Love for our Literary Lunches (an open letter)

Quite some time ago, we hosted the first of our Literary Lunches and this popular event has gone from strength to strength. But, how did it all come about? And why do we love them so much?

One of our supporters and a former Trustee, Linda, has been involved with our Literary Lunches from the start and has written an open letter sharing the journey with you…

Dear Literary Lunches…

Our affection for you has grown continuously from the launch way back in 2017 when local author and artist, Ophelia Redpath agreed to join us. Ophelia is a Cambridge-based artist and author who recently won the Sky Arts “Landscape Artist of the Year” Award, and is a strong supporter of Home-Start Royston, Buntingford and South Cambridgeshire.

She was the perfect inaugural guest, combining insight into her inspiration and illustration for her children’s book: ‘The Lemur’s Tale’ with a display and discussion on her fascinating paintings. 

(Visit Ophelia Redpath to find out more about her wonderful paintings and exhibitions.)

This, dear Lunches, took you straight to fame with a wonderful spread in the local press: Literary lunch goes down a treat for supporters of Royston and South Cambs Home-Start charity

Hosted throughout your history by our wonderful Poet-in-Residence, Jude Simpson, and with a delicious menu from The Old Bull Inn, you provide a comfy, cultural cushion. You have proved so popular that we now have regular ‘Literary Lunchers’ who reserve their seats so well in advance that you are frequently ‘sold out’.

And what a wonderful variety of speakers, topics, writing styles and discussions you have given us!  Speakers have generously given us insights into their literary lives: how they get their inspiration, how they tackle the first blank page, where and when they write and whether they favour a computer or a feather quill.

For some guests, the brush or craft knife is the key to their success; this was true for Emma Bennett, Rebecca Stark and Jo Tunmer when they described the compilation of ‘The Cambridge Art Book’. 

This is a delightfully varied collection of the work of fifty local artists and its success spawned a further volume: ‘The Oxford Art Book’.

Alison Bruce, creator of the excellent DC Goodhew series, gave us early knowledge of her standalone thriller, ‘I Did it for Us’; Clare Mulley inspired us with her description of the life of Eglantyne Jebb, ‘The Woman who Saved the Children’ and Dame Fiona Reynolds shared how the challenges of her work with The Campaign to Protect Rural England and The National Trust led her to write ‘The Fight for Beauty’ to highlight the importance of beautiful landscapes.  Many of us were almost moved to tears when Madeleine Reiss explained the personal experience that enabled her to write the highly poignant novel, ‘Before We Say Goodbye’.

With a truly local flavour, Christine Adams gave us an entertaining presentation on her maverick aunt who moved her house from Hertfordshire to North Norfolk in: ‘Miss Savidge Moves her House’.  From a very personal perspective, Kate Swindlehurst from Cambridge told us how much dancing helped her manage the challenges of Parkinson’s disease in ‘The Tango Effect: Parkinson’s & the Healing Power of Dance’.  From further afield, we had Vitali Vitaliev, the journalist and travel writer who defected from Moscow to London in 1990, who we hope will join us again, later this year.

Front cover of A Life Of John Buchan

On Thursday 24th February, we have another ‘sell-out’!  We very much look forward to welcoming Ursula Buchan with her book ‘A Life of John Buchan – Beyond the Thirty-nine Steps’. Ursula, John’s granddaughter, has drawn on recently discovered family documents to shed light on the man behind the famous thriller. He wrote more than a hundred books – fiction and non-fiction – and a thousand articles for newspapers and magazines. He was even given a state funeral when he died: a deeply admired and loved Governor-General of Canada.

As usual, dear Literary Lunches, Jude Simpson, with her gentle probing and witty words, will enable your guest and audience alike to muse over the messages, emotions and food for thought, long after we have all enjoyed our ‘Literary Lunch.’

Yours sincerely


An ode to Literary Lunches

And who could forget our wonderful Jude, whose amazing talent at writing things down, in a way that reads just right… explaining in this fantastic poem, exactly what a Literary Lunch is all about…

Literary Lunch

(the beginning…)

Welcome to our literary lunch,
This is the first one! Indeed, you might say,
this is the launch of our literary lunches
now, the keen-eyed among you may have noticed that
the lovely Ophelia, who is the leading lady of the launch of our literary lunches is primarily
an artist,
and you might be thinking to yourself,
this so-called literary lunch
is not literary in the literal sense.
You might wonder if indeed we are but paying lip service to literature

Let me explain.
Although we love to label things punctiliously,
We also love the lighthearted side of language
And the lure of a little alliteration
Took precedence over a literal translation
And led us to label this launch lunch ‘literary ‘
Even though it was not literally literary.

But I’ve a hunch
That your lively minds are not limited to literal interpretations
And you won’t take a metaphorical truncheon
to the idea of this being a little less literary than some literary luncheons

So sit back and let yourself enjoy a lovely, lively launch of our liberally lettered,
relatively literary literary lunch
Have a muse, have a munch
But when it comes to the crunch,
it’s also fine if you’re really just here for the lunch.


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