The Dulverton Exmoor Literary Festival 2023 sees the return of the popular Children’s Writing Competition.

The competition is for children aged 12 and under – with prizes donated by our friends at Waterstones Barnstaple to be presented on the stage on Sunday 19 November to the Winner and Runners Up by Michael Morpurgo himself!

Entries are now open and will close on 31 October; the organisers have mentioned to many local schools across Exmoor, Devon and Somerset that this could be a great writing project for this term’s English curriculum and over the October half term break.  The theme this year is to write a story about farming, farm animals or farm life, with the story to be written in no more than 500 words.

The Competition Judge is historical fiction writer, Kate Lord Brown.  Kate has said “We don’t mind about perfect spelling and grammar, just let your imagination fly and have fun! If you enjoy pictures, you can illustrate your story too. Why not think about the incredible landscape, animals and people who live on our local farms here on Exmoor? Enjoy writing something original with a great plot, characters and language. Write a story you’d love to read!”

See the poster below for the Dulverton Exmoor Literary Festival Children’s Writing Competition 2023 Rules of Entry and email your story to Alternatively, pop your entry in the special box in Dulverton Post Office. Remember to leave your name, address and contact details – and that final entries to be submitted by 31 October.

Poster illustrations kindly provided by Rebecca Day, The Toad Hall Company.

For full details of the Dulverton Exmoor Literary Festival 2023 – including the creative writing workshops specifically for children – visit here.

Good luck and happy writing!

At the Dulverton Exmoor Literary Festival 2022, the Children’s Writing Competition judge, historical fiction author Kate Lord Brown, announced the winner and runners up of the competition on the stage in front of a large audience – including the well known children’s authors Claire Barker and Victoria Eveleigh.

Kate had been given the very enjoyable (but difficult!) task of choosing a winner from amongst the 22 entries received – which is apparently a greater number than received at the Appledore Book Festival writing competition!  The excellent stories were from children from Barnstaple, South Molton, South Devon, Dulverton, Winsford, East Anstey, Cutcombe, Bampton, Brushford, Exebridge and more!  With ages ranging from 5 to 11.
The winner was Orla Scandrett, age 8, with her story ’The Hungry Deer’ (see below) – which Kate read out to the audience at the festival.  Runners up were Thomas Hill, age 7, and Kirsty Tyrrell, age 10.
Pictured above from left to right: Claire Barker (children’s author), Orla Scandrett, Victoria Eveleigh (children’s author) and Kate Lord Brown (historical fiction author and writing competition judge).

Here is Orla’s winning story…

The Hungry Deer

Once there lived a hungry red deer in the middle of Exmoor. His name is rocket, and he lives in a heard. They like to eat heather, whortleberries, and brambles but rocket no longer liked anything that the other deer ate.  That night Rocket left his old family oak tree and sneaked to Richards, the Exmoor rangers house.

As ranger Richard was putting his kayaks away, Rocket spotted a half-eaten bacon sandwich on a moss-covered wall.  Licking his lips, Rocket stared at the scrumptious looking food, finally deciding to eat it. suddenly, with a puff of smoke he turned into a human boy.

No longer did rocket have his beautiful brown fur, and on his head sat a tuft of black hair where his precious antlers once were.  His two toed hoof was now a five toed foot.  He tried to bellow his deep throated call to his herd but all that came out was a high-pitched scream.

Rocket was so happy that he was no longer a red deer, and he could enjoy his life as a boy.  Desperate to show his herd, Rocket ran after them.  Rockets herd were busy munching on the grass when they saw a terrifying sight.  A human running towards them!

They galloped in different directions desperately seeking a hedgerow to hide in.  Poor Rocket was left standing on the moor cold and lonely.  He missed his herd.  He missed the beautiful sights of his kingdom, especially his oak tree which he loved scratching his antlers on.

Woody, the wise barn owl, swooped down and perched on the family oak tree.  “I’ve been watching you very closely, now its time that you watch and learn”!  Rocket, as all the Exmoor animals do, listened closely to Woody.

For the next few days, Rocket watched the humans.  They were constantly going to work and school.  Everything they did was rushed, not once did they stop and look at the beautiful moor.  Why did they not admire the landscape in which they lived?

From a safe place, Rocket watched his family.  They took their time moving freely around the moor, picking at the lovely, green, juicy grass.  They would stand and look at their surroundings.  They showed respect to all animals.

When Woody returned, Rocket was nervous.  “You must choose Rocket.  stay in your human form or return to your herd as a red deer.”

Rocket knew instantly. He wanted to be a red deer. He wanted to live his life slowly and proudly on the beautiful Exmoor.  Human food was nice, but they never stopped to look.  They never slowed down to listen. With a puff of smoke, Rocket raced back to his family as a stag.










The inaugural Dulverton Exmoor Literary Festival on 19th and 20th November has been described as a “triumph” by MasterChef judge, restaurant critic and author William Sitwell.

Norman Scott

With a packed programme of fascinating author talks in the Town Hall in Dulverton on the Sunday, culminating in a sellout event with Norman Scott sharing his extraordinary life story and how he survived a murder attempt on Exmoor instigated by 1970’s Liberal politician Jeremy Thorpe.

Norman Scott signing his book, An Accidental Icon.

Creative Writing Workshops

The Saturday programme was held in Dulverton Library with local children’s author Annabel Collis hosting creative writing workshops for adults and children.  Much fun was had and storyboards created by all ages!

Children’s author Annabel Collis hosting the children’s creative writing workshop.

