Recent Events

Giving the victims of Jack the Ripper a voice – Hallie Rubenhold

Ripper Event Pic

We felt so privileged to welcome Hallie back to Broadstairs – she helped us launch BroadstairsLit in Sept 2017. Her latest book The Five has won the much coveted Baillie Gifford Prize and was No.1 Sunday Times bestseller, Hay festival book of the year and is on bestseller lists all over the world. The Five uncovers truths about the victims and overturns beliefs held for over 130 years that they were all prostitutes.

Hallie talked about peeling back the layers of their lives through never ending research of records from workhouses, diaries, letters, birth deaths marriage certificates, court transcripts nd more. She also talked about the harsh lives these women endured in the Victorian era that certainly wasn’t  the ‘good ole days’ we sometimes see on period dramas. For so many years the story has been about the ripper, finally the victims have a voice. Their stories are heartbreaking but so powerful, the book pulls you into their lives as if you are standing next to them – everyone should read it.

Well what an event to end our year on….

The Reverend Jonathan Aitken took us on his journey from cabinet minister and privileged life to fall from grace where he lost everything, then his time in prison where he learned about himself, his flaws and made some good friends. While inside he even provided a writing service for a queue of prisoners with many an improved love letter being delivered to those waiting on the outside! And he shared his calling to become ordained specifically to work as a prison chaplain.
It was so interesting to meet a man who was once tipped to be prime minster and is now a man totally fulfilled by his life as a prison chaplain, a reminder that a new direction and new life is possible for us all.

A great event to end our 2019 line-up which started with the audience enjoying Prosecco and a cream tea at The Yarrow while being serenaded by the fabulous Alison Moyna. Talking of great events do check out our website for 2020 every author is a Sunday Times Best Seller …email us to reserve spaces as tickets do sell out fast. Big thanks to for the photos, KENT PA HIRE for the fab sound and Waterstones Thanet for being our booksellers. We couldn’t do these events without you all.

Oh What a Night!

Over £750 was raised for local charities at The BroadstairsLit party night which launched The Big Five O, the new novel by Jane Wenham-Jones, that is set in Thanet. The funds, from a raffle, auction and collecting tins,  were shared between the Broadstairs Town Shed and Thanet Good Neighbour Service. “These are important local causes that do a great deal to help tackle loneliness and isolation in the older generation ,” said BroadstairsLit director, Denise Martin-Harker. “We were so pleased to be able to support them.”

200 guests, including the Mayor and Mayoress of Broadstairs, filled the pavilion to enjoy this free community event, which included music by The Hot Rats Duo and Alison Moyna, a poetry reading by award-winning poet Maggie Harris, a display of award winning photographs by local artist Mel Chennell and a chance to get a preview copy of The Big Five O, published by Harper Collins. “It was lovely to see so many people,” said Jane Wenham-Jones. “We even sold out of books!”

Many thanks to for the photographs.

Sunny Ormonde’s One Woman Show

Sunny Ormonde’s warm, funny and surprising one-woman show delighted devotees of The Archers for her larger-than-life portrayal of Lilian – didn’t it dahlings? – but delivered so much more. In vignettes from Shirley Valentine  to Shakespeare to Cider with Rosie, Sunny moved effortlessly through  personas, never failing to enthral. Comedy, pathos and laugh-out loud one-liners combined to bring us a show that was in turn both poignant and hilarious and far exceeded the sum of its many parts.

Our audience loved it!

Soundbites from Sunny’s performance:
Sunny meets the audience!      Chips and egg with Shirley Valentine!

Many thanks to for the photographs

Terry Waite CBE – Time in Solitude

Have you ever been to a talk where you could hear a pin drop and daren’t breath because you might miss something. Well that’s how it felt at The Broadstairs Pavilion on Sunday 19 May. 210 people listening to Terry’s extraordinary life story as he led us through what happened on the day he was taken hostage and during his time in captivity which lasted for almost 5 years.

