Durham 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.
This 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.
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.