How did Humpty Dumpty fall? Can we know? Must we ask?

The King has promised me — with his very own mouth — to — to —

Did Humpty Dumpty fall, or was he pushed?
‘To send all his horses and all his men,’ Alice interrupted, rather unwisely.

‘Now I declare that’s too bad!’ Humpty Dumpty cried, breaking into a sudden passion.

‘You’ve been listening at doors — and behind trees — and down chimneys — or you couldn’t have known it!’

‘I haven’t indeed!’ Alice said very gently. ‘It’s in a book.’

The Fairway Galle Literary Festival offers you all the fun of listening at doors – and behind trees – and down chimneys – rather rare in the tropics – with much less work!

From 24 to 28 January 2018, Galle will once more come alive with the secret lives of murderers and madmen, of travelers and trains, of queens and quadrangles, all revealed in books.

Did Humpty Dumpty fall, or was he pushed? Can we know? Must we ask?

… A Note from the Festival Curator


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Galle, Sri Lanka - Capital City of the Indian Ocean

Galle and its importance as being the “The Charing Cross” of the Indian Ocean

Galle, Sri Lanka - The Capital City of the Indian Ocean

The picturesque old world town of Galle, with its perfectly preserved 90 acre Dutch fort constructed in 1663, owed its fame on account of the strategic position of its harbour.

It became the island’s chief port-of-call even before the coming of the Portuguese, Ibn Battuta and the Chinese admiral Zhang He came to Ceylon’s shores and there is mention of King Solomon sending ships “to procure gold, gems, ivory, apes and peacocks” and where Jonah fled from the Lord before being eaten by a whale.

In the 17th 18th and 19th centuries Galle was the preserve of European colonial powers and a centre for the cinnamon and spice trade, later it became the “Charing Cross” of the Indian ocean providing a welcome relief for travellers on their way to Far East, with regular stops of the P and O Steam Navigation company.

With construction of the breakwater in Colombo in 1875, Galle went into decline.

However in recent years Galle has become a mecca for foreign tourists, with the expatriates leading the charge for real estate which has set up a business’s to local people, it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1988 and declared “the capital city of the Indian ocean” in 2015 at a dinner attended by the Prime Minister.

It is fast becoming the festival capital of South East Asia, with the Fairway Galle Literary Festival, the Gourmet Biriyani Festival Galle, the Tuk-Tuk Polo games, the Galle Film Festival, the Galle Jazz Festival, the Galle Fashion Show… it has become the alternative Riviera between Galle and Tangalle.

It is happening! Galle is making a statement to the world … come and join us!

… A Note from The Festival Founder


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Why do people go to Lit. Fests?

. . . Mingle with . . . Discover why . . . Ponder over . . .


We believe in the pleasure of story and the transformative power of literature and knowledge. We want to create opportunities for you to mingle, discover and ponder . . .

We offer you events where the hair stands up on the back of your neck during a spellbinding reading; where you roar with laughter or struggle to control your tears as writers get to the bottom of what makes them do what they do; where you suddenly see what a book has meant to or for a particular reader.

What you can do, see and experience at the Galle Literary Festival in Sri Lanka

At The Fairway Galle Literary Festival, you will find:

1. Famous Writers: For most of us a chance to meet a famous writer, to listen to way he speaks, what motivates him or her, to have a book signed is probably the most motivating factor, and the FGLF has offered this in abundance: Sir Arthur C. Clark, Germaine Greer, Vikram Seth, Edna O’Brien, Ian Rankin, Michael Morpurgo, Candace Bushnell, Sir Tom Stoppard, Alexander McCall Smith, Chimmimanda Ngozi Ardiche amd Maddhur Jaffrey are among the writers whose presence meant that within one year Harper’s had named it the Number 1 Festival in the world.

2. The Bigger Picture: Expanding the boundaries of literature, the festival has had some of the finest writers of non-fiction lined up for intellectual jousting: Richard Dawkins, Anthony Beevoir, Christina Lamb, Pico Iyer, Sir Mark Tully. Lesley Hazleton, Simon Winchester, Shashi Taroor and more.

3. The Booker Bonanza: Many of the writers have either won the Booker Prize or were on the short list: Kiran Desai and Colm Toibin are among this very select group, and we have more at the 2018 Festival (Register Here).

4. The Sri Lankan Factor: The Festival is a chance to meet both local and diaspora writers: Shyam Selvalduarai, Romesh Gunasekara, Nuri Vitachi, Ashok Ferrey and Channa Daswatte.

5. Poetry/Plays/Cultural Shows, Cabarets and Fine Dinners: As the sun goes down Galle comes alive with entertainment of a different kind . . . we have had wine tastings with Jancis Robinson, gin tastings and gourmet dinners with the most famous of chefs: the late Rose Gray, Rick Stein, David Thomson, Skye Gygnell, Peter Kuravita, Madhur Jaffrey, to name a few . . . we have a an infused arrack tasting next year.

