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Tel: 01803 86 73 73


About Ways With Words

Stephen Bristow & Kay Dunbar       Ways With Words' Office                Leah Varnell – Managing Director
Founding DIrectors                        

Ways With Words was founded in 1991 by Kay Dunbar and Stephen Bristow.

Beginning with a 7-day festival at Dartington Hall in Devon in 1992 the organisation has grown and developed and now runs 3 major festivals of words and ideas in the UK each year, as well as courses based in Umbria, Italy for writers, painters and people wanting to learn a bit of Italian.

En route Ways With Words has run festivals for children, weekend festivals in Bath, York, Bury St Edmunds and Bournemouth and specialist events for the Friends of the National Maritime Museum, the Jane Austen Society and the Thomas Hardy Society.

In February 2019, the founding directors started on a process of ‘succession’ and have brought in Leah Varnell (former General Manager and Festival Curator) to the role of Managing Director with overall responsibility for the running of the business.

Kay Dunbar remains as a director taking on a predominately consultative role.
Stephen Bristow similarly takes on a consultative role but with responsibility as Finance Director.

The Company Board also includes 3 non-executive directors who – as the title implies – have an advisory and not executive role.

Ways With Words has always existed to promote both the written and the spoken word. We want to bring people together in beautiful surroundings to make contact with writers, journalists and experts in various fields – to talk, to argue, to listen, to engage and to learn.

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