Past events

Author visits to Woodbridge

For Browsers, Catherine Larner organises author talks and book launches ranging from intimate gatherings of around 30 guests to large evening events with capacity audiences of more than 250 people. Recent guest authors have included Alexander McCall Smith, Margaret Drabble, Kate Mosse and Deborah Moggach as well as Olympic rowing champion Katherine Grainger and antiques expert, Judith Miller.

In 2008 Catherine was the Artistic Director for the first Children’s Book Festival in Woodbridge, Suffolk, in association with Browsers Bookshop. There were four days of activities for children of all ages, and their parents. Many sessions were free and all were creatively run to ensure full interaction, participation and engagement throughout the community. Leading authors (including Philip Reeve, Nick Butterworth, Kevin Crossley-Holland and Meg Rosoff) presented at venues throughout the town. Supplementing the headline speakers there were launches of new books and authors, story playtimes for toddlers, a children’s comedian, storytelling trails around the town led by members of local amateur dramatic groups, and a dogwalking storytime by the river. It was an ambitious and varied programme which was professionally run and well-attended, creating a genuine excitement throughout the town.

Recent events

Sharon Bolton
Wednesday 26th April at 7.30pm

Award-winning crime writer, Sharon Bolton will be introducing her new novel 'Dead Woman Walking' and talking about her career to date, plans for the future, and theories on why crime and thrillers are such a popular genre at present. Tickets are £13 and include a copy of the new book (RRP £12.99), and a complimentary glass of wine. Space is limited for this very special evening, so please book early.

Poetry and conversation with Neil Powell
Tuesday 28th February at 7.30pm

Join us for an evening of poetry and conversation with Neil Powell as he introduces us to his newly published collection of work which spans 50 years.

Neil lives in Orford and visited Browsers a few years ago to talk to us about his biography of Benjamin Britten. Also a former bookseller, English teacher and editor, Neil has had seven volumes of poetry published. This collection draws on that body of work and is published by Carcanet Press.

Called 'Was and Is' the book is described as "the narrative of a lifetime" exploring "landscape and seascape, music and poetry, friendship and the deaths of friends. Ranging from the playful to the elegiac, these poems now resonate with each other in new and unexpected ways." Come along to the evening and find out more! Tickets £5.

Introducing Jem Lester
Tuesday 21st February at 7.30pm

Debut novelist, and journalist, Jem Lester will be in conversation about the inspiration behind 'Shtum', his funny and poignant account of a family and autism.

Included in Simon Mayo's Radio Two Book Club last year, Jem is visiting to mark the release of the paperback edition of his novel.

Tickets are £10 and include a copy of the book for each guest to take away at the end of the evening..

Artemis Cooper
Wednesday 28th September at 7.30pm

The brilliant biographer of Patrick Leigh Fermor and Elizabeth David visited us to reveal all that she has discovered about novelist, Elizabeth Jane Howard.

We gathered together in the stunning panelled room in Woodhall Manor, the door open to the fountains burbling outside with an owl hooting intermittently during this lovely summer's evening.

Artemis presented the story of Jane's life with a slide show, and explained the challenges she faced in compiling the biography. The audience was enthralled throughout and eager to ask questions when Artemis concluded her talk.

Jane was held with great affection in Suffolk, having made her home here in Bungay.

It was a fascinating evening for all those who know and love the writing of Elizabeth Jane Howard, and for those who were new to her work. She had an astonishing life.

Tickets were £8 from Browsers Bookshop, Woodbridge.

Victoria Hislop in conversation
Tuesday 27th September at 2.30pm

The hugely popular novelist, Victoria Hislop will be introducing her new book 'Cartes Postales' at an event not to be missed this September.

We were delighted and privileged to have this hugely popular novelist visit us at Woodhall Manor for her new book 'Cartes Postales'.

The ballroom was filled to capacity to hear Victoria in conversation with Catherine Larner. They discussed her extraordinarily successful career and Victoria explained the inspiration and motivation behind this new title.

'Cartes Postales' is as engrossing and bewitching as Victoria's other bestselling tales, but this time the book features stunning original photography, illustrating the story in a unique publication.

Tickets were £8.

Cookery writer, Diana Henry
Monday 5th September at 7.30pm

Diana Henry's cookery books are some of the most stunning on the market in terms of their production, and in their selection of flavour combinations.

Take a look at 'Roast Figs Sugar Snow' or 'A Change of Appetite' - the recipes are incredibly tempting and the beautiful photography makes your mouth water with each page!

For her last book 'A Bird in the Hand', Diana worked closely with the team at Sutton Hoo Chickens, and we are thrilled that she's coming to Suffolk to talk to us about her new title 'Simple'.

