I should like to extend a special welcome this year, because this is our tenth Festival, and we offer a programme that is perhaps our most wide-ranging and varied to date.
I wish that our founder, the late Susan Ward, could be with us to see what an impact her work has made, and how much pleasure the festival has given to visitors and townsfolk. Susan was a wonderful woman – charming, knowledgeable and tenacious. She and her husband Charles Ward were the force that launched an initiative into a crowded market, and they found willing helpers who shared their vision of an intimate festival set against a backdrop of natural grandeur.
Now the Budleigh Literary Festival is known internationally, and each year our ambitions have expanded. We are proud of the calibre of writers we attract and the commitment of our sparky audiences. We are grateful also to our sponsors, and to the dedicated volunteers who do most of the work and do it so gracefully, and to the committee members who, behind the scenes, plot and plan all year to build a programme for September. The authors garner the applause, but I for one never take for granted the work and thought that brings writers and readers together.
Ours is not a narrow enterprise. Mindful of the local community, we have fostered relationships with local schools, intent on growing a new generation of writers and readers in East Devon. Our aim in 2018, as ever, is to learn, debate, inspire, and have fun; and – while taking time for celebration – to lay our plans for the next decade.
With good wishes
Dame Hilary Mantel, DBE