H.G. Wells Festival
Wells came to Sandgate in 1896 for the benefit of his health; as it was to his liking, he commissioned Voysey, a well known architect, to build a house in a commanding position overlooking the sea, which became the literary centre of the world in Edwardian times.
His circle included Joseph Conrad, George Bernard Shaw, Arnold Bennett, Ford Madox Ford and Henry James, as well as political figures such as the local MP, Sir Edward Sassoon and his friend Winston Churchill.
Wells stayed for 13 happy years, enjoying the most productive period of his long career. The Sea Lady and Kipps feature the Sandgate and Folkestone area, and The First Men in the Moon has scenes reminiscent of West Hythe nearby.
His romantic life also blossomed at this time, although it initial product, A Modern Utopia, created such a stir in the area where he had become a magistrate that he and his family upped sticks in 1909 for London.
Starting on the century of his departure in 2009, and annually thereafter, Wells Festivals in honour of his genius and those around him are being held. This has been sparked by his great fan, Reginald Turnill, formerly BBC Aerospace Correspondent, who interviewed Wells as a young reporter, and who has established a strong organising committee.
The festival is centred on The Grand, Folkestone – when William Hague arrived to give a talk on his Pitt book, he exclaimed, ‘What a wonderful building and such a magnificent setting – the perfect place for a literary festival.’
Portrait of H G Wells from a photograph taken during his Folkestone days and signed by him, executed for the Festival Committee by Pauline Fitzpatrick
Wells Festival 2012
Turnill Prize £1000
Angus Nesbit, Junior – A Visitor from the Deep
The Grand Prize £250
Hummel C Addams, Senior – Beneath
Mayor’s Handwriting Prize £100
announced 29th August 2012
A VISITOR FROM THE DEEP by Angus Nesbit
BORN OF THE ISLAND by Anastasia Bow-Bertrand
SWEPT AWAY by Sinéad Stoddart
WEST HARTLEPOOL, 1962 by Akiho Schilz
THE SEA-GODS by Sophie Lister
LIMB by Sophie Lister
KREACHER by William Jarrett
A BIT OF CONTRAST by Holly Ice
WRECK by Daisy-Mae Perkins
REDEMPTION OF THE SEA CUR by Karl Mercer
MODEL GUESTS by Michele Sheldon
THE EXTRAORDINARY TALE OF KASSARA by David Griffin
THIS ISLAND RACE by David Shonfield
TELL HIM NOW by Mike Umbers
SEA SURGE by Pat Ashford
BENEATH by Hummel C. Addams
THE BOAT by Mel Fawcet
THE LEOPARD FROM THE SEA by Don Nixon
SUICIDE IS PAINLESS by Andrew Campbell-Kearsey
BEST EATEN COLD by Fabian Acker
THE LAST BUT ONE OF THE MOHICANS by Rik Thomas
SEA VIEW by Anthony Hulse
SALT WATER DREAMS by Lane Ashfeldt
Emphasising our literary roots
The Wells Festival is now in its fourth year at The Grand in Folkestone, and is getting into its stride in its core objective, to encourage and develop writing and storytelling skills particularly in the younger generations.
The organising committee is especially blessed this year with the arrival of a new secretary who is not only an ardent short story writer but also participates in several writing groups. And like so many others, she excels at English as a foreign language.
At the writers' workshop on 21st April Tom Tomaszewski fed us many inspirational ideas about how to write stories that people feel compelled to read; he too sounded more English than the English, just like his fellow Pole Joseph Conrad (a friend of HG Wells) who he referred to and who had stood on the very same spot here 100 years ago!
At the workshop Sandra Lady Howard told us in compelling detail about how she climbed up the authorial ladder - then presented her fourth book which had been published that very week. Her husband, born of Polish parents, also achieved more than most natives, and when making party political broadcasts from The Grand was compiling them himself without assistanc.
It only goes to show that it is practice that makes perfect. HG Wells sprang from humble beginnings and made a good living by his pen. The same goes for the Festival's founder and principal sponsor, Reg Turnill, who has become one of the BBC's longest serving correspondents, having led for many years on aerospace. His longevity is legendary - he even interviewed HG Wells almost 80 years ago.
So anyone with the right determination and spirit can write to be read - go on, give it a go! There's £1,000 for the winning Junior (under 26), and £250 for the winning Senior (26 & over). And, for the first time, this year there is the Folkestone Town Mayor's £100 prize for the best hand written manuscript.
And another exciting innovation: an anthology of ten of the best Junior and ten of the best senior scripts, sponsored by Folkestone Town Council, is to be launched at the Gala Dinner on Saturday 22nd September by Sandra Howard, with a critique at the Buffet Lunch the following day by our leading author Stewart Ross.
Sandra may appear to have had a charmed life, setting out as a model as Sandra Paul in the 60s with two Vogue covers to her credit, and later enjoying the trappings of high political office as Mrs Michael Howard (now Lord & Lady Howard), but her literary career has entirely been the product of self taught hard work, much of it in her far flung attic study.
