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Folkestone Book Festival 2019 theme inspired by The War of the Worlds author HG Wells

A book festival in its 40th year, will look to the future this year and take inspiration from local author HG Wells.

The Folkestone Book Festival, which will be held from Friday, November 15 to Sunday, November 24, will be titled The Shape of Things to Come, inspired by the author of The War of the Worlds and The Time Machine who lived in Folkestone for 13 years.

The War of the Worlds on the BBC this autumn, will star Eleanor Tomlinson and Rafe Spall Picture: BBC?Mammoth Screen
The War of the Worlds on the BBC this autumn, will star Eleanor Tomlinson and Rafe Spall Picture: BBC?Mammoth Screen

The outlook of the festival, which also heralds the start of the festive countdown in the Creative Quarter, is influenced by Wells’ thoughts on subjects including art, science, journalism, climate change, equality, technology, time travel and even Europe.

H.G. Wells lived in Sandgate, Folkestone, from 1896 to 1909 in a house overlooking the sea. While in Folkestone, he mingled with the likes of Joseph Conrad, George Bernard Shaw, Arnold Bennett, Ford Madox Ford, Henry James and Winston Churchill, who used ‘the gathering storm’ phrase from The War of the Worlds - the subject of a major new BBC production this autumn - to describe the rise of Nazi Germany.

A festival of books, ideas and future thinking, its 40th year will feature 40 writers and artists and look at what the future may hold for people, communities, nations and the planet itself, while also celebrating moments of creativity from the past affect us today.

Ben Okri will be switching on the Creative Quarter's Christmas lights.
Ben Okri will be switching on the Creative Quarter's Christmas lights.

Highlights include a discussion with Ben Okri, who will also be switching on the Creative Quarter’s Christmas lights.

Greene MP Caroline Lucas will be discussing the challenges that face us at a time of ecological and political crises while Line of Duty star Adrian Dunbar will be looking at the legacy of Seamus Heaney.

Lindsey Hilsum looks at the role that journalists continue to play at a time when the very nature of truth itself is challenged, and Kerry Hudson and Sam Ruddock explore how you can bring your own past to life in literature, leading writing exercises and sharing experiences.

Screenwriter and director Paul Schrader will discuss his life’s work, including Taxi Driver, Raging Bull and the Academy Award- nominated film First Reformed, which will be screened on the festival’s opening night while James Burke will discuss the role of science in shaping our future and Siri Hustvedt discussing fiction, memory and how a woman might live well in today’s world.

Screenwriter Paul Schrader will be discussing some of his legendary films
Screenwriter Paul Schrader will be discussing some of his legendary films

Wells’ The Time Machine inspires the festival to transport audiences to moments in time when great works of art were created. They include when John Keats wrote some of his most celebrated poems and Franz Schubert composed The Trout Quintet and to 1966, when Jean Rhys wrote her response to Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre.

Events will be held at diverse venues including the Victorian Tin Tabernacle in Hythe; the Harbour Fish Bar in Folkestone; theQuarterhouse; the remote St Thomas à Becket Church on Romney Marsh; the glass-canopied Saga Pavilion by Sir Michael Hopkins and The Ledge art installation which came to the town after the last Triennial.

The festival is managed by independent arts charity, Creative Folkestone and will be curated by Liam Browne and Seán Doran.

Seán Doran said: “We are excited to be turning the attention of one of the UK’s original book festivals to the future. This will be far from the traditional festival set-up of authors reading from their latest book and taking part in Q&A sessions. We are taking artists into magnificent historic buildings and remote rural settings, producing genuinely one-off happenings involving music and film, drawing international artists to Folkestone, challenging writers to look ahead and bringing exceptional performances to one of the final events of a long year of UK festivals.”

The Line of Duty star Adrian Dunbar will be at Folkestone Book Festival
The Line of Duty star Adrian Dunbar will be at Folkestone Book Festival

Liam Browne added: “H.G. Wells was not just interested in how we live, but how we might live. He was a great believer in the power of books to change lives and is, therefore, the perfect figure to inspire a festival of books, ideas and future thinking. Folkestone has long been a place through which people have passed on their way to Europe or into the UK. As Brexit takes place, Folkestone becomes a border town once again, and engagement between the arts and the population is as vital as ever. It’s an exciting time to be creating work here."

For the full programme and to book tickets go to creativefolkestone.org.uk or 01303 760750 or pop into the box office in Folkestone Quarterhouse.

To find out what’s going on in the county and for all the latest entertainment news click here.

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