Be inspired at London Literature Festival

London Millennium Footbridge by Judy Darley
London Literature Festival hosted by the Southbank Centre is returning from 18th to 29th October 2023.

With George the Poet guest curating the opening night, the festival will launch with a celebration of the vitality of London’s spoken word scene.

Non-author stars bringing new memoirs to the festival include Sir Patrick Stewart, Kerry Washington, Nick Frost, Simon Pegg and a UK-exclusive with Jada Pinkett Smith.

Internationally-acclaimed writers, including Yu Miri, Teju Cole, Bryan Washington, Oliver Jeffers and Helen Oyeyemi, will present anticipated new work.

Black British Book Festival partners with the Southbank Centre for the first time, bringing a memoir launch from Leigh-Anne Pinnock and a day-long festival.

Family events will run during the October half term, with new books from Jacqueline Wilson and Jeffrey Boakye and a London premiere from Zeb Soanes with the Oprheus Sinfonia.

There will also be plenty of free events for all ages across the 12-day festival, including a live recording of BBC Radio 4’s Open Book hosted by Johny Pitts and Elizabeth Day, free family events and performances in The National Poetry Library.

For the full programme, visit www.southbankcentre.co.uk.

All image supplied by the Southbank Centre.

Celebrate writing at Manchester Literature Festival

The-Royal-Exchange-Manchester-cr-Judy-Darley

This year’s Manchester Literature Festival promises a programme of buzzing, thought-provoking events celebrating writing in all its forms from 7th-22nd October.

Curated by Manchester Literature Festival Co-Directors Cathy Bolton & Sarah-Jane Roberts, this year’s programme aims to revel in imagination, creativity and ideas, offering new perspectives from which to view a fast-paced and shifting world. 

Taking place at an array of Manchester venues, from Manchester Art Gallery and International Anthony Burgess Foundation, Central Library to Contact, HOME and The Lowry, the line-up this year includes Zadie Smith, Jeanette Winterson, Karl Ove Knausgaard, Linton Kwesi Johnson, Simon Armitage, Natalie Haynes, Annie Macmanus, Afua Hirsch, George Monbiot, Gaia Vince, Lemn Sissay, Lisa Nandy and artist Jeremy Deller. 

Author and founder of the Women’s Prize for Fiction, Kate Mosse will hold a special ‘How to Write Historical Fiction’ Masterclass for the festival,l sharing what drew her to the genre, the inspiration behind her bestselling novels like Labyrinth, Sepulchre and The Burning Chambers, how she evokes convincing historical details and how to balance factual research with compelling characters and storytelling. 

Kate will also discuss her new novel, The Ghost Ship, and the real 18th century female pirates that inspired her in an In Conversation hosted by novelist Beth Underdown (The Key in the Lock). 

Novelist and memoirist Deborah Levy (The Cost of Living, The Man Who Saw Everything, Hot Milk) will be in conversation about her forthcoming novel, August Blue. Presented in partnership with the Centre for New Writing & Creative Manchester. 

Author Max Porter (Grief is the Thing with Feathers, Lanny) will perform a dramatic abridged reading from his new novel Shy with a live electronic score by musician Roly Porter. Presented in partnership with the Centre for New Writing & Creative Manchester. 

Turkish-British novelist Elif Shafak (The Island of Missing Trees)will discuss some of the writers and poets that have influenced and inspired her, some of the books she returns to regularly for pleasure or guidance and her own life-long passion for reading, writing and storytelling. 

There will also be new commissions to experience.

To mark Manchester Art Gallery’s 200th anniversary, MLF and the gallery have co-commissioned award-winning poet Jason Allen-Paisant (Thinking with Trees, Self-Portrait as Othello) to create a new trio of playful and sensual poems inspired by paintings and garments in the gallery’s collection. 

Icelandic novelist, poet and lyricist Auður Ava Ólafsdóttir (Animal Life, Hotel Silence, Miss Iceland) returns to the city to share new fiction inspired by her recent Writer’s Residency in Manchester. Presented in partnership with Manchester UNESCO City of Literature, John Rylands Research Institute and Library and Creative Manchester. 

