Galle Literary Festival

Geoffery Peter Dobbs

Festival Founder

Born just a week after Stalin died, Geoffrey lived for 14 years in the Soviet Union, 4 years in Poland and 2 years in the former Yugoslavia, with interval years in India, Italy and England. Of Anglo-Irish and Australian parents, his father was a diplomat and mother a journalist turned best selling author. It was during a holiday, whilst living in Hong Kong, that Geoffrey first discovered Ceylon. He bought the Island of Taprobane in Weligama and opened several hotels. Geoffrey has since been credited with spearheading the boutique hotel industry in Galle, Sri Lanka.

Following the tsunami Geoffrey set up the charity Adopt Sri Lanka, which spent over 4 million dollars alleviating the plight of many Sri Lankans.

After founding the Galle Literary Festival in 2005 to drive tourism and literary excellence in Sri Lanka, he was honoured by the President of Sri Lanka for services rendered to tourism and for the work he did following the Tsunami.

Know The Team

Giselle Harding

Festival Director

Born to Trinidadian/British parentage, the island of Ceylon has many familiarities for Giselle. Moving to Galle from Dubai a few years ago, Giselle and her husband Joseph De Alwis, opened Wild & the Sage; a quaint independent bookshop on the south coast. The shop quickly established itself as an arts and literary hub, hosting author talks, children’s story time, workshops and bookclubs.

Prior to this Giselle studied Design at Central St Martins and then Camberwell. She went on to pursue a career in the international events industry, working on Olympic Ceremonies, World Expo’s and many UAE Government projects. Along with her love of the written word, Galle Literary Festival has long been a dream and she hopes to nurture the charm already established by the festival and ensure its a staple on the international events calendar.

Eliane Sterchi

Gourmet Galle Manager

Eliane grew up in Sri Lanka, and has worked in the UK, Switzerland, Malaysia, Singapore and Sri Lanka. She has has worn many different hats. From setting up radio stations, co-hosting a very, very early morning breakfast/news show on radio; advertising jaunts and PR stints; producing tv sports programmes, building and running a boutique hotel, creating and designing menus; to list a few of her many adventures.

A self-confessed foodie who delights in cooking from scratch, whether it is smoking, curing, or preserving; devours cookery books in her spare time, when not on the golf course or learning to surf.

Joseph de Alwis

Creative Director

Born in Sri Lanka, Joseph grew up largely in the Middle East amongst the fast establishing expat scene in the UAE. Inspired by the diversity of the people around him, he began his career in the advertising and marketing industry, starting as a Graphic Designer and later moving into Creative Direction between the UAE and Sri Lanka. It was during a large project for the Dubai Government, when Joe first dipped his toes into the events industry. Fascinated by the fast paced, skies-the-limit approach to communications, Joe went on to work on events projects, collaborating with brands such as Twitter, United Nations, World Government Summit, and GMC.

Notably, he led the creative team responsible for the successful Global Women’s Forum 2020 In 2021, driven by his admiration for the written word, Joseph De Alwis cofounded ‘Wild & the Sage’, an independent bookshop nestled in the charming coastal town of Unawatuna. Today, Joseph De Alwis continues to excel as a purveyor of culture and creativity, enriching the worlds of literature, music, and creativity with his unwavering dedication and professional acumen.

Azwaan Yaseen

Galle Fort Coordinator

Born and bred in the historical fortress of Galle fort, Muhammed Azwaan Yaseen grew up nurturing the instincts of heritage and culture embedded in the diverse community he lives with. Azwaan has been a prominent operative figure for Galle Literary Festival for the past four editions, serving with his expertise in event management to heighten the success of the festival, ensuring facilitation meets the demands.

With a successful professional career background in the property management industry, Azwaan has been involved in contributing to many other social and cultural events held in the historical city.  He is passionate about being part of the Galle Literary Festival, which incurred undoubted literary significance in both local and global aspects.