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News New podcast series: ‘Stories Behind the Stories’

New podcast series: ‘Stories Behind the Stories’

A brand-new podcast series exploring the fascinating world of Forest of Dean books and authors is being launched this week! The first episode is released on January 14th and can be found on podcast platforms, such as Spotify, and on
The Reading the Forest Podcast Series 'The Stories Behind the Stories’ looks behind some of the most well-loved and persistent stories about the Forest of Dean that have found their way into poems, novels, children’s literature, memoirs and drama.  Presented by Roger Deeks and Jason Griffiths of Reading the Forest, the series also features interviews with guest experts, readings from the books, and dramatized scenes created by local actors.  Each episode is presented as an investigation and, in exploring the context in which the stories were created, and who wrote them, also touches on aspects of economic, political and social history.
Jason Griffiths says: 

‘There are some great stories about the Forest that lots of us know about but are they based in reality or more akin to myths and legend? We’re attempting to find out by tracing them back to their earliest sources’. 

Historian and co-director of ‘Reading the Forest, Roger Deeks says:  

‘Books can be amazing time capsules. They’re telling us a story, but they also say something about the time in which they were written. They reflect the values and expectations of the period and of the author.’ 
Episode one starts with the book ‘Sea Dogs All!’ by Tom Bevan published in 1907. Set during the reign of Elizabeth the First the story follows local young man Johnnie Morgan as he seeks – with the help of Walter Raleigh and Francis Drake - to defeat a Spanish plot to burn down the Forest of Dean. Fanciful fiction or based on real history? The investigation looks for an answer and along the way encounters some even stranger stories, suggested by the episode’s intriguing title: ‘007’s Angel and the Plot to Burn the Forest’. Other contributions in this first episode come from a Forest of Dean Verderer who explores some of the broader historical questions about the Forest, and a leading expert in children’s fiction who explains why boys were so often at the centre of such stories. 
Photo: Forest of Dean Verderer and historian Dr Ian Standing.
Other tales to be explored in this podcast series include the killing of the bears (with some ‘bear facts,’ and surprising new findings), the prevalence of ghost stories and hauntings in the Forest, and much more.  
Listen to this taster: 
To hear all the podcasts, visit

Reading the Forest is a University of Gloucestershire project that researches and raises awareness of the Forest of Dean’s rich literary heritage and is part of the Forester’s Forest National Lottery Heritage funded programme.