About us

Literally Shepton – how it all came to pass 

Literally Shepton was conceived in a drunken wintery summer night many moons ago in deepest Somerset, the way most good ideas develop before the internet in a time when visiting a public house was compulsory. The idea was then promptly filed away in the good ideas drawer and forgotten. In a year and a bit of lockdown the drawer was reopened and there it sat waiting for its chance and now it has been brought to life.

Literally Shepton is a Community Interest Company (CIC)

Our aim is to provide a fun, interesting and quirky annual literary festival that is accessible and of interest to the whole of our community of Shepton Mallet and surrounding communities. Words are all around us, so whether you are an avid reader, a dip in and out of a newspaper, a social media fiend, a lover of music, stand up comedy, theatre,  tv drama, all of the above or something else – printed and spoken word will have impacted your daily life.

Who we are

tim o'connor
Tim O'Connor

Tim O’Connor, or Tim O’Connor as his friends and family call him was born at an early age, and it was this early start in life that gave him the vital head start where he managed to come up with the idea of a Literary festival that wasn’t quite like a Literary festival called Literally Shepton. Having an idea is one thing, having the right town to stage it in is quite another, and it took many years of travel to far away distant villages before he and the O’Connor family arrived in Shepton Mallet, this is the place, he thought, luckily, the town had Shepton in its title and fitted in nicely with his own Literally Shepton idea. He looked around, I don’t think anyone in this part of the world would ever think of holding a crazy arts festival, would they?

 …. And this is how all things begin

Tim O’Connor, is of an indiscriminate age, he likes playing football as it’s one thing he understands, and he also likes playing music, especially the underrated bass guitar, he likes comedy as laughter is good for you and you need a lot of it in this day and age. He also likes reading…. a lot and writing even more, all these things keep him (relatively) sane, this should never be underestimated.

He’s met a lot of lovely people in Shepton who do lots of wonderful creative things and there’s lots of things starting to happen. 

julia o'connor
Julia O'Connor

Julia O’Connor, married to the man previously known, and in fact still known as Tim O’Connor.

After years of hearing Tim bang on about this festival (2 children later, 20 plus years of marketing and communications experience and a Literary Studies degree) I think it is time to get this of the ground and see what happens. At the very least I’ll now be able to drink my gin in peace. However with such creativity on our doorstep I’m hoping it will be a fantastic opportunity to come together as a community and have some fun.

Since becoming a parent I have enjoyed revisiting classic children’s books and discovering new ones, watching their eyes light up when watching things performed by puppets, people, animation or in film. I remember very clearly the moment our daughter realised that she had learnt enough to read not only her reading books from school, but anything she chose to read, her mind was blown and her adventures began. I am passionate about this opportunity being afforded to all people, children and adults and hope that this little festival will provide a bit of magic for everyone in our community.

Sharon Hale
Sharon Hale, die-hard fan of Shepton Mallet and of books. Literally Shepton therefore the perfect combination! I’m part of the 4th iteration of Between the Covers, a local book club (interested parties give me a shout!) and work for a local organisation promoting community initiatives throughout Somerset.
I love the last-minute panic that is part and parcel of running these events and I’m really keen to support this amazing addition to the social and cultural calendar of Shepton.
Having spent many years in and out of the library with my kids and latterly supporting the campaign to save it in a professional capacity, I’m really keen to see the literary offer in Shepton grow, linking it in to some of the people and places that are doing equally fantastic things in Shepton and beyond…  
Helen Heaton

Helen Heaton, co-author of “The Town That Saved it’s Library”, which I launched at last year’s Literally Shepton festival.

I was born in London and raised in rural Herefordshire (near the town of books Hay on Wye). I‘m a trained Stage Manager and Drama Teacher and currently working as librarian at Whitstone School and lover of books (especially children’s books and Young Adult). 

I can also be found behind an exam desk while working for LAMDA, hastly writing pages for Zigzag Education or spending time with my husband, daughter and mad cockapoo, Rusty.

Our Vision

“To inspire, include and entertain our community and beyond, by celebrating words in all their forms.”

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