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Ilkley’s literary line-up in 50th year


Bryan Washington - winner of the 2020 International Dylan Thomas Prize for Memorial - is coming to Ilkley for his first ever in-person event in the UK (c. Louis Do)

Ilkley Literature Festival has a reputation for bringing icons of literature to the spa town, over the years Ilkley has welcomed some of fiction’s starriest figures before they hit the big time, including Ian McEwan, Bernadine Evaristo, Hilary Mantel, Donna Tartt, Jeffrey Eugenides and Margaret Atwood.


This October, it continues the tradition with the opportunity to experience two literary giants of the future: Bryan Washington and C Pam Zhang.


Bryan Washington - winner of the 2020 International Dylan Thomas Prize for Memorial - is coming to Ilkley for his first ever in-person event in the UK to discuss his latest novel, Family Meal, a moving story of queer friendship, loss, gentrification and the simple pleasure and connection that sharing a meal can bring.


Zhang’s How Much of These Hills Is Gold was named one of Barack Obama’s favourite reads in 2020, and her latest book Land of Milk and Honey is a rapturous novel about a young chef whose discovery of pleasure alters her life and, indirectly, the world.


Erica Morris, director of Ilkley Literature Festival, said: “We’re really excited to welcome these two stars from the States to our spa town. There’s nothing better than picking up a new novel. The feeling of escaping from reality for a few hours, travelling across time and space to discover new cultures, perspectives, and stories. Novels are, quite simply, magic.”


Audiences can also escape into a world of thrilling espionage, fast forward into dystopian futures, wander the streets of the city of love, and be scared silly with spooky stories of the supernatural.

Author of canonical novel Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit, Jeanette Winterson tells dark tales and ghost stories from her book, Night Side of the River.


Join novelists Lucy Caldwell and Rosanna Amaka as they discuss their new novels – These Days and the Burma Sky - both set amidst the backdrop of WWII and exploring how love can flourish and falter under the threat of conflict.


For fans of Black Mirror, authors Colin Philpott and Natasha Calder will explore Dystopian Decisions. Philpott’s Deathday, set in 2045 England, explores the rights of the young versus the old in a world in which euthanasia is compulsory for 90 years old. Calder’s Whether Violent or Natural, explores who really controls societies and the lengths people will go to protect their own.


Costa award-winning author of The Tenderness of Wolves Stef Penney comes to Ilkley with her latest historical epic, The Beasts of Paris. Set in snowbound France in 1870, a vibrant group of friends are caught up in war’s hardships, complicated friendships, forbidden love, and turbulent politics.

Anton Du Beke is not just King of the Ballroom and Strictly Come Dancing royalty. Since 2018, he has authored a series of bestselling escapist romance novels set in the glamorous milieu of early 20th century entertainment. Du Beke brings his showbiz magic to the King’s Hall stage for his latest novel, The Paris Affair.


From the creators of the hit play Ghost Stories and the acclaimed writers of Peaky Blinders and Killing Eve comes a delicious adventure thriller where twisting tales and marvellous magic abound. Join Jeremy Dyson and Andy Nyman as they discuss their fiendishly clever and rollicking story The Warlock Effect, exploring London’s best and most glamorous parties, nightclubs and theatres and the dangerous world of espionage and the British secret service.

Treasured BBC broadcaster and international reporter James Naughtie takes the stage to discuss his exhilarating thriller The Spy Across the Water. Drawing on five decades of journalistic experience - including stints at The Guardian and The Washington Post.


Go back in time to 1300s France with award-winning historian, journalist, and TV presenter Dan Jones as he discusses the latest book in the Essex Dogs trilogy. Explore what life was like for the band of British soldiers deep in enemy territory during the Hundred Years War.


John Murray Press host a proof party with prosecco to Ilkley Playhouse. Audience members will receive three debut fiction novels, a tote bag, and a glass of prosecco to sip as they listen to emerging authors on their debuts: Madeline Doherty’s Gender Theory, Jiaming Tang’s Cinema Love and Scott Preston’s The Borrowed Hills.


The festival features around 100 events across 17 days, between 6-22 October.


To book: ilkleyliteraturefestival.org.uk Box Office: 01943 816714.

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