Daphne du Maurier

Literary expertise in full effect at newly named festival

The name of a Cornish literary festival may have changed, but the involvement of University of Exeter academics literary contributions has increased.

The du Maurier Festival will this year be known as the Fowey Festival of Words and Music and takes place from the 8–18 May in Fowey, Cornwall.

Professor Helen Taylor, an English scholar at the University of Exeter and long time programmer for the festival, will be leading the first annual du Maurier lecture as part of the new festival structure. She will be introducing bestselling novelist Sarah Dunant, who’s famous for her Italian historical novels which have been translated into more than thirty languages: The Birth of Venus, In the Company of the Courtesan and Sacred Hearts. The inaugural event is sponsored by the University of Exeter as part of its commitment to and ongoing relationship with the du Maurier family. On Monday 13 May (2pm-3pm) she will be discussing Dunant’s work and sharing the secrets of her trade.

Professor Taylor said: ”This year the University of Exeter’s literary expertise continues throughout the festival with over a quarter of the events involving or programmed by academics from the English department. We are delighted to sponsor and programme for this important regional festival.

Dr Kate Hext will be exploring the life of Daphne du Maurier’s grandfather, George who wrote three novels that the Victorians loved as they were sensational, sentimental and shocking. The most famous was his second novel, Trilby (1895), which created a transatlantic success and catapulted George to fame and wealth, and revolutionised the modern novel. 

Cornwall and its connections and influence in literary fiction will be developed in talks by academics from the University’s Cornwall Campus. Professor Nick Groom will focus on Tolkien’s writing showing how his early draft of his Middle Earth writing is actually set in Cornwall and draws directly on local legends and language. D.H Lawrence's ambivalent yet subtle attitude to the Cornish and the Celts will be uncovered by Professor Philip Payton by evaluating the importance of this Cornish sojourn to Lawrence's subsequent writing.

The craft of reading and writing also forms an integral part of the Fowey Festival. Academics from the University of Exeter inform a wider audience with their research knowledge and experience in developing specific projects which explore the nuances of literature and a reader’s response. Riptide short story and poetry editors Ginny Bailey and Sally Flint will conduct a 2 hour workshop with participants to inhabit and explore an image of a painting to go beyond description and use what lies inside and outside the frame to write a poem. In a subsequent workshop, they will also discuss the process of getting published.  The art of reading and whether men and women read differently will be explored by Professor Taylor as part of an ongoing research project looking at reading as one of the most potent sources of sustenance, support and even therapy throughout people’s lives.

The dates and times of the various lectures that involve University of Exeter academics can be found on the Fowey Festival website.

Date: 8 May 2013

Read more University News