She has three novels to her credit, all best sellers, and a fourth being developed, which could be the raciest yet.
She has been a great supporter of the Wells Festival, and is most eager to encourage new talent to emulate her.
Stewart is a prolific writer, especially of prize winning children’s stories, and is a popular and sought after speaker at educational workshops and on cruise ships.
Like Sandra he is an occasional journalist, he lives near-by and like Wells he has a garden refuge for writing.
Peter is a veteran BBC & ITV newsreader and Question Time host, and well remembered for his parliamentary election night coverage.
He is a Liverpudlian, and amazingly was at school with Jimmy Tarbuck, John Lennon, George Harrison and Paul McCartney, then raced ahead to the ancient University College, Oxford, alma mater of Beveridge, Atlee and Harold Wilson. He controversially wore a burgundy red tie when announcing the death of the Queen Mother.He is now Sevenoaks based.
He has lately entered the authorial stakes with his autobiography, ‘When One Door Closes’, described as a ‘must read’ by Sir Paul McCartney.
Reg Turnill - Chairman
Rosie Unsworth - Secretary
Graham Turnill - Treasurer
Wells Festival 2011
Rachel White, Stewart Ross, Andrew Barr
The final award for Folkestone’s £1000 H G Wells Writers’ Competition for 2011 was shared between Andrew Barr, 21,of Folkestone, for Tempuus, and Rachel White, 22, of Temple Ewell, Dover, for Switch . They were presented with £500 cheques by best-selling author Stewart Ross at a ceremony at The Grand on the Leas on Sunday, 23 October.
The Ann Nevill awards of £100 went to Sarah Unsworth, 24, of Folkestone, for The Transition to Adulthood and Helen Derry, 71 of Saltwood, for The Price of Silence. These awards were presented by Peter Sissons, recently retired BBC news presenter.
Stewart Ross, Helen Derry, Rachel White, Andrew Barr,
Sarah Unsworth & Peter Sissons
The Grand’s £250 Award for the best Senior Entry: Following the disqualification of the original award, this has been transferred to Grant Gibson of Hythe for his contribution entitled “An Education”.
Stewart Ross, author of 250 published books, who writes in a hut near Canterbury, offered budding writers a 10-point plan; it included having a book to read wherever you are, and a thick skin as protection against criticism; for fiction writers torment worked wonders, having a bankrupt father, and living for a fortnight in winter with the electricity turned off.
Reg Turnill, who reported all the moonlandings for the BBC and sponsors the main award, said this year’s competition produced the smallest number of entries but
provoked the most successful discussions about the desperate need to raise standards of literacy.
Michael Stainer - Chairman
17th,18th & 19th September 2010
Catalina Pearce,19, from Folkestone wins £1000 prize in the under 25s category for her piece called Life, Death and Love (PDF)
Michael John Dnes, 25, from London was the runner up in the under 25s category with his piece called Gresham's Law (PDF)
Mary Bryden, 56, from Caldicot Monmouthshire, Wales, wins £250 prize in the over 25s category for her piece Cross Purposes (PDF)
Michele Sheldon was the runner up in the over 25s category with her piece Centring of Olives (PDF)
Peter Murrells, 16, from Folkestone wins one of Ann Nevill’s two £100 prizes in the under 25s catergory for his piece called (PDF)
TEN NOMINATED FOR 2009 £1000 PRIZE
Ten short story writers were nominated for Folkestone’s £1000 H G Wells Festival prize. They included a 12 years’ old boy. Stories, handwritten and up to 5000 words in length, came in from the over 80s, as well as teenagers and the 12 year old.
The winner of the annual award, offered by Sandgate Society President, Reg Turnill, 94, was presented with the cheque by Professor Dominic Wells, great grandson of the famous writer, on the steps of The Grand on Sunday 20 September 2009.
The five judges, headed by Ros McCarthy, until recently head of Cobham School for Girls, were unaware of the ages and names of the competitors before they made their selection.
This new 3-day annual Festival celebrates the fact that Wells wrote many of his most famous stories, including Kipps and Mr Polly, when he lived at Spade House, Sandgate, 100 years ago. The award aims to inspire some original new writing talent, particularly among the very young, and perhaps the very old as well.
Here is the list of nominations, in order of age, with the story title and links to the stories of the winner and runners up:
James Riordan, 12 - “Time's Up”
William Jarrett, 13 - “The Invaders from Within” - winner, link below
John Brasington,15 - “My Ascent and Descent from the World”
Jacob Saywell, 15 -
Amy Alice Seager, 16 - “Love and Longing”
Andrew Barr, 19 - “History”
Martin Cooper, 22 - “Three Weeks in the Life of a Dreamer named Jones”
David Hunter Pybus, 61 - Three stories “To Sleep, Perchance to Dream”, “Secret of the Sun” and “Fairyland Revisited”
David Cowell, 62 - “The Mother of Surprises”
Michael Umbers, 72 - “A New Tale of the Unexpected”
William Jarrett, 13, “The Invaders from Within”
Left to right:
Reg Turnill, Prof Dominic Wells, William Jarrett, Ros McCarthy