"Past, Present and future...”

The Somerset Celebration of Literature came into being due to the vision and determination of five prominent Gold Coasters who were associated with Somerset College in the early 1990s.

 The five – then College Librarian Gail Parr and Head of English Lorraine Pilgrim; ABC journalist Karen Berkman;  Graeme Gardiner and Wendy O’Regan – set about making the festival a reality in March 1993. They were convinced that establishing an annual festival would deliver benefits not only to students but also to the wider community.

The College Board, its academic staff and many people whose children were students at the school embraced the concept with enthusiasm, perceiving the festival as a way to enrich the cultural life of the city as well as open young minds to the fascinating world of literature. Planning for the initial festival moved swiftly beyond the embryonic stage as businesses and authors threw their weight behind the concept.
The inaugural Somerset Celebration of Literature took place in March 1994, and was attended by 31 authors and approximately 3000 students from 50 schools. Since then, the Somerset Celebration of Literature has grown significantly, gaining recognition as a major festival on Australia’s literary calendar.

It features a three-day writers’ festival, literary social events as well as the widely lauded Somerset National Novella Writing Competition for school-aged writers. The festival continues to attract large audiences with its offering of author sessions, workshops and seminars as well as meet-the-author events and the highlight literary dinner with a notable guest speaker.

In 2018 ticket sales exceeded 21,000 and offered over 50 schools, book lovers and emerging writers to immerse themselves into literature for three days.

We have taken steps over the past two years to redevelop the brand and align with strategic partners that will complement the brand and allow the programme to expand in various other forms of literature. There is a specific focus on the Gold Coast to leave a legacy and to showcase the Gold Coast as a cultural hub. We believe a collaborative approach allows for a smoother transition into the wider community as well as providing greater opportunities for funding possibilities.

The key takeaways from our planning have been we were bold in our past, we are respected at present and we want to be inspiring into the future.

We are thrilled with the outcome of the new look festival and plans underway to broaden literature throughout the Gold Coast!

I am personally excited by the challenge ahead and filled with enthusiasm for the possibilities now available. We are extremely grateful for the continued support of our partners - Somerset College, Thyne Reid Foundation, City of Gold Coast, the Herbert Family and QBD Books along with many local organisations and many of Australia's leading publishing houses who join with us in making a difference in the literature world not only with us but with varied other entities that provide growth and opportunities of literature throughout Australia.

Andrea Lewis
CEO/Festival Director