It was a humbling experience, a chance to reset and remind yourself of what really matters in life. Truly inspirational to hear that although he was angry with his captors he calmed the anger and looked for the positives. He reminded us that from negative difficult situations the most important thing to focus on is what he called ‘creativity’ – what can grow from the situation – what positives can we make happen. And that’s something he has always used in all his negotiations for peace and freeing hostages.

Terry shared with us that on his return to the Lebanon to meet his captors they asked him what they could do for him – he said ‘there are thousands of refugees that need heating oil -can you provide it to them?’ and they said they would and they did. A great example of the positivity and creativity he was describing.

We were also treated to his wonderful sense of humour and one of his recent books TRAVELS WITH A PRIMATE shows the full humour of Terry Waite through an entertaining collection of true life travels with the Archbishop of Canterbury, Robert Runcie. Very much in contrast to his bestseller TAKEN ON TRUST,  which he wrote in his head while he was hostage -he was refused paper and pen.

There were many wise words during the interview, too many to include, but perhaps a great one to end with was his reminder that ‘We are living in the kingdom of now’ – the moment you are in is the most important , and he added ‘right now the most important people in my life are you , we are here together’

One audience member said afterwards ‘it was amazing to be in the presence of such an inspirational man , calm , mild mannered and measured – but also with a great sense of humour’

Many thanks to for the photographs

Caitlin makes a big splash at BroadstairsLit!

A truly fascinating and delicious event was enjoyed by a full house at The Yarrow. After enjoying prosecco and a cream tea we were treated to an illustrated talk by Caitlin Davies about her latest book, Daisy Belle which is set in Margate and is based on the true lives of female swimming pioneers Agnes Beckwith and Annie Luker.

These women were setting records in an era when women weren’t even supposed to be seen swimming. In 1875, aged only 14yrs Agnes leapt into the Thames and swam 5miles to Greenwich. She went on to set numerous records including a 20mile Thames swim in 1878. Annie dived from a 70ft board into a whale tank filled with just 6ft of water and was declared Lady Diver, Champion of the World.

Courageous women indeed and it was very fitting that this event was helping to raise funds for the Domestic Abuse Charity -Oasis, and a total of £1180 was raised. A big Thank You to everyone who supported the event and to Caitlin for such an interesting talk, Waterstones Thanet have a few signed copies available at Westwood Cross -be quick!
Photos kindly taken by

Chetna’s Healthy Indian – A Supper Club treat for Broadstairs

100 lucky people enjoyed a five course tasting menu cooked by the Bake Off star on Friday 8 March at The Yarrow , all recipes were from her new book ‘Chetna’s Healthy Indian’ The meal was cooked by Chetna and the talented team at The Yarrow who are led by head chef Ben Williams. Afterwards Chetna did a spotlight interview where she shared the ideas behind the book – all based on cooking simple foods that don’t take ages to prepare and are good for you , full of nutrients. She said ‘it’s not about creating a diet plan but just cooking good food available locally from scratch and making it tasty’ Chetna also added that she only uses spices that you can buy locally so you are not hunting around for lots of obscure ingredients. What we can say is it was delicious and if you’d like to purchase the book and try out those recipes it’s available at Waterstones Westwood Cross. The event also held a raffle for local charity Oasis and raised £330. Thanks to everyone who attended for their generosity and a big thanks to Encade photography for great event photos as always!

Helen Lederer, yes she was Absolutely Fabulous!

What a brilliant night at The Broadstairs Pavilion.
Helen Lederer had us all laughing out loud …truly the best thing for a very chilly grey January day. She shared from her long and varied career that has covered – to name only a few – the comedy store, happy families, naked video, Absolutely Fabulous, The Edinburgh Fringe, calendar girls, Masterchef and even a bit of reality TV – Come Dine with me, Splash, celebrity Big Brother.

Helen was so warm and open about her life and she covered sensitive topics like anxiety, approval and acceptance and how it was for women when she first started out in the 80s. And as one audience member said “she was as funny as I hoped, but what really made it special was how honest and down to earth she was”
We couldn’t agree more!

