Charleston's Small Wonder event goes online

Charleston House and Garden. Photo by Penelope Fewster.Charleston House and Garden. Photo by Penelope Fewster.
Charleston House and Garden. Photo by Penelope Fewster.
Charleston has joined forces with the BBC, Speaking Volumes and Lucy Hannah to deliver a weekend of free digital events this autumn to mark Small Wonder: Charleston’s annual festival dedicated to short stories and short form writing.

From September 25-27, Small Wonder Festival at Home will air BBC Arena’s landmark documentary about the ground-breaking 20th-century poet T S Eliot.

Thought-provoking contemporary responses to the documentary will also be shown from writers Kate Mosse and Roger Robinson chaired by Imogen Lycett-Green.

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And there will be new poetry commissions inspired by the film from local writers Maggie Harris and Minoli Salgado, as well as a life writing masterclass with Colin Grant.

The Festival concludes on the evening of Sunday, September 27 with an online panel discussion featuring writers shortlisted for this year’s BBC National Short Story Award with Cambridge University, now celebrating its 15th year.

Susannah Stevenson, artistic director: Charleston Festival, Small Wonder and Literary Programmes, The Charleston Trust, said: “Arena: T S Eliot takes an in-depth look at the Nobel Prize winner and seminal figure in 20th-century English language literary culture who was a regular visitor to Charleston farmhouse.

“He was a man who was a poet, playwright, children’s writer, critic and publisher — but who was also a husband, a friend and an American settler in the UK.

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“Featuring never-before-seen private scrapbooks, albums and archive footage from Eliot’s widow Valerie Eliot, the 2009 documentary tells the whole story of Eliot’s life and work, including the happiness he found in the last years of his life in his second marriage.

“Audiences will enjoy exclusive new poems inspired by the documentary from the acclaimed British-Guyanese poet Maggie Harris and British-Sri Lankan writer Minoli Salgado.

“Audiences will also learn how to start their own personal writing journey with seasoned author Colin Grant’s masterclass.

“Bestselling author Kate Mosse, poet Roger Robinson — who won this year’s T S Eliot Prize for Poetry — and award-winning writer Imogen Lycett-Green will also come together to discuss the documentary in an online in-conversation event.

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“Accessible to all for free, the T S Eliot documentary and associated events will launch on Charleston’s website at 10am on Friday,September 25.

“And the BBC National Short Story Award Panel Discussion will premiere on Charleston’s YouTube channel at 5pm on Sunday, September 27.

“The events mark the weekend that Small Wonder — the UK’s only festival dedicated to short stories and short form writing — usually takes place in the grounds at Charleston.”

Small Wonder Festival at Home: September 25-27 2020:; 10am, September 25– 10pm, September 27.

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Events are available for free online at