6. Workshops and Specialist Talks and Walks: Among the first events to sell out are the Galle Fort walks by Channa Daswatte and Mrs Cader. Professor Robson always does a good one on architecture.

7. Young People: There are ample opportunities for the young to get involved, and they don’t just read Harry Potter! During the next lit. fest we will have three debates among local schools, both boys and girls – it will be interesting to see who wins! The event will be chaired by the only Sri Lankan of the Oxford Union who has not been assassinated!

And some people just want to be with friends and mingle and be part of a social event . . . but most people have what the Thais call “sanuk” – a sense of fun – they may even learn something!

… A Note from the Festival Founder

Fiona Shaw at the Fairway Galle Literary Festival 2016

A Look Back: Fiona Shaw at the Fairway Galle Literary Festival

Fiona Shaw, known to the Potter fandom as Harry’s Aunt Petunia, celebrated her 59th birthday on July 10th. This talented Irish actress and director is a mix of class, wit and intellect.

Well known for her role as Mrs. Dursley in Harry Potter, Marnie in True Blood and in several leading Shakespearean drama’s, Shaw is eloquent and passionate about her work and her love for language.

Fiona Shaw (CBE) was a noted participant at the Fairway Galle Literary Festival 2016.

Her events included “Thinking Out Loud: Fiona Shaw on Shakespeare and Friends, Ibsen and Enemies” which took place at Hall de Galle, and “Tea and Poetry – a Poetry Reading: Fiona Shaw and Mona Arshi” which took place at Poonie’s Kitchen.

A festival-goer writes this about Fiona’s event …

“The absolute highlight to me, scintillating and gooseflesh producingly exhilarating was the session from 5.30 to 7.00 pm with Fiona Shaw on Shakespeare and Friends, Ibsen and Enemies where her theme was the use of language.”

“On the Thursday of the GLF, she came on stage smiling, dressed in the simplest but most dramatic of dresses – a straight A-line sleeveless and square-necked dark blue dress. She’s Irish and was made to speak English in school.”

“Some of what she said is quoted here: ‘Shakespeare is the Google of language; he invented words which were among the 40,000 used by him. He took language and made it plastic. He reinvented the metaphor. The structure of language he made physical; thought equals feeling; consonants represent the intellect, vowels feeling. The Globe Theatre was in the shape of a brain.’ About the later dramatists like Ibsen and Brecht: ‘The 17 Century saw the birth of neurosis. With Brecht the end result is gloomy and has terror; the play exists in the mind.'”
“More astonishing than what she said was what she did … A single woman dressed starkly simple transformed the stage to a theatre. She acted out several bits of Shakespeare and also spoke poetry from T S Eliot, mostly from the Wasteland. She so easily and accurately changed her accent, her tone, her diction and the way she stood or walked. Fiona Shaw was absolutely wonderful. What I said to my two friends was that she made the FGLF for me.”

Read the full review of the FGLF2016 on their blog: Ceylon-Ananda


Panchali Illankoon At Daily Mirror Life, got the chance to talk to the Irish actress and director about beginnings, tough times and her work over the years


P.I. How do you like Sri Lanka?

F.S. What I love about Sri Lanka is that it’s very much like Ireland. It’s a small compact country. Because of that I feel like I recognize the country and I absolutely love being here because we’ve been frozen and drowned in my country so it’s fantastic to be here. You have such immense beauty and I think the literary festival is another leap forward. I’m thrilled to be a part of this!

P.I. What was it like to get into the character of Aunt Petunia in Harry Potter?

F.S. She’s very described in the book and I enjoyed her so much. She’s so important in the book because without that springboard you would never get the magic. In a way I feel that magic is the revenge children take from adults and in that way the Dursleys represent the panic young people feel when they are in a home which is so prescribed. But I adored my character and I adored her little costumes!

P.I. Does it ever get tiring being recognized for Aunt Petunia?

I’m thrilled to be recognized and sometime when I get off at the airport and children go insane about Aunt Petunia and some get frightened and run to their moms. But it’s often children who have a ball with it. Sometimes I’m in the subway and I see a child look at me and they can’t believe their eyes so I give them a little wink and they get so frightened!

(Read Panchali Illankoon’s complete interview online at :


Did you know?

One of Fiona Shaw’s favorite books is, WAVE by Sonali Deraniyagala.

Wave by Fairway Galle Literary Festival Author Sonali Deraniyagala

“Astonishing memoir of the tsunami in 2004 when Sonali lost her husband, parents and children. She held on to a branch and lived. Thereafter it’s an amazing description of their happy life in London and Sri Lanka before they died. I was blown away by it”.
Fiona Shaw.


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