Wimbledon BookFest hits record numbers as organiser aims to “kickstart engagement in reading”

This year’s Wimbledon BookFest boasted a star-studded lineup including renowned broadcaster Graham Norton, and drew crowds of over 15,000 to the town Common.

The festival has come a long way since its inception and founder Fiona Razvi believes its success is due largely to their diverse line-up. “We programme very broadly in terms of subject areas – everything from current affairs to sport, fiction, history, cookery, fashion – to try and get a very mixed demographic coming down here”, she said.

Run as a charity, the BookFest was started in 2006 in an attempt to promote cultural activities and arts in the local community.

In addition to the ‘pop-up’ tent that appears every year on the Common, the charity works all year round on educational projects with local schools.

Despite the recent closure of one of Wimbledon’s best-loved bookshops, Fiona believes the success of events like this shows readership levels are as healthy as ever. “There has been a step change this year, it has gone up another level. It does encourage reading, people come to an event and then they want more”, she said.

The two-week long event has built up its reputation over the past ten years and its owners claim it is now the biggest book festival in London.

Comedian Alan Davies, cricketer Shane Warne, celebrity entrepreneur and ‘Dragon’ Theo Paphitis and legendary folk singer Billy Bragg are all included in the long list of the well-known faces who appeared in the Wimbledon tent over the fortnight, promoting and signing books and giving talks.

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