It promises to be another fine year for book lovers in the region with a range of literary events coming up across Yorkshire. Yvette Huddleston reports.
There have been plenty of literary highpoints in the region in the past year – not least of which was York-based debut novelist Fiona Mozley making it on to the Booker shortlist with her wonderful book Elmet. And for those interested in words, literature and ideas, 2018 is shaping up well – there is no shortage of events, festivals and publications to look forward to.
The Brontë200 bicentenary commemorations continue at the Brontë Parsonage Museum after two successful years – with the 200th anniversary of Charlotte’s birth celebrated in 2016 and Branwell’s in 2017. This year it is Emily’s turn in the spotlight. Actor and social entrepreneur Lily Cole has been confirmed as the museum’s creative partner; she will be exploring the connections between the origins of Emily’s anti-hero Heathcliff and the real foundlings of 1840s London in partnership with the Foundling Museum. Joining Cole are poet and performer Patience Agbabi as the museum’s writer in residence, land artist Kate Whiteford who will explore Emily’s connection to the Yorkshire landscape and award-winning band The Unthanks who will be creating – and performing – a song cycle based on Emily’s poems.
The region’s literature festivals, in addition to showcasing the work of top novelists and poets, also continue to provide a (much-needed) forum for public debate with many festivals inviting politicians, academics and influential thinkers to appear on their programmes to discuss the many complex issues of today’s modern world. Issues which look set to become ever more knotty over the coming year. Things kick off in early spring with Huddersfield Literature Festival (March 8-18). Highlights include Joanne Harris talking about her latest fairytale A Pocketful of Crows, a poetry cabaret and the popular literary afternoon tea. Also in March is York Literature Festival, running 15-26. Headliners include academic and broadcaster Lucy Worsley talking about her new biography of Jane Austen.
Scarborough’s Books By the Beach festival follows in April (11-15); authors appearing include Tony Parsons, Saul David and Denise Mina. After taking a break last year Niddfest returns in 2018 running over the weekend of June 15-17. The family-friendly literary festival takes place in the stunning surroundings of Upper Nidderdale and is run in partnership with Nidderdale AONB. It focusses on nature writing – with talks from top-class poets and novelists – and getting people out into nature to experience it for themselves.
Also in the summer the rightly-acclaimed Bradford Literature Festival, which has grown rapidly in size and stature since its inception in 2014, runs from June 29 to July 8. The two big autumn festivals are Wakefield (September 22-30) and Ilkley (September 28-October 14), the largest and longest running literary festival in the North. In Leeds the Big Bookend continues to programme author events, book launches, workshops and writing competitions throughout the year. And the Leeds Library, the country’s oldest surviving subscription library, this year celebrates its 250th anniversary with a full programme of events.