For the love of Books – Words by the Water

All writers need inspiration from time to time but if they can’t find any on the shores of Derwent Water, surrounded by our fells then maybe it’s time to put their laptop and pens away. 

 Words by the Water provides spectacular surroundings and so much more. The literary festival is hosted courtesy of the Theatre by the Lake in Keswick and it’s the premier festival of words and ideas in the north-west.


Prue Leith

Beginning on the 8th of March the event takes place over ten days and is one of the best ways for writers and readers to get together to share their love of books.  A rare thing in an online world that’s device driven.  There are talks, lectures, discussions, workshops, book launches and special exhibitions.

Festival President, Melvyn Bragg explains why gatherings like Words by the Water are so important: “The rule seems to be that in times of national uncertainty and distress, people turn more resolutely to the non-political complexities and enrichment of the Arts.  Words by the Water is well-placed to provide this sanctuary and has become established as a leading Literary Festival in the United Kingdom.”

This year’s festival boasts Bake Off’s Prue Leith, who will be discussing her life and cooking. John Simpson reveals the murky realms of Russia, while former MP Alan Johnson takes us on a tour through the records of his youth.  Kenneth Baker explores the seven deadly sins and Amber Massie-Blomfeld takes to the stage to argue that Theatre by the Lake is one of the twenty theatres to visit before you die.


John Simpson

For the adventurers, mountaineer Chris Bonington will share the challenges of climbing Everest and philosophers Julian Baggini and Raymond Tallis tackle the mystery of human history.  If you’d like something more light-hearted then Robin Ince will argue that in humour we can find some of the answers to a few key questions that plague humans.

While it may be easy to wallow in fiction, we have to bear in mind the old cliche that the truth is stranger, so the festival will also dip it’s toes into modern politics. Journalists Polly Toynbee and David Walker will unpick recent political events and Sarah Churchill will compare the concepts of the ‘American Dream’ and ‘America First’ with the modern (Trumpian) interpretation.

You’ll find plenty of comedy on the menu with events from Guardian satirist John Crace who casts a wry eye over the political landscape, from which there is no shortage of material.   Comedian and madcap explorer Tim FitzHigham, who sailed a bathtub across the channel, will be present as will the irreverent poet, Roger McGough.

Kamal Ahmed

The Studio offers the usual eclectic range of events with talks with from Christopher Skaife, the Ravenmaster from the Tower of London and Jonny Benjamin, who was saved from taking his own life by a stranger.

Mike Berners-Lee tackles the difficult issues when it come to combating climate change and politician Rachel Reeves unpicks the role of women in British politics.

As ever local talent is celebrated.  Whether it’s climbing Skiddaw, walking through the Borrowdale Valley or offering a  glimpse of Penrith in the 18th Century our local writers know better than most.

Roger McGough

Family Day is an exciting new edition to the festival and in the Studio Horrible Histories illustrator Martin Brown will share drawing tips for our budding young artists and advisor for Blue Planet, Jon Copley, will cast light on the weird and wonderful mysteries of the deep sea.

Words by the Water is always challenging and thought-provoking. Who can think of anything better than engaging with some of the best thinkers, writers and commentators?  A love of books unites everyone at the festival.  Reading challenges the mind, which can stimulate a whole series of ideas that can lead us anywhere.

Make your way down to Words by the Water because there really is something for everyone.

For tickets please contact 017687 74411 or visit

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