The Ilkley Literature festival launched on October 4 with Poet Laureate, Simon Armitage.
We were thrilled to pick up the poetry baton and welcome ITV Calendar to film the incomparable Gyles Brandreth. Gyles – who was at the Ilkley Literature Festival this weekend – has a new book, Dancing By the Light of the Moon; a celebration of the nation’s best-loved poetry, and an exploration on how we can all find happiness learning poetry by heart.
Founded 46 years ago, with the inaugural festival featuring WH Auden, Ilkley is renowned for hosting legendary poets, from Ted Hughes to Angela Mayou.
This year’s festival now runs until October 20 and features over 150 literary events. Acts include influential poets Lemn Sissay and Raymond Antrobus as well as the popular favourite, Pam Ayres. It also features a new commission from its 2019 Poet in Residence, Colette Bryce, inspired by the classic WB Yeats’ The Second Coming.
Also authors from the worlds of literature, science, journalism, philosophy, politics and stage and screen descend on the Yorkshire town, famed for its moor.
Big names include David Suchet, Prue Leith, the Booker-longlisted authors Oyinkan Braithwaite and John Lanchester, and Clare Balding, who headlines the Children’s Festival alongside Mr Gum creator, Andy Stanton, and Conn Iggulden with the return of the Dangerous Book for Boys.
Politics is on the agenda with Alastair Campbell, Chris Mullin, and the Executive Director of campaigning website, Change.org, Kajal Odedra. Steve Richards presents his new book, The Prime Ministers, and the Guardian’s investigative journalist Amelia Gentleman talks to historian Colin Grant about the Windrush betrayal.
Other notable journalists include BBC broadcaster and musician Mark Radcliffe, Kirsty Wark on her latest novel, Penny Junor, editor of GQ Dylan Jones, Martin Sixsmith, and Paul Mason.
Swinging through the sixties, the legendary TV writing duo Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais – behind beloved British comedies such as Porridge – discuss their double act. And the satirical cartoonist Gerald Scarfe talks of his memoir recounting his times on Punch and Private Eye.
With a focus on science and space in the anniversary year of the Moon landing, there’s a stargazing walk on the iconic Ilkley Moor. Science writer Oliver Morton explores our relationship with the Moon. Science journalist Angela Saini discusses race science in her book Superior, and Nessa Carey explores gene modification. Space scientist, Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock MBE, will also present her grand tour of the solar system as part of the space-themed Children’s Festival.
With a strand on ‘World Changing Women’ Caroline Criado-Perez discusses her book Invisible Women exploring the gender data gap. BBC’s former China editor, Carrie Gracie, shares her battle over equal pay. The neuroscientist Daphna Joel presents her game-changing research into gender, and there will be a special one-off event on 21 November with Yvette Cooper MP on her timely and personal anthology, The Power of Women’s Voices looking at the greatest speeches of all time.
The north’s most established literary festival is renowned for its artistic excellence and diverse programme.
History comes in the form of Tom Holland and Tracy Borman, and horticulture from Guardian columnist Alys Flower. For foodies, Prue Leith is in conversation with the Guardian writer, Felicity Cloake – who will also do an event on her food travelogue, One More Croissant for the Road. There’s a tour of Yorkshire’s beers and journey into a Cheesemaker’s History of the British Isles with Ned Palmer.
Bibliophiles will enjoy Shaun Bythell who presents The Confessions of a Bookseller – the follow up to his wry diaries.
Professor Kathryn Sunderland and Principle Curator of the Brontë Parsonage Museum, Ann Dinsdale, present the complexities of preserving literary legacies in the UK amid a voracious global market for the memorabilia of Bronte and Austen. Toby Faber of the famed Faber & Faber draws on previously unpublished letters for an insight into one of the world’s greatest publishing houses. What’s more there will be a retrospective look at the life of Catherine Cookson.
Crime writers Peter Robinson and Denise Mina also feature, as do authors Sadie Jones, Tim Lott, Janet Ellis, and philosopher AC Grayling.
There festival also features a Fringe, bespoke film screenings, and workshops for poets, writers and readers.
Full programme Box Office: 01943 816714. Follow @ilkleylitfest