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The Shape of Things to Come: Folkestone Book Festival returns

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The Shape of Things to Come, our forward-looking Book Festival, will return this June. After a year away, for reasons that need no explanation, the festival will return to venues across Folkestone and online from Friday 4 to Sunday 13 June 2021.

The festival continues to take its inspiration from the ideas and thoughts of H.G. Wells, born in Kent and a Folkestone resident for thirteen years. Writers, artists and thinkers will head to the very edge of the country for ten days of events that will explore the possible futures of all sorts of issues, including race relations, the environment, technology, food, pandemics and Britain, Russia, Europe and the US.

Among those already confirmed to take part are Laura Bates, Luke Harding, David Lammy, Nick Bryant and Natalie Haynes. Many more events, artists writers and line-up details will be announced soon.

Alastair Upton, Chief Executive, Creative Folkestone said, “This summer, our annual festival returns bursting with energy and ideas. I am looking forward to a 10-day extravaganza that will gather creative minds from Folkestone and across the world to imagine, discuss and debate a new future of possibilities in a post-Covid world. This year, the festival itself will take a big leap into the future as we present a new digital festival alongside in-person events. We are inviting everyone to enjoy Folkestone and the Book Festival from whenever they are in the world.”

One of the definite highlights for this year's festival will be an immersive multimedia experience for an audience of one at a time, inspired by a curious event in the life of one of the greatest writers in history. On 25 March 1961, following a fortnight of dodging reporters, hiding from the public and generally ‘trying to be invisible’ in Folkestone, Nobel laureate, novelist and playwright Samuel Beckett was married to his long-time partner Suzanne Deschevaux-Dumesnil at a secret ceremony in the town’s Registry Office.

Inspired by this little-known moment in Beckett’s life, Beckett in Folkestone will take place over the weekends of 4-6 and 11-13 June. The festival audience will be invited to follow Beckett’s footsteps around Folkestone, guided into a hotel on the Leas, on to a pub and finishing at the Registry of Births, Death and Marriages. At each location, they will hear new fictional monologues, written by Helen Oyeyemi, Rupert Thomson and Eimear McBride from the perspectives of the Hotel Bristol receptionist, the Daily Express journalist and a witness to the wedding.

The Shape of Things to Come is curated by Liam Browne and Seán Doran, whose partnership, Arts Over Borders, has a long history of producing literary festivals and cultural events. Seán Doran/Liam Browne said “Beckett’s brief time in Folkestone 60 years ago is a little known moment in an otherwise highly scrutinised life.  However, the surprising juxtaposition of Beckett and Folkestone may illuminate an example of how the Nobel Laureate's art and life entwine. He was working on Happy Days at the time of his marriage but were Play and Film already germinating in his mind, prompted by events in his life at that time? Our event Beckett In Folkestone plays with this idea.”

Tickets for live and online events will go on sale on Thursday 15 April via

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