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  • Fiona Davison - An Almost Impossible Thing - The Radical Lives of Britain’s Pioneering Women Gardeners

    While working at the Royal Horticultural Society, Fiona Davison discovered a cache of letters from a young gardener who was denied a scholarship by the RHS on the grounds that she was female. Appalled and intrigued, she began to research the wider story of early female professional gardeners during a period when British gardens were an arena for radical and far-reaching experiments. An Almost Impossible Thing is a fascinating insight into the lives of six hitherto little-known women gardeners in the years before WWI.

    An illustrated talk Introduced by Deirdre Coates, Chair of Trustees
    When: Monday 6th November 2023 @ 12 noon
    Where: The Bull Ballroom
    Sponsored by: Dorset Walled Garden
  • Jon Woolcott - Real Dorset

    Real Dorset is a personal, detailed, humorous and idiosyncratic look at the county of Dorset, famous for its spectacular coastline, historic towns, its eco-foodie reputation and for Hardy and Fowles. But there’s much more behind this tourist friendly façade – subversion, rebellion and revolt, wealth and poverty, ghost stories and rich folklore. Its history can surprise, and here, Woolcott criss-crosses the county, making connections and uncovering the hidden and the forgotten – from the murky origins of the Cerne Abbas Giant to the revived pagan ritual of the Filly Loo, to Victorian nightlife in Bournemouth and the legacy of black GIs. An illustrated talk Introduced by Martin Maudsley
    When: Tuesday 7th November 2023 @ 12 noon
    Where: The Bull Ballroom
  • Keggie Carew - Beastly - A New History of Animals and Us


    Animals have shaped our lives, our land, our civilisation, and they will shape our future. Yet as our impact on the world and the animals we share it with increases, there has never been a greater urgency to understand this relationship. Beastly is the 40,000 year story of animals and humans, seen eye-to-eye, claw-to-claw through those who have ventured into the myriad worlds of our animal relatives. Keggie Carew argues that the greatest paradox may yet be this: diversity of life can heal ecosystems but its animals – if given the chance – could save us.

    An illustrated talk Introduced by David Burnett
    When: Tuesday 7th November 2023 @ 2 pm
    Where: The Bull Ballroom
  • Joanna Moorhead - Surreal Spaces - The Life and Art of Leonora Carrington

    Leonora Carrington (1917- 2011) is now considered to be in the vanguard, not only in histories of women artists but also Surrealism. Her themes - feminism, ecology, the interconnectedness of everything – have never been so on trend. In this remarkable book, Joanna Moorhead traces Carrington’s footsteps, vividly exploring her life and art, loves and friendships as she takes us on a journey through pivotal locations across Britain, Ireland, France, Spain, Portugal, the US and finally Mexico where Leonora lived for more than 60 years.

    An illustrated talk

    Introduced by Hugh Dunford-Wood
    When: Wednesday 8th November 2023 @ 5.00 pm
    Where: The Bull Ballroom
  • Nikki May - Creative Writing Workshop

    Nikki May, author of critically acclaimed WAHALA, will be joining us to share her insights as part of a creative writing workshop for aspiring novelists. With a broad focus, this interactive, two-hour workshop will give the low-down on what Nikki learned on her journey to publication, touching on the following: Finding your voice, character development and world building, where do ideas come from, the l-o-n-g road to publication, tension and point of view, plus Q&A where you can ask the author (almost) anything. Peter May (Nikki’s long suffering husband, head of plot and first editor) will critique a short piece of writing from each attendee on the subjects of prompts given prior to attendance.


    When: Wednesday 8th November 2023 @ 6.00 pm
    Where: The Bull Ballroom Private Room
  • Ysenda Maxtone Graham - Jobs for the Girls - How We Set Out to Work in the Typewriter Age

    Drawn from real life memories in interviews with women from all sections of society, this is a lively chronicle of British women’s working lives from the 1950s through cardigans and pearls, via mini-skirts and bottom pinching, to shoulder pads and the ping of the first emails in the early 1990s. Graham conveys with humour the full range of experience and flavour of work places; the jollities as well as the drudgeries, the good men as well as the vile ones, the nasty women as well as the heroines, the office crushes as well as the romances. A wonderfully witty social history of the typewriter age.

    In conversation with Prue Keely

    When: Thursday 9th November 2023 @ 10.30 am
    Where: The Bull Ballroom
    Sponsored by: Georgia Langton
  • Jane Wellesley - Blue Eyes and a Wild Spirit - A Life of Dorothy Wellesley

    The poet Dorothy Wellesley (1889-1956) was a woman ahead of her time. She flouted the conventions of her class and gender, unwilling to accept the patriarchal rules of her upbringing and marriage. Sometimes reckless, often vulnerable, she was both crusader and casualty and censored for her independence and bisexuality. Jane Wellesley will focus on the important relationships of her grandmother’s life – her affair with Vita SackvilleWest which fractured her marriage to the future Duke of Wellington and her friendship with WB Yeats who championed her poetry.

    An illustrated talk Introduced by Stuart Rock
    When: Thursday 9th November 2023 @ 12 noon
    Where: The Bull Ballroom
  • Madeleine Bunting - The Seaside

    Madeleine Bunting’s exploration of England’s great seaside resorts is to understand their origins and their heyday, their ongoing influence, and their current struggle to survive. Bunting asks why these hugely popular places of pleasure, entertainment and adventure and their enduring appeal have faded to become merely memories of golden sands, cold seas and donkey rides. Journeying along a striking variety of coastlines, she discovers ‘resorts’ struggling with deepest deprivation and ill health – a sad decline of these holiday towns, still so influential in English history and shaping our national identity.

