This year, the Charles Causley Trust are back to host the annual Causley Festival, in and around Launceston.
The festival, which is taking place across three days, from June 30 until July 2, will be hosting a variety of events and activities for people of all ages to attend.
Who is Charles Causley?
Charles Stanley Causley was a British poet, school teacher and writer.
Born in Launceston, on August 24, 1917, Charles was the son of a groom and gardener. Educated at the local primary school, before moving on to Launceston College, Causley left school at 15 to become a clerk at a builder’s office.
Despite this work, Causley had a number of hobbies which also took up much of his time, including playing in a semi-professional dance band and writing plays, one of which - ‘Runaway’ - was even broadcast on the BBC West Country service, prior to the Second World War.
By 1940, Charles, like many others his age in the South West, enlisted in the Royal Navy. During the war, he served as an ordinary seaman, firstly on the HMS Eclipse at shore bases in Gibraltar and in the Northwest of England; before moving to the HMS Glory following his promotion to Petty Officer.
Following the end of the war, Causley took advantage of a government scheme and retrained as a teacher in Peterborough. After completing his training, he moved back to Launceston, taking up a full-time teaching role at his old school, where he worked for 35 years, also taking time to attend the University of Western Australia as a visiting Fellow, and working briefly at a fine-art school in Canada.
However, it was not his teaching which he would become so well known for, it was his passion and talent for writing, particularly poetry, which would see him become a household name and award winner.
Across his writing career, Causley wrote poems focusing on a multitude of different subjects, from his wartime experiences in Farewell, Aggie Watson to poems aimed at children in his Collected Poems for Children.
Causley was very highly regarded by his fellow poets, both across the UK and around the world. When he turned 65, many of them contributed poems to a published collection dedicated to him.
He was known and admired by many in his native Launceston and Cornwall, as well as globally across the literary and arts worlds, as a very quiet and modest man. His public readings were noted for the respect that he always gave to his audience.
In all, Causley wrote more than 40 books until his death in 2003. During his life he was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, was given the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry, presented the Heywood Hill Literary Prize, and was awarded a CBE.
The Festival weekend
The Commemorative Festival weekend will begin with an evening dedicated to Charles Causley on Friday, June 30. This will include a welcome from Launceston’s Mayor Cllr Helen Bailey, an artistic unveiling by fine artist Jill Swarbrick-Banks, a musical performance from composer Arlo Anwin and a panel discussion, chaired by Sunday Times bestselling author Patrick Gale, which will explore Charles Causley and his influence today.
Then on Saturday, July 1, venues across Launceston town centre will be welcoming visitors to arts and creative writing workshops, readings, tours and free community activities. Finally, the festival weekend will close on Sunday, July 2, with a digital programme of workshops and readings, covering crime writing, screen writing and poetry. In addition, there will be an in-person arts workshop, a story recording session at Cyprus Well, and the annual Poetry in Ruins open mic event at Launceston Priory.
As part of the festival, Launceston will be welcoming a total of 14 visiting authors, artists, and academics, each of which will offer a different workshop or talk for attendees to visit. Some of the names include, Rachel Piercey: Editor of Tygrer Tyger Magazine and poet, who is the most recent writer in residence at Cyprus Well, Causley’s former home; David Devanny: Poet and chair of the Causley Trust; Sophie Pierce: Writer and broadcaster, who worked as a radio and TV reporter for BBC South West for many years; and Caroline Walter: Archivist for the University of Exeter’s Special Collections.
As well as workshops led by visiting creatives, there will be a number of performances, activities and even an unveiling. Venues participating in the festival include: Launceston Town Hall, Merchant’s House, Country Chic, The Byre, Southgate Arch , Cyprus Well, Buddhas Kitchen & Lounge.
A spokesperson added: “So if you’re an aspiring author, poet or artist, or simply fancy getting creative, the Causley Festival is a great way to get your creative juices flowing and seek some inspiration for that next story, poem or painting.”
More information about the event and where to buy tickets can be found on the Causley Trust’s website: causleytrust.org/the-causley-trust-2023-commemorative-festival-weekend/