Laurie Lee celebrated at the Cheltenham Literature Festival

The University of Gloucestershire sponsored lots of Festival events this year. One event in particular goes back a long way for us. The School of Humanities sponsors the annual Laurie Lee Memorial Lecture, which in the past has been given by Paula Byrne and Robert Macfarlane. This year, instead of a formal lecture, three poets gathered for a special celebration of Laurie Lee’s life and work, introduced by Professor Shelley Saguaro. The poets P.J.Kavanagh and Brian Patten knew Lee personally and shared their memories of the poet, Patten reading out part of a moving memoir. Nature writer Tim Dee talked about Lee’s influence on his work as a writer, photographer, birdwatcher and, in a sense, memorialist of landscape (read Kathleen Jamie’s review of Dee’s work here.)

Laurie Lee is a writer we claim as our own, and we’ve celebrated the centenary of his birth in many ways. Poet and Creative Writing Lecturer Angela France, who knew Laurie Lee in his final years, hosted an evening of Lee’s poetry at the prestigious Cheltenham Poetry Festival in March (and here); Angela was also on the panel of judges for the Literature Festival’s Schools’ Creative Writing Competition , in which Cider with Rosie made an appearance.

Photos & Links: Chelt Fest 2014:
Angela France photo courtesy of Western Daily Press.

Students read Cider With Rosie to raise money for Booktrust

To celebrate World Book Day and to raise money for Booktrust, our enterprising level 4 students of English Literature and English Literature and Creative Writing arranged a sponsored reading of Laurie Lee’s Cider with Rosie. It also marked the centenary of this Gloucestershire writer’s birth, and offered a good excuse to drink cider and eat cakes.


Siani Medlock made and decorated these splendid cupcakes.

Twelve readers started at about 3:30, egged on by a supporting crowd. By 9:30, in another location, we were flagging. But we completed the book.

The bitter end, c. 9:00 pm.

The organisers were interviewed on camera and some photos taken for the Student Union newspaper Space. We’ll collect the incriminating evidence for our Flickr photo gallery, to be uploaded here soon; please check back.

Many thanks to the organising team: Charlotte Damiral, Niall Gallen, Melody Grace, Siani Medlock, Laura Nicklin and Katherine Timbury. The readers were (in no particular order) Beth Norris, Siani Medlock, Luc Wafford, Katie McDonnell, Niall Gallen, Cherie Jones, Melody Grace, Natalie Mason, Laura Nicklin, Katherine Timbury, Hilary Weeks, Debby Thacker.

Sponsored Read-a-Thon for World Book day, 4th March

English Literature students are marking World Book Day next Tuesday with a sponsored reading of Laurie Lee’s Cider With Rosie. All proceeds go to the Booktrust.

The event celebrates the power of reading to change lives, and draws on the School of Humanities’ many connections with Gloucestershire writers. Each year we sponsor the Laurie Lee Memorial Lecture at the Cheltenham Festival of Literature, and the University Archives have extensive holdings of Gloucestershire Poets, Writers and Artists’ work.

Organiser Melody Grace writes:

Today in the UK, three in ten children are living in households that do not contain a single book. This year Booktrust have launched the Children’s Reading Fund to support children with additional needs, disadvantaged children and children in care. They want to help children throughout the UK enjoy books, reading and the lifelong benefits they can bring, and your participation could make a real difference.

On the 4th March, the English Literature course hosts a sponsored Readathon of Cider with Rosie by Laurie Lee. It will begin in TC001 at 3:15-and end in TC002A by 9:15 at the absolute latest. Refreshments will be provided!

Please support this student-led event and help to spread the gift of reading that we take so much for granted.
Cider with Rosie Read-a-Thon
Tuesday 4 March 2014
Francis Close Hall TC001 (Main lecture theatre)
3:15 till evening
Refreshments provided

Robert Macfarlane delivers the Laurie Lee Memorial Lecture at the Cheltenham Lit Festival

As usual, students and staff are enjoying a fortnight of all things literary, cultural and book-obsessed at the Cheltenham Festival of Literature. Yesterday something really special took place. Robert Macfarlane delivered the annual  Laurie Lee Memorial Lecture, sponsored by the University of Gloucestershire, to a capacity audience at the Forum. Dr Shelley Saguaro, Head of the School of Humanities, introduced Professor Macfarlane’s talk on walking the ancient paths and track-ways of Britain.  His long walks helped reconnect him with the landscape, as well as with walker-writers such as Laurie Lee, whose long walk from Gloucestershire to London and then on to Spain to fight in the civil war is described in As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning (1969). Professor Macfarlane’s book The Old Ways: A Journey on Foot (2012) explores, in all senses, ‘the relationship between paths, walking and the imagination’. The autumn weather participated in the talk; thunderclaps and a terrific rainstorm forced him to stop speaking for several minutes. We felt that it was a tribute to his book.