    An illustrated talk Introduced by Stuart Rock
    When: Thursday 9th November 2023 @ 2.00 pm
    Where: The Bull Ballroom
  • Peter Snow & Ann MacMillan - Kings & Queens - The Real Lives of the English Monarchs

    Never has there been such intense interest in Britain’s royal family and speculation about its very survival, yet unlike most other royal dynasties around the world, somehow the British monarchy has survived the ravages of history. Kings and Queens is a compelling exploration of the individuals who have sustained an institution for over a thousand years. From the reigns of Alfred the Great to our own acclaimed Elizabeth II, this book examines the lives of Britain’s rulers.

    An illustrated talk

    Introduced by Adam Teasdale, Head of Sixth Form
    When: Thursday 9th November 2023 @ 12 noon
    Where: Sir John Colfox Academy
  • Adam Nicolson - How to Be - Life Lessons from the Early Greeks

    Grounded in the belief that places give access to minds, How To Be reintroduces us to our earliest thinkers through the lands they inhabited. Award winning author Nicolson, uncovers ideas of personhood with Sappho on Lesbos and plays with paradox in Southern Italy with Zeno. Sparkling with maps, photographs, and artworks, this book provides a new way of understanding the origins of Western thought, and its relevance to the very same questions we ask today.

    An illustrated talk

    Introduced by Adam Teasdale, Head of Sixth Form
    When: Thursday 9th November 2023 @ 2.00 pm
    Where: Sir John Colfox School
    Sponsored by: Nick Pearson
  • Patrick Barkham - The Swimmer - The Wild Life of Roger Deakin

    Roger Deakin is best known for his modern classic of nature writing, Waterlog, which frog-kicked the wild swimming movement into existence with wit, politics and poetry. He was not simply a dazzling writer and eccentric Englishman, he took his counterculture to the countryside. Turning to self-sufficiency, teaching and environmentalism, he also became a music impresario, made films and radio programmes and had an eclectic circle of friends. Barkham conjures Deakin’s voice back to a glorious life spent as an adventurer, a romantic and rebel.

    an illustrated talk
    When: Thursday 9th November 2023 @ 3.30 pm
    Where: The Bull Ballroom
  • Ben Macintyre - Colditz: Prisoners of the Castle - The George Millar Literary Dinner

    We are delighted to welcome Ben Macintyre, the distinguished historian, journalist and author, to talk about his latest book: Colditz: Prisoners of the Castle, the astonishing true story of the most infamous prison in history. Ben is a columnist and Associate Editor of The Times. He has worked as the newspaper’s correspondent in New York, Paris and Washington and is the author of numerous bestsellers including: Agent Zigzag, A Spy Among Friends, Operation Mincemeat, Agent Sonya and SAS Rogue Heroes, several of which have been adapted for the screen. The story of Colditz, a forbidding Gothic castle on a hilltop in the heart of Nazi Germany where an unlikely band of British officers spent the the Second World War plotting daring escapes from their captors, has gone unchallenged for seventy years. The tale contains only part of the truth. An incredible inside story reveals for the first time the indomitable human spirit as well as class conflict, homosexuality, espionage, insanity and farce. Through a remarkable cast of characters from the elitist members of the Colditz Bullingdon Club to America’s oldest paratrooper and least successful secret agent, Macintyre reveals the extraordinary story of prisoners and captors who were living cheek-by-jowl in a thrilling game of cat and mouse. Astonishingly imaginative in their increasingly desperate attempts to escape, these tales of the soldier prisoners of Colditz are brought to life with the author’s use of hitherto unknown material and an eye for detail.
    When: Thursday 9th November 2023 @ 7.00 pm
    Where: Tithe Barn, Symondsbury
    Sponsored by: Richard and Emily Cave, Furleigh Estate, Symondsbury Estate
  • Isabella Tree - The Book Of Wilding - A Practical Guide to Rewilding Big and Small

    Isabella Tree and Charlie Burrell know firsthand how spectacularly nature can bounce back if you give it the chance. The Book of Wilding is a handbook for how we can all help to restore nature. Ambitious, visionary and pragmatic, the book has grown out of Isabella and Charlie’s mission to rewild Britain, Europe and the rest of the world by sharing knowledge from their pioneering project at Knepp. It is a response to people wanting to rewild everything from unprofitable farms, rivers, churchyards, urban allotments, public spaces, parks and gardens. In conversation with Julia Hailes The Kenneth Allsop Memorial Talk, introduced by Tristan Allsop
    When: Saturday 11th November 2023 @ 12 noon
    Where: Electric Palace
    Sponsored by: Julia Hailes
  • Megan McCubbin - An Atlas of Endangered Species

    Around 55,000 animals and plants are thrown into extinction every year and in this beautifully illustrated collection, conservationist and wildlife broadcaster Megan McCubbin, stepdaughter to Chris Packham, speaks to scientists and conservationists fighting to reverse the mass extinction. From changing shark legislation and tracking deadly fungi, to homegrown glow-worm farms, the methods for protection of survival are endless, whether it’s the infamous northern white rhinos and the Sumatran orangutans, or lesser-known icons like lady slipper orchids. Megan appeals to us all to join the battle against extinction.

    In conversation with Sam Rose
    When: Saturday 11th November 2023 @ 4.00 pm
    Where: Electric Palace
    Sponsored by: John and Maggie Mills


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