The Sherborne Sessions

The Sessions is an exciting Literary Festival, organised by Rebecca de Pelet (Head of English) and Tom Payne. Novelists, film-makers, comedians, musicians, poets and journalists share their insights and tricks with the audiences. Pupils from Sherborne International, Sherborne Girls, Leweston and The Gryphon join our boys for sessions throughout the day and into the evening.

For an insight into the sessions please enjoy listening to Sherborne's Just a Minute 

View a compilation of short videos of the main sessions

A compilation of photographs taken of the workshops with authors and the launch dinner with Robert McCrum set to an original song written and performed by Charlie Smith (L6g) can also be found here

Kindly sponsored by Sherborne Foundation.

The Sherborne Sessions

The following information details the list of confirmed participants over the 4 day festival:

Asitha Amereskere

  • Asitha is a British-Sri Lankan filmmaker living in London.
  • He was brainwashed by Greek myth at an early age and has attempted to tell stories ever since.
  • After reading Classics at Bristol University, he received an MFA in Directing at the California Institute of the Arts.
  • His short ‘Do Not Erase’ won the BAFTA for Short Film in 2007 and ‘14’ was European Film Academy and BAFTA-nominated in 2009/10.
  • His feature film project ‘Kin’ is being developed with the British Film Institute and he is working on a new project around the subject of dementia.
  • In 2016, he completed the short film ‘Us’ exploring mental illness.
  • A member of BAFTA and the EFA, he has sat on several international festival juries. In addition to filmmaking, he is also a published author of short stories. 

Harry Baker

  • Harry Baker is the youngest ever World Poetry Slam Champion and has recently graduated from Bristol University.
  • His debut collection of poetry, The Sunshine Kid follows the narrative of his 5-star Edinburgh Fringe Festival shows, Harry Baker’s Super-Amazing Mega-Awesome Gap Year Adventures: Birth of a Champion and Proper Pop-Up Purple Paper People. 

Find out more about Harry

Dr Anna Beer

  • Dr Anna Beer is an Oxford Don at Kellogg College and a biographer.
  • She is the author of Milton: Poet, Pamphleteer & Patriot (2008), Bess: The Life of Lady Raleigh, Wife to Sir Walter (2015) and most recently, Sounds and Sweet Airs: the Forgotten Women of Classical Music (2016).

Xander Brinkworth

  • Xander Brinkworth is an Old Shirburnian and a Producer at Brinkworth Films.
  • He has worked on shows for Channel 4, BBC, Discovery and Animal Planet as well as developing pitches for UK and international broadcasters.
  • His recent documentary, Britain’s Racist Election explores the unprecedented culture collision between immigrants and the white community at the start of the era of mass immigration. 

Find out more about Xander

Louise Carpenter

  • Louise Carpenter is the author of An Unlikely Countess: Lily Budge and the 13th Earl of Galloway, and Ida and Louise.
  • Writes for The Times Magazine and The Daily Telegraph Magazine

Find out more about Louise

Charlotte Collins

  • Charlotte Collins is an award-winning translator.
  • Her works include A Whole Life, for which she was the runner-up in the 2016 Man Booker Prize for International Fiction, and The Tobacconist (2016).
  • A Whole Life has been featured on Book at Bedtime on Radio 4.
  • She is currently co-translating Nino Haratischwili’s award-winning novel The Eighth Life.

Rachel Cooke

  • Rachel Cooke is an award winning journalist.
  • She writes for The Observer, and is the television critic of The New Statesman.
  • Her book Her Brilliant Career: Ten Extraordinary Women of the Fifties is published by Virago. 

Find out more about Rachel

James Crawford

  • Before becoming a teacher James spent 15 years in the world of radio.  
  • He has made many documentaries presented by people such as PD James, Humphrey Lyttleton, Stephen Merchant, Frederick Forsyth and Michael Portillo.  
  • The edition of the Reunion that he produced, about the team behind the ground-breaking BBC magazine programme Tonight, was one of the Telegraph’s 10 best programmes of 2010.

Carson Einarsen

  • Carson Einarsen is a graduate of the Savannah College of Art and Design and an award-winning Filmmaker.
  • He is the current US Foundation Fellow 2016 at Sherborne School.
  • He has completed the National Novel Writing Month multiple times.