Diana is a warm, entertaining and fascinating speaker, and we'll be providing some samples of the recipes through canapes provided by local restaurateur, Vernon Blackmore.

Arrive any time after 6pm to enjoy the grounds of Woodhall Manor, take a drink from the bar, and browse Diana's books before she speaks to us.

Reserve your place now to avoid disappointment! Tickets are just £10 from Browsers Bookshop.

Great British Bake Off's Martha Collison visits, with cake!
Friday 15th July at 3.00pm

Martha was the youngest contestant on BBC TV's 'Great British Bake Off' and was a huge hit with viewers. This is her first cookbook, offering her ‘Twist’ on favourite recipes for cakes and breads.

We’ll be talking to Martha and sampling some of the recipes from her book, made for us by The Cake Shop - Woodbridge’s own tv stars, named as Britain’s Best Bakery in 2014.

There will be a gift for each guest from the Woodbridge Kitchen Company who will also present an exciting new product range from GBBO’s own Paul Hollywood!

Taking place in the beautiful setting of Woodhall Manor, guests can arrive any time from 2pm to wander the house and grounds, before Martha speaks at 3pm. From 4pm there will be the opportunity to buy the new cookbook 'Twist' and have it signed by Martha, and continue to enjoy the location and baking displays.

It's not to be missed!

Tickets £12 from Browsers 01394 388890.

'How to find love in a bookshop' with Veronica Henry
Friday 24th June at 7.00pm

Veronica Henry is a best-selling novelist who has set her latest story in a bookshop.

"I like to write about places where I would like to be," she says. "And for book lovers there's nothing more pleasurable than going into a bookshop."

In this beautifully packaged book, Veronica tells the story of Emilia, grieving her father's death but also traying to save the failing business he left her. It's a much-loved, but not commercially driven, bookshop in a small market town. As Emilia decides what to do next, she gets to know the local people - how their lives have been touched by the shop, her father's recommendations, and the books they love.

Veronica worked in Foyles bookshop in London as a student, and then moved into the production team for The Archers before writing scripts for popular tv dramas such as 'Heartbeat' and 'Holby City'. She started writing fiction in 2000.

Veronica will be visiting us in Woodbridge to talk about her love of books, of reading and of bookshops, and it will be a very lovely evening.

Arrive any time after 7pm to receive a glass of Prosecco and listen to the beautiful music, performed by a trio of cellists, led by Jonathan Evans of Woodbridge Violins.

We'll chat with Veronica from 7.30pm for about an hour, and then everyone can have their copies of 'How to find love in a bookshop' individually signed. It's got a wonderful front cover, which reminds me of a Ravilious design, and we'll have a small souvenir to take away with you too.

It's going to be a lovely, fun evening and tickets will go quickly, so reserve your place as soon as you can. Call into Browsers or phone 01394 388890.

Jill Dawson in conversation about her imagined life of novelist, Patricia Highsmith
Tuesday 14th June at 7.00pm

The American crime-writer Patricia Highsmith is probably best known for her psychological thriller 'The Talented Mr Ripley' but she wrote 22 novels altogether and hundreds of short stories. For three years, from 1964 until 1967, she lived in the tiny village of Earl Soham, Suffolk.

In a stunning, unsettling and intriguing new novel called 'The Crime Writer', Jill Dawson imagines this period in Highsmith's life, cleverly melding together biographical details and various elements from the plots of Highsmith's novels, as well as offering her own perception of this rather dark, eccentric and obsessive character.

Jill has written eight other novels, many of them revisiting the lives of real people and real events. She's written about the poet Rupert Brooke and the murderer Edith Thompson, as well as the abduction of a child on the Fens and the past lives of the donor and recipient involved in a heart transplant!

Jill is an engaging speaker who talks about writing and the subjects of her books with passion and energy. Her handling of the various devices used in 'The Crime Writer' is intriguing, and Patricia Highsmith's life was astonishing - did you know she was obsessed with snails and used to carry them around with her?!

The event was held at the beautiful Woodhall Manor, just outside the village of Sutton, a 10 minute drive from Woodbridge.

Jill was in conversation with Catherine Larner from 7pm and guests were able to wander the grounds or take drinks on the terrace before and after hearing her speak. 

Tickets were £8.

Read a report of the event here.



An evening with Kate Williams
Thursday 31st March at 7.30pm

The popular historian and tv presenter provided the most inspiring, entertaining and energising talk about her love of history and her inspiration for her new novel 'The Edge of the Fall', set in the 1920s.

