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Ilkley festival invites audiences to explore fake news

In an age of fake news that can create misinformation on crucial issues, Ilkley Literature Festival is inviting audiences to explore the phenomenon of ‘Unreliable Narratives’.

The truth may be out there, but it’s becoming harder to find. The expansion of digital outlets and the rise of social media has propelled 9/11 conspiracies, anti-vaxxers, myths and propaganda. It’s caused many of us to question the very concept of ‘truth’ itself.

Erica Morris, Ilkley Literature Festival Director, said: “We’re drowning in opinions and news online that influence crucial issues that can have huge ramifications, from the effectiveness of our response to public health crises to levels of faith in democratic societies. At Ilkley Literature Festival, we want to provoke thought and tackle the role of Unreliable Narratives, and how they affect our understanding of ourselves, and of history.”

Authors include Anna Sebba whose biography, Ethel Rosenberg: A Cold War Tragedy, explores what happens when a government motivated by fear tramples on the rights of its citizens; Rosenberg, a mother and wife, was executed in America for conspiracy to commit espionage on behalf of the Soviet Union.

The Cold War theme continues with the investigative journalist and author of Cold War Spies, Tim Tate, who will be in conversation with acclaimed spy historian, Trevor Barnes, discussing the most gripping true stories of Cold War history.

Lauren Olyer will talk about her first novel, Fake Accounts, which explores delusions and gaslighting, as fiction and reality play out in the Internet Age. Olyer’s essays have appeared in The New Yorker, Guardian and The New York Times Magazine.

Ilkley’s Poet in Residence Ian Duhig presents a showcase of poets, including Raymond Antrobus, who will read from his latest collection, All The Names Given – an investigation into language, miscommunication and memory.

Booker Prize shortlisted Graeme Macrae Burnet is interviewed by the Telegraph critic, Jake Kerridge, about his new novel which explores a historical case involving suicide, fake identity, and a charismatic psychologist in a gripping meditation on the nature of sanity, identity and truth.

Jake Kerridge will also interview the novelists Jenn Ashworth and Imran Mahmood, to discuss the role of unreliable narratives in fiction.

The 2021 Ilkley Literature Festival is a hybrid festival, with a mix of in person and digital events, from Friday 1 to Sunday 17 October. Live events will take place at the King’s Hall and All Saints’ Church.

To explore the full programme, go to


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