The SOUTH Hams has thrown its weight behind a huge literary festival that will run in Ivybridge for five days next month.

Three Sunday Times best-selling authors – Sarah Pearse, Jane Corry and Pip Payne – will be head-lining the South Hams Literary Festival, which is organised by the South Hams Authors Network, led by Devon writer Alison Huntingford.

The event builds on the success of last year’s inaugural festival.

Jane Corry, six-times Sunday Times bestseller, will launch the festival on Wednesday, September 13. Her new thriller is set in the Second World War and present-day Devon, and she will describe how “Churchill’s Secret Army in Devon inspired my new novel”.

Festival team member, Alison Huntingford said: “The whole town seems to be backing this festival.

“Our venues are amazingly diverse – everything from a dentist’s waiting room to the local tennis centre.

“There are also cafes, pubs, church halls, a leisure centre and of course the Watermark Centre and the library which are at the heart of the town. Everyone has been very generous with their offers of support.

Adding, “sadly, the Arts Council turned us down, but local businesses and organisations have really helped to make this happen. We have also received funding from South Hams District and Devon County councils.

“I have really tried to make this festival a community event and involve as many local people as possible.”

South Hams Literary Festival 2023 will have something to suit everyone, whether they are writers, readers or both. There will be workshops for people wanting to start or develop their writing, but there is also plenty on offer for readers as well.

Jackie Juno
Jackie Juno. (Submitted)

Festival-goers will have a chance of an informal chat and Q&A with Sarah Pearse, who lives in South Devon. Her debut novel The Sanatorium was a No.1 Sunday Times and New York Times Top Ten bestseller in hardback, and a Reese Witherspoon Book Club pick. Her new thriller, The Retreat, is now out.

Not only that, but for people looking for a great night out, there is an evening of performance poetry and comedy from poet Jackie Juno. This takes place at the Watermark Arts Centre on Saturday, September 16.

“I think I might have got a bit carried away!” said Alison.

“This festival has just grown and grown, and there are now more than 45 events over five days, some of them aimed specifically at children.

“There were just so many great local authors and interesting events, that I wanted to fit in as much as possible. “All the participants are Westcountry based, from all over Devon and its borders.

“We have been delighted to find that we have several Sunday Times bestselling authors right here in the county, and they have kindly agreed to take part.”

Tavistock authors have not been left out, with well-known writer Richard Handy running a writing workshop on ‘Healing the Natural World and Enabling Biodiversity’, as well as giving a talk on his historical novel ‘Loyalty and Lunacy’.

From the Tamar Valley area the festival has debut crime fiction writer Caroline Serpell talking about ‘How to Plan a (fictional!) Murder: a ‘must’ for fans of the crime genre. Poppy Jayne-Jones will also be running a fun session on ‘writing against the clock’, which anyone can join.

If you want to talk to an author in person and have them sign a copy of their book, there will be a giant book and craft fair in Ivybridge leisure centre on Saturday, September 16. The duo Memo will provide musical entertainment at lunchtime.Entry to the fair is free.

Foodie fans can look forward to a feast from Sunday Times Bestselling cookbook author Pip Payne (Cooking, Community and Chilli Mac Cheese).

“We have kept prices for talks and workshops as low as possible. Children’s activities are free and mostly take place in the Stowford Hall during the day on Saturday”, said Alison.

“We have wonderful entertainers such as the ever-popular Wonder Zoo, Isabella’s Story Bicycle and local children’s authors Jenny Moore, Rob Holmes and Jess Jade.”

Jane Corry
Jane Corry. (Justine Stoddart)

Full details of the events can be found online at: