Spymaster to speak at coastal literary festival

Sir John Scarlett, a former head of MI6, will be among the guest speakers at this year's Sea Fever

Sir John Scarlett, a former head of MI6, will be among the guest speakers at this year's Sea Fever literary festival in Wells-next-the-Sea. - Credit: Chatham House / Creative Commons

A former spymaster, an anti-apartheid activist and a fishing-themed poetry contest are all on the programme for this year's Sea Fever. 

The literary festival is returning to the Maltings auditorium in Wells-next-the-Sea this year after going 'virtual' in 2020 due to to the pandemic.

This year's theme is 'after the flood' and event chairman, Ian Scott, said the festival aimed to "embrace the spirit of these topsy-turvy times".

Mr Scott said: "The festival will be a real sign of things getting back to normal. I think people are going to flock through the Maltings’ doors."

Ian Scott, from Wells, said

Ian Scott, from Wells, said he was looking forward to welcoming people back to the Maltings for Sea Fever, after the event was held virtually last year. - Credit: Ian Scott

Most of Sea Fever's events will take place June 25-26, but a photography exhibition is kicking things off from June 12. 


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Called Ebb and Flow, the photos by Decca Faire and Patrick Rangeley aim to showcase the shapes and moods of coastline, creeks and salt marshes. 

The Wells maltings. Picture: Supplied by the Maltings/Sarah Toon Photography

The Wells Maltings. - Credit: Sarah Toon Photography

The festival's guest speakers will include Jonty Driver, a South African anti-apartheid activist, former political prisoner and poet, as well as Sir John Scarlett, the former chief of the British Secret Intelligence Service (MI6).

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Sir John will discuss spies and spying in fact and fiction with Daily Telegraph journalist Nick Trend. 

Also featuring will be poets Sally Festing, Laura Scott and Andrew Jordan.

Historian and travel writer Justin Marozzi will speak about his latest book, an account of the seventh and eighth century Muslim expansion called The Arab Conquests.

There will be a talk about the enduring legacy of Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness, and another examining the recent barrage of criticism of the BBC.

Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad was first published as a three-part serial in Blackwood's Magazine in 1899. 

Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad was first published as a three-part serial in Blackwood's Magazine in 1899. - Credit: Public Domain

Children will have the chance to talk to author and illustrator Dorien Brouwers about her debut book Sail, or take part in a poetry competition on the theme of fish and fishermen, judged by prize-winning Norwich poet, Laura Scott. 

The full programme can be found online at www.seafeverliteraryfestival.com.

The schools poetry competition is £5 a ticket. All other tickets cost £10 and are available through the box office at the Maltings in Staithe Street by phone on 01328 711378 or online.

Voluntary contributions are also invited in tribute to David Waller, the festival organiser who died last year. 

A photo by Decca Faire which will be part of an exhibition to kick off this year's Sea Fever festival.

A photo by Decca Faire which will be part of an exhibition to kick off this year's Sea Fever festival. - Credit: Decca Faire

A photo by Patrick Rangeley which will be part of an exhibition to kick off this year's Sea Fever festival.

A photo by Patrick Rangeley which will be part of an exhibition to kick off this year's Sea Fever festival. - Credit: Patrick Rangeley


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