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Speaking at the 2019 festival was one of the country’s foremost writers of novels and short stories Tessa Hadley, winner of the 2018 Edge Hill Short Story Prize and author of critically-acclaimed novels Clever Girl, The London TrainThe Past and Late in the Day.  

Tessa Hadley was joined by writer and bird-watcher Tim Dee, whose latest book Landfill is about how rubbish tips sustain birdlife, and Pamela Holmes, best-selling author of The Huntingfield Paintress and Wyld Dreamers and winner of the Jane Austen Short Story Award in 2014.

Popular local writer and ‘the best contemporary writer of pony stories around’ Victoria Eveleigh gave a special illustrated presentation about how farming on Exmoor inspired her Katy’s Ponies stories.

Tessa Hadley

…one of Britain’s finest writers of contemporary fiction.

Thea Lenarduzzi, Vogue

Tessa Hadley has written seven novels – including The London Train and The Past, which won the Hawthornden Prize – and three collections of short stories.  Bad Dreams and other stories was published in 2017.  Her latest novel Late in the Day has just been published to rapturous reviews in the UK and the US.  She publishes short stories regularly in The New Yorker, reviews for The Guardian and The London Review of Books, and is a Professor of Creative Writing at Bath Spa University.  She was awarded a Windham Campbell Prize for Fiction in 2016 and the Edge Hill Short Story Prize in 2018.

To see the review of Late in the Day in The Observer, please click here.

Clever Girl, The London Train, The Past, Late in the Day

Tim Dee

I think he’s created a marvel. A new species – of nature writing and autobiography

Susannah Clapp 

Tim Dee is a writer and birdwatcher. He writes non-scientific books about birds and places, including a memoir about his birdwatching life The Running Sky, a book about and called Four Fields, and Landfill, a study of men watching gulls on rubbish dumps and in other desolate spots.  He also edited Ground Work a collection on new writing on places, and co-edited (with Simon Armitage) the anthology The Poetry of Birds. His next book is about walking the spring north through Europe.  He was a BBC radio producer for 28 years making arts documentaries, poetry programmes, history features and radio drama for Radio 3 and 4. 

The Running Sky – A Birdwatching Life, Ground Work: Writings on People and Places, Landfill

Pamela Holmes

Wry, vivid and deftly plotted, this account of how youthful follies can come back to haunt you in middle age is a real delight.

John Preston, A Very English Scandal, on Pamela Holmes’s latest novel Wyld Dreamers

Pamela is the author of short stories and novels.  She won the Jane Austen Short Story Award 2014.  Her first novel The Huntingfield Paintress was published in 2016 and her second Wyld Dreamers in 2018. The book draws loosely on the years she spent working on a Somerset farm in the 1970s. Pamela lives in London and has two sons. 

The Huntingfield Paintress, Wyld Dreamers

Victoria Eveleigh

Without doubt, Victoria Eveleigh is the best contemporary writer of pony stories around.


Victoria (aka Tortie) Eveleigh has lived on Exmoor for most of her life, and for the past 32 years has run a hill farm near Lynton with her husband Chris. They keep local breeds of livestock, including Exmoor ponies. Her books have a deep sense of place running through them, and her experiences of farming and bringing up a family on Exmoor have inspired her stories. Victoria started off writing a self-published trilogy about a girl called Katy growing up on a farm with her Exmoor pony, plus a book called Midnight on Lundy, based on the story of a stallion that lived on the island about sixty years ago. It was this book that was spotted by the influential website Lovereading4kids, and led to Orion Children’s Books taking her on.

A Stallion called Midnight, The Horseshoe Trilogy

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