Emma Kennedy looks forward to Hitchin return as successful town festival draws to an end

Emma Kennedy will discuss her work and her latest book Shoes for Anthony' at Hitchin Priory on Frid

Emma Kennedy will discuss her work and her latest book Shoes for Anthony' at Hitchin Priory on Friday, July 28. - Credit: Archant

Actor, writer, broadcaster, comedian and all-round good-egg Emma Kennedy is coming to Hitchin as the town’s festival draws to a close.

Actor, writer, broadcaster, comedian and all-round good-egg Emma Kennedy is coming to Hitchin as the town’s festival draws to a close.

The former Hitchin Girls’ School pupil – who achieved incredible success with her bestselling book The Tent, The Bucket and Me – will be speaking at a special event at 7.30pm tomorrow night.

The Comic Relief star – who has helped raised considerable funds for the charity – penned the book as a love letter to social housing.

Emma lived in a Stevenage council house and went to Roebuck Primary School and Nursery in Broadwater, before later going to Whitehill Junior School in Hitchin, and Hitchin Girls’ School in Highbury Road.


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And now’s she coming back to the town for an evening called ‘A Literary Supper with Emma Kennedy’, where she will be talking about new book Shoes for Anthony.

Reporter Layth Yousif caught up with the former Celebrity Masterchef winner ahead of the Hitchin Priory event.

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LY: How important is it that Hitchin now has its first book festival?

EK: It’s a massive thing for Hitchin. It’s incredible Hitchin has turned itself into this vibrant, creative epicentre in Herts.

I remember when I was growing up, the Queen Mother Theatre was literally just for thespians. Nowadays, every now and again a tweet will pop up saying ‘I’m in Hitchin tonight’ and you just think ‘blimey, I wish I had that when I was younger’. I would have been up there all the time.

I think especially today when we are bombarded with social media and people are just attached to their smart phones from the day they’re born ‘til death that actually adds to the stress.

Whereas if you sit down with a book it’s just a brilliant way of being able to spend a quiet moment in your day.

There’s nothing like a sunny day and thinking ‘you know what, I’m just going to sit in the garden and read a book’. It is one of life’s greatest pleasures.

LY: Which books did you love to read as a youngster?

EK: One of my favourite books was My Family and Other Animals. I adored To Kill A Mockingbird too. I was quite a voracious reader but there was no such thing as the internet when I was growing up, no one had phones in their hands or anything. The only thing you could play with when you were a teenager in the late 70s and early 80s was your calculator – just turn it upside down and write funny words.

LY: The reaction to your bestseller The Tent, The Bucket and Me has been phenomenal...

EK: Still to this day, there’s not a week goes by without me getting a tweet, an email or a letter from somebody who’s read it. When I first wrote that book I didn’t think in a million years anyone would be interested in reading about someone’s disastrous childhood. It turns out everyone was. It was just something everyone could sort of recognise and empathise with because everyone has been on terrible family holidays – and I just happened to write them all down.

LY: It’ll be a Hollywood film next...

EK: Funny you should say that! It’s been bought by 20th Century Fox. The original TV version is out on Netflix and there might be an American version. It’ll have to be different, maybe they could do it in an American version of Stevenage.

LY: You must love speaking about the book – what’s the best part about doing events like the one tonight?

EK: I always love the question section – that’s the most fun. I once went to a school and a child was going crackers with their arm up and I said ‘yes’, he looked at me and he said ‘how old are you?’ and I said ‘I’m 48.’ He frowned and he said ‘does that mean you were born in the last century?’ and I said ‘yes I was’. The whole group went ‘woooow, born in the last century’. It was so funny, I just laughed.

For £25 tickets, call the Hitchin Initiative office on 01462 453335.

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