We couldn't fit anyone else into the bookshop, with our biggest audience yet for this venue, and everyone went away with a signed copy of Kate's book as part of their ticket price. Read about the event here.

Jonathan Glancey in conversation
Tuesday 23rd February at 7.30pm
Emily Hauser in conversation
Thursday 28th January at 7.30pm

Emily Hauser grew up in Woodbridge, studying at Queens and the Abbey School before moving on to Orwell Park and Colchester Grammar. She studied at Cambridge under the well known classics scholar, Mary Beard and is now completing a PhD at Yale University in the US.

We were thrilled that in a short visit back to the UK to launch her debut novel, Emily chose to join us in Woodbridge.

We arranged a visit to the Latin, Greek and Classics students at Woodbridge School and then held an event for the town in the library in the evening. The audiences were large and enthusiastic for both events.

Emily is a beautiful, engaging and passionate ambassador for her subject, and everyone who heard her speak wanted to read the book. Learn more about the event here.

Rachel Joyce
Friday 13th November at 7.00pm

The author of the wonderful, best-selling novel ‘The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry’ was in conversation with Catherine Larner about her books, career and a new and delightful collection of bitter-sweet short stories called ‘A Snow Garden’.

The event took place at the beautiful Seckford Hall Hotel, and everyone got in the mood for Christmas with Rachel signing copies of her books - they make perfect presents!

Mark Mason talking trivia
Thursday 22nd October at 7.30pm

Mark Mason connects fascinating facts behind the 124 postcodes defining the regions of the British Isles, and delves into the history of our postal service in his new book ‘Mail Obsession’.

The audience was buzzing after listening to Mark at this event in Woodbridge Library. He was a hugely entertaining speaker and has an endless supply of astonishing information about the broadest selection of subjects.

He's offered to pay a return visit, and we can't wait! Read about the evening here.


Sophie Hannah
Wednesday 23rd September at 7.30pm

We took over the classroom at Woodbridge School to hear from Sophie Hannah. Her new book 'A Game for all the Family' is set around a school near a river in Devon, so we thought this setting would be fitting. Multiple choice questions tested our knowledge of Sophie's books before she arrived, and there were sweets from our childhood too. But no one was distracted when Sophie started to talk - she's a fantastic speaker and everyone wanted to take her books, and poems, away to read. Read more about the evening here.

Jason Hewitt
Thursday 17th September at 7.30pm

We gathered in the bookshop listening to tracks from Jason's playlist for his book 'The Dynamite Room' and Joe Loss and Benny Goodman certainly got us in the mood for the wartime settings.

Jason's passion for his books was contagious, and the audience were thrilled to take away his new book at the end of the evening. Read a full report of the evening here.

Natalie Meg Evans talks hats
Thursday 10th September at 7.30pm

We were thrilled when guests for 'The Milliner's Secret' responded to our invitation and arrived wearing their favourite hats. The town's charity shops had all put on special hat displays in the weeks leading up to our event.

We sipped Prosecco as we listened to the author describe her research for the book looking into Paris during the war.

It felt a very special occasion. For a full report on the evening click here.

Emma Chichester Clark with her dog, Plum
Sunday 16th August at 2.00pm

The much-loved author-illustrator visited Browsers to sign copies of her new book and to read from 'Love is My Favourite Thing'.

Introducing Renee Knight and her debut novel, Disclaimer
Thursday 9th July at 7.30pm

What would you do if you realised the book you were reading was all about you?
After hearing Renee talk about the inspiration for her gripping new thriller, everyone went home with a signed copy of her book. Find out more about the event here.

An evening with Elly Griffiths
Friday 27th March at 7.30pm

It was lovely to have Elly back with us in Woodbridge, this time in a new venue for Browsers at the Abbey School Hall. Her new book is 'The Ghost Fields'.

Erica James at Browsers
Erica James in conversation
Wednesday 25th February at 7.30pm

What would you do if you discovered a diary hidden in a discarded book?

Best-selling novelist, Erica James was joined by members of the team from Oxfam Books Woodbridge to explore the storyline of Erica's latest novel 'The Dandelion Years', her nineteenth book. 

Emma Hooper
A walk with Etta and Otto and Russell and James
Friday 2nd January at 2.30pm

Emma Hooper's novel is a beautiful tale about a woman's quest to walk across Canada to see the sea. It tells of her journey, her relationships, her memories, a coyote, and papier mache!

So we took a walk along the river wall before tea and conversation at the Riverside Restaurant with Emma, and a papier mache coyote created by pupils at Woodbridge Primary School.

Read an account of the afternoon here.