Stroud Book Festival finished its five-day run with record ticket sales and a line-up widely praised for both its variety and universal appeal.

Audiences enjoyed over 40 events at venues across Stroud, listening to authors talk about both local heritage and global issues, all the while celebrating the written word.

Birdwatcher Tim Dee talking about his new book Landfill. Photos: Simon Pizzey

Sell-out events included The Remainiacs, Refugee Tales, How To Give Up Plastic, Laurie Lee: The Lost Recordings and Stroud Short Stories, which sold out in a record 6 hours.

Other book festival highlights included a capacity crowd for retail guru Mary Portas, a riveting hour in the company of Alan Johnson, a poetry night at Wycliffe College with Daljit Nagra; and a fabulous foodie finale with Prue Leith and Oz Clarke.

Mary Portas with young fan Saffron Cook, 6, and mum Claire

The successful children’s programme included a ‘School’s Day’ attended by more than 200 primary school children, an Armistice event with legendary children’s book illustrators, Tony Ross and Michael Foreman, and laugh-a-minute sessions with Kes Gray and Stroud’s own award-winning John Dougherty.

Speaking of the festival, Director Paul McLaughlin said: “We have had a great five days with brilliant audiences listening to top authors.

“It has been a particular pleasure working closely with local schools, charities and organisations, such as Allsorts and Stroud Valley Action on Plastic, as well as local press and radio, Stroud Bookshop, Stroud Library, the venues, local publishing houses and John Holland at Stroud Short Stories.

Prue Leith at her book signing

“Having support and sponsorship from local companies is very valuable to the Festival and another key achievement this year.

“I believe that we have built on the strengths of the last two years and look forward to the Festival going from strength to strength in the future.”

Caroline Sanderson adds: “We aimed to put on a Book Festival tailor-made for Stroud, and so we’re thrilled that so many people bought tickets and supported us. Huge thanks to everyone who did so.”

The festival will announce 2019 dates in the coming weeks.