top of page

John Barnes announced for Ilkley Literature Festival

Football legend John Barnes is joining the line-up at this autumn’s Ilkley Literature Festival.

The former professional football player and manager turned sports commentator is discussing his powerful book, The Uncomfortable Truth About Racism.

He joins a roster of literary stars at the hybrid festival, which offers a mix of Covid-safe in-person and digital events across 17 days from Friday 1 to Sunday 17, October.

Speaking at King’s Hall at 7.30pm on Sunday 17 October, Barnes will tackle head-on issues around prejudice by vividly evoking his personal experiences, and holding a mirror to this country’s past, present and future.

After spending the first dozen years of his life in Jamaica, Barnes moved to the UK with his family in 1975. Six years later he was a professional footballer, distinguishing himself for Watford, Liverpool and England, and in the process becoming this country’s most prominent Black player.

The Liverpool and England footballer promises powerful and moving testimony at his talk to inform and advance the global conversation around racism.

Also starring at the north’s longest-running literary event are Booker prize winner Bernadine Evaristo, former MP Ed Balls, journalist Sarfraz Manzoor, TV presenter Gyles Brandreth, Countdown star Susie Dent, comedian and actor Miles Jupp and the poet Jackie Kay.

Founded in 1973, Ilkley Literature Festival is loved by writers, readers and publishers alike for its warm welcome and wide-ranging programming.

Tickets and full programme:


bottom of page