Since 2012 Chipping Norton has held its Literary Festival each April, celebrating writing and reading in attractive venues at the heart of this charming Cotswold town. Everyone at ChipLitFest is a volunteer, from the venue ushers to the Festival Director. Almost 100 people work tirelessly throughout the year to deliver the programme of literary events.
ChipLitFest has earned its reputation as one of the friendliest and most innovative festivals, bringing a wide-ranging array of writers, poets, public figures and creative people to the town and drawing large and lively audiences from a wide area. In previous years we have welcomed Jim Al Kahlili, David Baddiel, Jo Brand, Candice Carty-Williams, Lee Child, Guy Gunaratne, Frank Gardner, Natalie Haynes, Armando Iannucci, Adam Kay, Prue Leith, Jenni Murray, David Nicholls, Robert Peston, Ian Rankin, Tony Robinson, Alan Rusbridger, SF Said, Lionel Shriver, Robin Stevens, Polly Toynbee, Kit de Waal, Terry Waite and Reggie Yates, among scores of others. Our innovative profit-sharing scheme benefits all participating authors equally.
While focusing on the four-day festival over the last weekend in April, ChipLitFest also presents a number of accessible, entertaining events throughout the year – both celebrity speakers and workshops – to satisfy the appetite of its many supporters for literature in all its forms.
ChipLitFest is a community project, involving over 100 volunteers each year and enhancing links with residents of all ages and organisations within and around Chipping Norton. Our participatory events and workshops encourage people to sharpen their reading, writing and creative skills. The annual ChipLitFest short story competition attracts hundreds of entries.
Aiming to create and maintain lifelong readers, our renowned Children’s Programme reaches out to children and young people throughout the Chipping Norton Schools Partnership, including those not in mainstream educational settings and those who have been school-excluded. Much of the programme is free or priced at £2.50 a ticket to make it as accessible as possible. We also arrange author visits to 18 local schools. Our creative writing programme for local schoolchildren finishes with the publication of a book of their work, launched at the festival.
We are committed to diversity and inclusion, bringing writers who can highlight the range of audience experience and offering an opportunity to hear from those whose voices may be under-represented.
We are grateful for the support of local business and individuals who value ChipLitFest’s contribution to our community. When you come for the Festival, make sure to allow yourself time to explore Chipping Norton, checking out its independent shops, or relaxing with a good book in one of its tempting cafés or bars.
Chipping Norton Literary Festival is a registered charity, no: 1152866. Our Board of Trustees is comprised of publishing professionals and those with legal and financial qualifications. Our Patrons represent the world of publishing as writers, broadcasters, agents and comedians.
Our Management Committee is comprised of dedicated volunteers, including those with marketing, fundraising, financial and education backgrounds. We work in partnership and consultation with Chipping Norton Schools Partnership, Chipping Norton Theatre, Jaffé & Neale Bookshop, and OX7 Youth Service.
Mark Billingham is one of the UK’s most acclaimed and popular crime writers whose series of novels featuring D.I. Tom Thorne has sold over five million copies worldwide and twice won him the Crime Novel Of The Year award. His standalone thriller In the Dark was chosen as one of the twelve best books of the year by the Times and his debut novel, Sleepyhead was chosen by the Sunday Times as one of the 100 books that had shaped the decade.
A television series based on the Thorne novels starred David Morrissey as Tom Thorne and a major new drama based on In The Dark and Time Of Death was screened by the BBC in 2017.
Mark Billingham’s latest novel is The Killing Habit.
Fanny Blake was a publisher for many years editing both fiction and non-fiction before becoming a freelance journalist and writer. She has written various non-fiction titles, acted as a ghost writer for a number of celebrities and is also books editor of Woman & Home. She has written seven novels including House of Dreams and Our Summer Together. Her latest novel An Italian Summer is out now.
John Dougherty has always loved reading, so it’s not surprising that he became a writer. With around twenty published books to his name so far, he’s probably best known for the critically acclaimed and very silly Stinkbomb & Ketchup-Face series, inspired by his own children. He is also a poet; his first collection, Dinosaurs & Dinner-Ladies, was published in 2016.
Born in Larne, Northern Ireland, John now lives in Stroud, Gloucestershire. He once harboured ambitions to be a professional musician, and with his band supported acts as varied as Bad Manners, Cast, and Hank Wangford. These days his song writing talents are often put to use writing silly songs for his school and festival appearances, and protest songs for campaigns he supports.
John is very proud to be a patron of the Chipping Norton Literary Festival and in 2016, alongside Jo Cotterill, he was a guest director of the children’s programme.
Clare Mackintosh is the founder member of ChipLitFest. She is also a Sunday Times bestselling author.
