12 must-see events at the York Literature Festival 2018

An Austenophine… Dr Lucy Worsley. Photograph: Sophia Spring
15 Mar 2018 @ 4.00 pm
| Entertainment

The word’s out: York Literature Festival is back! With a special focus on historical fiction, an exciting array of events will bring the past alive.

York Lit Fest 2018

Mar 15-26

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The ten-day jamboree brings a wide variety of authors, artists, book readings, talks and events to venues across York.

This year sees the return of the York Literature Festival HUB, a strand of events run by writing groups in the local area, all taking place within York Theatre Royal.

Here’s a rundown of some it’s wildest wordy events and highlights.

Festival launch

Fiona Mozley featured beside her stunning debut ‘Elmet’.

York St John University

Mar 15 @ 7.30pm


Doing what York does best, the festival launch celebrates the best and brightest talent the city has to offer through a series of readings to launch The York Centre for Writing.

The highlight will be an interview with York bookshop The Little Apple’s very own Fiona Mozley whose debut novel Elmet was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize.

After a lengthy stint abroad Mozley has returned to the fountain of her inspiration, citing the wild landscapes of Yorkshire and York’s very own historic Mystery Plays as key influences on her literary fiction.

Lucy Worsley on Jane Austen

[arve url=”https://youtu.be/xmRle9me6po” title=”Lucy Worsley introduces Jane Austen At Home” /]

York Theatre Royal

Mar 21st @ 7.30pm


Stepping out of our Sunday night television schedules and straight into York’s Theatre Royal is Dr Lucy Worsley.

Historian and chief curator at the Historic Royal Palaces she is perhaps best known for her television documentaries on royals, empire and her wryly titled series A Very British murder.

Visiting Jane Austen’s childhood home, schools and writing haunts Worsley’s best-selling biography Jane Austen at Home promises to take us on an intimate and alternate tour of this famous literary figure.

A Sunday Times best-seller, this is Jane Austen brought to life like never before, a passionate original woman who , much like her heroine Lizzy Bennet can barely be contained by the pages of a book…

Sir Simon Jenkins on rails

Sir Simon Jenkins steams ahead with his railway adventure

St Peter’s School

Mar 17th @ 7.30pm


Best-selling author and journalist Sir Simon Jenkins brings us a British tale of steam innovation and railway history.

Having travelled the length and breadth of the nation’s railways Jenkins’ bestseller is an ode to the buildings that connect us on our journeys.

The meetings, greeting’s and stories contained within the walls of our stations are explored in this talk.

Beautiful and informative this promises to be a special gesture to these often-overlooked features of Britain’s transport history.

Janina Ramirez on mysticism

Janina Ramirez brings us the first woman to write a book in the English language. Photograph: Juliana Johnston

York St. John, Temple Hall

Mar 16th @7.00pm


As we celebrate the 100th anniversary of women winning the right to vote, Dr Janina Ramirez brings to us a powerful female writer from pages of medieval history.

Her work on Julian of Norwich, the first woman known to have written in English, explores an alternate world to the medieval period often associated with dark and austere Christian tradition.

Through Norwich, Ramirez shows us how literary geniuses were reframing their world through female gods and life without sin. Delightful and surprising, this talk is well worth setting aside an evening for.

Lindsey Fitzharris on surgery

Fitzharris takes us on a bloody tour of medical history Photograph: Adrian Teal

St. Peter’s School

Mar 24th @7.00pm


Medical historian Dr Lindsay Fitzharris takes us on a tour of the gruesome history of surgery!

Fitzharris recounts how the innovation of science and entrepreneurial spirit of the Victorians met when surgeon Joseph Lister transformed the profession of surgery forever.

From a bloody business of butchery to the medical miracle we know today, this is a talk that promises to fascinate and horrify in equal measure.

Phil Manning on dinosaurs

ressurecting dinosaurs with Professor Manning

St. Peter’s School

Mar 24th @ 3pm


Dinosaurs, so distant in our history that they now seem almost mythical… what can we possibly know about these monstrous giants that trod our earth 65 million years ago?

Dr Manning, Professor of Natural History at the University of Manchester believes he has an insight for us.

Through recent discoveries made in Mexico, scientists now believe they have happened upon new and fascinating material which can tell us more about the mass extinction of our ancient ancestors. Dr Manning reveals all.

