Norman Nicholson at Words by the Water

Words by the Water festival of books and ideas is always a lovely event.  It takes place in the Theatre by the Lake in Keswick, with Derwentwater just a short stroll from the door, and this year the weather has been spectacular! Apart from the stunning scenery, there are lots of celebrities taking part - Michael Rosen (who was very, very funny), Princess Michael of Kent, Pat Barker, Melvyn Bragg, Blake Morrison and lots more.  But there's always room for more modest contributions.  Unlike many of the other big literature festivals Words by the Water invites independently published authors too.

On Sunday night they put on an event in the main theatre to celebrate Norman Nicholson's centenary.  I was invited to talk about the biography and poet Neil Curry, who edited Norman's collected poems for Faber, read some of the poetry before a showing of Melvyn Bragg's South Bank film.  The size of the event made me very nervous - would I remember what to say?  Would the powerpoint work?

We had a lovely audience, many of whom had known Norman, and they seemed to enjoy both the talk and the poetry reading. I was given some interesting anecdotes afterwards which  might go into the next edition of the book.  And lots of people bought the biography - there's nothing more comforting for an author than a queue at the signing table.  And nothing more depressing than sitting with pen poised to find that there are no people! Went home absolutely knackered, but very relieved.  

I will be buying lots of books as a result of meeting their authors at the festival - Michael Rosen's Alphabetical - on the history of the alphabet, and also Katie Waldegrave who has written a new book about the children of Wordsworth and Coleridge - The Poets' Daughters


  1. My heart would have been pounding!
    I am sure you did brilliantly!


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