The website of the historical fiction writer.

Pompey Writers: The Literary Culture and Heritage of Portsmouth

St George’s Day is a time to stop and think about what makes you proud to be English. I don’t mean in a BNP/EDL kind of way, I mean a time to indulge in what an English person would consider to be the finer things in life. These could be endless cups of tea, bacon sandwiches, warm beer, cricket, football, dressing up as a knight from the Crusades and singing this song:

Down in Old Portsmouth there was an event to celebrate, not only the day of our patron saint, but also the literary and cultural heritage of the Good Old City of Portsmouth. The man who organised this soiree of splendid scribbling, Jack Hughes, gathered together a range of the city’s authors at the Square Tower to present their work.

Matt Wingett kicked off proceedings with a talk about Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and his time in Portsmouth. Matt is the author of The Portsmouth Stories and has worked with The Three Belles, a World War Two themed singing trio and has edited the Writers to Watch Anthology, available at all good bookshops:

Zella Compton was next with a poem about the Mary Rose. Zella writes a column for the Portsmouth Evening News and has had a novel, The Ten Rules of Skimming, published:

Lynne E. Blackwood served up a helping from her short story,  A Lesson in Dhansak. This was performed at a Festival in Brighton earlier this year.

Maggie Sawkins read a selection of poems around Portsmouth. Maggie is a founder member of Tongues and Grooves, a monthly poetry and music event in the city:

Mr Tom Harris, a fellow Master of the Arts, took us on a journey to The Amber Room just before half time. If you’ve not bought this book yet I strongly advise you to do so now: Tom also read a few lines from another famous writer with Pompey Ties: Charles Dickens.

Anna Barzotti, one of the organisers of the Portsmouth Writers’ Hub, read from her short story collection Stories Beyond the Dirt Track, set in Italy. E ‘stato molto buono da ascoltare! For more information on New Writing South, have a look here:

Christine Lawrence read from her novel Caught in the Web. Very powerful stuff.

Charlotte Comley gave an interesting perspective of what some of the works of Charles Dickens would have been like if he was from Lancashire.

Richard Williams, a local poet, performed some of his work to us, including a very good piece involving Thor Heyerdahl which brought back memories of when I visited the Kon Tiki Museum in Oslo back in 2011.

Rounding things off was travel writer Tom Sykes who battled valiantly through the lurgy to tell of what sort of impressions people may have of Portsmouth, compared to his of San Francisco.

And on the boards were samples and tasters from other local scribes including Sarah Cheverton, Alida Burton, Will Sutton, Jack Hughes and me.

For more information on these writers, look at their websites. If you want to read some of the works of Jack Hughes then try these: and

This even was also broadcast on BBC South Today and BBC Radio Solent. Hopefully this will add weight to the joint bid with Southampton to become the UK City of Culture in 2017.


3 responses

  1. Nice mate, thanks for the mention, great coverage of the event 🙂

    02/05/2013 at 7:53 am

  2. Pingback: Portsmouth: The Home of Great Writing | James Bicheno

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