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Nadiya Hussain will be in Ilkley on Thursday 20 September

Ilkley Literature Festival: 240 events - 15 venues - 17 days

A packed programme has been announced for the North’s biggest literature festival in Ilkley between 28th September – 14th October 2018.



Women take centre stage at this year’s Ilkley Literature Festival, as the longest running festival of its kind in the North of England announces another stellar line-up. The programme includes comedian and ‘Strictly’ star Susan Calman [12th October], poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy [14th October], hugely successful fiction author Joanna Trollope [11thOctober] and young-adult fiction trailblazer Jacqueline Wilson [4th October].


Kicking off the 2018 Festival is BBC Apprentice and Channel 4 Countdown star Nick Hewer [28th September], who will take the audience through his life and new book A Life from A to Z, and the Festival welcomes back Leeds-born international stage and screen legend Alan Bennett [5th October], who returns to Ilkley following his 2017 sell-out appearance. Business-savvy fashionista Mary Portas [13th November] will be at the festival to talk candidly about her life and work, as well as offering observations on how to make our work lives better.



BBC presenter (Nadiya’s British Food Adventure, Nadiya’s Family Favourites and The Big family Cooking Showdown) and Great British Bake Off winner Nadiya Hussain will be in Ilkley on Thursday 20 September to launch her latest family cook book Bake Me a Celebration Story. Two of Britain’s most refreshing food writers Jack Monroe and Ruby Tandoh will be heading to the festival on Saturday 6th October in their first appearance together. The dynamic duo will discuss new ways of approaching food, with Monroe also talking about her new cookbook Cooking on a Bootstrap: Over 100 Simple, Budget Recipes.



It’s the first festival appearance for cricketing ace Moeen Ali, who will be appearing at a special Festival event hosted at The Grammar School at Leeds on Sunday 30th September to talk about his life and career as one of England’s best all-rounders. It’s also the first appearance for bestselling author Kate Mosse, whose work includes the number one multi-million selling Languedoc trilogy - Labyrinth, Sepulchre and Citadel - and The Taxidermist's Daughter, which she is currently adapting for the stage. Kate heads to Ilkley on Saturday 13th October to talk about The Burning Chambersthe first book in her new epic historical series, as well as what inspired her to write her previous trilogy spanning three centuries and countless countries. Fiona Mozley, who’s debut novel Elmet was longlisted for the Booker Prize and Costa First Novel winner Andrew Michael Hurley will be discussing ‘Northern Gothic’ in their first visits to Ilkley Literature Festival on Saturday 13th October.



There are plenty of events for those who prefer poetry to prose in the 2018 programme. World-renowned Yorkshire-based poet Simon Armitage, who is Professor of Poetry at the University of Leeds, is returning to Ilkley on Monday 8th October to give an atmospheric candlelit reading of the newly revised, illustrated edition of his acclaimed modern translation of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. Ian Duhig and Christopher Fox will combine poetry, reading and cello music in a special event celebrating the Irish diaspora in one of many new commissions for this year’s Festival, taking place on Saturday 6th October.



Going back to the history books is BAFTA-winning journalist Stuart Cosgrove, who visits Ilkley on Tuesday 2nd October to discuss Harlem 69, the third book of his soul music trilogy. Award-winning comedian and bibliophile Robin Ince heads to the festival on Saturday 6th October to present a live version of his acclaimed Book Shambles podcast, hot off the publication of his new book I’m A Joke, and So Are You. Heading to Ilkley on Monday 8th October to uncover one of history’s most fascinating, unnoticed stories is former Children’s laureate Michael Rosen. Alongside Kim Reynolds, professor of children’s literature at Newcastle University, Michael looks back at how children’s books played a part in radical activity, as much of the left-leaning British population tried to create a less class riven, more enjoyable society. On Sunday 30th September, Festival-goers can discover speeches that altered the course of history, such as Nelson Mandela’s presidential speech, in Speeches of Note by Shaun Usher; author of international best-seller Letters of Note.



Known for its commitment to catering for younger audiences, the Festival brings some of the best and upcoming young adult and children’s writers to the spa town. Award-winning children’s fiction writer Melvin Burgess is back with a brand-new novel The Lost Witch, which he brings to Ilkley on Monday 1st October. Acclaimed American author Jewell Parker Rhodes will be joined by Muhammad Khan on Thursday 4th October to talk about their powerful books exploring how young people cope in today’s world. On Tuesday 9th October, Nikesh Shukla, editor of the critically acclaimed essay collection The Good Immigrant, will be discussing his new young adult novel Run, Riot, an adrenaline-fuelled, powerful story about young people taking charge of their own destiny. Shukla will also be talking about his latest adult book The One Who Wrote Destiny and judging the festival’s annual adult short story competition.



Little ones will love Snow Queen; a fantastic retelling of the classic story by Leeds-based acclaimed children’s theatre company tutti frutti which takes place at All Saints School on Sunday 14th October. Kids can also join Jim Whalley and Stephen Collins on Saturday 13th October for Baby’s First Bank Heist; a fun, interactive tale of Baby Frank, who resorts to the desperate measures of robbing a bank when his parents refuse to buy him a pet.



The University of Leeds plays a big part in this year’s festival, with a number of academics taking on two anniversaries; the bicentenary of Emily Brontë’s birth and the bicentenary of Mary Shelley’s gothic novel Frankenstein. David Higgins will tackle the links between Frankenstein and climate change on Tuesday 9th October, and Professor Sally Shuttleworth will host an intriguing discussion around Emily Brontë, author of Wuthering Heights, on Tuesday 2nd October.



Windrush was one of the stories that dominated news headlines this year, the Festival will pay homage to those who arrived in the UK from the Caribbean with a series of talks, conversations and panels. Historian and associate fellow in the Centre for Caribbean Studies Colin Grant will be joined by American journalist Joshua Jelly-Schapiro to explore images of the Caribbean on Saturday 6th October, while renowned critic Jeremy Poynting, founder of independent publisher Peepal Tree, and Susheila Nasta, professor of modern literature, will discuss the impact of Windrush on literature and writing at Ilkley Playhouse Wharfeside on Tuesday 2nd October.


Rachel Feldberg, Ilkley Literature Festival director commented “The carefully curated line-up for 2018 includes some of the biggest names in literature as well as some of the most well-respected experts in history, poetry, non-fiction and science. This year, we’re lucky to have leading voices and specialists in their subject to contribute to our strands; which includes Windrush and the 200th anniversary of two outstanding women writers. Last year we saw many of our headline events sell out, so it’s definitely worth getting your tickets as soon as possible to avoid disappointment!”


The full programme is available for download and at  Tickets will be on sale online and through the box office 01943 816 714 from 28 August. 


Due to previous demand, Festival Friends will be able to book tickets for Alan Bennett from Friday 17 August.  Please note:

  • Tickets will only be available to buy online and over the phone NOT BY POST OR IN PERSON

  • Tickets will be limited to 2 tickets for individual Friends, 4 for joint (two people at one address) Friends

  • There will be tickets for this event reserved to go on general sale


To find out more about the Festival Friends scheme and how to join, visit: . Applications are open until 20 August.


Festival Friends priority booking runs from Monday 20 August until general booking opens on Tuesday 28 August*. During the Friends priority period online booking is available 24hrs, phone booking is available 10am–5pm, Mon–Fri. 

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