press release
Published: 16 September 2019

University of Surrey participates in 30th anniversary Guildford Book Festival

By Laura Butler

The University of Surrey will once again contribute to the exciting literary line-up at the 30th annual Guildford Book Festival, which runs from 6 to 13 October 2019.

On Tuesday 8 October Sarah Perry: Melmoth – Myth, Mystery and the Power of the Gothic sees Dr Beth Palmer from the University of Surrey interview one of the most respected authors of Gothic literature. Sarah Perry’s 2016 novel The Essex Serpent was a number one bestseller and won the British Book of the Year Award, selling over 500,000 copies in the UK alone. In the Rik Medlik Building on the Surrey campus, Sarah will discuss her work, her influences and her latest novel Melmoth which is set in modern day Prague and inspired by the 19th century Irish classic, Melmoth the Wanderer.

On Wednesday 9 October the Electric Theatre hosts Jim Al-Khalili: Sunfall – Fact or Fiction? as Marcus Berkmann interviews quantum physicist, author and broadcaster Professor Jim Al-Khalili – who is based at the University of Surrey – in an evening that will combine gripping storytelling with mind-blowing science from his ‘what-if’ debut thriller. Set 25 years into the future, his novel has a chilling and unique selling point: it could really happen.

For 200 years Maria Branwell’s contribution to the success of her literary daughters – Charlotte, Emily and Anne Brontë – has been largely overlooked. Dr Beth Palmer will be at the Guildford Institute on Thursday 10 October to interview author and journalist Sharon Wright about The Mother of the Brontës, the first biography of Maria which reveals her astonishing life full of scandal and sorrow, passion and adventure.

University of Surrey doctoral candidate Rachel Marsh’s Creative Writing Course runs from Monday 7 to Friday 11 October in the Farley Room at the Electric Theatre. Each lesson will focus on a different aspect of the writing process, from plot, character development and writing dialogue to editing and getting your work published. You can join Rachel for the whole week or take part in individual lessons.

Professor Bran Nicol, Head of the School of Literature and Languages at the University of Surrey, said: “The Guildford Book Festival has organised another fascinating programme with a great range of literary events for the community to enjoy this year, and I’m delighted our school – which shares the festival’s enthusiasm for all things literary – is continuing our partnership. To have the chance to listen to an author discuss their work and to ask them the ‘behind the scenes’ questions that matter to us personally is a valuable opportunity for any keen reader. It is always exciting for us to participate in this local literary celebration, both through our academics and as a festival venue.”

Jane Beaton, Co-director of the Guildford Book Festival, said: “We are delighted that the University is once again supporting the Guildford Book Festival, both by hosting events and by providing key personnel to take part.  The University is such an integral part of the town and we greatly value their contribution.”

For further information and tickets visit or call the Box Office at the Tourist Information Centre on 01483 444334.

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