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Ways With Words at Dartington

PUBLISHED: 15:27 30 June 2008 | UPDATED: 15:17 20 February 2013

Martin Bell

Martin Bell

This month Dartington Hall once again plays host to the literary world, with ten days of 'Ways With Words' that celebrates the written word in all its forms.

Ways With Words is now in its 17th year. This is a wonderful testament to its huge popularity with writers and visitors alike. People come back year after year because they know the programme is going to be varied and stimulating, that they will meet like-minded people open to ideas and debate (and often make enduring friendships), and that they will leave feeling inspired and refreshed.

Ways With Words brings together politicians, media figures, novelists, environmentalists, actors, philosophers and more. They engage in talks and debates concerning every imaginable topic and draw in the audience, so events often evolve into a free and frank exchange of ideas. You have the chance to participate in smaller, more intimate discussions where there is the opportunity for real dialogue; or you can try your hand at writing yourself at one of the workshops on offer in poetry and prose. Don't leave the kids at home, there are events for them too; musicians and storytellers will keep them entertained.

Last year's highlight was an appearance by Seamus Heaney, winner of the TS Eliot poetry prize and recipient of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1995. This is a hard act to follow, but Ways With Words doesn't disappoint. Speakers already booked include: media commentator Jonathan Dimbleby; best-selling novelists Kate Mosse, Michele Roberts, Virginia Ironside and Penelope Lively; radical and political thinker Tariq Ali; journalist Martin Bell; actor, writer and director Steven Berkoff; TV presenter Dan Cruickshank; screenwriter Andrew Davies; cookery and travel writer Matthew Fort; environmentalists Satish Kumar and Jonathon Porritt, and Woman's Hour presenter Jenni Murray.

Those are just a few of many highlights. There is also a new mini-festival within a festival called Small Words, which is specifically for new writers, poets and storytellers. With more than 100 events in the programme there is something for everybody.

So not only do you get to see the great and the good on stage but you also get to do it in a fabulous setting. Dartington Hall, with its medieval architecture and famous courtyard, is superb. Its gardens, which are open to visitors, are beautiful and a wonderful place for strolling or sitting with a friend and mulling over new ideas and thoughts. Or if you're feeling like some refreshment head over to the White Hart Bar or The Round House and enjoy a coffee or a glass of wine - then sit back and contemplate the rest of the world as it passes by.

Ways With Words offers a unique festival experience in that you can actually stay on-site. There are rooms available within the courtyard just seconds away from the Great Hall where the main events take place. If you are on a smaller budget you can stay in student accommodation just across from the courtyard - prices start from £25 per person per night for bed and breakfast.


Friends of the festival can book early from 20 May. General booking starts on 27 May.

For information, programmes and tickets (01803 867373 or book online via the Ways With Words website

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