Judith Spelman

journalist and author

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I have written several books and in 2018 Little, Brown published The Festival Organiser’s

Bible. I drew on my experience working with festivals and starting the Sherborne Literary

Festival as well as speaking to many experienced organisers. There is no better way of finding

out what makes a good festival than hearing some of the experiences – good and bad – of  organisers and of those who take part. I contacted authors, musicians , demonstrators and stallholders to  produce a really practical book for anyone wanting to start a festival.


When I came to live in Stamford in 1996 I wanted to know about the town and it was a wonderful opportunity to

find out when Tempus Publishing asked me to research and write Stamford Voices. It meant I had to contact a

cross-section of elderly people and let them tell me their memories of growing up in the town.  I found it so

interesting and learnt such a lot that I went on to write Rutland Voices and Voices Of The Nene Valley. Writing

these books convinced me that you have to know about the past to understand the present.


I am often asked to write or contribute to a book – such as Deepest Dorset – and I have several ideas of books

in which I would like to be involved. I am working on a biography of Judith Howarth, an international opera

singer, who is a superb soprano with a 4-octave voice. It is slow because she is singing all over the world and

I have to catch her between operas! She has led a fascinating life .To find out more, click here. To find out

more, click here.


I had a gap from journalism for about seven years and then turned to freelance work. I was lucky and was given assignments in the most extraordinary circumstances. One thing seemed to lead to another. The motoring correspondent on the local paper had been struggling for years to write reviews of classical music and ballet and he gratefully passed that over to me. It was before my husband had contracts with Nice Opera and so I had someone to turn to for advice.  


When my husband was contracted to sing with Nice Opera, we put our house on the market and the editor of one of Emap’s titles was interested in buying it. Someone else had put in a bid so she didn’t get it but she was keen to use me as a freelance and gave me some ideas and people to research. Perhaps the best one was to spend five nights as a guest of the general manager of Reid’s Hotel in Madeira. For that I had to write a mere 1,000 words! Other commissions from editors of Emap titles followed and I soon became very knowledgeable on gardening, pensions, fishkeeping, business training, genealogy, walking and cats. I write a regular column for Writing Magazine, something I have done since the magazine was first launched, and contribute to other publications in print and on line.  


As a journalist I learnt how to research and I can probably write on most subjects if they interest me. People – what they do and why they do it – fascinate me and over the years I have had the opportunity to interview a wide cross-section. This ranges from the many leading authors I have met to chief executives, Members of Parliament, opera singers, explorers, artists, shop keepers, restaurant owners and local entrepreneurs.


I have compiled many brochures for such diverse clients as a racehorse trainer, property developers, a letting agency and interior designers. I have written advertising copy for food manufacturers, estate agencies, builders, fabric designers and many new businesses that wanted information for their clients.



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