Complete guide to York Literature Festival

John Humphrys and Jane Austen… what more could you ask for?
19 Mar 2014 @ 10.24 am
| News
John Humphrys and Jane Austen… what more could you ask for?
John Humphrys and Jane Austen… what more could you ask for?

The York Literature Festival is back and bigger than ever. Since 2007 York has celebrated its rich literary and cultural heritage by bringing the best contemporary authors, writers and poets to the city in conjuncture with talks, performances and workshops.

From 20th – 31st March 2014 York will be full of the provoking, the pleasing and the preposterous, and with so much on offer there is without doubt something for everyone.

As there is so much going on we have complied a complete guide to the York Literature Festival so you can make the most of these wonderfully wordy 11 days.

There are plenty of activities for families and children, many free events and opportunities to get involved and showcase the writer in you.

For our full listings of the Lit Fest, click here.

Not to be missed

Germaine Greer on The Disappearing Woman The Royal York Hotel, £13
The leading feminist takes on the disappearance of the female role model in modern society, 40 years after it seemed women were beginning to take their rightful place in the world.

Fifty Shades of Grey – The Debate BBC Radio York
Domestic abuse glamorised, or erotic fun for consenting adults? BBC Radio York presenter Julia Booth chairs a debate on the bestselling books between Hazel Cushion, founder of Xcite Books and York St John University lecturer Naomi Booth.

Whisky and words Dean Court Hotel, £15
York resident and whisky enthusiast Andy Humphrey will guide you on a tutored tasting of Scotch single malt whiskies as a sensory gateway to new creative writing.

March, Women, March: Voices From The Women’s Movement York Theatre Royal, £7
Great granddaughter of Charles Dickens Lucinda Hawskley presents a moving account of the women who fought for the right to vote.

John Humphrys in Conversation St Peter’s School, £13
In conversation with York Literature Festival director Miles Salter, the feared BBC interviewer discusses his Welsh background, his experiences in broadcasting, his love of language and more.

Words From a Bench Rowntree Park, free
Karen Hill-Green presents prose and poetry by fellow creative writing students at York St John University, inspired by Rowntree Park. Words From A Bench can be “found” by scanning QR codes on the park benches with a smartphone.

Children and families

Burglar Bill by Janet and Allan Ahlberg York Castle Museum, free
Come and hear this classic tale, featured in the Toy Stories exhibition.

Family Workshop Yorkshire Museum, family £8
Artist and writer, Griselda Goldsbrough, helps parents and children over five to create Gods and Goddesses Memory Boxes using text, collage, objects and drawings, inspired by Greek mythology.

Pre-school Nursery Rhyme Time: Bird Songs York Castle Museum, free
Come along and sing like a bird in Kirk’s Canteen. Suitable for under-fives, and mums and dads or grandparents.

Roger McGough Joseph Rowntree Theatre, £13
Hilarious and surreal, Roger McGough’s wide ranging career has included poetry, performance, music and collaborations. He is joined by Robert Nightingale, showcasing his offbeat songs.

Box of Wonder Family Workshop York Castle Museum, £5 per child, adults free
Artist and writer Griselda Goldsbrough is at the museum’s Raindale Mill and explores the banks of the River Foss through an arts, crafts and writing workshop.

Forest of Fables York Theatre Royal, adults £10, kids £6
With mime, puppets, sound, a small amount of dialogue and live music this enchanting show is suitable for children aged four years and over.

Out and about

Literary Tours of York Museum Gardens, adults £6, Yorkcard holders £5
Offered several times during the festival, this walk reveals more about the city where Robinson Crusoe came from, where W H Auden was born, and which inspired writers as diverse as Wilkie Collins and Kate Atkinson.

Lunch with Rowan Coleman Dean Court Hotel, £16.50
A two course lunch in the company of novelist Rowan Coleman, who will talk about her life in writing.

Past and present

Ancient and Modern: Making Use of History in Fiction Brigantes Brasserie and Bar, £3
York novelists Tom Harper and NE David talk about how they have used historical events to provide a framework for their fiction in completely different ways.

Daughter of Time Yorkshire Museum, free
Was Richard III a wise and gentle king or a scheming murderer? A special meeting of the York Museums Trust book club considers Josephine Tey’s 1951 detective novel, The Daughter Of Time which seeks to uncover the truth.

Recovering Lost Voices: Writing Historical Fiction with Sophie Coulombeau King’s Manor, £18.50
York novelist Sophie Coulombeau leads a workshop aimed at aspiring writers who have a keen interest in historical fiction and an idea for a novel of their own.