Clare spent twelve years in the police force, including time on CID, and as a public order commander. She left the police in 2011 to work as a freelance journalist and social media consultant, and now writes full time.
Clare’s debut novel, I Let You Go, was a Sunday Times top ten bestseller for 12 weeks, and was the fastest selling title by a new crime writer in 2015. It was selected for both the Richard and Judy Book Club and ITV’s Loose Women’s ‘Loose Books’, and has sold more than a million copies worldwide. In July 2016 Clare received the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year award, and won the Cognac Prix du Polar for International Novel of the Year that autumn.
Clare’s second book, I See You, was published in the UK in July 2016, charting at number 1 in the Sunday Times hardback bestseller list. I See You was a Richard & Judy Summer Read in 2017, and won the readers’ vote. Clare’s books are translated into more than 35 languages.
Clare is patron of the Silver Star Society, a charity based at the John Radcliffe hospital in Oxford which supports parents experiencing high-risk or difficult pregnancies. She lives in North Wales with her husband and their three children.
Korky Paul was born in Zimbabwe and studied Fine Arts and Animation.
Among his many picture books is the multi-million selling Winnie and Wibur series. Known only to himself as the 'World's Greatest Portrait Artist', he visits schools promoting his passion for drawing. Winner of Supporter of the Year for Summertown Stars Football Club. He is a patron of The Art Room, Pegasus Theatre, ARCh, Reading Quest, The Stratford Literary Festival and ChipLitFest.
He works in Oxford.
SF Said's first book, Varjak Paw, won the Smarties Prize for Children's Literature. It has since been adapted as a stage play and an opera, and a film version is in development. The sequel, The Outlaw Varjak Paw, won the Blue Peter Book Of The Year. His third book, Phoenix, was selected to represent the UK on the IBBY International Honour Book List, shortlisted for the Guardian Children's Fiction Award, and nominated for both the Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals. All three books were illustrated by Dave McKean. He is currently working on a book called Tyger.
Robin was born in California and grew up in an Oxford college, across the road from the house where Alice in Wonderland lived. She has been making up stories all her life.
When she was twelve, her father handed her a copy of The Murder of Roger Ackroyd and she realised that she wanted to be either Hercule Poirot or Agatha Christie when she grew up. She spent her teenage years at Cheltenham Ladies' College, reading a lot of murder mysteries and hoping that she'd get the chance to do some detecting herself (she didn't). She went to university, where she studied crime fiction, and then worked at a children's publisher. Robin is now a full-time author who lives in Oxford with her husband and her pet bearded dragon, Watson. She is the author of the bestselling, award-winning Murder Most Unladylike series and the Guggenheim Mystery.
Jenny Aston: Festival Photographer
Jenny, along with Mike, will be photographing throughout the festival. You will see us rushing from event to event and grabbing pictures of the atmosphere along the way.
Jenny has photographed Chipping Norton Literary Festival for the last 3 years, and enjoyed every moment. Throughout the rest of the year she runs her busy photographic practice providing local businesses, charities and private clients with their visual resources.
Please contact us for images; firstname.lastname@example.org or call on 07908 816421
Alison Beasley: Festival PR
Alison oversees all of ChipLitFest's PR, helping us to forge relationships with local and national newspapers and magazines.
She runs Lincoln Beasley PR - a no-nonsense, straight-talking consultancy specialising in PR for game developers and tech companies. From start-ups and indies to large studios and corporations; across mobile, web, PC and console - we work closely with clients to create bespoke campaigns.
Alison is a pioneer in helping developers take control of their own media profile, something she’s still passionate about. She’s an ambassador for Special Effect, an incredible charity that makes games accessible for the disabled, and has served as an advisory board member of GameCity.
Angela Caiger: Treasurer
ChipLitFest's Treasurer and all round financial supremo.
Becca Connor: Festival Secretary
Hailing originally from Gateshead in the North East, Becca made Chipping Norton her home 4 years ago. After a rather longer than intended stint in customer services, Becca realised that she really wanted a career in publishing, following various fascinating and inspirational talks and workshops at ChipLitFest 2016.
She currently works as an Editorial Assistant for Routledge, working on academic sports books, and is thoroughly enjoying learning the ropes in a fast-paced, creative environment. Having been a huge fan of ChipLitFest since her sister introduced her to it, Becca is thrilled to join the committee as secretary.
Jenny Dee: Festival Director
ChipLitFest 2020 is Jenny’s fifth as Festival Director. Previously she had spent 25 years running an educational theatre company, Caught in the Act. As its founder and director, Jenny devised, wrote and directed dramas exploring health and wellbeing issues for children and young people in primary, secondary and non-mainstream education.
