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The answer to British summer weather? The literary festival!

Blog | By Harry Mount | Aug 14, 2017

This summer hasn't been a scorcher. But, still, our literary festivals are booming. I'm sure the two facts are related.

This weekend, I've been at the Llangwm Festival in Pembrokeshire. The sun came and went, but that had no effect on the extraordinary array of events that went on: including David Horspool talking about Oliver Cromwell; Ferdinand Mount (my father, I must confess) on Thackeray in India; and the Hershel Quartet playing Mozart and Prokofiev in St Jerome's Church, Llangwm.

It wasn't just that these events were indoors, safe from the vagaries of the weather. But also that millennia of changeable weather have made us a people used to taking refuge indoors, in reading and listening to others telling stories. The audiences at Llangwm were well-informed on everything, from Cromwell to Thackeray to Mozart.

The same applied at the Port Eliot Festival - where, as Annabel Sampson and I testified in earlier blogs, the rain was Biblical, and the entertainment epic.

I once asked a festival organiser why literary festivals were so popular in Britain. 'They're a safe place for widows,' he said. I think it's also thanks to our peculiar climate. 

HARRY MOUNT, @mounth