A Midsummer Night’s Dream: Update



The next rehearsals for the playreading of A Midsummer Night’s Dream are at Hollow Meadow on these dates:

Wednesday, July 30th, 6 pm,
Thursday, July 31st, 6 pm
Sunday, August 3, 7:30 pm

The playreading is organised and hosted by Joanna Ford, who writes: “We would welcome more cast members. Refreshments are provided.”

Contact Joanna at Joannaford@mail.com.

The Mad Hatter’s Tea Party


A wee bit of dormouse dancing, in one of the rare moments that the dormouse wasn’t surrounded by small children at the Mad Hatter’s Tea. The musicians are Becky Doe and Howard Gayton, who provided wonderful music throughout the event. The video is courtesy of Suzi Crockford.

Literary events in Chagford this weekend




Chagford Church is celebrating the diverse literary heritage of Chagford with an exhibition, illustrated with flowers, depicting the written works by the 70+ authors identified who have a Chagford connection, in centuries past and up to the present day.

Among those who have lived and worked in Chagford are Evelyn Waugh, who wrote Brideshead Revisited whilst staying at the Easton Court Hotel; Mary Wesley, author of The Camomile Lawn and many other books; Freya Stark, the adventuring botanist and traveller whose travel books about Afghanistan, Turkey and Syria enlightened thousands of people about the more mysterious parts of the world; and R.D. Blackmore, who drew on the local legend of of Mary Whiddon when he created his heroine Lorna Doone. More information can be on the Chagford Visitors website.

The exhibition will be held in the church from Friday 25th until Sunday 27th July. (Friday & Saturday 10.00 am – 6.00 pm, Sunday 11.00 am – 5.00 pm). Free admission, with programmes for £1.

Events running alongside ‘Ex Libris’ exhibition include:

imagesFriday (July 25th):  2.30 pm Endecott House, Chagford, a talk by Dr Patricia Milton of the University of Plymouth on ‘The Literary Invention of Dartmoor’. Organised by Devon History Society, it is free to members of the society and to its affiliated societies, £2.50 to non-members. Early booking (Tel: 01647 433492) is essential due to limited seating. Refreshments will be available (for donations) after the talk in the hall and garden.

6a0167604f7a57970b019aff4202ca970d-320wiSaturday (July 26th):

* The ‘Proper Job Pop-Up Bookshop’ selling second-hand copies of books by local authors, and about Devon, will be open in Endecott House, from 10.00 am – 6.00 pm.

* An Evening with ‘Mr. Toad’ – at 7.30 pm in the church, there will be a fascinating and engaging illustrated talk by Chagford writer Sam North, author of the ‘Wind in the Willows’ adaptation for the iPad (and many excellent books), co-created with Steve Dooley and Bobby Gilbert. Tickets are £5.00 and can be purchased from Fowlers, Chagford or the Parish Office, or on the door. An earlier version of this talk featured as a Chagword 2013 run-up event in the summer of 2012

Speaking up for libraries



Librarian Ian Clark has posted a passionate article about media attacks on public libraries. Here’s a short except:

“Every now and then, a piece arguing for the closure of public libraries emerges that causes consternation and outrage. In some respects, this is what the author intends. Whip up a frenzy, get your name out there, ego stroked, job done, who really cares about libraries? …The problem is that such assaults aren’t really attacks on libraries. Look closer at the arguments and you see this is part of a broader pattern. Often the argument is that libraries are no longer required, that they are irrelevant as everyone is online. Worse, that the amount of money spent maintaining them could be more ‘efficiently’ utilised elsewhere. Is this really a specific attack on libraries? Irrelevance and inefficiency? Is that argument only deployed in relation to public libraries? Of course not. This is a standard strategy when it comes to attacking all public services. They are not required any more, there are more efficient ways of delivering what this service delivers. You see this argument deployed in relation to many public services. And here is the problem: it’s a strategic assault on public services.

“…they are also an assault on those that rely on public services: the most vulnerable in our society. As professionals (again, I’m talking about all professionals, not just librarians here) we know that there are many that rely on our expertise. We know that there are many who, without our expertise, would suffer even greater hardship. We know, also, that the most vulnerable are often voiceless. As librarians, we are well aware that there is a large minority of people who rely on us and yet also do not have a platform to express that reliance. I strongly believe that it is our responsibility as a profession to speak up in defence of those without a voice.”

