IT all began when Swindon Advertiser founder William Morris published the first ever history of the town more than 130 years ago.

Over the decades dozens of books about Swindon have followed focusing on various aspects of its history and heritage, from the Railway Works to the Empire Theatre.

Now a day-long celebration of our local history writers has for the first time been included in the annual Swindon Festival of Literature next month.

A Swindon Affair takes place at the former Swindon Railway Museum in Faringdon Road – now called The Platform – on Saturday, May 7.

The event will also include performances of poetry and music from Swindon artistes, as well as featuring local art. Martha Parry, a member of the Swindon Civic Voice and the Mechanics Institution Trust came up with the idea earlier this year while sorting through some books.

She said: “I was struck by how many books about Swindon have been written by Swindonians, especially since 2000. “And they are by no means all about railways.”

She said she there were a surprisingly large number for a town of Swindon’s size – population around 200,000 – and the fact that it only existed as a small market town until the arrival of the Great Western Railway 175 years ago.

She said: “It seems to me there can’t be many places the size and youth of Swindon which have been so appreciated by residents who loved some aspect of living here enough to write about it. “ Martha discussed the idea with the organisers of the Swindon Festival of Literature, which this year takes place from May 2-14, and they agreed to hold a locally themed event.

Taking place from 3-9pm, it will explore the “rich outpourings” of local historians and feature the authors of several books published over the past few years.

The first part of the event will see local authors display their books and discuss their work one-on-one with visitors. Later on a number of “pop-up” ten minute talks will be given by authors.

From 7-9pm local historian, writer and publisher John Chandler – who wrote 2005’s Swindon Decoded – will reflect upon the importance of writing local social history and the many forms it had taken in Swindon.

It will be followed by a “parade of poetry” with Swindon poets reading their locally themed work.

The event will wind-up with live music including folk songs collected by Swindon’s Hammerman Poet Alfred Williams (1877-1930.) Martha added: “This will be a unique event that has been organised by a wide variety of local history and heritage groups.”

n The session from 3-5pm will be free to the public. Admission from 6-9pm is £6 adults, £5 children. Further information on this and other events at the Swindon Festival of Literature is available from: 01793-771080 or at Tickets are available from 01793-524481 or