22,000 tickets sold, over 150 events at 8 venues was the recording breaking story for the Henley Literary Festival this year.
This was the first time in the festival’s 11 year history that tickets sales had gone above this incredible figure which had attracted top stars from the world of comedy, politics, sport, TV, history, music and religion. The Ryan family of Sue, Tom and Harriet plus Kate Lynas, Jade Williams and all the volunteers have made this Henley festival, another world class event on our doorstep.
Authors enchanted their audiences of all ages with their inspirations, challenges and stories (below are just some snippets)….
Roddy Doyle said, “I don’t know one man that’s in a book club, but every woman I know is in one. I don’t know if they read the books… I wanted to come to Henley to visit Dusty Springfield’s grave. I often have her music playing whilst I write.”
Chris Patten described ex Henley MP, Boris Johnson as “a Play-Doh Churchill.”
David Baddiel said, “all adults are children at heart…Except Michael Gove!”
Prue Leith disclosed to a shocked audience, “I fed Bake Off leftovers to the neighbour’s pigs… until the vet said sugar could make them ill!”
Kate Humble revealed at her Phyllis Court Club event that, “This is venue where I first met my husband.”
Virginia McKenna talked about starring with Yul Brynner in the King and I, saying, “Due to injuries he would sometimes hop the polka and I would swirl my dress to hide it.”
The interviewers did a superb job too in getting the most out of the authors. Judy Murray who was interviewed by Dame Katherine Grainger tweeted afterwards, “Dame Kat in the Hat. Aka Oprah Grainger. Fab interviewer. Rowl model. PS That is not a typo.”
Mary Berry was presented with a Gold Blue Peter badge after her talk. The award is presented for exceptional achievement by children or to adults who are seen as role models who inspire the nation’s younger generation.
Tom Ryan, Henley Literary Festival Programme Director said, “We are so delighted with how this year’s festival went. For attendance to rise 20% from last year was amazing and it’s very gratifying to breach the 20,000 ticket mark for the first time. We had our most international line-up yet – with authors from India, Nigeria, Israel and more, alongside local speakers like Richard Fortey, Lulu Allison and Laura Kaye. And aside from the figures I think we saw everyone – the speakers, the audience and our fantastic team, primarily of volunteers – really at their best. It’s so lovely to see Henley buzzing for the whole week, with everyone from babies to senior citizens enjoying the events.”
Henley Literary Festival events returned to Phyllis Court Club this year. Caroline O’Connor, Commercial Director said, “We have thoroughly enjoyed hosting some fabulous Henley Literary Festival Events. It’s a fantastic festival for Henley and our Members have enjoyed the variety and calibre of the authors. We very much look forward to working with Sue, Harriet, Tom and the team again next year.”
The closing day on Sunday saw top stars including Clare Balding, Michael Parkinson, Danny Baker and Dermot O’Leary… a wonderful end to this year’s festival story.