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The north's oldest literary festival starts this Friday


Gyles Brandreth

Ilkley Literature Festival kicks off its 50th anniversary year this Friday with Ray Mears at the King's Hall.


Running for 17 days and featuring 100 events, Ilkley Literature Festival journeys through the cultural touchpoints of modern-day Britain this October.


Launched in 1973 by the poet W.H Auden, the north’s oldest literary festival welcomes a host of poets, novelists, biographers, and journalists to the spa town this autumn.


Erica Morris, Director of Ilkley Literature Festival, said: “Under the theme, State of the Nation, we have a rich line-up of insightful, fascinating authors who will get to grips with British cultural icons, the North-South divide and football.”


The One Show Reporter, former MP, and lover of bright knitwear, Gyles Brandreth, will discuss his new book, Elizabeth: An Intimate Portrait. Acquainted with the late Prince Phillip - Brandreth draws on his unique perspective and shares his honest stories about Britain’s longest-reigning monarch.


Barry Cryer’s 60-year comedy career stretched from the music halls of the ‘50s, to working alongside comedic legends Morecambe and Wise, to rubbing shoulders with a myriad of famous faces. His son, Bob Cryer, offers a night of hilarious stories and personal anecdotes about the man behind the jokes, from the person who knew him best.


Wigan-born radio DJ Stuart Maconie will discuss what it means to be English, with his book, The Full English. Inspired by J.B. Priestly's classic account of his travels through England, Maconie tackles the modern struggles and challenges we face with our regional and national identities.


Award-winning author Rick Broadbent delves into the stereotypes that have plagued Yorkshire throughout our national history. Using a combination of social history, personal memoir and reportage, Broadbent searches for the soul of God’s Own Country with his book, Now Then – A Biography of Yorkshire.


Author and social historian, David Kynaston, brings the transformative three-year period between 1962 and 1965 to life, from the assassination of JFK to the death of Winston Churchill, the Cuban Missile Crisis to the Big Freeze, the Profumo affair to the seismic coming of the Beatles.


Guardian columnist and former BBC editor Polly Toynbee delves into her upbringing and examines her own personal experiences against the backdrop of modern-day Britain. She’ll discuss her book, An Uneasy Inheritance. Born to a family of left-wing rabble-rousers, Toynbee’s family was far from working class. With ties to Jessica Mitford and Castle Howard, join Toynbee for a frank conversation about living a life in privilege.


Natasha Carthew was born into a world that sat alongside picture-perfect Cornwall, where wealth converged with poverty on sandy beaches. Her political and poetic memoir, Undercurrent, explores her experiences of class disparity and social inequality.


Award-winning sportswriter Duncan Hamilton travels back to revisit the 1966 FIFA World Cup Victory, asking, why haven’t we won since? From the managers, the political machinations and the personal lives of the players; get an insight into the triumphs and blunders of English football.


Award-winning writers Alex Wheatle and Colin Grant discuss their experiences of being Black in Britain. Abuse, imprisonment, and police brutality combine with a love of reggae, strong family bonds and an ultimately strong sense of self to make these thoughtful authors who they are today.


Running between 6-22 October, the line-up also includes Jeannette Winterson, Simon Armitage, Jacqueline Wilson, Helen Skelton, Gyles Brandreth, Clare Balding, Anton Du Beke, Monica Ali, Gavin Esler, James Naughtie, Grace Dent, A C Grayling, Steve Richards, Shaparak Khorsandi, and Melanie Sykes…


For further information: ilkleyliteraturefestival.org.uk / Box Office: 01943 816714

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