Poetry for all

Clements Hall

Mar 24th @7pm

£10 or £7 concessions

A new exciting addition to the literature festival this year, a poetry event centred around inclusion. Sponsored by Yorsensory the evening will include a BSL interpreter, big screen projections of poems submitted in advance and assistive animals for the hearing and non hearing and carers:

Imogen Godwin
Yorks own Imogen Godwin has made quiet a splash on the York scene featuring last year at York’s Disability Pride 2017. Her challenging and tender poetry explores what it means to be ‘normal’ and celebrates the diversity and complexity of the human mind.

Raymond Antrobus
[arve url=”https://youtu.be/5G9dy8nCbuE” title=”The First Time I Wore Hearing Aids | Raymond Antrobus | Spoken Word” /]Originally from Hackney Raymond is known for his punchy and finely crafted poems which he has brought into schools and spoken word events.

He touches upon themes ranging from his identity as the child of an immigrant to his experience of poetry as a hearing aid user. Poignant and powerful, he uses art to express different ways of being and enables his audience to experience alternative sensory existences.

Donna Williams
As a deaf poet, Donna uses British sign language in order to perform her poetry all around the world as well as at renowned events like the Edinburgh fringe. From cats to heartbreak, her poetry is a unique experience which hearing and none hearing audiences alike can enjoy!

YorkMix Poetry Competition

Our judge: Andrew McMillan. Photograph: Urszula Soltys

York City Cruises

Mar 25th @5.30pm


The York Literature Festival / YorkMix Poetry Competition 2018 is finally ready to unveil its winners at a floating awards ceremony on the River Ouse!

Launched earlier this year, our judge Andrew McMillan has narrowed 850 entries down to a 30-poem shortlist. McMillan, an esteemed poet and senior lecturer at Manchester Metropolitan’s Writing School, will also be performing a reading of his work at the event.

Aside from literary fame and honour, the poets are competing for a top prize of £600, with smaller cash prizes for runners up. Ticket for the scenic ceremony can be booked here.

Northern Noir

AA Dhand discussing his dark Noir novel set in Bradford


Mar 26th @ 7pm


The murky depths of Noir fiction are usually associated with the dirty underbelly of London or the mean streets of New York.

Increasingly however, writers are beginning to look to the North of England as a backdrop for their Noir thrillers and, thinking of the bleak landscapes of Yorkshire or the spiralling gothic spires of York Minster, it’s easy to see why.

York Lit Fest director Rob O’Connor will be in conversation with authors Robert Scragg and AA Dhand in order to explore further the origins and future of this new Northern Noir genre.

Bradford born Dhaand released his novel Streets of Darkness in 2016 and has since climbed onto the UK’s bestsellers list. Inspired by the cities race riots in 2001, Streets of Darkness is a gritty northern thriller which has drawn comparisons to The Wire.

Robert Scraggs’ What Falls Between the Cracks is due to be released in April 2018, and has already won critical acclaim at the 2016 Theakston Crime Festival.

His detective duo Porter and Styles are born out the North Eastern landscapes Scraggs himself still lives in today.

Highlights for kids

The festival also has a treasure trove of exciting events for children as it celebrates the 200th anniversary of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.

Guy Bass: Stitch Head

[arve url=”https://youtu.be/unG4KWZCOvw” title=”Stitch Head by Guy Bass voted into the UK’s favourite kids books!” /]

St Peter’s School

Mar 18th @ 11am


When Mary Shelley created Frankenstein 200 years ago, she could not have foreseen the enduring legacy her insane scientist and his mangled creation would have.

Renowned children’s author Guy Bass has taken this legacy and created a bestselling monster and scientist duo in his series Stitch Head.

Bringing to life his hair brained genius and miniature monster he will perform an hour of hilarious and horrific readings as well as a discussion of his childhood inspirations.

Monster story times

York Explore

Mar 20th @10.30am, Mar 21nd @1.30pm, Mar 22st 1.30pm and Mar 23rd @10.30am


A real variation of monstrously good delights at York Explore aimed to engage its younger audience.

From writing poetry to spooky story sessions these events are an opportunity to get interactively involved with the festival.

Hot Coals: Finders Keepers

[arve url=”https://youtu.be/7MBrNTCynbg” title=”Finders Keepers Trailer” /]

York Theatre Royal

Mar 17th @3pm

Under 16’s £7, £12 16yrs +

A visually captivating spectacle of puppetry, music and comedy this show is designed to enthral parents and children alike.

Set in a junk yard somewhere at the edge of the world two unusual characters have their strange existence completely transformed in a fun and diverse adventure. This play is also accessible for deaf viewers.