Jenny is convinced that literature has the power to transform and enhance lives and is keen that the festival reaches beyond committed readers to harder-to-reach audiences.
She lives in Kingham with comedy writer, Simon Blackwell, and they have two grown-up sons.
Alison Gomm: Author Care
Alison has more books than she can fit in her house but cannot bear to part with any. (Don't get her started on the costs of off-site storage.) It is the thought that she can reach for one of them at any moment and re-enter its particular world that makes them precious to her. She loves the company of writers, whom she finds endlessly varied and always fascinating, so ChipLitFest is the perfect weekend for her. By day, Alison is the only non-economist on the editorial team of the Oxford Review of Economic Policy, an academic journal. Since its aim is to influence public policy and to be read by the interested lay person as well as other economists, it makes sense to have one non-specialist on the team.
Pheebs is back for a fifth year on the Chiplitfest team and is looking forward to the chance to experience the Festival 2020 books and events. She is now studying Classics in the first year at university and is keen to be involved in the writing world as much as possible, including Chiplitfest’s wide variety of literary delights. See the blog pages for her reviews of some of the books that will be discussed at the Festival and her interviews with their authors or authors who are involved with our exciting local schools events. You can also see her reviews of some of the events from the last few years to give you a flavour of the amazing experience that ChipLitFest offers.
Harriet O'Brien: Sponsorship Associate
Harriet writes about travel for the Telegraph and a number of other publications and websites. When she's not scooting around the Cotswolds or India or France she's been working with our sponsorship and marketing teams. She is the author of two books: Forgotten Land, a rediscovery of Burma (Michael Joseph); and Queen Emma and the Vikings (Bloomsbury).
Laura Parker: Copy Writing and Website Content
Laura is our copywriter, web editor and the only committee member to own sheep. During the day she’s out gathering words, mustering phrases, and rounding up stray commas for her clients in construction, steel, beer, oil and hair products. She’s hoping lambing will be over by the time of the Festival.
Charlotte Sabin: Programme Director
Charlotte joined the Committee as ChipLitFest Programme Director having volunteered at the 2016 Festival. Charlotte is a writer and editor from Chipping Norton. Having taught English in South East Asia and devised curricula for language schools, Charlotte is an active advocate for creative arts and education, acting as content writer for Field Notes and on other digital platforms. Her writing has been published in The Bookseller and on Gadgette.
She is part of the team in Author Liaison for Port Eliot Festival, and in 2015 took on the role of Assistant Producer for online literary festival BritCrime. She has also coordinated online coverage for North Cornwall Book Festival. Her independently curated projects range from folk music archiving to community arts and have achieved national recognition. For the last year, Charlotte has worked as an editor and moderator for Cornwall-based Professional Writing Academy.
She has lectured at Falmouth University on social media and digital writing and will soon be tutoring at the MET Film School, London on digital storytelling.
Gill de Warren: Design
Gill de Warren aka Gill Coupland is responsible for the Festival's printed design - flyers, posters, banners etc.
Gill's professional background is in graphic design and advertising. After an art school education, she worked as an Art Director for several London ad agencies and subsequently ran her own freelance creative marketing business, developing campaigns and product packaging for the food industry (cheese, ice cream, olive oil, wine etc). She later gained an MA in Art and Design Education and joined an American university in London eventually becoming Dean of Visual Communication, with full oversight of the art and design departments including Graphic Design, Illustration, Photography and Media Production.
Gill now lives in Chippy and continues to freelance on graphic design and education projects. She is also a member and past president of The Rotary Club of Battersea Park, London. Through Rotary, she has built several major charitable educational projects in India and travels frequently to oversee them. She is a painter and illustrator herself and a collector of contemporary British art. Gill also continues to promote the work of her late husband, who was a prominent life coach and author.
Milly Weaver: Schools & Young People Programme Director
As a teacher at a Chipping Norton school, Milly is perfectly placed to deliver in her role of Schools and Young People Programme Director.
Eva Williams: Sponsorship Director
Mr Richard Hoare, Eva’s English school teacher at Coundon Court School in Coventry and author, opened up the world of books to Eva – Shakespeare’s plays in particular.
Eva’s love of words extended to her career. She has worked in PR, marketing and fundraising within the private and voluntary sectors. For ten years Eva worked in academia at the University of Oxford and is now freelance.
In her spare time Eva is a volunteer on the ChipLitFest sponsorship committee, a member of a book club, and can be found in galleries up and down the country – art is her other great love!
For ten years, Eva worked in academia at the University of Oxford and is now with Armonico Consort, a critically acclaimed UK choir and instrumental ensemble renowned for its inspiring concerts and imaginative singing education programme.