Narrative and Alternative Futures York Theatre Royal, free
Voices from the arts, literature and social sciences consider the role of narrative in thinking, imagining and potentially bringing into being a range of alternative futures.

Get involved

York Spoken Word Friargate Theatre, free
Join Rose Drew, Alan Gillott and friends for an afternoon of prose and poetry as York’s longest-running Open Mic closes in on its 100th consecutive meeting on April 1, 2014.

York Writers plus special guest Don Walls City Screen Basement Bar, £5
York Writers exists to provide a safe space for writers to share their work and develop their craft. They will be joined by special guest Don Walls, one of York’s best loved poets.

The Art Of Short Fiction York St John University, free
Join Nicholas Royle the novelist and author of a short story collection, Mortality, for a workshop on the art of short fiction.

Prize Winning Poets Workshop York St John University, free
York St John University present a workshop made up of three of the finest young poets at work in the UK today – Emily Berry, Rebecca Goss and Helen Mort.


York Poetry Workshop Friargate Theatre, £3
Join Margaret Speak and friends for a selection of readings by members of the group.

YorkMix Poetry Competition Results Friargate Theatre, £4
The results of our 2014 York Literature Festival / YorkMix Poetry Competition. Our poet in residence Carole Bromley introduces the winning entries from our competition.

Andrew Motion St Peter’s School, free
The former Poet Laureate, writer and broadcaster, reads from The Customs House, his latest collection of poetry.

Three Prize Winning Poets Evening York St John University, free
York St John University present a workshop made up of three of the finest young poets at work in the UK today – Emily Berry, Rebecca Goss and Helen Mort.

Kokoro: poetry and music inspired by Japan York St John University, free
Features tanka poets, Oz Hardwick and Amina Alyal, along with koto and shamisen player Michael Graham, flautist Anna Plews, and Kaminari taiko drummers.

Authors in conversation

Alan Johnson MP, St Peter’s School, £6
One of the key figures in the Labour Party and former Home Secretary, Alan Johnson will tell his remarkable story at this special event.

Racing Hard: William Fotheringham York Theatre Royal, £7
On the first day of the cultural festival leading up to the Tour De France’s Grand Depart, William Fotheringham, the Guardian’s cycling editor provides a gripping insight into modern cycling.

Planet Carnivore: Why cheap meat costs the earth Quaker Meeting House, £5
In his ebook, Planet Carnivore, Alex Renton examines our collective addiction to meat.

In The Heart of The City Quaker Meeting House, £5
A trio of local writers, Helen Cadbury, John Gilham and Julian Cole, discuss how the urban environment impacts on their work.

Professor Robert Winston in Conversation St Peter’s School, £13
Professor Robert Winston makes his York Literature Festival debut to discuss science, medical ethics, and his career as one of the UK’s foremost scientists. See also Prof Robert Winston interview: ‘Genome research has been massively over-hyped’

Talks and performances

Lizzi Linklater Presents… Friargate Theatre, £5
The award winning creative writing tutor hosts a poetry event that showcases students from the University of York.

Birdsong – York Theatre Royal £10 – £25 (concessions available) plus £1.00 booking fee
Marking the 100th anniversary of the start of the First World War, Birdsong is the hit, critically acclaimed stage show based on the world famous novel by Sebastian Faulks.

York St John University Student Showcase York St John University, free
This reading event will feature new fiction, poetry, and other work from the students on York St John University’s BA and MA programmes in Creative Writing.

The Iliad: Performance Storytelling by Daniel Morden and Hugh Lupton York Theatre Royal adult £12, concessions £10
This account of a testosterone-charged war, with its savagery and mad ecstasy, explores questions of nationalism, grief, divine indifference, and the destructive and redemptive forces of love.

Austen’s Women York Theatre Royal, adult £12, concessions £10
Using only Austen’s words, Rebecca Vaughan reveals how these women present a distillation of 19th century feminism and speak volumes about love, friendship, and notorious improprieties.

On The Mic: Live Final Tempest Anderson Hall, £5
Poet and comedian Kate Fox has been working with 700 pupils from York Secondary Schools to read, write and perform poetry. This event is the culmination of the project.

The Art of Short Fiction talk York St John University, free
Don’t miss this chance to hear two acclaimed writers, Alison Moore and Nicholas Royle, read from their exciting and unsettling stories.