#SpotlightOn local author Anna Sayburn-Lane

The inaugural Deptford Literature Festival kicks off this Saturday 14th March featuring 17 events over the day; 14 of which are free to attend. The one-day festival features local writers and artists celebrating Deptford’s literary heritage and looks to its future. Rosanna Head

There will be a host of talented writers, artists and organisations who are based in South East London. Funded by Arts Council England, the festival has been designed with the local community at its heart, with many of the events on the programme sourced through an ‘open call’ for festival activity in 2019.

We caught up with local writer, Anna Sayburn-Lane, who will be leading a literary walk in the area, tracing Deptford’s literary history.

Who or what inspires you?

I’m inspired by the many layers of history in London. I love the way street names, pubs and tombstones in church yards can tell you about how people lived in London in centuries past, what sort of jobs they did and what kind of activities went on there. In Deptford, there are loads of references to the naval and maritime past.

The spot in Deptford that inspired my first novel, Unlawful Things, is St Nicholas Church, where Christopher Marlowe (a playwright who was a contemporary of Shakespeare) is buried. He was stabbed to death in Deptford in 1593, and the mystery surrounding his death is one of the things I explore in my novel. We’ll be visiting St Nicholas churchyard on my walk.

What is your favourite book?

There are so many! But probably Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall, which is the best historical novel I’ve ever read. I love the way she gets behind the eyes of her characters, so you see the world the way they see it. I am desperate to find time to sit down and read her final book in the trilogy, The Mirror and the Light. 

Did you study literature?

A level English Lit at Coopers School in Chislehurst was my introduction to the plays of Christopher Marlowe. Then I studied English and History at Salford University.

What are you most looking forward to at the festival? (apart from leading your walk of course!)

Apple and Snakes storytelling session in the evening sounds like it should be brilliant. I hope to get along to that. 

What are your favourite SELondon spots?

I love walking along the Greenwich riverfront, from Deptford to the Greenwich peninsular. My favourite pub is the Cutty Sark in Ballast Quay, to the east of Greenwich. I remember being taken there as a kid and sitting outside by the river, eating crisps and drinking coke. Greenwich Park is great too, especially sitting up at the top of the hill and gazing out over the Isle of Dogs. 

Who would be your ideal fantasy dinner guest?

It’s got to be Christopher Marlowe. I’d want to find out about his life in the Elizabethan secret service, as well as the inspiration for his plays. He’d probably be a bit of a disruptive guest, though, what with smoking tobacco and quarrelling over the bill.

For more information on the Deptford Literature Festival please check out: www.spreadtheword.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/Deptford_Literature_Festival_A5_Flyer_Web.pdf

Follow the event on Twitter @STWevents / Instagram @spreadthewordwriters #DeptfordLitFest

By Claire Foster.


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