EXCITEMENT is building ahead of Dorchester's first ever literary festival following a successful launch event.

The festival will run from Friday, October 23 to Sunday, October 25 and will celebrate the town's literary history as well as its present.

A host of major names have already been lined up for the event and the programme it taking shape as organisers look to offer something for all ages and tastes.

The Dorchester Literary Festival is being organised by local antiques expert Paul Atterbury and writer Jane Gleeson and has the backing of major literary names such as Tracy Chevalier, Lord Fellowes of West Stafford, Minette Walters and Jason Goodwin.

Guests lined up for the three-day festival include Judy Finnigan and Richard Madeley, Kate Adie and comedian and writer Dom Joly.

The launch event was held at Duke's auctioneers new premises in the county town attracted around 200 people.

Janet said: "It went very well, we had the mayor come and we had quite a few of the writers who are going to be part of the festival - Minette Walters, Jason Goodwin and Kate Adie and various other writers."

She added that plans for the festival itself are shaping up well with a packed programme lined up.

As well as Richard Madeley interviewing Judy Finnigan about her new book I Do Not Sleep, other events include a session on crime writing with Minette Walters and Robert Ryan, Catherine Mayer talking about her literary portrait of Prince Charles, Kate Adie on her book Fighting on the Home Front and Tracy Chevalier choosing her desert island books.

There will also be an event supported by the Thomas Hardy Society that will see 'chick lit' author Katie Fforde joining a panel to talk about Hardy's legacy in fiction today in a session chaired by Dr Tony Fincham from the Hardy Society.

The festival will include a number of events for younger audiences including the finals of a short story competition organised by the Dorset Writers' Group and a workshop on making a monster pop up book with children's author Paul Stickland.

Tickets for the festival are expected to go on sale at the beginning of August.

For further details on the festival programme and further information visit dorchesterliteraryfestival.com