Jane praises book festival as she draws in crowds

Jane Hawking at the book festival

Jane Hawking at the book festival - Credit: Archant

Hundreds of people flocked to a village book festival which included a rare public appearance by Jane Hawking, the former wife of Stephen Hawking.

Books in the Belfry was held in St Leonard’s Church in Flamstead last Friday and Saturday and Jane, who was brought up in St Albans and was married to the celebrated physicist for 25 years, spoke about her book Travelling to Infinity in front of a sell-out crowd.

The book was adapted for the Oscar-winning film The Theory of Everything starring Oscar-winning actor Eddie Redmayne as Stephen and Felicity Jones as Jane.

Thanking the village for inviting her, Jane said: “It was a delight. The setting was beautiful.”

The festival, now in its second year, kicked off with thriller-writer Sophie Hannah whose novels have been adapted for ITV’s Case Sensitive drama. Her most recent work - The Monogram Murders - is the first Hercule Poirot novel since Agatha Christie’s death.

The line-up also featured family events and workshops as well as acclaimed children’s author Alex Scarrow, best known for his Time Riders series, and a sports books session featuring Michael Calvin, whose ghosted work with rugby star Gareth Thomas last week won Autobiography of the Year.

Matt Biggs, a panellist on the long-running BBC Radio 4 show Gardener’s Question Time, and Farming Today presenter Sybil Ruscoe hosted a light-hearted session over tea and scones.

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Audiences were able to meet all the authors and get books signed on the day.

Festival co-organiser Vikki Orvice said: “Once again it was a great couple of days. So many well-known authors and personalities got behind it to make it such a success and the sun shone all day too.

“We’d like to thank everyone involved, especially the volunteers who worked so hard on the day.”

The festival will help raise funds needed to safeguard medieval wall paintings of great historical important in the church.