Talented young writers from Manchester, Aalborg and Aarhus, Billie Meredith, SAF-S2E, Cassandra Marie Geyti, Silas Toft, Marie Laurberg Nielsen and Selina Rom Andersen, will present new poetry inspired by explorations of each other’s cities as part of the Cities Untold residency project. 

Find the full MLF line-up and download the brochure at manchesterliteraturefestival.co.uk.

Got an event, challenge, competition or call for submissions you’d like to draw attention to? Send an email to judydarley (at) iCloud (dot) com.

Brooklyn Book Festival celebrates literature city-wide

Brooklyn. Photo by Miltiadis Fragkidis on UnsplashBrooklyn Book Festival (BKBF) returns with a hybrid offering in 2022, with online and real world events to choose between from 24th September to 2nd October.

The Brooklyn Book Festival was launched in 2006 as a one-day event to address the need for a free, major literary event that embraced the diverse constituencies of New York City. It has since grown to include city-wide Bookend events, its flagship Festival Day with 300 authors and a Literary Marketplace with 250 independent and major publishers, and the BKBF Children’s Day that celebrates childhood reading. The Festival’s credo is “hip, smart and diverse”.

There are three elements to the festival. Citywide Bookend events bring poetry, film, performances and more to all five New York City boroughs – the Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens and Staten Island.

On September 24th, Virtual Festival Day welcomes authors and audiences who can’t attend in person to get involved from around the world and enjoy compelling author conversations.

On Saturday, September 30 at Brooklyn Commons, Metrotech, Children’s Day celebrates childhood reading with workshops, performances, readings from popular and emerging authors, and more.

They say: “The mission of the Brooklyn Book Festival is to celebrate published literature and nurture a literary cultural community through programming that cultivates and connects readers of diverse ages and backgrounds with local, national and international authors, publishers and booksellers.”

They add: “The Brooklyn Book Festival is New York City’s largest free literary festival and connects readers with local, national and international authors and publishers.”

Find the full line up here.

Sign up for their newsletter to discover information on highlights as it becomes available.

Find full details here: brooklynbookfestival.org.

Photo of Brooklyn Bridge by Miltiadis Fragkidis on Unsplash.

Got an event, challenge, competition or call for submissions you’d like to draw attention to? Send an email to judydarley (at) iCloud (dot) com.

Flock to Penzance LitFest

Penzance cr Judy Darley

Fancy a glorious train journey to Penzance? From July 5-8 2023, Penzance LitFest will host flocks of authors, poets and performers, including Raynor Winn, Lucinda Hart, Scot Pack, Kate Mosse and Tim Hannigan, plus Wyl Menmuir talking about his passion for the ocean, which inspired his first venture into full-length, non-fiction, The Draw of the Sea (which won the Roger Deakin Award from the Society of Authors).

Take a performance poetry workshop with Megan Chapman, get to grips with publishing PR with Becky Hunter, or gain insights into book-to-stage adaptations with director Nick Bamford, author Mary Oliver, with scenes performed by actor Kate Edney.

From classic poetry and coastal myths to modern conservation stories, there will be plenty to whet your appetite.

Perched on the south-westerly tip of England, Penzance boasts the most westerly mainline railway station in the UK and is easy to reach by train from London, the Midlands and Scotland. Why not bring a notebook or sketchpad and turn your journey into a creative residency-in-motion?

Find the full programme and book here.

Got an event, challenge, competition or call for submissions you’d like to draw my attention to? Send me an email at judydarley (at) iCloud (dot) com.

Hay Festival Thursday 25th May–Sunday 4th June

Hay Festival cr Finn Beales

Hay Festival cr Finn Beales

The wonderful Hay Festival is taking place live in-person from Thursday 25th May to Sunday 4th June in Hay-on-Wye.

From debut novelists to established festival favourites, plus poets, photographers, conservationists, musicians, historians, artists, chefs and more, there will be discussions, debates, lectures, performances and workshops to fire up your imagination. These will include daily morning workshops with experts focused on seeking solutions to acute climate and biodiversity emergencies.

