Posted: Sun 10th Sep 2023

Novelists, poets, presenters, historians and actors due to take part in the annual festival this November

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Sunday, Sep 10th, 2023

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The full programme has now been revealed for this year’s hotly anticipated Chester Literature Festival.

The 2023 festival takes place from 9-26 November and promises two-and-a-half weeks of fantastic and fascinating events around the written and spoken word.

Among those who are involved in this year’s LitFest are gardener Monty DonPoet Laureate Simon Armitage, historian Professor David Olusoga, chef and broadcaster Andi Oliver and bestselling author Joanne Harris.

Events, conversations, workshops, performances and open mic sessions will take place over 18 days in a programme packed with something for everyone. There is also the return of the hugely popular Poetry Pub Crawl and a range of free activities which are on for the duration of the festival.

This year’s festival kicks off on the main stage on Thursday, 9 November with An Evening With Monty Don.

The popular BBC Gardener’s World presenter, gardening expert and writer will share his passion for gardens and the unique role they play in human inspiration and wellbeing.

Seasoned gardeners and green-fingered novices will enjoy tales from his career in gardening, detailing his favourite gardens both ancient and modern, and how he fell in love with the natural world.

Don is the author of many books about gardening, along with his Sunday Times bestseller Nigel: My Family and Other Dogs, inspired by his beloved late Golden Retriever who made regular appearances on Gardener’s World.

Expect to be entertained, educated and informed (with the emphasis on entertained) when actor, writer and poet Nigel Planer joins BAFTA award-winning screenwriter and BBC Radio 4’s ‘poet in reticence’ (and founder of Manchester Literature Festival) Henry Normal for an evening on the main stage on Friday, 10 November.

There will be poetry, stories, a Q&A, jokes and some memorable knitwear on display.

Liverpool-born comedian and double Sunday Times bestselling author Sophie McCartney brings her debut stand up tour Tired and Tested to Storyhouse on Saturday, 11 November, promising a riotous representation of modern-day ‘mumming’.

A rising star on the comedy circuit, McCartney won the 2020 Funny Woman award for Best Comedy Series and featured on the Mother & Baby Mum List 2021 as the funniest mum on Intstagram.

In March 2022 she released her debut non-fiction book Tired & Tested: The Wild Ride into Parenthood, while her first novel Mother Hens – billed as a black comedy centred around a group of harassed mothers with scores to settle on a hedonistic Ibiza hen do – is out now.

Then on Sunday, 12 November, author and journalist Tom Parfitt and Mike Parker – creator of ITV’s Coast to Coast series – come together for World Walking Adventures.

In the afternoon event, in the Garret Theatre, Parfitt will talk about his walking adventures encapsulated in his book High Caucasus: A Mountain Quest in Russia’s Haunted Hinterland, while Parker’s new book All The Wild Border: Wales, England and the Places Between takes a fascinating look at the Wales-England border. 

Meanwhile, multi award-winning Poet Laureate Simon Armitage takes to the main stage for a special ‘an afternoon with’.

His latest book, Never Good With Horses: Assembled Lyrics, is the first ever collection of his lyric output including those for ‘ambient post-rock’ band Land Yacht Regatta and his days with DIY indie band The Scaremongers. 

Then in the evening, critically acclaimed author, journalist and TV presenter Candice Brathwaite will join broadcaster Ngunan Adamu for a conversation about the young adult novel Cuts Both Ways, her first foray into fiction which made the Sunday Times bestseller list.

Cuts Both Ways is a sharp and funny love story that explores themes of race, class and the complexities of growing up as a black British teen.

Its exuberant and straight-talking author will discuss both her novel and also her personal and professional journeys, along with taking questions from the audience.

Writer, broadcaster and comedian Natalie Haynes, best-selling author of Pandora’s Jar, comes to the festival on Tuesday, 14 November with her new book Divine Might: Goddesses in Greek Myth

Learn all about Athene, goddess of war and wisdom who sprang fully formed from her father’s head, Demeter, goddess of agriculture, and the queen of all the Olympian gods, Hera. Prepare to sing the immortal song of the Muses and meet the Furies.

Grace Dent visits Chester Literature Festival on Wednesday, 15 November to talk about her best-selling memoir Hungry.

