In the beginning was the Word...

Date Published: Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Bath Literature Festival and St Michael’s Without celebrate the 400th anniversary of The King James Bible with a continuous Bible reading challenge; and they need your help!

1st – 5th March 2011 at St Michael’s Without, Broad Street Bath BA1 2LJ

Bath Literature Festival 2011, in collaboration with The Observer Newspaper and The Church of St Michael’s Without, is excited to reveal its plans for the ambitious Bath Bible Challenge as part of a series of events to celebrate the literary significance of the 1611 King James Bible.

Due to start on Tuesday 1 March, a non-stop read of the King James Bible will continue day and night until Saturday 5 March. Taking place at St Michael’s Without on Broad Street, the church will be open to ALL members of the public to participate and join a number of high profile readers, local celebrities and LitFest authors in this extraordinary commemoration of arguably the singularly most influential piece of literature in the English language.

Volunteers can sign up for one hour slots throughout the five day period, during which they will take it turns to read for approximately fifteen minutes. Teams of volunteers are encouraged, as are those looking for a personal challenge and might want to sign-up for an all-nighter! Event managers will be onsite to ensure the smooth running of the event, so countless volunteers are needed. For those who feel they need any coaching before their reading, theatre director Hannah Drake will be on hand with professional tips and techniques.

So far, the writers Alexander McCall Smith, Kate Mosse, Amanda Vickery, Adam Nicolson and Bel Mooney, the pianist Joanna MacGregor, the film director Roger Michell, the celebrity chef Valentine Warner, the broadcasters Daisy Goodwin and Sheena McDonald, the actor Bill Paterson, and the Chief Executive of English Heritage Simon Thurley have all agreed to take part.

The reading will be completed by the actor Timothy West. It will then be marked by a special peal of church bells that will ring out across the city.

The Bath Literature Festival runs from 25 February - 6 March 2011, during which a number of special events are programmed to mark the four hundredth anniversary of The King James Bible. On Saturday 26 February, engaging liguistician David Crystal will explain the King James Bible’s direct influence on our lives and language and later that day leading art historian Matthew Collings will be looking at the Bible in Art.

For more information and to offer your services to this reading marathon of Biblical proportions please send your name, email address and available dates to

More details also available on the St Michael’s Without website:

Life in 1611
The King James Bible Events Map
Bush Theatre Society of Biblical Literature Historic Royal Palaces The Scottish Bible Society Museums, Libraries, Archives - London