“Anyone can participate in the daily assemblies. The results of each session will be condensed into a daily bulletin, available free online. Over ten days the goal is to create a draft playbook for practical action that everyone from policy makers to activists, corporations to sole traders, will take forward with inspiration and support to achieve meaningful change for all of us.”

Inclusivity is an important part of the festival, and Hay Pride are ensuring you can navigate yourself to the key queer events with Graham Dolan’s guide.

On Wednesday 31 May 2023, 8.30pm, comedian, writer and actor Tom Allen present his show Completely, while on Saturday 3 June 2023, 4pm, Alice Oseman, creator of global coming-of-age romance Heartstopper, now a critically acclaimed major Netflix series, takes part in a special in-conversation event.

As well as paid events there are a number of free events, including lots of BBC radio show and podcast  recordings.

There are also lots of events for kids, including chats with Julia Donaldson, Jacqueline Wilson and Michael Rosen.

Find the full programme and register for the events that pique your curiosity here.

Got an event, challenge, competition or call for submissions you’d like to draw my attention to? Send me an email at judydarley (at) iCloud (dot) com.

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A literary winter solstice

Welsh beach by Judy Darley
This year’s Solstice Shorts Festival hosted by micro publisher Arachne Press sweeps us into the shivery themes of Time and Tide.

Now in its 6th year, Solstice Shorts Festival unfurls in seven port towns in four countries: England, Scotland, Wales and Portugal. The festival is on Saturday 21st December 2019. There will be performances by actors, authors and musicians of original  short stories, poems and song, all historically tinged by coastlines and tidal rivers, with echoes of, as organiser Cheryl writes, “fishermen and pirates, wreckers and dockers – making a new life across the sea – escaping pogroms and wars, the shipwrecked and the endlessly travelling – to paddlers and wild swimmers.”

Find full details of what’s happening where and how you can get involved at arachnepress.com

Solstice Shorts Logo

Literary Bristol

Judy Darley in Redcliffe CavesBristol Festival of Literature returns from 19th-28th October 2017, with curious, intriguing, inspiring events popping up all over the city. I wrote a feature about it for The Bristol Magazine, titled Bookish Bristol, and was wowed by the options on offer. Events are already selling out, so get your tickets fast!

You can pick up copies of The Bristol Magazine all over the city, in cafes, hairdressers, estate agents and other businesses.

I’m taking part in a least two events. The first is Bristol Writers Group and Friends Go Into The Dark, taking place in Redcliffe Caves from 7-9pm on Tuesday 24th Oct. Tickets have already sold out! I’m one of the friends, and very excited to be invited back. Reading in the caves is a really magical event – it’s a wonderfully spooky environment. I’ll be sharing my tale Merrow Cave. The pic at the top of this post (photo taken by Sally Hare) shows me at a previous year’s event.

Tickets cost £5.50 each.

The second is Novel Nights, which I’ll be co-hosting with founder Grace Palmer from on Wednesday 25th October. Three local writing talents, Alison Brown, Kate Simants and Deborah Tomkins, will share novel extracts before Cornerstones literary editor Dionne McCulloch offers her insights on novel-writing and answers questions from the audience. It’s happening at The Square Club, 15 Berkeley Square, Bristol. Get tickets for £8 here.

There are so many other fabulous literary happenings to choose from too. Find the full programme and ticketing details at unputdownable.org. Hope to see you at an event or few!

Victor Hugo in Guernsey Festival 2016

St Peter Port cr VisitGuernsey

St Peter Port © VisitGuernsey

Tickets are now available for events at the first ever Victor Hugo in Guernsey Festival, which takes place on the Channel Island of Guernsey from 2nd-10th April 2016. What a perfect excuse for a hit of springtime island hopping!

The festival celebrates the 150th anniversary of the publication of Victor Hugo’s novel Toilers of the Sea, which was inspired by and set in Guernsey where he spent 15 years in exile from France from 1855. If you go along, you’ll have the to chance explore some of the historic events that influenced the book, while celebrating Victor Hugo’s life and works.

The eight-day extravaganza features exhibitions, paintings, talks, walks, films, performances, photographs and a one-day seminar from four world experts on Victor Hugo, al taking place at Guernsey landmarks, Hugo’s favourite haunts, and places that provided the inspiration for Toilers of the Sea 150 years ago.

