Folkestone’s Inaugural HG Wells Festival

Many of you will already be aware of the rich tapestry of significant literary and artistic figures that were once resident in Folkestone, Sandgate and Hythe.  Amongst them of course is HG Wells who, whilst living in Spade House in Sandgate, wrote many of his most famous books.

Sentiments querying the lack of a celebration for such a noteworthy resident were addressed during a meeting late last year at Chimaera Gallery in Tontine Street, in which a handful of equally impressive local residents, for example, Reg Turnill, President of the Sandgate Society, Nicholas Reed, Art Historian and Editor of Folkestone Creative, and Mary Mather of the Folkestone Artists’ Cooperative, decided to do something about this omission.

Following further meetings held at The Grand, and the development of an ‘HG Wells Festival’ committee, the foundation of what will be the inaugural festival enfolded.   It was decided that the festival will take place to coincide with the birthday of HG Wells in September.  In 2009, the festival will be held over the weekend of the 19th and 20th of September.  The official Press Launch took place on 20th March to a ‘standing room only audience’ and was well received by the enthusiatic attendees who were given a brief account of the proposed events and were able to view an impressive collection of some rare first edition HG Wells books very kindly provided by Patrick Marrin of Marrin’s Bookshop.

Central to the festival is the Short Story Competition which attracts a prize of £1000 for the talented winner.  This annual competition was the innovative concept proposed by Reg Turnill, in order to encourage literacy amongst the students in the area.  Reg and Margaret Turnill are very generously providing the funds for the annual award for this and subsequent Short Story competitions.  The competition rules require the entrants to submit a short story of 1000 words to be handwritten in the style of Wells’ writing.  Anyone who is in either full or part-time education is eligible to enter.  The deadline for submissions is the 20th July and the short-listed nominees will be announced on 20th August.  The finalist will be revealed on 20th September as the finale of the Festival.

Also to be featured as part of the HG Wells Festival, are a short film based on an HG Wells short story,  currently being filmed by Zachary Cooke of the Folkestone Film Factory.  In addition, there will be commissioned art works and art exhibitions will be held at The Grand on the Leas, Chimaera Gallery and the Neville Pundole Gallery, both on Tontine Street, and the Christos Gallery in Sandgate.  There will also be a short play and guided walks amongst other events and activities.  All these events will draw on the burgeoning population of talented artists, film-makers and actors resident in Folkestone, Sandgate and Hythe.

For an application form for the Short Story Competition, a copy of the Competition Rules and further information on the Festival please visit the festival web site at:  For further information on the Folkestone Artists’ Cooperative, please visit  Alternatively, if you have any ideas for festival events or would like to take part in one of the festival activities, please contact me on 07515 879322 or email me on

Wendy van Halderen-Moss

Chair – Folkestone Artists’ Cooperative

Chair – HG Wells Festival Committee

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