SILVER-tongued scribes who can wow judges in a new creative competition will be able to wet their whistle from the historic trophy.

With just one month to go until this year's Wantage Literary Festival, organisers have revealed the grand prize for their new creative writing contest: a traditional Saxon mead cup worth of King Alfred himself.

Hand-crafted by Wantage-born potter Niki Herring – who now lives near Fyfield – the ceramic stein will be the first prize in the Local Voices showcase.

Festival director Vicki Luker explained that, having giving a platform to literary leading lights for years, this year she wanted to give local budding writers a chance to have their moment in the spotlight alongside stars like Miles Jupp, Diarmuid Gavin and Louise Minchin.

She said: "This festival was created for the people of Wantage to share our love for literature and the arts, and to see events they may not otherwise get the chance to see or do locally.

"We are keen for local, yet-to-be recognised talent to have a platform at the festival, alongside bestselling authors and celebrities.

"We would ask all budding poets, songwriters and authors to get involved and share their talent."

The open mic event at the Vale and Downland Museum on October 24 will give aspiring local writers and poets aged 18 and over the chance to showcase their own work, with five minute slots to dazzle the audience.

Literary festival favourite Marti Leimbach, author of Age of Consent, has promised to be the 'upbeat and encouraging' MC for the evening.

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All the entries will automatically be entered into the competition, sponsored by Wantage Rotary Club.

However, with the deadline for entries on September 30, organisers have urged all local writers to get their words in as soon as possible.

In addition to Local Voices, the festival has also launched a complementary competition for under-18s called '200 Words', with book tokens awarded to the lucky winners.

The top nine entries who enter will also have the chance to perform their readings at the Vale and Downland Museum on October 24 from 4.30pm to 6pm.

Other events at this year's festival to inspire local writing talent include a fiction masterclass, with tips and tricks on getting published, and a fiction panel giving an exclusive chance to pick the brains of three bestselling authors – both on October 27.

The festival, founded in 2010, has run every year since.

Originally called the Wantage (not just Betjeman) Literary Festival, the event aimed to celebrate the town's former resident and Poet Laureate John Betjeman as well as other literary links.

Over the years it has welcomed such luminaries as TV historian Janina Ramirez, novelist Victoria Hislop, Woman's Hour presenter Jenni Murray and comedian Rich Hall.

This year's festival, taking place from October 20 to 27, features events ranging from Dr Sam Willis and Professor James Daybell explaining 'the unexpected history of everything' to an afternoon tea to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Suffragettes and literary-inspired cocktails.

Gardening TV presenter Diarmuid Gavin will be in conversation with Chelsea Flower Show gold medallist Clover Stroud while Miles Jupp will be doing an evening of stand-up comedy.

For more details and tickets see