The Victor Hugo in Guernsey Festival is part of the wider Channel Island’s Heritage Festival 2016 (25 March – 10 May 2016) which this year takes a maritime focus, celebrating Guernsey, Jersey, Alderney, Herm and Sark’s relationship with their coastline and their seas.

Top things to do during the Victor Hugo in Guernsey Festival

1 Hugo’s Guernsey exhibition – 1-10 April

Throughout the Channel Island’s Heritage Festival, St Peter Port’s Priaulx Library will have a free exhibition of photographs and objects associated with the period of Hugo’s exile on the island.

2 Victor Hugo concert – 2nd April

Quebecois singer, songwriter and performer, Alain Lecompte, will lead a musical homage to Victor Hugo with excerpts from his internaionallly acclaimed ‘Hugo Live’ concert.  Lecompte will be joined in Guernsey by local choral ensemble, Bel Canto, at St James Concert Hall in St Peter Port. Tickets are £10 for adults and £5 for students.

3 Seminars and lectures from Hugo experts – 2nd, 4th, 6th, and 7th April

A series of seminars and lectures from leading authorities on the life and works of Victor Hugo will delve into the writer’s inspiration, influences and legacies. Events include ‘The Life of Victor Hugo in Exile’, a day-long seminar and Q&A session with four of the world’s most renowned experts on the French writer, a lecture by the designer of commemorative ‘Travailleurs’ stamps, a talk by the instigator of the Folio publication of the novel, and a WEA Maritime Heritage Series Lecture on Hugo’s relationship with the sea. Tickets range from free, for ‘The Art of Hugo’ lecture, to £20, for ‘Travailleurs, Creating the Stamps’ lecture lunch.

 In the Footsteps of Hugo – 2nd-10th April

During the eight day festival, there will be a series of two-hour long guided walks with experts departing a 10am and 2pm, to Hugo’s favourite spots on the island, which inspired many of the settings in both Toilers of the Sea and Les Miserables. The walks are priced at £8 per person.

5 Exhibition of Cartoons of Victor Hugo – 2nd-16th April (closed 3 April)

An exhibition of the caricatures of Victor Hugo published in the satirical press of his time will be on display throughout the festival in Guernsey’s capital of St Peter Port. Original caricatures will be exhibited at the Archive Centre for one week, while enlargements will be on show for two weeks at Inner Street Market. Admission is free.

Hauteville House cr VisitGuersey

Hauteville House © VisitGuersey

6 Tours of Hauteville House – 2nd April – 27th September

Visit the beautiful house where Victor Hugo lived during his time in exile on the island. Hauteville House was where he wrote many of his most well-known novels, including Toilers of the Sea. Tours take place daily throughout the Victor Hugo in Guernsey Festival and priced from £6 per person.

3 Hugo’s Banquet des Enfants – 3rd April

A six-course feast for 200 guests at Guernsey Market Buildings, replicating meals given by Victor Hugo to poor children at his home, Hauteville House. The lunch will be accompanied by live performances of music and drama.

Tickets for all events are available to purchase at www.Guernseytickets.gg. For full details on the festival, visit www.victorhugoinguernsey.gg

Find out more about visiting Guernsey at www.visitguernsey.com.

Call for writers to take part in Penzance Literary Festival

Penzance cr Judy DarleyTelltales is inviting writers of short fiction to submit stories on the theme of ‘Tide and Time’ for the chance to be selected to read at Penzance’s annual literary festival.

They’re hoping the theme will “inspire writing flavoured with sea and salt, full of ebb and flow, flotsam and jetsom, in contemplation of being castaway or of eternity – but, as always, pieces on any subject will be considered.”

Your submission must be no more than 2,000 words long. The deadline for submissions is 9 July 2014.

The chosen writers will be invited to read their submission at The Admiral Benbow, Chapel Street, Penzance at 7pm on Saturday 19 July 2014.

I took part in last year’s TellTales at the Penzance Literary Festival, with my story The Scent of Summer, and had a wonderful time at the night of readings at the Admiral Benbow. Highly recommend it!

To find out more, visit www.telltales.org.uk