Children’s Authors and The Children’s Writing Competition

The Sunday began with a family audience being treated to a chat with two of Exmoor’s most loved children’s authors, Claire Barker and Victoria Eveleigh, followed by the presentation to Orla Scandrett, age 8, of the winner’s prize in the festival’s Children’s Writing Competition with her story, The Hungry Deer.  The competition judge, author Kate Lord Brown had the tricky task of judging 22 entries from across Exmoor and beyond. The runners up were Thomas Hill, age 7, and Kirsty Tyrrell, age 10.

Orla Scandrett, age 8, with her winning story for the Children’s Writing Competition. With (L to R) authors Claire Barker, Victoria Eveleigh and Kate Lord Brown.

William Sitwell

After a free yoga session at lunchtime with celebrated yogi Colin Dunsmuir, the audience was treated to a talk from William Sitwell about Lord Woolton’s task of feeding the nation during WWII.

William Sitwell gives a talk around his book, Eggs or Anarchy.

The Book Club Talk

The next popular talk was with three bestselling authors of fiction, Veronica Henry, Katherine Webb and Kate Lord Brown.  Veronica latterly congratulated the festival organisers for the warm and inviting atmosphere they had created and, along with the other writers, was delighted to have signed and sold so many books via the festival’s popup bookshop hosted by Waterstones Barnstaple.  The trio of authors were interviewed on stage by Poppy Flaxman, Manager of Waterstones Barnstaple.

Bestselling fiction authors (L to R) Katherine Webb, Veronica Henry and Kate Lord Brown.

Alice Thomson

Alice Thomson, Times columnist, then took to the stage to talk about her remarkable book outlining her many interviews with famous and successful people who had faced adversity in their early lives.

Alice Thomson signing her book, What I Wish I’d Known When I Was Young.

Rugby and the Exeter Chiefs

This illuminating talk was followed by Guardian sports correspondent and author Rob Kitson chatting with South West rugby legend Chris Bentley about all things rugby and the rise of the Exeter Chiefs.  Gossip and laughter was shared by the rugby-loving audience!

Chris Bentley and Rob Kitson sharing rugby stories on stage.

Rob Kitson signing copies of his book, Exe Men, The Extraordinary Rise of Exeter Chiefs.

Festival Feedback

Ali Pegrum, Festival Director, was delighted with how the event had gone and said, “After a long year in the planning, it was wonderful to meet this extraordinary group of writers in Dulverton and bring this new event to Exmoor.  Many complimentary comments have been received from the speakers and the audience, thrilled to have been a part of this inaugural event and hoping it will be repeated.  I’m sure it will!”


The entire two-day festival had been supported by Dulverton Town Council and generously sponsored by local businesses Exmoor Character Cottages, Stockham Farm ExmoorExmoor NewsHedley Price Funeral DirectorsJeff Pegrum LandscapingPFG FabricationTown Mills B&BTozers SolicitorsWare ConstructionRothwell & Dunworth Books, Your First Book, Stags Estate Agents, Osteo & Physio Tiverton, Maitland Walker Solicitors, The Exmoor Feasting Company and The Exclusive Cake Company.

It is with a huge fanfare that Visit Dulverton announces its new and exciting event for 2022 – The Dulverton Exmoor Literary Festival!  Taking place over the weekend of 19/20 November and billed as ‘A new Exmoor festival for story-lovers of all ages!”

There will be six hour-long informal talks taking place throughout the day in Dulverton Town Hall on Sunday 20 November, given by bestselling authors and writers on a variety of topics such as politics and drama, sport, psychology, historical, romantic and crime fiction, food and wine, yoga and writing for children.

Festival-goers can expect an illuminating talk from Norman Scott discussing his recently-released memoir An Accidental Icon, looking back at his life and his much-documented turbulent relationship with 1970’s Liberal politician Jeremy Thorpe, including his attempted murder on Porlock Hill. The UK’s most respected rugby union columnist, Rob Kitson, will talk about his bestseller Exe Men: The Extraordinary Rise of Exeter Chiefs, and MasterChef judge William Sitwell, one of Britain’s leading food writers, will discuss the history of food, including the problems associated with feeding Britain during WWII – so topical today.

Festival Director, Ali Pegrum said “Since first imagining the festival at the beginning of the year, we have received an immense amount of encouragement and support from a host of authors, writers, publishers and libraries right across the South West – all keen to help promote Exmoor’s very own inaugural literary festival and encourage reading and writing for everyone. As the Southern Gateway to Exmoor, Dulverton is the perfect place to host such an event and we hope that it will be repeated annually.”

Details of other bestselling authors attending the festival will be released shortly, along with the full programme and links to ticket purchasing.  Each talk will include time for audience questions, followed by author book signing in the festival’s in-house popup bookshop provided by Waterstones Barnstaple. There’ll even be an opportunity for a brief seated yoga meditation therapy session with Colin Dunsmuir, writer and a leading voice in the global yoga community.

The winner and runners up of the Dulverton Exmoor Literary Festival Writing Competition will be announced on the Sunday, with the winning entry read out by the competition’s judge, historical fiction author Kate Lord Brown.  The competition will be open to all children from Reception to Year Six, more details to follow.

The entire two-day event has been generously sponsored by local businesses Stockham Farm Exmoor, Exmoor News, Hedley Price Funeral Directors, Jeff Pegrum Landscaping, PFG Fabrication, Town Mills B&B, Tozers Solicitors, Ware Construction, Rothwell & Dunworth Books, First Design Print Web, Stags Estate Agents, Osteo & Physio Tiverton, Maitland Walker Solicitors and The Exclusive Cake Company.