Helen Dunmore was one of the lynchpins of the Charleston Festivals over many years. She regularly discussed the themes in her own work, usually in combination with other writers, and also lectured about authors whom she admired, such as Katherine Mansfield. Her poetic sensibility was a distinguishing feature of her work and her mellifluous voice was a joy that held audiences spellbound.
Helen was the most versatile of writers; as well as prize-winning and best-selling novels, she published excellent short stories, poetry and books for children. Hence her many appearances both at the Charleston Festival in the Spring and the Small Wonder Short Story Festival in the Autumn. Helen was also involved with the Asham Trust, closely associated with Charleston, as one of the contributors to the bi-annual Asham Anthologies and as a judge of the Asham Award for aspiring writers.
Helen’s parents lived in Brighton for many years which clearly contributed to her alacrity in accepting invitations to our Festivals. However, it also felt as though she belonged in the Charleston setting. She wrote a critical study of Virginia Woolf’s relationships with other women and she shared many values with Charleston’s original inhabitants: a belief in the humanising power of art, very wide cultural references, feminism, liberal principles and intellectual curiosity. Her legacy will continue to reverberate in her books.
Diana Reich Artistic Director June 6 2017
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