You can read the full article here.

Do you like to re-read?



In her book On Rereading, Patricia Meyer Spacks notes that the pleasure of re-visiting our favorite authors and books is one of mingled familiary and surprise. “By definition, rereading reacquaints us with the familiar. It does so, often, by defamiliarizing. The book we thought we knew challenges us to incorporate fresh elements in our understanding. The book we loved in childhood provides delights we never anticipated. We thought we already knew what it was about, but now it tells us that it is about something else. As our memories inform our understanding, that understanding changes. We who love rereading love it for its surprises as well as for its stability.”

“We do not enjoy a story fully at the first reading,”  C.S. Lewis stated provocatively in his essay “On Stories” (1947). “Not till the curiosity, the sheer narrative lust, has been given its sop and laid asleep, are we at leisure to savour the real beauties. Til then, it is like wasting great wine on a ravenous natural thirst which merely wants cold wetness. The children understand this well when they ask for the same story over and over again, and in the same words.”

“I, too, feel the need to reread the books I have already read,” remarks a character in Italo Calvino‘s great novel If On a Winter’s Night a Traveler, “but at every rereading, I seem to be reading a new book, for the first time. Is it I who keep changing and seeing new things of which I was not previously aware? Or is reading a construction that assumes form, assembling a great number of variables, and therefore something that cannot be repeated twice according to the same pattern?”

Rebecca Mead‘s The Road to Middlemarch: My Life With George Eliot is an especially lovely tribute to the fine art of re-reading. “There are books,” she writes, “that seem to comprehend us just as much as we understand them, or even more. There are books that grow with the reader as the reader grows, like a graft to a tree.”

“A truly great book,” said the novelist Robertson Davies, “should be read in youth, again in maturity and once more in old age, as a fine building should be seen by morning light, at noon and by moonlight.”

Books by Recommended books by Italo Calvino, Rebecca Mead, and Patrcia Meyer Spacks

Why we need libraries




Historically libraries were set up to enable people to access books and information freely. Our society would be much poorer and less egalitarian if libraries disappeared… and knowledge was no longer shared. Libraries bridge the gap between those who have and those who do not.

Library photo

Libraries are portals to all of the world’s knowledge. And librarians make sure that knowledge continues to be recorded and saved for the future, even as information-storage devices and formats change. They are the defenders of intellectual freedom.

Girl in library

Libraries can make a positive difference to individuals’ self-esteem, confidence, independence and sense of responsibility in regard to their own learning.

boy in library

Research shows that a strong library program that is adequately staffed, resourced and funded can lead to higher student achievement regardless of the socioeconomic or educational levels of the adults in the student’s household.


Libraries build community. They are a place to explore, interact and imagine: where positive relationships are formed, recommendations are made, and a reading culture is formed. Libraries are one of the most effective ways to prevent social isolation of the elderly and vulnerable. In the words of a motto written on the wall of the ancient library of Alexandria: “The place of the cure of the soul”.

– compiled by Trisha Evans for Friends of Chagford Library

A call for more diversity



“As a writer of mixed descent (half-Chinese, half-white) who was a voracious reader as a child, I never saw myself in the kind of books that I devoured,” writes YA novelist Amy McCulloch…which is why she finally sat down to write such a book herself.

“To make sure children see themselves represented in literature, we need to put books by diverse authors, featuring diverse characters, in their hands,” she says. “There are diverse authors out there, likes Sufiya Ahmed, Tariq Mehmood and Jacqueline Roy, writing about diverse characters – they just don’t get nearly the attention they deserve. Publishers need to make more of the diverse voices they have on their lists already.

“But it doesn’t just end with publishers. Retailers need to display them on their front tables. Librarians and teachers need to recommend them. And parents need to buy them. To reverse the trend, we need to celebrate the authors that are already blazing that trail. We need to be armed with the best possible opportunities – because trailblazing is never as easy as riding a wave….

“One day, I hope we see bookshelves that represent the rich and diverse world we live in.”

(Read the full article here.)

For recommendations of YA fiction with a rich range of characters and themes, visit the Diversity in YA blog.