Topics as rich and varied as the Cumbrian landscape itself will make this year’s Senhouse Roman Museum’s literature festival a delight for all.

A clue to the diversity comes in a name change from LitFest to Arts and Literature Festival, with this year’s theme being Voices in the Land. This theme allows events to range widely, from exploring Cumbrian roots, growing up in the USA, a mystery novel and finding the power of nature in a corner of London and Denmark.

Who Shot Percy Toplis? Caldbeck GP and author Jim Cox will be unravelling the last hours of the notorious murderer and confidence trickster who was shot by police during a chase near Penrith in 1920. But was he?

Toplis will pop up again this festival, as will Maryport’s first black policeman, John Kent. They are two of the magical automata Dawn Hurton will use to demonstrate her talk, “Characters in the Landscape”.

Senhouse curator Jane Laskey said: “We have tried to combine established local artists with something a little different. Caroline Gilfilland and Zosia Wand are among the newcomers to this festival. They will be in conversation about how they have been inspired by the Cumbrian landscape.”

She said another positive for the festival is that it tends to be more interactive than many. “We are in a small, intimate place and people feel more comfortable participating and asking questions.”

The festival will be launched by Helen Millican, presenter of BBC Radio Cumbria’s The Arty Show, after which biographers Kathleen Jones and Grevel Lindop will be in conversation about the inspiration that landscape has had on their work.

With more authors, poetry and playwriting workshops to add to the mix, this promises to be one of the most successful yet

“Fridays have traditionally been dedicated to poetry, poetry workshops and the launch. But this year we have had to actually turn people away who would have like to have been part of the festival which bodes well for the future,” added Jane.

The festival begins on Friday, November 15 and runs until the Sunday. For full programme details visit and to book tickets call 01900 816168.