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Last Days of Summer Weekend Festival Announced!
12-13 September 2020 on Wimbledon Common

Government guidance announced by Oliver Dowden, the Minister for Culture on the 11th July 2020 has allowed outside events to be run for the performing arts. We are using government guidelines and working with our partners Merton Council, Wimbledon & Putney Commons and Clownfish Events to ensure the event is safe for performers, audience and staff.

The event will take place in an outside space in an open marquee (roofed/ sides open) where the airflow will be good and audiences are much reduced. Social distancing, cleaning & hygene, and strong communication will be the focus of all protocol on delivery.

Tickets will be on sale in late August. Priority Booking will be available for Friends of BOOKFEST
CLICK HERE TO JOIN for just £30

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New Judge Announced on the 2020 Robert Graves Poetry Prize

Bridget Minamore has joined the judging panel for the Robert Graves Poetry Prize 2020. Bridget is a British-Ghanaian poet, critic, dramaturg, teacher, and journalist, and a regular contributor to The Guardian about theatre. She was also chosen as one of Speaking Volumes’ 40 Stars of Black British Literature, has read her work internationally, and is the co-lead tutor for the Roundhouse Poetry Collective. Bridget said: 'The poem is a form that both distils and expands, that gets to heart of things while finding new meaning in the ordinary and the extraordinary. Poetry has long been something I consider both joyous and life-changing, especially new work, which has the potential to surprise like nothing else.'

We really look forward to working with Bridget and hearing her choices for the winning Prize poems. She joins judges, Paul O'Prey and Peter Straus [image credit: Theo Ndlovu].


books on shelf low.jpg Wimbledon BookFest Plans for 2020 - Emergency Public Appeal

Festivals & arts organisations are all facing very uncertain futures. Many literary festivals including Hay, Edinburgh and Oxford have cancelled this year incurring significant financial losses. As a not for profit arts and education charity we run to cover our costs, trying to making small surpluses each year to help with running costs for the following year. We are currently appraising various models for 2020 based on public health, finances and our community's appetite for culture and have launched an emergency public appeal to raise £25k. CLICK HERE to read a letter from Fiona Razvi, Festival Director,


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Robert Graves Poetry Prize - £1,000 Prize

The Robert Graves Poetry Prize, run in association with University of Roehampton, is now open for entries. Now in its 4th year, the Prize is judged by literary agent Peters Straus and former Roehampton VC, Prof Paul O'Prey. It offers a £1,000 prize. To encourage young people's work there is an under age 19 category. Deadline for entries 31 July 2020.

With thanks to our sponsors Marcus Beale Architects. (Illus: Sydney James)


London Lib News.jpg London Library Partnership - 25% off Membership [offer now closed]

Wimbledon BookFest is delighted to announce a new partnershp with The London Library.

Founded in 1841 The London Library is one of the world’s leading literary institutions. From Charles Dickens to TS Eliot and Virginia Woolf to Bram Stoker - the Library has been a home for readers, writers and thinkers since it opened. Today it continues to offer inspiration and outstanding resources to its members.

To celebrate The London Library is offering Wimbledon BookFest e-news subscribers the opportunity to join their community with 25% off membership until Sunday 28 June 2020. Membership gives access to a collection of over one million books, most of which can be posted to members, and thousands of online resources, plus beautiful spaces to work when the building re-opens on 6 July. JOIN HERE

Stephen Hammond MP Raises Wimbledon BookFest in Parliament

Stephen Hammond MP raised the issue of the need for arts funding in his oral question to the Minister for Culture this week in the House of Commons (Thurs 4 June 2020). 'Can I ask him [the Minister for Culture] to look again at charities that specifically promote the arts particularly local arts such as Wimbledon BookFest because they keep culture going in our communities.’


Akala.jpg Black Lives Matter

Wimbledon BookFest is committed to diversity and inclusion in the work it produces and the way it operates as an organisation. We will continue to promote black and ethnic minority authors in the work we do and are encouraging our community to support the work of independent publishers Knights of and Jacaranda Books supported by Spread the Word in their work publishing black voices. DONATE HERE

As an organisation we will work hard to ensure that the values we subscribe to run through the work we do and the audiences we reach. (pic: Akala, Hip Hop Shakespeare events for schools)

Audience showing illustrations.JPG Young Writers' Competiton - Record numbers of entries in 2020

53 primary and secondary schools in South London have taken part in our 2020 Young Writers' Competiton this year - themed The Secret. The competition closed on 1 May and the winning entries will be published in our anual anthology of poems and stories in the autumn.

