This would normally be our What’s On page, however the pandemic has obliged us to postpone our 2020 festival to October 2021. In its place we wanted to offer you something you wouldn’t get in any festival marquee. Therefore we proudly present North Cornwall Book Festival At Home, a series of short films in which we’re granted glimpses of authors in their natural habitat, lockdown hair and all, talking about what they’re writing, how the pandemic has affected them and sometimes reading from their latest books. We’ll be adding films each Friday at 5pm as the summer and autumn progress. Most of the authors featured will be appearing at our 2021 festival, when we can meet again and pretend the intervening year never happened.

We want these to be enjoyed as widely as possible, so if there’s one that especially delights you please feel free to share it on social media.

Lisa Woollett

Cornwall based photographer, Lisa Woollett is an inveterate beachcomber and mudlarker. Her entrancing memoir, Rag and Bone, shows how this sets her firmly in a family tradition of scavenging and recycling and will ensure that you will never again cross a beach or expanse of estuary mud without constantly looking down! You can find out more about Lisa’s work on her website

Credits: Editing by Giselle Hyam. Music – Aran Boat by The Rowan Tree

Philip Marsden

Polymath, traveller and sailor Philip Marsden sails from his Cornish home on the upper Fal to the far distant Summer Isles in his latest book, mapping out not only his voyage but those of his intrepid predecessors and the extraordinary edge-of-the-known-world mythology that has grown up around these often tiny outposts of humanity. The journey depicted is not only a physical one with its multiple physical and practical challenges but an emotional one in search of a beloved influence from the Scottish holidays of his boyhood. In his film for us he not only reads from The Summer Isles but depicts his lockdown (much tree planting) and tries to pinpoint just what makes Cornwall so special.

Find out more about Philip and his books on
Editing: Giselle Hyam. Music: Smoking Chimneys by The Rowan Tree

Sophie Ward

Actor Sophie Ward has delivered a truly mind-bending first novel, Love and Other Thought Experiments, which has been justly longlisted for this year’s Booker Prize. Rooted in the touching story of a female couple embarking on motherhood but also facing the challenge of brain cancer, it playfully uses long established philosophical fables to stretch her human material this way and that, to explore different interpretations of reality and, indeed, the limits of love, memory and endeavour. In her film Sophie gives us glimpses of her home life, relates writing fiction to a long career of having to imagine alternative realities as a performer, and talks about this extraordinary novel’s genesis and her lifelong love of Cornwall.

Credits: Edited Dan Hall. Music: Aran Boat/Ker Syllan by The Rowan Tree.

Paul Mendez

Debut novelist Paul Mendez has scored an instant hit with Rainbow Milk. It tells two wildly contrasting stories which seem to have no connection at first: how a young Jamaican couple come to sail to the UK on the Windrush to make a new home in the Black Country and, in the present day, how a young gay man of Jamaican heritage is “disfellowshipped” by his Jehovah’s Witness congregation and family and loses then finds himself in London. Paul talks engagingly about the book, about how its publishing coincided with the great wave of Black Lives Matter marches and of his hopes for a bright new future for black voices in UK writing. He also talks about an early passion for Cornwall! (We just knew he was a good choice for the festival.)

Credits: Edited Dan Hall. Music: Love Birds on a Train by Helen Porter

Petroc Trelawny

When the BBC Radio 3 presenter chaired two memorable events for the North Cornwall Book Festival in 2019 it was a delightful surprise to learn he was writing a memoir about trains and his Cornish boyhood. Here he takes us on his bike ride to the studio, talks about lockdown and gives us a sneak preview of that memoir.

Editor: Giselle Hyam
Music: Chance to Cheat by Barb Jungr & Michael Parker (

Edward Parnell

It was no surprise to see Edward Parnell’s Ghostland shortlisted for this year’s PEN Acklerley Award for best memoir but, like H Is for Hawk or The Last Act of Love, it is so much more than a memoir! Revisiting the scenes of a fenland boyhood overshadowed by tragedy but also quickened by a love of nature, Edward also explores the haunted landscapes associated with a succession of peculiarly uncanny English novels. In his film for us he talks about the genesis of Ghostland and reads a passage about Dark Water, his favourite of the sinister public information films of his youth. You can find out more about Edward’s work on his website:

Credits: Editing by Dan Hall ( Music: Neidges Awarra by The Rowan Tree (

Kate Werran

Historian Kate Werran lays bare a hushed-up ugly incident in Allied relations during WW2 when friction between black and white GIs stationed in the Cornish town of Launceston flared up into an armed uprising which led to a hasty court martial, lingering resentment and sharply divided loyalties. Here she talks about, and reads from, her book An American Uprising, and describes her lifelong attachment to Cornwall. You can find out more about Kate at

Credits: Editing – Dan Hall of Pup Media Music – The Lisbon Maru (instrumental) by Tom Hickox

Amanda Craig

Amanda Craig’s funny-ouch fiction has drilled down into the tensions and ambiguities around second home ownership and incomerdom, and she knows whereof she writes. Soon after the triumphant publication of her latest, The Golden Rule, which begins as a Cornwall-based female retelling of Strangers on a Train, she speaks to us about lockdown in her North Devon hideaway, her deep love of Cornwall and her concern for its rural communities in the wake of Brexit. Find out more at

Editor: Giselle Hyam
Music: Miner Jolly by The Rowan Tree (

Rachel Joyce

This film focuses on novelist, actor and dramatist Rachel Joyce who talks from her shepherd’s hut in Gloucestershire about her latest novel, Miss Benson’s Beetle, what led her to write a proper adventure story about women and the strange experience of seeing a novel published during a global lockdown.

Editor: Giselle Hyam
Music: Smoking Chimney by The Rowan Tree (

Patrick Gale

The festival’s artistic director introduces the series by walking us to the Richard and Judy shed to talk about his novel-in-progress: an evocation of Charles Causley and his mother. You can find out more about Patrick on his website

Editor: Giselle Hyam
Music: Chance to Cheat by Barb Jungr & Michael Parker (

This film series was made possible by grants from Arts Council England’s Emergency Fund and from FEAST. The editors are Giselle Hyam and Dan Hall and the credits were designed and animated by Matilda McMorrow. We’re also indebted to the following musicians associated with the festival for letting us use tracks of theirs on the films. Just click on their names to visit their websites and learn more: The Rowan Tree, Barb JungrTom HickoxHelen Porter.