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Manchester literary festival celebrates homegrown talent and stories from across the globe


From exploring the suffragette city on a walking tour to hosting events with influential women authors and broadcasters, this year’s Manchester Literature Festival will honour ground-breaking and pioneering women past and present.

Over the past 12 years, MLF has featured many of the biggest names in literary fiction and spoken word from across the globe. This year looks like being no exception. The festival has tripled in size since 2006, last year featuring 75 events and attracting an audience of 13,000.

The line-up includes poets, broadcasters, actors and activists as well as novelists.

Confirmed authors include Booker Prize winning Pat Barker, who reimagines the most famous conflict in literature, the legendary Trojan War, in her new novel The Silence of the Girls.

Sarah Perry – photo: Jamie Drew

Award-winning writer Sarah Perry, author of The Essex Serpent and After Me Comes the Flood, will visit the festival for the first time to talk about her eagerly awaited new novel, Melmoth.

Kate Atkinson will discuss her new novel Transcription, about a young woman recruited by an obscure wartime department of the Secret Service, while international bestselling author Kate Mosse will talk about The Burning Chamber, her latest gripping story of love and betrayal, mysteries and secrets.

This year’s Midland Hotel Writer in Residence is Linda Grant, who will share her newly commissioned story over afternoon tea. Her most recent book The Dark Circle was shortlisted for the 2017 Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction.

Carol Ann Duffy will share work from her final collection as Poet Laureate with support from north west poets Suzanne Batty and Clare Shaw. And Dame Jenni Murray, who has presented Woman’s Hour for the last three decades, will share her History of the World in 21 Women.

BAFTA-winning writer and comedian Jo Brand will discuss her thoughts on women and power, mental health, the 70th anniversary of the NHS and her new book, Born Lippy: How to Do Female, while actor Kathy Burke will host a 24 Stories event. An anthology of short stories published to mark the anniversary of the Grenfell Tower tragedy, 24 Stories, features 24 of the UK’s established and previously unpublished authors.

Actor Julie Hesmondhalgh will discuss life writing, masculinity, class and identity with Graham Caveney and Howard Cunnell, authors of the memoirs The Boy With the Perpetual Nervousness and Fathers & Sons.

“As a UNESCO City of Literature we are delighted to welcome so many inspirational authors from across the globe to share their stories and ideas with Manchester audiences, as well celebrating our own rich and radical literary heritage,” said Cathy Bolton and Sarah-Jane Roberts, co-Directors of Manchester Literature Festival.

“In the birthplace of the suffragette movement, we’re particularly thrilled to present such a strong line-up of multi-talented and outspoken women writers and activists.”

There is plenty of male talent at this year’s festival too, though.

Graham Norton, winner of eight BAFTA awards and forthcoming novel A Keeper, will discuss his diverse career and enduring love of stories, while Alexander McCall Smith will mark the 20th anniversary of the first publication of his much-loved The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency with a special in-conversation event.

MP Alan Johnson will return to Manchester to discuss In My Life: A Music Memoir, which follows his trilogy of entertaining memoirs with a new one devoted to the world of Dansettes and jukeboxes, smoky coffee shops and dingy dance halls to Bob Dylan, David Bowie and The Beatles.

And the annual Castlefield Manchester Sermon will be delivered by Michael Morpurgo in the stunning surroundings of Manchester Cathedral.

The festival takes place across a variety of venues that highlight the city’s rich cultural heritage as well as the spoken word, including The Royal Northern College of Music, the Midland Hotel, the International Anthony Burgess Foundation, Manchester Central Library, The Dancehouse, the Royal Exchange Theatre, Instituto Cervantes, The Whitworth, Manchester Art Gallery, Elizabeth Gaskell’s House, Z-arts, and the streets and squares of Manchester.

The festival will also bring talent from across the globe to the city. A world literature programme includes Iranian poet Azita Ghahreman, Icelandic writer Sjón, and rising stars from Latin America, Carlos Fonseca, Mauro Libertella and Mariana Torres.

The festival includes plenty to delight younger readers, too.

Family Reading Day brings a day of fictional fun featuring The Moomins, The Tiger Who Came to Tea and Kid Carpet. Current UK Children’s Laureate, award-winning writer, illustrator and creator of Clarice Bean and Ruby Redfort, Lauren Child will introduce her latest story about Hubert Horatio. And there’s a creative workshop with Beano artist Kev F. Sutherland.

Manchester Literature Festival takes place from Saturday 6th – Sunday 21st October 2018.


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