Salisbury is an important place in the history and writing of William Golding and we were delighted to participate in the inaugural Salisbury Literary Festival, held in October 2017. The festival featured a wide range of speakers including Philippa Gregory (who wrote the afterword to the new edition of Golding’s Pincher Martin), Joanna Cannon, Gail Honeyman, and Barney Norris. In addition to these wonderful events, the festival celebrated Salisbury’s literary heritage with events on Terry Pratchett, John Creasy, and, of course, William Golding.
Our event featured Golding’s daughter Judy Carver Golding, and Nicola Presley (me!), discussing Golding’s relationship with Salisbury and his novel The Spire, which is set in Salisbury Cathedral. Fittingly, our talk was based in the Refectory of the Cathedral, with wonderful views of the imposing spire, just about visible in the Autumn evening. Judy spoke beautifully about her father and her memories of growing up in Salisbury, and also read from her memoir, The Children of Lovers. I concentrated on the places in The Spire and Golding’s blurring between fact and fiction.
The event was fully booked and the audience asked questions about Judy’s memoir; The Spire; Golding’s own religious beliefs; and Salisbury book shops in Golding’s fiction. There wasn’t time to address all the questions from the audience, but perhaps we’ll get the chance to come back another time! The organisers, led by Tom Bromley as Festival Director, are to be congratulated on such a creative, and well-attended, experience.