Leafing through the Greenwich Book Festival

The Guardian's Zoe Williams with University of Greenwich senior politics lecturer (and pub quiz king) John McLean
The Guardian’s Zoe Williams with University of Greenwich senior politics lecturer (and pub quiz king) John McLean

It’s easy to overlook the Greenwich Book Festival, which is happening now and across the weekend, because most of the publicity for it seems to have been “wow! here’s a book festival!” rather than “here’s a brilliant thing you can see at the book festival this weekend!” So I just assumed it was a handful of events and was about to let it pass by.

But there’s actually a huge range of events on – I popped by this lunchtime to see Guardian journalist Zoe Williams discuss the themes behind her book Get It Together: Why We Deserve Better Politics – an apt theme after the recent election, and one that reverberates closer to home than you might think.

There’s more on tonight and over the weekend, including a load of kids’ stuff, although if I was free tomorrow night, I’d pop along to see Viv Albertine of The Slits talk about her recent memoir with Everything But The Girl’s Tracey Thorn.

It’s certainly a wise use of £12,000 from Greenwich Council, although it could have helped more by sticking the programme in this week’s vanity rag Greenwich Time rather than giving it just one paragraph – the Royal Greenwich Festivals banner seems to be suffocating its events somewhat. The University of Greenwich has also chipped in, and it’ll hopefully kickstart which should be a regular event – in future years, perhaps we’ll all be wondering why Greenwich never used to have a book festival.


  1. Some good events for kids too. Off to a couple tomorrow with ,y family.

  2. I went along to the festival yesterday to see the excellent Jon Ronson and Axel Scheffler ,illustrator of such kids books as The Gruffalo, along with most other Julia Donaldson books. Both events were entertaining and value for money. My little boy was engrossed in watching Axel drawing The Gruffalo and various other characters.

    The problem is, the lack of publicity.
    I have Darryl to thank for the heads up. If it was not for the post last week “Greenwich Council gives £100,000 to Woolwich Frida Kahlo show” that was posted on the Plumstead People Facebook page, I would not have known it existed.

    Even yesterday at the actual Festival, you would not have known it was going on unless you were aware of its existence .

    Nothing was sign posted I asked a guy on the gate where it was and he know nothing about it. A few sign posts would not have hurt and I am sure they could have afforded it.

    Axel’s talk was supposed to be in a marquee, but when we went there , we were told it had been moved .There were no signposts or notices to state that and so a lot of kids and parents turned up late to go to the new venue. Again you would not have been aware of the talks existence until you got in the actual building.

    I loved the Festival and look forward to next years, but they need a rethink on publicity and notices on the day.

    There are others events in the borough that could do with the money , if it is not being spent wisely, not least The Plumstead Make Merry

  3. Thanks for drawing my attention to this which I hadn’t heard anything about. I went to 5 sessions in all including Selina Todd, Jessie Burton (The Miniaturist) and Patrick Gale. They were all interesting and enjoyable. The lack of publicity was extraordinary. I hope it happens again next year and we hear about it beforehand!

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