She then signed copies of her novel Losing It which she says contains several autobiographical moments …and if you didn’t make the event and want to read something that will make you laugh out loud -go along to Waterstones at Westwood Cross as Helen kindly signed a few extra copies for the store.

Toto the Ninja Cat with Dermot O’Leary and Nick East

We loved Toto The Ninja Cat (and Dermot and Nick!)
What fun we had hearing all about Dermot’s cats Toto and Silver -the real life stars of his books, rescued from an olive grove in Italy by Dermot and his wife Dee. Dermot chatted with us about some of the other characters in his books too -“Catface” “Larry the cat” “Mary the seagull” and the baddies “Brian the king cobra” -who is actually misunderstood …and “Archduke Ferdicat” -a Ninja who has turned to crime. The books are packed with positive messages about friendship, acceptance and over coming adversity. And Toto is an inspiration as a female super hero who is blind (as she is in real life). The hugely talented Nick East , the book’s illustrator, also led everyone in a draw-along. As if that wasn’t enough there were great questions from the audience and a 2.5hr book signing where everyone got personal time to chat with Dermot and Nick. A puuurfect event that we will never forget. We can’t wait for the next Toto book!

Being David Archer, with Tim Bentinck and Sunny Ormonde (Lilian Archer)

Great fun and a packed house at the Pavilion Broadstairs on Thursday 21st July 2018 as we welcomed Tim Bentinck (David Archer) and Sunny Ormonde (Lilian Bellamy) from The Archers. David read a hilarious excerpt from his book entitled “Being David Archer” and carried out book signings afterwards for delighted audience members. Both our stars, with a little help from interviewer Jane Wenham-Jones, demonstrated the sound effects methods used to recreate a lamb being born, using lots of yoghurt and various other unusual props! Sunny demonstrated Lillian’s laugh, which will be very familiar to listeners of The Archers. One lucky audience member won a signed copy of a cover of The Borchester Echo, specially created for the event. A wonderful night to remember.

What did Tim have to say about the evening?
“the most relaxed interview I’ve done so far….. so many of the questions were original and thoughtful…”  Tim Bentinck (David Archer) 2018-

James Brown – Extra Time

11th May 2018; one evening was not enough for the many stories this man had to share … and to think it all started from being a milkman who at 21 landed his dream job as NME Features Editor .

James grew up in the streets of Headingley, Leeds alongside Leeds and England player Allan Clarke, played five-a-side with everyone from Spandau Ballet to the Sex Pistols and once played on Robbie Williams’ football pitch at his home in Los Angeles. He shared with us how football has been a constant in his life – throughout his time at NME, Loaded magazine – which he founded and his time at GQ. We were all touched by the way James talked about football and it’s ability to bring people from all walks of life together – his book  Above Head Height was born after the sudden death of one of his long-standing team mates – leading Brown to ponder the unique bond between men who meet only to play football and know nothing of each other beyond pitch prowess. The book has been nominated for ‘Outstanding Sports Book of the Year’

“Football is a way for men to get together – especially when they are older,” said Brown. “It’s an opportunity to chat, laugh and feel part of something.”

In this modern world where people often feel isolated this message is so important and positive, and though we enjoyed many a tale and laugh with James that underlying sentiment made it a special evening.

Listen here to our very own Denise Martin-Harker being interviewed by Jez Hulme about Jame’s book, Above head Height.

Listen to an excerpt from this event:

A Life in the Day
with Hunter and Caitlin Davies

When you have a guest who has been a journalist and author for 60 years and written 97 books – there are bound to be stories to tell.
On 6th April 2018 we met Hunter Davies and were treated to anecdotes about how his career started, his friendship with Sir Paul McCartney and the difficulties that face a ghost writer of autobiographies.
And with daughter Caitlin also a successful author and skillfully embellishing Dad’s stories of family moments it was a wonderful insight into life in a ‘writing household’ – Hunter’s late wife was the novelist Margaret Forster – so writing was definitely part of family life. Caitlin also shared snippets from her latest book ‘Bad Girls’ a fascinating book researching the famous women’s prison – Holloway.
An evening with the Davies duo was not long enough, but thoroughly enjoyed.

