NEWCASTLE has a new string to its cultural bow.
The inaugural Newcastle Writers Festival wrapped up on Sunday after three days of sold-out sessions and organisers having to turn away people from some venues because of a lack of space.
The festival, presented by the Newcastle Herald, hosted 60 writers.
Nine hundred tickets were sold before it opened on Friday.
Volunteer organiser and Herald journalist Rosemarie Milsom said the event would be held again in 2014 beginning on April 4.
‘‘I knew it would be a success,’’ Ms Milsom said.
‘‘We had 350 people in one of the sessions and on Saturday, roughly, there were 1200 people.’’
Some of the highlights of the festival included British actor Miriam Margoyles’ celebration of 200 years of Jane Austen’s novel Pride and Prejudice and former architect and crime writer Barry Maitland.
Michael Chamberlain talked about his fight for justice after the death of his daughter Azaria and former Australian Defence Force commander in Afghanistan Major-General John Cantwell presented the story behind his controversial book Exit Wounds.
Ms Milsom said some of the most popular presentations were those related to strong Newcastle themes, such as the Hunter River and city history.
‘‘It’s very Newcastle and that was what I was hoping for,’’ Ms Milsom said.
She said the event attracted strong sponsorship and she hoped more financial assistance would come from the state government in 2014. She said because of the large numbers of people who came this year, next year the event would be held largely in City Hall, with several satellite venues throughout the city, including Nobbys lighthouse, Ms Milsom hoped.
She said writers’ festivals were often criticised unfairly, as events for ‘‘older women’’.
Newcastle’s first writers festival attracted a broad range of enthusiasts and ages, Ms Milsom said.
Most festival visitors were from the Hunter Region, she said.