Stratford-upon-Avon is an historically famous literary town. You tell anyone you’re from Stratford-upon-Avon – it doesn’t matter where you are in the world (the last time this happened, I was in America. Natch.) – and they’re instantly like, ‘That’s where Shakespeare’s from, right?’

Right.

The town is a popular tourist destination owing to its status as birthplace of old Will receiving about 4.9 million visitors a year from all over the world. The Royal Shakespeare Company resides in Stratford’s Royal Shakespeare Theatre, one of Britain’s most important cultural venues.

So we’ve got the beautiful new RSC Theatre, Shakespeare’s Birthplace, The Jester, The Cottages both Arden and Hathaway, not to mention every other shop is named by using some pun or variation of a play, or line, or sonnet (my personal favourite is Much Ado About Toys). Shakespeare’s words float through the streets of Stratford like pollen, settling on everything it touches.

But as much as I love the work of our great playwright – after all Shakespeare’s County would be nothing without it – there’s so much more to the Stratford – and Warwickshire – literary scene than simply The Bard himself.

shakespeare_in_reverse

Sorry, Will!

Take Stratford-upon-Avon Literary Festival for example. Celebrating its 7th year in 2014, the festival is an exciting mixture of debate, ideas, celebrity author events, workshops and humour. Alongside this is a programme of education events in Stratford and local schools involving favourite authors, poets and illustrators, entertaining and inspiring children from 2 to 18. Its one of the most significant literary festivals in the UK and not only brings a whole host of wonderful authors and activities, but a fresh new gust of wonderful words and laughter and ideas, to our historic riverside town.

I spent my lunch break today making a list of everything I wanted to attend after looking over the Festival Programme and I think my eyes were bigger than my calender, but here are a few gems I’m certain to be attending, and in some instances, rounding the troops to accompany me.

First up, is the Literary Pub Quiz in aid of The Shakespeare Hospice. Not only does the competitive child in me relish the chance to join a quiz and invent a ridiculous team name, but all proceeds go to the wonderful Shakespeare Hospice, the Festival’s chosen charity who provide specialist care for families affected by life limiting illness in South Warwickshire and the North Cotswolds. So if you rate your knowledge on the films of books, authors and actors, villains and heroes, then the quiz will take place at The Lazy Cow, Clopton Bridge on the 10th April. I’ll be the one in the corner randomly shouting out answers.

Next on my Festival Hitlist is the entirely FREE Shakespeare’s 450th Birthday Celebrations at Bancroft Gardens. I’m taking the niece and nephew, packing a picnic and hot footing it down to the riverside to listen to The Bookshop Band and book an appointment with The Emergency Poet. Brilliant.

Then here comes the one that I’m so excited about I may actually do a little wee. I will hopefully be taking my YA novel LOL (which followers of The Blog will know is currently being serialised here chapter by chapter because I am crazy) on a day out to the Write on Workshop: How To Write for Young People with Steve Voake, the critically acclaimed author of The Dreamwalker’s Child, The Starlight Conspiracy and Blood Hunters. A. Mazing. A whole day of writing words and learning new skills to make LOL better.

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I will then follow this by embracing my inner WW1 nerd *pushes glasses squarely onto bridge of nose* to hear a discussion about The War That Changed Women’s Lives and listen to some fabulous and inspiring female writers and speakers’ opinions on the effect war had on women and social change.

I’m hoping to round up the gaggle and take the kids along to the Children’s Book Day which is billed as a brilliant day of events and workshops for children aged 3 to 11 and, if your lot are anything like my niece and nephew, it looks like a great way to get imaginations ticking and bodies tiring out! Tickets from £20 for the whole day but, if like me, you only want to attend a few events as your children are older, you can pick and choose, pay a one off entrance fee for each event and even attend yourself. Have a gander at goings-on here.

Unfortunately, my newly employed status is hampering my ability to attend everything I want to but – if I can – I’d like to squeeze in another couple of events namely ‘The Book: What’s The Next Chapter?’ which is an event discussing rethinking traditional methods of publishing and writing, and ‘The Inside Secrets to Getting Published’ because I want them to whisper the secrets into my ear so I can help turn LOL into more than just a blog.

**New chapters to follow soon**

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