The First Story Festival 2011

22nd-23rd September 2011

We are delighted to report on an awesome inaugural First Story Festival. Broughton Castle in Oxfordshire was enlivened with writers, students and book-lovers for two magical days on 22 and 23 September 2011.

Michael Morpurgo merged fact and fiction as he delved into his childhood and captivated an audience of parents and children on the evening of Thursday 22 September. The following evening David Nicholls related entertaining anecdotes about his fascinating and varied career before becoming a bestselling author.

The proceeds from these two brilliantly enjoyable talks supported a very special day for 500 First Story students on Friday 23 September.

The young writers’ day was opened by Michael Morpurgo and Mark Haddon, ending with encouraging words of advice from Philip Pullman. Throughout the day the budding young writers were offered an infusion of poetry and prose workshops, readings and talks from some of Britain’s best published writers and performers. The sun shone down on Broughton Castle as these young people found their voices and shared their stories with fellow students and writers.

We are happy to share feedback with you from the day:

‘It has been an incredible experience, and I have been so inspired. Now I can’t stop writing at home! Thanks again so so much for giving me the chance to be involved with First Story.’ Rebecca Short, First Story student

‘Many thanks for inviting me to one of the most enjoyable and uplifting events of my career. It was so wonderful to see so many students ENJOYING writing, especially boys. They revelled in the opportunity to write freely and express their fantastic ideas and then perform them to an audience!’ Christine Lawson, English Advisor at Oxford County Council 

‘I had a thoroughly enjoyable day, as did the students; it has started the programme off with a bang!’ Thomas Daly, teacher at Holland Park School

‘The exposure to such high profile authors was stupendous! Students never get opportunities like this.’ Kate Pretsell, teacher at Burlington Danes Academy

‘Thank you so much. Our pupils have been so excited and will never forget today. Many new writers will have been born.’ Tanya Russell, teacher at Nottingham Academy 

‘Thank you for making us feel valued as teachers and reminding us how explosive creative writing can be.’ Christopher Suckling, teacher at Pimlico Academy

With special thanks to Broughton Castle’s keepers Lord and Lady Saye & Sele, the wonderful writers, delicious Banbury Catering, the lovely local independent bookshops selling the tickets, and all the volunteers who made these events possible in support of First Story.



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