’From little things big things grow’
These words from Australian songwriting genius Paul Kelly so perfectly describe the growth of the Byron Bay Writers Festival from niche literary gathering to acclaimed international event.
From humble beginnings at the Lake House 18 years ago, when leading Australian authors Helen Garner, Kate Grenville, David Malouf and a small cast of contemporaries addressed a capacity crowd of 200 people, the Festival has definitively established its place on the international literary circuit.
At the time of writing, this year’s event looks like selling out for the first time in its history, thanks in no small part to a knockout program featuring some of the most brilliant authors of our time, including Jeanette Winterson and Geoff Dyer.
And just as the Festival lineup diversifies and grows each year, so does its audience. People from all walks of life, of all ages, from across Australia, are flocking to our beautiful town for three days of inspiration, education and entertainment – and to get up close and personal with the amazing authors and performers who have made them laugh, cry, contemplate, dispute and dream.
Being involved with this Festival and its ’mother ship’, the Northern Rivers Writers’ Centre, has been one of the proudest achievements of my career. Each year I witness the efforts of a dedicated board, passionate and talented staff and hundreds of volunteers to produce a world-class literary event. This year is no exception and I thank all involved for putting together what is undoubtedly the best program in our festival history.
Such an event is also reliant on the generous support of collaborative loyal sponsors, to whom I offer heartfelt gratitude.
Finally, to this community, thank you for embracing the Festival so warmly and for celebrating the literary talents of those who whose words, thoughts, stories and passions enrich our lives.
~ Chris Hanley Founder and Chair, Byron Bay Writers Festival
’The Stories We Tell’
Welcome to the 2014 Byron Bay Writers Festival!
The inspiration for this year’s Writers Festival stemmed originally from Canadian film director Sarah Polley, a passionate advocate of storytelling – those inevitable tales and truths that underpin and provide resonance to our lives.
Contemporary realities and legends, nurture and nature, idealism and discovery, beliefs and memory all contribute to the core values that proudly anchor the 2014 Byron Bay Writers Festival program, featuring more than 100 acclaimed authors, all with tantalising stories to tell.
The myriad writers invited from across Australia and around the world have travelled to Byron Bay to bring voice to their writings and allow us to listen to conversations about the things that concern us most, and to ponder and wonder.
They will engage you in enlightening discussions throughout 105 sessions at the main Festival site, and during the workshops and feature events. Together we intend to challenge, provoke, connect, entertain and inspire you. But be sure to take time out to watch the waves roll in and catch sight of the last of the migrating whales as the myriad stories unfold.
Many feature sessions have already sold out but the relaxed nature of the event means you will be able to mingle with your favourite novelists and commentators during the three-day Festival. Acclaimed UK author Jeanette Winterson, considered one of the world’s Top 10 writers to see live, is delivering the keynote address on Friday morning. She will be joined by international compatriots and esteemed Australian writers, thinkers and panel hosts. Throughout the Festival the five marquees will present diverse explorations of the written word – be it poetry, short-form fiction, romance, humour, travel or true crime. So many stories to be told…and cherished.
To the vibrant northern rivers community, thank you for your immensely enthusiastic support of the Festival program and the contribution of the writers, commentators and performers whose energising creativity will surely open our hearts, minds and collective consciousness. Their stories will be retold and resonate far beyond our hinterland.
~ Edwina Johnson, Byron Bay Writers Festival Director