Lucy Fry

  • Lucy Fry is an author and a journalist writing about health, wellbeing and adventure.
  • She works, freelance, writing for a mainstream publications like The Telegraph, The Mail,The Guardian, and various different magazines and websites.
  • Lucy was a weekly fitness columnist for Sunday Telegraph from August 2014 - May 2016 and previously a travel-fitness trends columnist for Easy Jet Magazine.
  • Lucy's first non fiction book Run Ride Sink or Swim - a rookie's guide to Triathlon - was shortlisted for the 2016 British Sports Book Award (New Writer prize). She is currently working on a novel. 

Find out more about Lucy

Viv Groskop

  • Multi award-winner Viv Groskop is a stand-up comedian, actor and writer.
  • Her second Edinburgh show Be More Margo, about Britishness and middle class life post-Brexit, played to sold-out audiences at the Fringe this summer.
  • A regular guest critic on TV and radio, she has appeared on BBC2’s Artsnight, Newsnight, on BBC Breakfast and Sky News as well as on BBC Radio 4’s Loose Ends, Quote Unquote, Front Row and Saturday Review.
  • She has written for The Guardian and Observer for 15 years and currently writes two cult weekly television blogs for the Guardian.
  • A fluent Russian speaker, she is currently recording a series on women and the Russian Revolution for BBC Radio 3 for 2017.
  • This autumn she will be hosting Graham Norton’s live book tour.

Find out more about Viv

Paul Kerensa

  • Paul Kerensa is a writer and comedian.
  • He has written for award-winning sit coms such as Miranda and Not Going Out.
  • He won ITV’s Take the Mic Award in 2002, and has performed stand-up all over the world, including at the Montreal Comedy Festival.
  • His book on comedy and faith, So a Comedian Walks into a Church, is published by DLT, and he broadcasts a podcast from his living room each week: it’s available here.

Find out more about Paul

Morgan Lloyd Malcolm

  • Morgan Lloyd Malcolm is a screenwriter and playwright.
  • Her play Belongings was shortlisted for the Charles Wintour Most Promising Playwright Award. Other works for the stage include Epidemic, Platforms and You Once Said Yes.
  • She is also the writer of The Interrogation of Leo and Lisa (2006) which stars Kevin Spacey and Thandie Newton.  


Rory MacLean

  • Rory MacLean is the author of twelve books including the UK top tens Stalin's Nose and Under the Dragon as well as Berlin: Imagine a City, a book of the year and 'the most extraordinary work of history I've ever read' according to the Washington Post.
  • He has won awards from the Canada Council and Arts Council of England and written about the missing civilians of the Yugoslav Wars for the ICRC, on divided Cyprus for the UN and on North Korea for the British Council.
  • His works – wrote the late John Fowles – are among those that 'marvellously explain why literature still lives'.
  • A Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, he divides his time between Dorset, London and Berlin.

Find out more about RoryRory's work and a recent News article.

Robert McCrum

  • Robert McCrum is an Old Shirburnian, critic and Associate Editor at The Observer.
  • He was editor-in-chief of the publishers Faber & Faber for nearly twenty years and has published six novels.

Find out more about Robert

Malcolm Messiter

  • Malcolm Messiter is the son of Old Shirburnian Ian Messiter, who came to Sherborne School in 1934 where he was a member of School House.
  • Ian was the creator of the BBC panel show Just a Minute, for which Malcolm has acted as a producer.
  • Malcolm is also a renowned oboist.
  • The panel game will be a feature of the festival for the first time.

Find out more about Just a Minute

Tom Payne

  • Tom Payne teaches English at Sherborne School, where he is second in the department.
  • He was previously deputy and acting literary editor for The Daily Telegraph, to which he continues to contribute book reviews.
  • He is the author of Fame: from the Bronze Age to Britney (2008); a translation of Ovid’s The Art of Love (2012); and The Ancient Art of Growing Old (2015).
  • His poems have appeared in literary magazines.

Ali Plumb

  • Ali Plumb is a journalist who has written for the Huffington Post UK, Empire Magazine and Digital Spy.
  • He is currently Radio 1 and 1Xtra’s film critic, hosting Movies with Ali Plumb on a weekly basis.

