Durham Book Festival 2016


PrintDurham Book Festival is back in 2016! From the city of Durham to the wider county, from poetry to politics, and from established voices to new names, the Festival will be a diverse celebration of books and culture spanning 6th to 16th October. We’re delighted to be involved in several events this year. 

regeneration penguinThis year’s Festival takes place around the centenary of the Somme. It’s therefore appropriate that the Festival’s Big Read will be Regeneration, the groundbreaking novel by local author Pat Barker which was first published 25 years ago. Pat Barker and Michael Morpurgo will come together for the first time on 14th October to discuss writing about the First World War. The following day we will be hosting a conference exploring the legacy and influence of Barker’s work.

Modern warfare is very different to the large-scale battles of the First World War; the conflicts of today are often fought in secret, with threats coming from the enemy within. Secrets and Lies on 9th October, chaired by Dr James Smith, will bring together two writers whose new novels go behind the scenes of war. Richard T. Kelly’s The Knives is set in the high pressure world of counterterrorism, while Sean O’Brien’s Once Assembled Here Again brings to life the hidden history of a military school. On 12th October, spend the evening with one of Britain’s best known spy and crime writers, Anthony Horowitz. Although he probably needs no introduction, Professor Simon James will welcome him to Durham for the first time.

Life Ring at Alnmouth, by Dan Brady. Reproduced under CC-BY-2.0 licence. The Knee Deep poetry event on 9th October will explore our relationship with the sea.

Life Ring at Alnmouth, by Dan Brady. Reproduced under CC-BY-2.0 licence. The Knee Deep poetry event on 9th October will explore our relationship with the sea.

Poetry, and especially the rich body of work emerging from the North East, is as ever a major theme of the Festival. This year’s Festival Laureate, invited by Centre for Poetry and Poetics, will be Helen Mort. As well as touring local schools and giving readings, on evening of 15th October she will premiere a specially commissioned poem inspired by her time in Durham. Continuing the local focus, we’ll also be celebrating poetry from the North earlier that same day, as six poets in residence at the Northern Poetry Library come together at an event hosted by Professor Stephen Regan. Lastly, moving from established writers to new talent, in collaboration with Cuckoo Young Poets and Tender Buttons get Knee Deep in a series of readings by local poets that celebrates poetry as a performance.

Durham Book Festival often brings living writers to talk about their work. However, that’s not to neglect the old classics either. John Crace and John Sutherland celebrate the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare in two wonderfully parodies of his works Macbeth and Romeo and Juliet; Dr Patrick Gray will be filling the gaps of the Incomplete Shakespeare. But what makes a classic like Shakespeare anyway? Join Andy Miller, Kit de Waal, and Professor Simon James as they debate what (and who) makes a book great.

These are just a few of the many fantastic events taking place this year. For the full programme, head over to the Festival website – or for a taste of what to expect, here are some of our posts from last year’s Festival.

Crop from the cover of Northern Lights Exploring Northern Lights - Philip Pullman's Northern Lights has sold millions of copies. But why should this story of the fantastic be so enduringly popular? In this podcast, recorded at Durham Book Festival 2015, four Durham University researchers discuss the inspiration and interests behind this compelling novel.
Collier: Sinéad Morrissey’s Durham Book Festival Poem - The award-winning Northern Irish poet, Sinéad Morrissey, came to Durham in Summer 2015 as Durham Book Festival Laureate, an arrangement supported by the Centre for Poetry and Poetics. You can […]
Language in its Given State: Review of Sinéad Morrissey at Durham Book Festival - The Irish poet Sinéad Morrissey was this year’s Durham Book Festival laureate, sharing her work with the public and students, and writing a new poem inspired by her time in Durham. […]
Crop from the cover of Northern Lights Citations of the Fantastic: Exploring Philip Pullman’s Northern Lights at Durham Book Festival - Philip Pullman’s Dark Materials trilogy has sold over 15 million copies worldwide – and a further 3000 copies of the first novel, Northern Lights, were distributed free for Durham’s ‘big read.’ The broad appeal of […]
Putting Words in My Mouth: Review of The Cultural Legacy of the King James Bible at Durham Book Festival - If you have ever been condemned as a scapegoat, or lauded as a “lily among thorns,” you have been influenced by the King James Bible. In a Durham Book Festival event organised in […]
Ovid’s Heroines: Review of Clare Pollard at Durham Book Festival - Clare Pollard’s book Ovid’s Heroines was published in 2013 to great critical acclaim. In her modern rendition of Ovid’s Heroides (a Roman collection of verse epistles or letter poems written from the perspective […]
The Rise and Fall of the Working Class: Review of Selina Todd at Durham Book Festival - Open a newspaper in today’s age of austerity politics, and it is clear that the British are as obsessed with class as ever: dividing lines are drawn between strivers and […]
Book cover of Do It Like a Woman Do it Like a Woman: Review of Caroline Criado-Perez at Durham Book Festival - In her new book, Do it Like a Woman, Caroline Criado-Perez tells her story of campaigning for women’s rights and dealing with the cyber backlash after she proposed that a woman, […]
A Poem as a Friend: Review of The Poetry Exchange at Durham Book Festival - Many of us have favourite poems that we cherish and turn to throughout our lives – poems that become our constant friends in book form. Through the Poetry Exchange project, readers get a chance […]
This is the End of Something: Review of Stevie Ronnie’s Arctica at Durham Book Festival - “This is the end of something…something not meant to end.” So writes Stevie Ronnie in his filmpoem “From Arctica,” a meditation on climate change, loss and death. This, and other filmpoems, […]
From Haute Couture to Fast Fashion: Review of Lauren Laverne and Laura Craik Discussing Yves Saint Laurent at Durham Book Festival - "Fashion fades, style is eternal." So said fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent, whose quotation forms the title of an exhibition at the Bowes Museum. In a tie-in Durham Book Festival event, Lauren Laverne and Laura Craik discussed the exhibition and the life and legacy of the groundbreaking designer. Ellen Orange shares her reflections on their talk.
Learning on the Job: Review of Peter Straughan at Durham Book Festival - The career of screenwriter Peter Straughan has taken him from Gateshead theatre to Hollywood studios, where he has adapted books such as Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy for the big screen. In his appearance […]
Meet the Dead Women Poets Society - Ahead of their performance at Durham Book Festival, we caught up with the Dead [Women] Poets Society, to find out which female poets have inspired their work, and what we […]
Continue the Story Competition: A Nest of German Spies at the Grand Hotel, Khartoum, April 1914 - With Europe on the cusp of war, a certain English lady visited Khartoum and began spreading rumours about German spies in her hotel. A letter about her, which features in […]
Dead [Women] Poets Society (Readings and Reflections, 10th October) - Join four emerging woman poets from Durham University and across the UK, as they resurrect the Dead Women Poets, exploring their influence on our writing and identities today. This event […]
Durham Book Festival 2015 - Durham Book Festival returns in 2015, bringing established writers and new talent (plus a life-sized polar bear!) to the city. We will be supporting several events at this year’s celebration […]
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