A NEW one-day Montgomeryshire Literary Festival is taking place at Bodfach Hall, Llanfyllin, this month with themes of History and Love of the Countryside.

A host of local and nationally known guests will be speaking at the inaugural festival on Saturday, June 9.

Lined up are former Cabinet Minister for the Arts and Arts Council of England chairman the Earl of Gowrie; author, writer, broadcaster and county councillor Myfanwy Alexander; naturalist, broadcaster, and writer who has worked in conservation for more than 30 years Iolo Williams; journalist and television presenter Mavis Nicholson; and author and journalist Matthew Dennison, plus other events.

Talks will start at 10am with Myfanwy Alexander who was brought up in the hills of Montgomeryshire and lives at Llanfair Caereinion. As a writer and broadcaster she has numerous credits for comedy, drama and factual programmes, winning a Sony Comedy Award for her long-running satire show “The LL Files”.

Her best selling novel “Bloody Eisteddfod” has been published in both Welsh and English editions and Myfanwy is also half of the Wales team on Radio 4’s “Round Britain Quiz”.

Another familiar local face follows with Iolo Williams who was born and brought up at Llanwddyn and is widely known as a popular member of the “Springwatch”, “Autumnwatch” and “Winterwatch” TV presenting team as well as presenting his own programmes for the BBC such as “Wild Wales”, “Visions of Snowdonia” and “Birdman”.

Iolo has written several books on Welsh wildlife in both English and Welsh and he is a regular contributor to several magazines.

The third of the local guests is Mavis Nicholson who lives near Llanrhaeadr-ym-Mochnant. She stopped work as an advertising copywriter to start a second career as a broadcaster when she was asked to use her probing and engaging conversational style to host a programme on the new daytime television schedules.

She has presented numerous programmes interviewing celebrities from Elizabeth Taylor to David Bowie, as well as radio shows, and she is a contributor and resident agony aunt to “The Oldie” magazine.

The lunchtime event starting at 1.30pm is Getting Published, a panel discussion for budding authors with leading UK literary agent Andrew Lownie who is also an award winning historian who will return later i n the afternoon to talk about his work as an historical biographer including his latest book about Cambridge Spy Ring member Guy Burgess.

Talks last for 50 minutes each, including questions and answer sessions and will be held in a central marquee with a PA system so everyone can hear clearly.

The day will finish with Adele Nozedar of Brecon Beacons Foraging running a Botanical Gin workshop, followed by complimentary live music from Ruth and Ken Powell.

Featured authors will be signing copies of their books which can be purchased at a pop-up bookshop provided by Oswestry’s award-winning independent Booka Bookshop.

The Festival, founded by Simon Baynes, is being organised by Myfanwy Alexander, Amanda Jenner and Simon and Maggie Baynes. It will be held in the ten acre gardens of Bodfach Hall, a familiar place to many people as the gardens are regularly opened for charity and the Llanfyllin Show is held on the parkland every August

“Our intention is to make the Monty Lit Fest an annual event, held at a different location in Montgomeryshire each year. We are very keen to involve as many people as possible in its organisation and are therefore setting up a Festival Committee; if you would like to join, please email Simon on baynes@bodfach.com or ring 07880 786573,” said Mr Baynes.

Festival tickets are available via the website or by emailing baynes@bodfach.com to receive a hardcopy order form for a postal application. The tickets can be purchased for individual talks (£7 each) or you can buy a Morning or Afternoon Pass (£15 each) or a day pass (£30) which provide a discounted rate for the talks (excluding the Botanical Gin workshop at 6.30pm which is a fundraising event for the Festival with tickets priced at £20). Car parking is free.