The Globe

Shakespeare's Telling Tales: A M Howell

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My visit to Shakespeare’s Telling Tales this weekend continued with A M Howell’s event. She was talking about her wonderful book, ‘The Garden of Lost Secrets’ and how she came to write it. This is a brilliant story, set in 1916, when Clara is sent to stay with her aunt and uncle. Taking a huge secret with her, she finds herself living in the Gardener’s Cottage on a country estate. Here she finds there are many other secrets, including a thief who is stealing the exotic fruits from the estate hothouses. Beautifully atmospheric and full of charm, it is an excellent read and I was keen to find out more about the author.

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Ann-Marie told us about the diaries she wrote as a child and even read us a section from one! Talking about where stories come from, she told us that she gets lots of ideas from places she visits and Ickworth House in Suffolk gave her the idea for her story. Its walled gardens and the gardener’s cottage started her imagination working overtime and when she researched the history of the estate, she heard that a gardener’s notebook had been found which was about 100 years old. When she met with the head gardener, it turned out that the contents were not all that exciting, but it added to the mix of thoughts and ideas which became the book.

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Ann-Marie then encouraged the audience to create their own settings- and there were so many ideas! Lots of weird and wonderful locations were suggested for stories which hopefully will be written by the lively minds that created them. It was a great session and a satisfying conclusion to this year’s visit to Shakespeare’s Telling Tales.

The Garden of Lost Secrets A M Howell

Usborne ISBN: 978-1474959551

Shakespeare's Telling Tales: Rob Lloyd Jones

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On Saturday, I went to the Globe Theatre for their ‘Shakespeare’s Telling Tales’ festival. The atmosphere was wonderful and I was very excited to be attending two events. Whilst waiting for the first, I wandered round ‘Bottom’s Book Market’, a lovely area created for people to gather and enjoy sharing stories and watch events like Tudor costuming.

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Tales on Moon Lane were responsible for a bookshop in the middle of Bottom’s Book Market, selling copies of books by the authors appearing at this family storytelling festival. I might have been tempted to buy one or two things..!

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My first event was listening to Rob Lloyd Jones, author of ‘Wild Boy’ and the ‘Jake Atlas’ books. Full of enthusiasm for history and writing, he explained how he didn’t really read as a child- he was a ‘reluctant’ reader- but that he enjoyed telling stories, or ‘lying’ as he put it! People seemed to like the stories he told so he felt that this might be something he would enjoy doing.

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Rob spoke with great enthusiasm about television programmes and the films he enjoyed when he was younger (and now!) and how important he feels they are to storytelling. His parents tapped into this love to encourage him to start reading- and it worked!

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Talking about where his ideas for stories come from, Rob told us about a chance visit he made to the Hunterian Museum. Here, he saw lots of anatomical specimens and amongst them, the skeleton of a gentleman known as the ‘Irish giant’, called Charles Byrne who was exhibited as a ‘freak’ at side shows. This led Rob to start researching these Victorian shows and the idea for his book, ‘Wild Boy’ came to him. It was fascinating to hear how a chance visit to somewhere could lead to the creation of such an excellent story.

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Rob’s fascination with Egyptology was the inspiration behind his exciting ‘Jake Atlas’ series of books which were much enjoyed by some of my last year’s class. With three books already published, we were told that the fourth - and last- adventure for Jake and his family would be following soon. There were lots of questions at the end of the session, showing just how engaged the audience had been.

A fascinating event in a fabulous location!

You can read our review of ‘Jake Atlas and the Emerald Snake’ here.