Rochester Literature Festival


The Rochester Literature Festival is back for a third year bringing readers, writers and like minds together.

Featuring a sense of people and places, this year’s Rochester Literature Festival ‘Live’n’Local’ will mix writings inspired by the urban and rural places of Kent, along with its cultural heritage.

On Saturday, the festival will be based at The Guildhall Museum in Rochester High Street for a selection of talks with an historic theme, while the popular Cafe Crawl will take place in various cafes.

On Sunday, a lovely and eclectic selection of authors will delight you with their stories in the gallery space at the wonderful Sun Pier House in Chatham.

Bookmark’d will be back in a slightly different format, and an artist will be on hand to capture the event as well as inspire you to do the same.

The ever-brilliant Sam Hall of 17% brings her new play, My Mind is Free, produced by Rah Rah Theatre, to the festival on Sunday evening at the Nucleus Arts Centre in Chatham, continuing the wonderful ‘Night at the Theatre’ events enjoyed in the previous two festivals.

As part of the BBC Get Creative Campaign, the RLF is also running 4 themed workshops.

The workshops on Saturday at the Guildhall Museum feature The History Magpie, Rachael Hale, who – inspired by the museum’s wonderful collection of artifacts – will guide you in finding hidden treasures whose stories are waiting to be told. Festival partner Sam Hall, with fellow playwright and BBC Prize winner Sarah Hehir, will teach you how to use news stories to inspire your own writing, leading the creative writing workshop Safe and Sound which is linked to the Sunday evening play, My Mind is Free, exploring the issues around human trafficking in the UK (over 14s).

On Sunday at Sun Pier House, Nature Girl, Carol Donaldson will be taking participants out to explore the local environment before committing their discoveries to paper, while Melanie Benn will help you in Unlocking your Memories with discussion and thoughtful writing exercises, encouraging you think about writing from personal experiences.

Festival Director Jaye Nolan says: “We’re excited to be part of the BBC’s Get Creative Campaign this year, and pleased to be able to offer such a wide variety of workshops for both aspiring and experienced writers in the community. Whether you’re into history, the environment, memoir or playwriting, we’ve got something for you.”

Both the Guildhall Museum and Sun Pier House Gallery Cafe remain open to the public as usual with free entry. There is a small fee for the workshops and play to cover costs. The RLF is a voluntary, non profit organisation and donations will be gratefully accepted to help secure future festivals.

The programme of events is as follows:

Saturday 10 October Guildhall Museum


10am – The History Magpie led by Rachael Hale

Inspired by the museum’s wonderful collection of artifacts, Rachael will guide you in finding hidden treasures whose stories are waiting to be told

1pm – Safe and Sound led by Sam Hall and Sarah Hehir

Learn how to use news stories to inspire your own writing! Sam and Sarah will lead a creative writing workshop linked with the Sunday evening play, exploring the issues around human trafficking in the UK. (Over 14s)


12 noon-1pm Toni Mount

Prolific medieval specialist Toni will be unravelling the mysteries of ancient medicine – when butchers knew more about anatomy than university trained physicians!

2-3pm Truda Thurai

Referencing short stories inspired by Rochester Cathedral and her own methods of research, Truda will share some of her secrets to writing historical fiction.

4-5pm Sir Robert Worcester

The inspiration for our history themed day, the Magna Carta is widely regarded as a potent symbol of the freedom of the individual. 2015 is the 800th anniversary of its sealing at Runnymede and we’re delighted that Sir Robert, Chairman of the Magna Carta 800th Anniversary Commemoration Committee, is joining us to discuss its legacy.

Cafe Crawl, featuring Pop Up Performers: 11am-12noon, 1-2pm, 3-4pm at Cafe@172, Bruno’s Bakes and The Quills.

Sunday 11 October Sun Pier House


10am-12noon Nature Girl led by Carol Donaldson

Be prepared for any weather as Carol leads you out of the building to connect with – and take inspiration from – your surroundings, before heading back to commit your discoveries to paper.

1-3pm Unlocking Your Memories led by Melanie Benn

Whether you’re retired or just setting out of life’s journey, don’t be shy – come along and unpick the story you want to tell, as Melanie leads you through learning to write from your own experience.


11.30 Jane Lythell

Formerly in situ at the BFI and BAFTA and a TV producer for many years, film fan Jane has made a stunning switch to writing thrillers. Consider yourself dared to join in!

12.45 Bill Lewis

The internationally renowned award winning poet, author and visual artist talks about his life, influences, travels, reading and writing. He will also read a selection of new and old writing.

2pm Maggie Harris

A welcome return to Medway for Maggie, sharing her evocative, fascinating stories and poems about life at home and abroad.

3.15 Cultural Contributors Discussion Panel led by Roy Smith (Seasonally Effected) and featuring Lisa Vigour (Inspirational Nights) and Barry and Sam Fentiman-Hall (Roundabout Nights) in a discussion about the vibrant cultural open mic scene prevalent in Medway, and the opportunities it gives to aspiring performers.

4.30pm Michael Nath

Follow a magical pursuit for the essence of literary character in the company of a latter day Falstaff, as Michael discusses his latest book, British Story.

Throughout the day at Sun Pier we also have a lovely artist, Julie Bradshaw, with us to inspire you to respond to the festival visually and in writing – stand still too long and you’ll be captured forever!

And – for your ears only – Bookmark’d is an opportunity to get up close and personal with local publishers and authors, to hear snippets of, and discuss, their work. Features Urbane Publications, Wordsmithery, David Griffin, Medway Mermaids and Paul Breen.

Sunday 11/10 Nucleus Arts Centre: A Night at the Theatre

7pm My Mind is Free. The new play is inspired by the stories of people who have fallen into modern day slavery and is an all too poignant reminder of how people traffickers can take advantage of the current refugee situation. The play is funded by the Arts Council and the Kent Commissioners Fund.

You can keep up to date with the festival on Twitter @RochLitFest, find them on Facebook or call 07904 643770.  The full programme can be found on the RLF website at, where tickets can be booked for the play and workshops. Brochures can also be picked up from the Visitor Information Centre in Rochester, the venues and various libraries.