BILL Oddie, Michael Dobbs, Ann Leslie and Jonathan Dimbleby are just some of the popular authors descending on Dorset as part of this year’s Bridport Literary Festival.

The 10-day series of talks and performances ties in with the world-famous Bridport Prize, which this year attracted thousands of entries from 80 countries around the globe.

There are categories for poetry and short stories and the winners will be announced at a special lunch in Bridport Town Hall on Saturday, November 8.

Many of the festival events take place in Bridport, although the beautiful Eype Church Centre for the Arts also plays a prominent role as a festival venue.

The event opens with a talk and readings by Antony Hitchens whose father, Lieutenant Commander Robert Hitchens, was a leading figure in gunboat warfare during the Second World War.

It will be followed by the finale of this year’s Big Read event. It was to have featured last year’s winner Graham Mort, but ill health means he will be unable to attend.

Instead, local writers will read and discuss his winning tale, The Prince.

Other events include a workshop with the winner of this year’s poetry prize and the chance to see Bridport Prize patron Fay Weldon advise aspiring writers how to get started.

Former Dorset authors Rory MacLean and Michael Dobbs are also scheduled to chat about their latest books and past experiences, while writers currently living in the county – Christopher Stocks, Paul Atterbury and Jason Goodwin – will also be on hand.

Festival director Tanya Bruce-Lockhart said: “A great many of our speakers are non-fiction writers. When they speak they have a huge enthusiasm and knowledge about their chosen subject. But then you have someone like Jason Goodwin who combines history in his fiction as well.

“He studied the Ottoman and Byzantium empires at Cambridge and then found that writing whodunnits set in those times was a good way of feeding stories to his growing brood of children.

“Rory MacLean is another one. He is a consummate traveller who writes almost in the vernacular.” A late arrival to the festival’s impressive roster of speakers is everyone’s favourite naturalist and Goodie, Bill Oddie.

He will be at Bridport Arts centre at 7.30pm on Saturday, November 15 and will be reading from his recent autobiography, One Flew Into the Cuckoo’s Egg.

“We all love Bill Oddie as a Goodie and as the thinking man’s naturalist, and we are very lucky to have him at the festival,” said Tanya. “But then you see him on a programme such as Who Do You Think You Are and you find that a lot of people who appear light-hearted on the surface can have sadness and depression in their life.

“Bill’s talk will be finding out about the other side of him, which I think will be fascinating.”

Bridport Literary Festival runs for 10 days and involves the whole community. It is sponsored by Kitson and Trotman solicitors and Waterstones, while the Bull Hotel is acting as the festival meeting place and bar. For full details call Bridport Arts Centre on 01308 424204, pick up a brochure or log on to the website at