Broadening Our World

To Benedict Allen, Don McCullin, Noo Saro-Wiwa, Nick Danziger, Monisha Rajesh, Kassia St Clair, Hilary Bradt, Katie Carr, Bijan Omrani, Tom Parfit and Davina Quinlivan, and to our wonderful audiences, thank you for making the Sherborne Travel Writing Festival – such a thrilling, sell-out success. Already I am assembling next year’s stellar lineup of footloose speakers (including Lonely Planet founder Tony Wheeler who will be flying in from Australia and Mevan Babakar, author of the beautiful picture book The Bicycle: How an Act of Kindness Changed a Young Refugees’s Life ). Booking opens January 2025.

I think that the relative success of the first two festivals has been due in part to the intimacy engendered – only 2 1/2 days, only 12 speakers, only 220 seats in the auditorium. Unlike larger events, authors and audience can meet and mingle – especially at Saturday’s Tea with the Authors get-together (the chat and exchange of ideas fuelled by a cup of warming Hong Shui or uplifting Bao Zhong, fine teas imported and served by Michelle and Rob of Dorset-and-Bath-based Comins Teas).

As I wrote in this year’s programme, our perception of the world is shaped by our experiences and so limited by the places we know, the people who we meet and the stories that we hear. The Covid years forced us to turn in on ourselves, our anxieties and sense of isolation then heightened by climate change, soaring energy costs and the most brutal wars since 1945. While some have continued to draw in their horizons, many more have now seized the chance to get out of their backyard and see the world.

Hence once again the festival’s aim – in common with that of travel writing itself – is to build bridges of understanding between peoples, to enable us to empathise with other lives and to broaden our world. Please join us in 2025.