WORLD BOOK DAY EVENTS: Due to developments with the coronavirus these events were cancelled and all tickets refunded. 17 schools booked and 1,000 children booked to attend our World Book day events on 4 March at New Wimbledon Theatre author events.


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University of Roehampton Partnership

University of Roehampton is Wimbledon BookFest's Prinicipal Partner and supports the Festival both financially and with programming content. Every year their Roehampton's academics run events for 6th formers, judge competitions, hold free taster sessions on new research and chair and speak at events at the Festival. Wimbledon BookFest encourages Roehampton students to get involved in a variety of ways and they make films, steward at events and send their students journalists to cover the festival. Read some of the students articles here.


Flowers and brochure low.jpg Coming Up in 2020

We are currently working with our delivery partners on plans for 2020 within the Covid-19 environment and will regularly update on developments on our news pages.

To watch a film about our team, please click here.

Elif Shafak.JPG Watch Elif Shafak's event online now

In November 2019 Elif Shafak joined us in Wimbledon Library to discuss her Man Booker shortlisted novel 38 Seconds 10 Minutes in This Strange World. In conversation with Jane Thynne, Shafak discussed the themes of her most recent novel, her writing processes and her past works.

To watch the event in full please click here.

Covid News.jpg Restoring damage to the Common following poor weather

Wimbledon BookFest regrets that because of the exceptionally bad weather before and during the Festival, vehicles servicing the event caused some damage to the ground in the area of the Common between Rushmere Pond and the Causeway. This was despite protective road mats being laid on the grass.

Please reassured that we are working with Wimbledon and Putney Commons to undertake restoration work which will take place as soon possible.

Click here to read more.

RGPP winner.jpg Robert Graves Poetry Prize 2019 Winner Announced

The winner of the Robert Graves Poetry Prize 2019, run in partnership with University of Roehampton, was announced as Andre Mangeot at Simon Armitage's event at this year's Wimbledon BookFest. Andre Mangeot's 'Scrimshaw' received the winning prize and Sharon Black and Mark Fiddes were named as runners-up. This year the prize receieved a phenomenal 537 entries from all over the world. The winning entries will soon be published on the Poetry Centre's website. Click here. With thanks to Marcus Beale Architects who sponsored the prize and judges Peters Straus and Prof Paul O'Prey.

Pictured here: William Graves, Peter Straus, Marcus Beale, Andre Mangeot and Paul O'Prey.

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Young Writers' Competition Winners 2019 at New Wimbledon Theatre

Madeline Harding from Ursuline High School has been announced as the winner of the 2019 Wimbledon BookFest Young Writers' Competition. The prize givings took place at New Wimbledon Theatre at special events with Children's Laureate Cressida Cowell, Konnie Huq, and Malorie Blackman. The theme for the 2020 Competition was announced as 'The Secret'. From everyone at Wimbledon BookFest, a huge congratulations to the 345 entrants for their awe-inspiring entries. We are so pleased have to received such a great range of ideas around the 'Island' theme. This year the competiton received entries from 63 schools, this means that 21 new schools entered in this year's competition! (Pictured here: Chair of Judges, Ariel Kahn, Madeline Harding and Malorie Blackman).

Read the Guardian coverage here.

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Wimbledon BookFest awarded Time and Leisure Award

The team were awarded the 'Tony Kane Cultural Experience of the Year' at an event in September 2019 by Time & Leisure Magazine. Tony , who sadly passed away in Dec 2018 co-founded Wimbledon BookFest with Fiona Razvi.

Pictured: Sydney James and Mandy Mallen from the Wimbledon BookFest Team

Winner: Wimbledon BookFest
Highly commended:Hampton Court Palace
Commended: Merton Music Foundation, Rose Theatre, Kingston, Surbiton Ski Sunday
Finalists:Furzedown Festival, Kew Gardens, Morden Hall Park, Polka Theatre, Strawberry Hill House

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World Book Day Celebrations at New Wimbledon Theatre

On the 6th March 2019 we hosted events with Dermot O'Leary & Nick East, Tom Fletcher and Frank Cottrell-Boyce at New Wimbledon Theatre. Over the course of the day we welcomed over 2500 children into the theatre. Every child that attended went home with a book (or two!). Dermot O'Leary and illustrator Nick East came to share the last addition to the Toto the Ninja Cat series, Toto the Ninja Cat and the Incredible Cheese Heist. Tom Fletcher returned to Wimbledon BookFest with his book The Creakers, the audience were even treated to some 'creaker' based songs. Finally we were joined by World Book Day Author, Frank Cottrell-Boyce, who used the power of story telling to encapsulate the whole theatre. We didn't want it to end!