritius (where soil is more associated with colonialism and slavery), lead to her love of - and belonging to - her organic garden in East Sussex?

Claire has gardened in New York, London and points in between. She has supplied vegetables to restaurants such as Ottolenghi's Rovi, runs practical workshops, has spoken widely (from Tate Liverpool and Charleston to urban primary schools and community centres), and writes for a variety of magazines and newspapers. She will be in conversation with Michael Malay, who lectures at Bristol University on poetry and environmental literature. His book 'Late Light' explores the migration of often ignored or uncared for species, and his own life as an Indonesian Australian making a home in England.

We’ve got poets! Martha Sprackland, Joey Connolly, Susannah Dickey and Kandace Siobhan Walker

Date: 17th September
Time: 3:00pm
Location: Tetbury Goods Shed Arts Centre

Join poet and editor Martha Sprackland in hosting three of the UK's finest young poets. Joey Connolly, Susannah Dickey and Kandace Siobhan Walker will read from their brilliant, wide-ranging new books – out this year from Carcanet, Picador and CHEERIO Publishing – followed by a lively Q&A on poetry and creative writing.

Joey Connolly is the Director of the Faber Academy (the publisher's own creative writing school). In addition, he’s been a student and a teacher of creative writing, as well as a critic and a prize-winning author of three books.

Susannah Dickey is a poet and novelist from Derry. She is the author of two accalimed novels: 'Tennis Lessons' and 'Common Decency', and her debut poetry collection, ISDAL, is published in September by Picador. It has already been shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best First Collection.

Kandace Siobhan Walker is both a writer and artist. She was awarded an Eric Gregory Award in 2021, and won the White Review Poet’s Prize. Her pamphlet, Kaleido, was published by Bad Betty Press in 2022, and her first book, Cowboy, is published by CHEERIO in September 2023. It has also been shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best First Collection.

Joanna Quinn – The Whalebone Theatre

Date: 17th September
Time: 5:00pm
Location: Tetbury Goods Shed Arts Centre

Critics have lavished praise on Dorset author Joanna Quinn's debut novel, one of this summer's must reads. Her work is compared to Elizabeth Jane Howard’s Cazalet Chronicles and Mary Wesley's Camomile Lawn. 'The Whalebone Theatre' has been described as “an utterly captivating epic with characters you cannot help but fall in love with,” and a “sheer, undiluted delight from start to finish.”

Set in a big house on the Dorset coast and spanning the decades between the end of World War I and the aftermath of World War II, this multi-generational saga is by turns hilarious and heart-breaking. At its heart is the coming-of-age story of Cristabel Seagrave, a bookish 12-year-old orphan, who creates a theatre from the ribs of a dead whale washed up on the coast, in which she acts out the plays she finds in her dead father’s study. As she forges her own unconventional story she grows into an “unmarriageable” young woman working behind enemy lines in occupied France…

Joanna will be in conversation with Gail Marshall, Head of the School of Languages and Literature at Reading University, who has a special interest in women’s writing and history.

The Big Book Quiz

Date: 17th September
Time: 7:00pm
Location: Tetbury Goods Shed Arts Centre

With prizes galore, we’re celebrating books and reading with a fiendish quiz for the whole family. With teams of four (you can enter as a team or we’ll put people together on the night), we’re laying down the literary gauntlet to raise money for charity. A sort of cross between University Challenge and a pub quiz, all the questions will be about books and book people. With rounds covering topics from children's picture books to Persephone heroines, and this year's bestsellers to cookbook classics, no genre will go untouched.

Everyone will have a chance to shine, and everyone will be a winner, with bookish treats for everyone who comes along.

Your starter for ten? Name ten authors with Tetbury connections...

Helen Rebanks – The Farmer’s Wife

Date: 24th September
Time: 4:30pm
Location: Tetbury Goods Shed Arts Centre

The Farmer’s Wife: My Life in Days is a beautifully illustrated, honest and intimate meditation on the power of domestic life. Helen is many things as well as a wife: businesswoman, teacher, conservationist, working mother and cook. She lives with her husband James and four children in the Lake District and has been cooking and baking for more than 30 years, both professionally and in farmhouse kitchens. Her love and enthusiasm for food and farming is completely infectious, and her recipes are delicious.

Helen will be discussing her engrossing and tenacious account both of the running a home, and of the tightly knit family team which has made their farm globally important with its innovations and drive towards sustainability. With Anna Herbert.

Joff Winterhart: Drawing Your Story – A Workshop

Date: 17th September
Time: 2:00pm
Location: The Market House, Tetbury

This is a perfect creative activity for a Sunday afternoon. Joff is an illustrator, film-maker, drummer, as well as the Costa Award shortlisted author of Days of the Bagnold Summer (a graphic novel about a mother and her heavy-metal loving son). Our workshop is for people who are interested in telling their own story, through words, pictures or images, but who don’t really know where to start. Bring along a favourite memory – a photo, picture, letter or memento, and develop your ideas.

You could end up with a drawing, a comic strip, an illustrated poem or simply some doodles on a page, but you will have had a great couple of hours, and, hopefully, be a little bit more confident about putting pencil to paper to express yourself.

Tetbury Book Festival

Start date: 13th September
End date: 15th September
All-day event
Location: Tetbury Goods Shed

Details to be announced, but keep the weekend of 13th - 15th September clear!