National Author’s Day; Scarlet Page Shoots Henley Literary Festival

In 1928, the president of the Illinois Women’s Club, Nellie Verne Burt McPherson, came up with the idea to recognise the brilliant writers that have entertained and instructed readers for generations. This was eventually approved by the club in May 1929, with an agreement being forged to celebrate all authors, past and present, on November 1st of each year. 

Although the US department of Commerce only acknowledged the day in 1949, National Author’s Day is a popular day of recognition in the Western world and on social media. The way in which to celebrate the day is relatively vague – some prefer to curl up with their favourite novel, while others see fit to give their appreciation in writing to their favourite author - this is what McPherson’s granddaughter, Sue Cole, urges readers to do.

Writing novels is a lonely endeavour, in fact, the Guardian interviewed a group of novelists, asking whether being an author was a joy or a chore. Hari Kunzru stated that “Writing a novel is largely an exercise in psychological discipline – trying to balance your project on your chin while negotiating a minefield of depression and freak-out.” 

This is why National Author’s Day is so important, to recognise the hard-work put in by writers all over the world.  

Along with their day of recognition, those who engage in literary fiction come together in cultural events to support the art-form and its contributors.  

One of the most popular literary festivals happens yearly in Henley, Oxfordshire. Launched in 2007, the festival has become a staple of the literary scene in the UK.  

This year celebrities and authors like Robert Webb, Ruby Wax and Rachel Edwards attended and gave talks about their latest works.  

The festival had various figures in many different industries, like the two women behind the Oxford Astra Zeneca vaccine (Sarah Gilbert and Catherine Green) who have released Vaxxers, a book outlining the trials and tribulations of producing a vaccine in record time.  

Our photographer, Scarlet Page, has attended and shot Henley for four years running. We asked her what Henley is like;  

Is there a reason you keep going back to shoot Henley every year? 

“I exhibited my Resonators exhibition in its infancy in 2016 and absolutely loved the team and vibe, I live fairly locally and felt drawn to be part of it again.”
 Was there anything you attended you particularly enjoyed? 

“This year Ruby Wax hit a chord and also listening to the Vaxxers talk was very interesting. Tom Allen got my funniest talk award, I was lol-ing whilst snapping.”

Anything to add?

“They do the best brownies in the green room, Gower Cottage Brownies!”

Images ©Scarlet Page

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