Find out more about Ali 

Alex Preston

  • Alex Preston is an author and journalist.
  • His first novel, This Bleeding City won the Spear’s Best First Novel Prize, the Edinburgh International Book Festival Reader’s First Book Award and was chosen as one of Waterstone’s New Voices 2010.
  • Preston also reviews books for a number of international newspapers and is a regular panellist on BBC2’s The Review Show. 
  • His novel 'In Love and War' has been a Book at Bedtime on Radio 4.

Find out more about Alex

James Rawlings

  • James Rawlings won the Perrier Award for comedy at the Edinburgh festival in 2002 with his sketch act The Consultants which went on to have 4 series on BBC Radio 4.
  • Written, directed and produced over 70 projects for brands and advertising agencies.
  • Co-founded Hoot, whose first film won 7 Grand Prixs comedy awards at festivals in the US including The LA Film Festival and The Friar’s Club.

Find out more about James

Christopher Reid

  • Christopher Reid is an essayist, cartoonist, and poet.
  • A Scattering won the 2009 Costa Book Award.
  • Poetry Editor at Faber and Faber 1991-1999, working closely with Seamus Heaney and Ted Hughes.

Find out more about Christopher

Nat Segnit

  • Nat Segnit is a writer, critic and broadcaster.
  • His novel Pub Walks in Underhill Country was published by Penguin in 2012 and was long-listed for the Desmond Elliot Prize.
  • He writes non-fiction for Harper's Magazine and The New Yorker and regularly contributes book reviews to the TLS.
  • His work for Radio 4 includes two series of mockumentaries, Strangers on Trains and Beautiful Dreamers, and a short story, The Clock Tower, for a recent Book at Bedtime.
  • He and Kirsty Crawford are currently writing the book for a new musical, The Marriage of Simon, with a score by Sam and Alan Sharland.

Sam Swallow

  • Sam Swallow is one of the three members of The Hoosiers.
  • He sings, plays keyboards and composes.
  • He also arranges music, most recently having orchestrated 13 tracks by The 1975 for a BBC Radio One Live Lounge concert with the BBC Philarmonic.
  • He and band mate Alan are currently working on The Marriage of Simon, a musical co-written with Nat Segnit and Kirsty Crawford.

Lulu Taylor

  • Lulu Taylor is the author of eight novels, with her most recent book THE WINTER CHILDREN making the Sunday Times top ten bestseller list.
  • After reading English at Oxford, she worked as a commissioning editor of fiction for major publishing houses before turning to writing.
  • As well as writing her own books, Lulu has ghost-written for authors and celebrities.

Find out more about Lulu

Sara Wheeler

  • Sara Wheeler is a biographer, Fellow of The Royal Society of Literature and travel writer known for, amongst other things, her book Terra Incognita: Travels in Antarctica.

Anthony Wilson

  • Anthony Wilson is a poet, writing tutor and lecturer at the University of Exeter.
  • Books include Riddance, Love for Now and Lifesaving Poems.
  • Writing residencies at The Poetry Society, The Times Educational Supplement, The Poetry Trust and Tate Britain.
  • Serving as the 2104 Aldeburgh Poetry Festival blogger.

Find out more about Anthony

Ben Wild

  • Ben Wild is a historian and author.
  • Formerly a guest lecturer at the Condé Nast College of Fashion & Design, he is now a consulting lecturer at Sotheby’s Institute of Art and a contributing editor to Parisian Gentleman, alongside teaching History at Sherborne School.
  • He recently published the biography, A Life in Fashion: The Wardrobe of Cecil Beaton, with Thames & Hudson and is currently working on a cultural history of fancy dress for Bloomsbury.

Tom Williams

  • Tom is an Old Shirburnian and has been a full-time screenwriter since 1999.
  • His first produced film was the 2011 romantic comedy CHALET GIRL, starring Felicity Jones, Ed Westwick, Bill Nighy and Brooke Shields.
  • He also wrote the screenplay to the award-winning 2014 real-life war thriller KAJAKI: THE TRUE STORY.
  • He is currently developing a number of new film and television projects.

Find out more about Tom

Evie Wyld

  • After the Fire, a Still Small Voice: John Llewellyn Rhys Prize and a Betty Trask Award
  • All the Birds, Singing: Miles Franklin Award, the Encore Award, and the Jerwood Fiction Uncovered Prize
  • 2013 Granta Magazine: Best of Young British Novelists

Find out more about Evie