Steinbeck celebration next month

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Limavady’s annual celebration of the unique cultural connection to Nobel prize winning author John Steinbeck will take place early next month.

The annual Steinbeck Celebration will be held at the Roe Valley Arts and Cultural Centre from May 8 to 9.

Derry is a dour, cold city to an outsider - dark, angular buildings and uncrowded streets, waiting for something - a city of protest against the rolling green of County Derry

John Steinbeck on Londonderry

Launched in 2011, the annual Steinbeck Celebration explores the famous author’s local ancestral links through a series of exciting events in literature, film and creative learning.

The internationally acclaimed author’s maternal grandfather, Samuel Hamilton, was from Mulkeraugh in Ballykelly. Fascinated by his Irish roots, Steinbeck visited the area in 1952, documenting his trip for an article ‘I Go Back To Ireland’.

His famous novel East Of Eden was published in the same year and the major character of Samuel Hamilton was inspired by and based upon his Ballykelly-born grandfather.

East Of Eden was later adapted as a film released in 1955 and starred James Dean in his first movie role.

Steinbeck wrote about his visit, which he described as a “pilgrimage” in an article published by Colliers magazine in 1952.

He had an interesting description of Ballykelly:“We drove right through Ballykelly without knowing it was there, but at Limavady they turned us back. I guess I had thought of Ballykelly as a town; it isn’t – it’s what they call in Texas a wide place in the road.”

In On Friday, May 8, a screening will take place of the film ‘Of Mice and Men’, the 1992 adaptation of Steinbeck’s famous novel starring John Malkovich and Gary Sinise.

The Academy Award nominated film follows an informative talk by local Douglas Bartlett on Steinbeck’s local roots and their influence on his writing, including an exploration of the author’s article ‘I Go Back to Ireland.

Later that evening, acclaimed writer Jan Carson will present ‘Open Roads, Lost Highways’. Jan and musical guest will explore the portrayal of ‘the road’ within American literature, music and specifically, Steinbeck’s own writing.

Jan is a published short story writer and recently launched her first novel ‘Malcolm Orange Disappears’ to huge acclaim. Tickets are £5 provided in partnership with The John Hewitt Society. If you are a keen scribbler, join celebrated writer Bernie McGill for an all-day Creative Writing workshop on Saturday, May 9, which will use Steinbeck’s own writing and his local connections as inspiration for new creative work.

Places, intended for adults, are limited.