Fowey Festival of Arts and Literature - A look at the programme from a du Maurier enthusiast's point of view
In the heart of the town of Fowey, from 6th – 14th May 2022, Fowey Festival will be holding its annual Festival of Arts and Literature. This will be the 24th festival, although it was initially called the Daphne du Maurier Festival of Arts and Literature, and as just about everyone will know, there has been no festival for the last two years because of the Covid pandemic. So, here we are, with the festival back in Fowey and a fabulous and varied programme to look forward to, with something for everyone, whatever your interests.
So, first of all, we at the Daphne du Maurier website would like to congratulate Brenda Daly, who has produced this marvellous programme of events for us all to enjoy. And we would like to thank the Fowey Festival board of trustees, who during the past two years have held their nerve, fundraised, held their nerve a bit more, and never given up on the festival, even during the bleakest times of the pandemic, when hardly a soul was in Fowey, and the thought of getting back to 'normal' was like an impossible dream.
We hope everyone that can come back to the festival again will do, and that people who have never been before head for Fowey and join us, because it really is time everyone had a treat and started enjoying themselves again. And we can think of no better place to do just that.
We have taken a look at the programme of events from the point of view of the many Daphne du Maurier enthusiasts that consistently support the festival. We are happy with the du Maurier content, particularly because there are some exciting events relating to Daphne, but substantially different to anything we have enjoyed before.
On Sunday 8th May at 4pm, singer, songwriter, and composer Davey Hal will be bringing you some of his music, including his Daphne du Maurier inspired collection Helford Honeymoon. You can read more about Davey and how he was inspired for Helford Honeymoon on our website here https://www.dumaurier.org/menu_page.php?id=186. Davey's music is beautiful, and this will be a very special event.
Also, on Sunday 8th May, at 8pm, treat yourselves to an entertaining evening with Troy Players, Fowey's amateur dramatic group. Within Troy Players are some remarkably talented playwrights who have been working hard during the winter, writing two short plays, both of which are themed around Daphne du Maurier and highly entertaining. You do not want to miss this unique opportunity. It is going to be such a fun evening.
Another event that you will not want to miss is Patrick Newberry's talk on Tuesday 10th May, at 11am. His talk is Manderley and Beyond – du Maurier's Sense of Place. In it, Patrick will explore the settings of du Maurier's novels and show us how they develop the atmosphere and spirit of each book. Patrick is an architectural historian who has had a lifelong love of the works of Daphne du Maurier, so it is going to be fascinating hearing him speak on this subject.
Dr Serena Trowbridge will be presenting her talk on Daphne du Maurier on Tuesday 10th May at 4pm. Her subject is Reading and Re-reading Daphne du Maurier: How Books Change Us. A book may always be the same, but readers change; books we read as young adults speak to us differently throughout our lives. This talk will bring us a new and exciting look at the writing of Daphne du Maurier and other twentieth-century writers. Serena will be familiar to followers of the Daphne du Maurier website. She recently made it possible for us to publish some of her final year students' essays on Gothic Literature, including the place of Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca within that genre. You will find the article and the students' essays here https://www.dumaurier.org/menu_page.php?id=195
Serena is Chair of the Pre-Raphaelite Society and an expert on the subject of the Pre-Raphaelites. She is presenting a talk about the Pre-Raphaelite muse, artist, and poet Elizabeth Siddall on Monday 9th May at 4pm, a fascinating insight into this remarkable and sometimes overlooked woman.
Not actually a du Maurier event, but one that is also close to our hearts here at the Daphne du Maurier website takes place on Friday 13th May at 2pm. It is We Shall Be Changed, presented by Julia Griggs and Kim Hicks, on behalf of the Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch memorial Fund (The 'Q' Fund). As many of you will know, we are happy to share a corner of our website with Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch because of the close link between him and Daphne du Maurier. You will find Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch's pages here https://www.dumaurier.org/sirarthurquillercouch.php. In this event, Julia talks about the book she is currently writing called We Shall All Be Changed, a fact-based fictional re-telling set in 1914. The story is revealed by three women who played an important role in Sir Arthur's life. They are his wife Louisa, the elder of his two sisters, Mabel, and May Cannon, who would have married Sir Arthur's son Bevil, had he not died in the influenza pandemic following the end of the Great War. This event focuses on Mabel. In the voice of Mabel, on-stage readings will be presented by actor Kim Hicks, a performer specialising in one-woman historical re-enactments.
Also, on Friday 13th May, 4pm – 5pm, festival regular Dr Helen Taylor will be talking about her book Why Women Read Fiction: The Stories of Our Lives. Helen's book includes many references to Daphne du Maurier, so we are sure she will be included in this interesting talk. Helen's book was published not long before the pandemic, and she has just published a new edition that contains insight into Covid lockdown reading.
The guided walks that form part of the festival are back again this year. The du Maurier related ones are:
Sunday 8th May, 2pm – 4pm and Tuesday 10th May 10.30am – 12.30pm, Daphne du Maurier's Fowey. These walks are led by Dawn, who has been leading walks linked to Daphne du Maurier for more than 20 years. She will tell you about Daphne's life and inspire you with the landscape so intrinsically involved in Daphne's works.
Monday 9th May, 10.30am – 12.30pm, Picturesque Charlestown. Sally will be leading this walk that touches on Daphne du Maurier because Charlestown is one of the locations used to film the 1998 film for television (Carlton Television) of Frenchman's Creek, starring Tara Fitzgerald and Anthony Delon.
Wednesday 11th May, 10.30am – 12.30pm, Strands of Time. This is another opportunity to walk with Dawn and share some of her du Maurier knowledge. Daphne du Maurier's novels The House on the Strand and Rule Britannia are set in the Par and Tywardreath area. This walk takes you to both villages and allows you to see them from their historical perspective as well as through the eyes of Daphne du Maurier's books.
Wednesday 11th May, 2.30pm – 5pm, Hidden Bodinnick. Bodinnick was the village where the du Maurier family made their first home in Cornwall, albeit a holiday home initially. It was here that Daphne began her writing career with a new determination, having spent some time previously making small inroads into her life as a writer. This walk, led by Sally, will explain some of the history of the village and its surrounding area and will help you appreciate how it inspired Daphne du Maurier.
Saturday 14th May, 10am – 3pm, Rebecca Guided Walk. Dr Ella Westland, a specialist on Daphne du Maurier's writing, will be leading the Rebecca Walk. She will take you to Polridmouth Cove, the setting for the shipwreck scene in Rebecca, then up to the Gribbin Head, where you will have beautiful views of St Austell Bay, and then to the tiny village of Polkerris. This is a stunning walk and one where you will feel as if you are quite literally walking in Daphne's footsteps.
Another walk that might interest du Maurier followers is Historic Polruan on Saturday 7th May 10.30am – 12.30pm.
For details of the venues for events and meeting places for the start of the various walks, see the main programme when you book your tickets https://www.foweyfestival.com/events.
Most importantly, enjoy the festival, it will be fantastic for everyone to be together again.
Ann Willmore, March 2022.