Ian McMillan: Literally magic

As someone who has loved reading for as long as I can remember, I find myself getting very excited at those moments when babies start to recognise that those runic squiggles the grown-ups are pointing to and making noises around are actually symbols that communicate the meanings behind the sounds the adults are making. There’s a fantastic tipping point when the shapes and sounds solidify into that thing we call reading and it’s a moment that I find thrilling and moving in equal measure. It’s a constant miracle, happening all the time all over the world. Or sometimes not, which is a very sad thing.

Sebastian Barry

How the west was lost, in a gorgeous sunset -

Sebastian Barry is a marvellous writer, and Days Without End is a beautifully written novel of the American West, the US Cavalry, the Indian Wars, the Civil War and its aftermath. The narrative is gripping, descriptions of landscape vivid and beautiful, evocations of military life, brutal warfare, cruelty and courage utterly compelling; and it is also an unusual love story with sufficient moments of tenderness to have you hoping there may, despite everything, be a gorgeous sunset lighting up the screen as “The End” is announced.

Brian Wilson, on the book's cover

Brian Wilson, musical genius behind the Beach Boys

The Beach Boys were a band of stark contradictions. Their early hits mythologised the surfing culture of early 1960s California, yet only one of them could use a board. Their best-loved songs evoke sunshine and happiness, but were performed by a group riven with sibling rivalry and myriad personal problems. Their place in the pop pantheon is beyond question. But how did they get there?

Gemma Rowland, operations manager for Harrogate International Festivals, with guest speaker Jonathan Dimbleby, and chairman Fiona Movley

Literary lunch returns with broadcaster Jonathan Dimbleby

THE Yorkshire Post literary lunch made its return to the social calendar with guest speaker, the broadcaster and author Jonathan Dimbleby.

Dr Peter Addyman at his home in  York

The Chart Show: Mapping 2,000 years of York’s history

The man who’s been called “Mr Jorvik” leads me to the end of the smart York street where he lives. “This is a good example of the layers of history we have in York,” he says. “We’re on the edge of a Roman road, above a Roman cemetery; there are multiple Romans six or eight feet down over there. Over to the right is the site of a cock-fighting pit, and here’s the birthplace of Benjamin Seebohm Rowntree, the great industrialist and social reformer. Look...”

Ian McMillan

Ian McMillan: Bum steer

Ideas are the lifeblood of any creative writer, because without them you simply stare at the blank page scratching your chin until the sparks fly, looking into the air above your head in the hope that a lightbulb will illuminate.

Opinion 1
Patrick Cockburn, author of The Age of Jihad.

The Age of Jihad: Hell unleashed

No one, certainly no Westerner, can make sense of the tragic catastrophe in the Middle East, but Patrick Cockburn who has worked there, and in Chechnya and Afghanistan, as a journalist for a quarter of a century now, is a better guide than anyone else to “the eight wars now being fought in Muslim countries in the Middle East and North Africa”.

The cover of Bach: A Musical Biography

Flair on the G String: The life of Bach

Peter Williams has pursued a lifelong passion for Bach. from early publications on the composer’s organ music and Art of Fugue in the 1980s, to biographies, beginning with his A Life of Bach (2004), through to this final examination Bach: A Musical Biography.

Bill Mitchell at his home in Settle, in 2012. Picture: Bruce Rollinson

The ultimate Dalesman: Bill Mitchell’s Yorkshire

Few have written more words about Yorkshire than WR Mitchell. Known to most as Bill, aside from his 40-year career on The Dalesman, which he joined in 1949, he published more than 200 books, wrote innumerable articles and gave countless lectures.

Comment: Yvette Huddleston.

Anonymity revealed

By Yvette Huddleston

So, last week the identity of Italian novelist and global literary sensation Elena Ferrante was finally revealed – by investigative journalist Claudio Gatti – but was it absolutely necessary? And what have we really gained from it?

THE HAUNTING: Leeds library is the main venue for a programme of events.

Creative spirit

A month-long festival of words, performance and visual art, all inspired by the ghost story is taking over the Leeds Library. Yvette Huddleston reports.


Video exclusive: Alan Bennett reads from his new volume of diaries

FOUR premieres at the National Theatre, a West End double-bill transfer and two movies would be more than a lifetime’s work for most writers, but Alan Bennett managed them all in a single decade.

Louis de Berni�res is appearing in Ilkley on Saturday.

King Louis - Captain Corelli’s Mandolin author returns to Yorkshire

Louis de Bernières returns to Ilkley Literature Festival tomorrow to talk about his new novel. The bestselling author spoke to Chris Bond.

Anthony Horowitz has written more than 40 books in his career. He will be
 talking about his latest novel in Ilkley next week.

Anthony Horowitz - From James Bond to Alex Rider, he’s the man with the golden pen

Author and screenwriter Anthony Horowitz is appearing at Ilkley Literature Festival next week. Chris Bond caught up with the former York University student.

Will Self: The author will be discussing romantic love at Beverley Literature Festival at the weekend.

Will Self: My sermon on love

Writer and broadcaster Will Self is back in Yorkshire this weekend when he will be talking about ‘love’. Chris Bond spoke to him to find out more.

Fun guys:

Ian McMillan and Tony Husband will be appearing at Ryedale Book Festival.

Community spirit

Ryedale Book Festival is a labour of love for its enthusiastic organisers. As it returns next month, Yvette Huddleston speaks to founder Sarah Tyson.

Conleth Hill as Varys and Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister in Game of Thrones. (Picture: �2016 Home Box Office, Inc.)

Harrogate History Festival: From historical fiction to Game of Thrones

Author Tom Harper is chairing this year’s Harrogate History Festival which as well as featuring several big names will include some eye-opening debates. Julian Cole reports.

Dixe Wills says St Mary's at Lead cuts a rather Eeyore-like figure.

Small mercies: Inside Yorkshire’s tiniest churches

Dixe Wills is one of those people who believes that small is beautiful.

Peter Stothard, editor of The Times from 1992 until 2002, author of The Senecans.

Premier league: Seneca meets Margaret Thatcher

If I were to choose a favourite quotation from Lucius Annaeus Seneca, the Roman playwright, it would be: “Men do not care how nobly they live, but only how long, although it is within the reach of every man to live nobly, but within no man’s power how long”.

Ian McMillan

Ian McMillan: Common senses

Writers like to use the senses when they’re describing something in a poem, or a story, or a piece of non-fiction. Sensual description can put the reader right there, looking over the writer’s shoulder. This kind of writing has been happening for many hundreds of years and it’s a staple of any kind of prose of verse. One thing I’ve noticed, though, is that some senses, and our experiences of them, are easier to translate into language than others.

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