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Donna Fletcher Crow

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Donna Fletcher Crow (US) is the author of forty-some books, mostly novels dealing with the history of British Christianity. She is the author of The Monastery Murders series; The Lord Danvers Victorian True-Crime series; The Elizabeth & Richard literary mysteries, GLASTONBURY,A Novel of the Holy Grail and more.

Fay Sampson

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Fay Sampson (UK) is a writer of adult and children's fiction and non-fiction, including A MALIGNANT HOUSE, #2 in the Susie Fewings series, a British Crime Club Pick.

Ways with Words at Dartington Hall

By Fay Sampson ~ August 3, 2015

 We have just enjoyed our annual literary feast: the nine days Ways with Words festival at Dartington Hall. This is held in the marvellous setting of the 14th-century stately home built by John Holand, half-brother of Richard II, and his wife Elizabeth of Lancaster.

During the festival, the lawn is scattered with deck-chairs printed with the covers of famous books published by Penguin. There is usually a queue snaking around the cobbled paths, waiting for the next event in the Great Hall. And what a spectacular venue. Banners hang the length of the hall, below the high-vaulted roof. The conventional seating is greatly increased by the numbers of people sitting on or below the medieval windowsills.                                                                                      I have known at least one speaker taken aback to find there was no facility for her power-point presentation. This really is about words. But the huge barn at the other end of the quadrangle has been converted into a cinema/theatre with screen and projector for topics where the pictures really do matter.                                                                                                                                                     This year, we went there for three of the nine days. Highlights for me were Karen Armstrong speaking on her book about Religion and Violence, which challenges the idea that religion is at the root of most wars, Gerald Russell on Disappearing Religions of the Middle East, and Philip Marsden’s illustrated talk on the sacred landscape of Cornwall.You pass through the entrance arch into a grassy quadrangle, with the magnificent Great Hall in front of you and accommodation and smaller meeting rooms on either side. Beautifully planned gardens, with flower beds, shrubs and statuary spread around it and rise in terraces above it. The River Dart winds its way around the hill on which the Hall stands.                                                            

It’s such an evocative setting that I chose it for The Wounded Snake, sequel to The Wounded Thorn (Severn House). Amateur sleuths Hilary and Veronica attend a crime-writing course there, where murder becomes a shocking reality.

This was a splendid excuse to go there and stay in one of those medieval bedrooms.                         


Fay Sampson (UK) is a writer of adult and children's fiction and non-fiction, including A MALIGNANT HOUSE, #2 in the Susie Fewings series, a British Crime Club Pick.

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Thank you so much for sharing this great experience, Fay! The talk on the sacred landscape of Cornwall must have been perfect for you.
-Donna, August 3, 2015

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