Hungry is a warm, witty and joyous voyage through the food writer’s life story, told via the gastronomic experiences which have stayed with her the most, from growing up in a Carlisle terrace eating beige food and enjoying treats with her nan to eating haute cuisine in some of the country’s finest restaurants.

It is also about love and loss, about how food plays a central role in our lives – and how a Cadbury’s Fruit and Nut in a hospital vending machine can brighten the toughest situation.

Award-winning, best-selling author and performance poet Sophia Thakur comes to the Garret Theatre on Friday, 17 November Thakur blends soulful music with performance poetry and has inspired audiences across the world from the Glastonbury stage to Ted Talks and television screens.

The Garret Theatre is also the setting for a pair of unmissable writing workshops on Saturday, 18 November with journalists and authors Tabitha Lasley and Caroline Corcoran.

How to Write Your Book will provide practical methods, tips, tricks and ideas to get your words on to the page and into a format that will make agents and editors take notice.

And How to Get Published aims to demystify the publishing industry and help you get your work in front of the right people with practical guidance and tried and tested strategies.

Author Tom Fort talks about his delightful new book Rivets, Trivets and Galvanised Buckets: Life in the Village Hardware Shop in a coffeetime event at the Garret Theatre.

Enjoy a celebration of the quintessential cornerstone of any British village, the shop – in this case a century-old hardware store the Fort family took on with dreams of it becoming the heart of village life.

The second festival weekend also welcomes TV and radio presenter Melanie Sykes who will be ‘in conversation’ with book blogger and YouTube star Simon Savidge on the main stage.

Sykes has been a well-known face on our TV screens and a voice on radio for almost 30 years, delivering humour, honesty and insight.

Her new book Illuminated: Autism & All the Things I’ve Left Unsaid lifts the lid on being a woman in the media in funny, furious and gloriously frank fashion, but also talks about how her autism diagnosis in middle age has supercharged her journey – a story not just of breakdown but also of breakthrough. 

On Sunday, 19 November, award-winning historian, writer and broadcaster – and Professor of Public History – David Olusoga will be in conversation with David Watson, talking about his new book Black History for Every Day of the Year.

Olusoga, who studied history at the University of Liverpool, has presented a number of major TV programmes including Civilisations – alongside Mary Beard and Simon Schama, Black and British: A Forgotten HistoryThe World War: Forgotten Soldiers of EmpireBritain’s Forgotten Slave Owners and his captivating, exploratory A House Through Time series.

In 2019 he was made an OBE for services to history and community integration.

Black History for Every Day of the Year, written and illustrated in collaboration with his siblings Yinka and Kemi Olusoga, gives readers a unique and vital celebration of Black history, sweeping across the world and through the ages. Meet well-known figures and unsung heroes, read about famous and lesser-known key cultural moments and discover brilliant information about Black people through history.

That event will be followed by a second ‘in conversation’ on the main Storyhouse stage as Andi Oliver joins Simon Savidge for a fascinating evening’s chat.

The award-winning TV chef and broadcaster enjoys a rich and varied career, with food and music at the forefront. She is host of BBC’s Great British Menu, Channel 4’s Beat the Chef and Food Unwrapped, and Sky Arts’ Live Book Club.

In this exclusive event for Chester Literature Festival, she will discuss The Pepperpot Diaries, her long-awaited first cookbook.

Poet and musician Reece Williams brings his powerful new stage show This Kind of Black (Requiem for Black Boys) to Storyhouse on Tuesday, 21 November.

The coming-of-age tale, set in 1990s Moss Side and commissioned by HOME in Manchester, celebrates a community held together by prayers, warmth and humour while also mourning the tragic loss of young life.

Williams is a towering presence on the northern spoken word and poetry scene. He joined poetry collective Young Identity in 2007, performing across the UK and abroad. He is currently community engagement manager for Manchester UNESCO City of Literature and the regular compere of Open Mic Stand.

At a Debut Writers Event on Wednesday, 22 November, a panel of first-time writers including Jessie Wells (The Good News Gazette) and Emma Venables (Fragments of a Woman) will discuss the trials and tribulations of writing their first book as well as the inspiration behind their stories and how their passion for writing kept them going.

The Kitchen is the venue for a free Local Authors Party on Thursday, 23 November, where writers can meet, network and pitch their work (fiction, non-fiction or poetry) to an audience. Places to speak are limited and should be booked in advance via [email protected]


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