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Maidstone to hold first literary festival with Jack Meggitt-Phillips and Gianna Pollero

A town is to open a new chapter on its cultural offering.

Maidstone is to host a literary festival this October with a programme of events to celebrate the love of books and work of authors, including some of Kent’s finest writers.

Author Jack Meggitt-Phillips
Author Jack Meggitt-Phillips

The festival will run October 2 to October 8 and will be launched at the Maidstone Museum Library where guests will have the chance to meet various authors taking part in the events programme.

Across the week, there will be a number of workshops for primary schools with author visits, as well as events taking place in the town centre for adult fiction. The full programme is yet to be announced, but among those already signed up are Jack Meggitt-Phillips and Gianna Pollero.

Mr Meggitt-Phillips is an author, scriptwriter, and playwright whose work has been performed at The Roundhouse and featured on BBC Radio 4. To date, his five-book middle-grade series, The Beast and the Bethany, has been published in 33 territories worldwide.

Ms Pollero is the author of the popular children’s book series Monster Doughnuts. She was born and raised in Maidstone and originally trained as a journalist.

It is being organised by Maidstone council and funded by the UK Shared Prosperity Fund.

Maidstone's cabinet member for leisure and arts Cllr Claudine Russell said: "Research from the Department for Education shows that engaging children with reading from the beginning is one of the most important ways to make a difference to their life chances.

Author Gianna Pollero is lined up to appear
Author Gianna Pollero is lined up to appear

"A recent survey of young people revealed that 50% would be encouraged to read more after meeting an author.

“The festival will also give us the opportunity to celebrate some home-grown talent and showcase their work with book lovers across the borough."

Jodi Eeles is the festival director. She said: "There is a small team of us who have been working hard to bring a literary festival to Maidstone and to see this being realised is very exciting.

"We’ve long been admirers of other local literary festivals and felt there was a gap missing in Maidstone.

"The aim is that this year tests the water with some great local authors with plans for an annual event that grows and develops with our town. From little acorns my big oak trees grow!”

Other authors set to make an appearance include children's author Lucy Strange and Janelle McCurdy.

Mrs Strange is a former primary school teacher, brought up in Maidstone, whose work combines historical settings with by folklore and fairy tales.

New author Ms McCurdy, from London, holds a degree in criminology and sociology degree. Her first novel, a fantasy for middle-graders, is called Mia and the Lightcasters, and was released in August last year.

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