Chez Paulette brings splash of stardom to the 2015 Plymouth International Book Festival

The replica of a café frequented by Hollywood’s finest in the 1950s and 60s will be greeting audiences at the 2015 Plymouth International Book Festival.

The Chez Paulette is a new feature for the fourth annual festival, and will be open for business at Plymouth University at several points during its run from October 15-22.

It will be complemented by a functioning bar in the University’s performing arts building, The House, as part of a drive to increase the social side of the event.

Organised through a partnership of Plymouth University, Peninsula Arts, Literature Works and Plymouth City Council, and supported by Arts Council England, the festival aims to unite local and global authors and audiences.

The 2015 festival will feature bestselling authors Judy Finnigan, Simon Scarrow and Matt Haig. They will be joined by writer and musician John Hegley, Thurston Moore, co-founder of experimental rock band Sonic Youth, comedian and actress Helen Lederer, refugee campaigner Bidisha and whisky connoisseur Ian Buxton.

Bertel Martin, Director of the Plymouth International Book Festival, said:

“Writing and reading might be considered by many to be solitary pursuits, but meeting like-minded people and having the chance to chat about something that inspires you only heightens the enjoyment. The Chez Paulette will be an amazing and atmospheric place to do that, and we are hoping it will be a great meeting place for people to mull over their literary passions.”

The original Chez Paulette was based on Los Angeles’ Sunset Strip and was renowned as a bohemian hangout for actors, directors, writers and flamenco guitarists.

It was run by Max Lewin, whose daughter Dr Anya Lewin is an Associate Professor in Art and Moving Image at the University, and this is the second time the model of it will have wowed city audiences having been built for an artist film and exhibition in 2013.

Max emigrated with his family from Berlin just before the second world war, but his cafe was so popular with the stars that it was chosen to appear in hit detective show 77 Sunset Strip, with Max playing himself as the genial owner.

Its celebrity clientele included screen icons Jack Nicholson, James Dean, Rita Heyworth, Marlene Dietrich, Dennis Hopper, Bobby Darin, and Marlon Brando, who helped keep the place open in 1958 by constantly coming in until it was known as the hip place to be.

Dr Lewin said:

“My father was a great story-teller, and while I grew up hearing about the Chez Paulette, you could never be sure about all the tales he told. My father said he first met Marlon Brando while working in the art department at Paramount Studios, and that he (Brando) persuaded him to keep the café open. But it wasn’t until I saw it printed in a newspaper column of the time that I realised it was actually true.”

The Plymouth International Book Festival is back once again, bringing words and books to life across Plymouth. Organised through a partnership of Plymouth University, Peninsula Arts, Literature Works (the literature development agency for the South West) and Plymouth City Council, it will unite local and global authors in a celebration of writing and reading for everyone to enjoy.

This 2015 programme includes exciting, new novels from bestselling authors Simon Scarrow and Judy Finnigan, stimulating non-fiction from Bidisha, spoken word from the always entertaining John Hegley, and a Writing For Radio workshop from the multi-talented Paul Dodgson and Edson Burton.

Also this year, we not only have some of the greatest literary talents of our time, but an opportunity to meet before or after events and mull over your literary passions and experiences. You'll be able to relax in our 1950s-style café, Chez Paulette, and for the first time, we have events programmed in The House – Plymouth University’s performing arts building. 

While the majority of the festival events will take place at Plymouth University, a number of city organisations are also putting on related literary events. These include the Counter – Artists’ Book Fair at Karst, a book binding and illustration workshop at Plymouth College of Art, reading events for young people provided by Plymouth Library Services, the Flash Fiction Slam at The Athenaeum and other book events at PCQ Arts and Flameworks.

We would like to thank Arts Council England for once again supporting the festival, The Duke of Cornwall Hotel for looking after our writers and Waterstones for providing the festival bookshop.

View the Plymouth International Book Festival 2015 Brochure 


Authors who took part in the Plymouth International Book Festival in 2015

Every year the festival attracts a wealth of talent from across the literary world. Find out who took part in the 2015 festival.

Learn more about 2015's authors