Listen to an excerpt from this event:

No Cunning Plan – Sir Tony Robinson

The people of Broadstairs welcomed a ‘National Treasure’ and a Knight on 10 March 2018 and were thoroughly rewarded with stories from how he started his career in Oliver at the age of 13 on stage with the legend ‘Ron Moody’ to the story of receiving his knighthood.
And we were treated to stories of other legendary encounters with ‘The Duke’ John Wayne – yes Sir Tony was in a film with him … the stories could have gone on and on.
Fascinating, fun and thoroughly entertaining with everything from Baldrick (Black Adder) and Time Team to his latest project visiting Britain’s Cathedrals – we didn’t want him to leave!

As one of the audience said ‘Isn’t it wonderful when you meet someone you’ve watched and enjoyed on TV all your life and they are great in real life too’

Afterwards Sir Tony stayed for a book signing with a long line of happy fans!

Broadstairs was still smiling a week later – and as Sir Tony said ‘What Laffs we’ve had!’

Listen to an excerpt from this event:

The Perfect Match with Katie Fforde and Jo Thomas


We were delighted to welcome Award winning Romantic novelists Katie and Jo to Broadstairs on 16th February 2018.  The Yarrow was the the perfect setting for our romantic theme serving pink prosecco, delicious canapes and hand-made chocs.

Katie and Jo told stories of the research trips they have embarked on together for their books, which had us all in fits of laughter and wishing we could go with them. One of the audience said they should turn their trips into a TV series – so entertaining.

Both authors inspired us by sharing how they started their writing careers and advised budding writers to never give up – keep trying – keep going. Katie Fforde said of the event ‘We really enjoyed it and we think BroadstairsLit will become THE place to go’.

Listen to an excerpt from this event:

Supper and Chaat with Chetna Makan

We had 105 people at The Yarrow Hotel for our first event of 2018 – a marvellous three course meal cooked by Broadstairs’ own Chetna Makan, star of Great British Bake Off, and the team at The Yarrow. The evening was rounded off with Chetna being interviewed by Jane Wenham-Jones, Q&A from the audience and a book signing.


On the 29th October 2017 110 locals and visitors packed The Palace Cinema in Broadstairs to see the highly acclaimed Brit Film –‘Jawbone’ starring Johnny Harris, Ray Winstone, Michael Smiley and Ian McShane.

The film was nominated for a BAFTA and 7 other British Independent film awards.

Afterwards there was a reception at The Pavilion where the star and writer of the film Johnny Harris, and co-star Michael Smiley took were ‘In Conversation’ with Denise Martin-Harker.

Johnny Harris said ‘This is one of the best interviews and Q+A’s we’ve done for the film – Thank you so much’

The evening raised £1500 for local charity The Broadstairs Town Shed

At the end of the successful event actor Michael Smiley said “What a fantastic night, What a fantastic community – the way you support each other is humbling. We’re so proud to have helped in any way’.

Listen to an excerpt from this event:

Harlots & Hangers-on

110 people turned up for our Harlots & Hangers-on event with Lucinda Hawksley and Hallie Rubenhold. The audience were beguiled with stories from the 18th and 19th century of pimps, poverty, prostitution, gossip and scandal….what more can one hope for on a Sunday afternoon while enjoying a cream tea!

Thank you to The Dickens Declaimers for setting the scene on Sunday at the event, and a big thank you to The Broadstairs Dickens Fellowship for sponsoring this event.
Listen to an excerpt from this event:

A Cup Of Tea With The Archers

A selection of pictures from our first event – A Cup Of Tea With The Archers – at The Pavilion, Broadstairs on 21st June, 2017. We were joined by Keri Davies (scriptwriter), Annabelle Dowler (who plays Kirsty Miller) and Trevor Harrison (Eddie Grundy).

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