Wimbledon Bookfest took place between the 3rd and the 13th October 2019 on Wimbledon Common. It is an annual occurrence that is now in its 14th year as an event that celebrates community, culture, and of course, the power of reading. In 2006 the festival had just 1,000 visitors but now it has over 15,000 attendees a year. During its 10-day period, it hosts over 100 different events from book signings, to lectures, from comedy and music to educational events for local schools.  These events often take place simultaneously in of the three tents: Baillie Gifford, William Morris or Robert Graves. The festival runs very smoothly every year due to the help it receives from its dedicated team of volunteers many of whom are sixth-formers. I was fortunate enough to be able to take advantage of this opportunity.



The four events that I volunteered at were the following:

  • Climate Change Short Film Screening
  • An interview with Gavin Thurston (Cameraman for Blue Planet)
  • Gig Night
  • A talk by the philosopher A.C. Grayling



The Climate Change short film screening was in partnership with the independent climate change magazine ‘It’s Freezing in LA!’. I found all three short films fascinating but also deeply moving and thought-provoking. To hear in their own words from those who are directly affected by climate change in their everyday lives really struck a chord with both me and the rest of the audience and gave us an opportunity to really consider the little things we can do to help stop climate change.



Gavin Thurston was being interviewed by Professor Stewart Semple from the University of Roehampton. The interview was discussing the path Gavin took to producing his recent biography of his adventures ‘Journeys into the Wild- The Secret Life of a Cameraman’. The book’s foreword was written by David Attenborough who has worked with Gavin on many occasions. The conversation detailed some of his most daring exploits, for example when he was shot at by a member of what he called the “water mafia” who was riding on a donkey.



Gig Night was fun to be present for, with six performances from school-children aged 14-19 hosted by Radio X DJ John Kennedy. The confidence and enthusiasm coming from people my own age was really inspiring. It was nice to see all the acts supporting and encouraging each other. Some performed classic songs while others were brave enough to perform originals.  Each act showcased a set of 2 or 3 songs which were very positively received by a friendly and engaged audience.



A.C. Grayling’s talk dealt primarily with the subject matter of his latest book ‘The History of Philosophy’. I really enjoyed obtaining an insight into the ethics and moralities of philosophy with a whistle-stop tour of the key events in the history of philosophy, but also of humanity itself. I liked the fact that he not only explored western philosophy but also the traditions of philosophy from India, China and many other foreign cultures.



My experience at the festival was a highly positive one and I look forward to coming back next year.



Georgina Featherston