Might there be a stronger connection between Charleston, S.C., and Charleston, U.K.?
None other than “Downton Abbey” creator Lord Julian Fellowes hopes to make it so, according to writer Stephanie Hunt.
Specifically, Fellowes hopes in a visit to Charleston (the South Carolina one) next week to further the cause of a project pointedly called the “Charleston to Charleston Literary Festival”.
The English Charleston isn’t a city, but a country retreat in Sussex known as a century-old hub of literary lights, and more recently a trust and literary festival, according to a story published by Hunt in The Charleston Post and Courier.
Fellowes, who wrote and directed the Academy Award-winning “Gosford Park” among other achievements, grew up near the English retreat and has been on the program at the Charleston Festival several times, according to Hunt. The 10-day international event is housed each May at the retreat, which now is a museum. The festival combines literature with politics, science, philosphy and art.
Its founder, Debo Gage, wanted to expand to a city with a literary tradition, but which did not already enjoy a world-class literary festival. Enter an idea: The “Charleston to Charleston Literary Festival.”
Those working on the project hope to launch in November with money raised in part through programs next week featuring Fellowes, including a public dialogue with former PBS president Ervin Duggan at the Dock Street Theatre and a literary luncheon at the Charleston Library Society with friend and cinema writer William Nicholson. Among Nicholson’s screenwriting credits: “Shadowlands,” “Gladiator,” “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom” and “Les Miserables.”
Hunt writes that the Palmetto State festival will initially be “abbreviated” compared to its English inspiration. But Anne Cleveland, director of the Charleston Library Society and a partner in the planning, points out that another highly successful Charleston festival started out the same way: Spoleto Festival USA. In fact, it was while attending Spoleto USA that Gage realized the U.S. location she had been seeking for her Charleston Festival offspring was in front of her nose.