Durham Book Festival 2017


Durham Book Festival is back – and is bigger than ever. This year’s Festival features an array of well-known writers and thinkers, including two Booker-prize winners (Roddy Doyle and Alan Hollinghurst), the comedian and actor Tony Robinson, and broadcaster Dame Jenni Murray. We are very proud, as always, to be involved in the Festival programme.

In particular, look out for this year’s Festival Laureate, Andrew McMillan, whose debut collection physical was the first ever poetry collection to win The Guardian First Book Award. As well as working with schools and students, with the support of our Centre for Poetry and Poetics, he’ll be bringing to Durham eleven of the best new poets from the North at a celebratory Poetry Gala. Spreading the word a bit wider, join the Poetry Book Society to celebrate some of the year’s most exciting releases, with three brilliant Irish poets: Sinéad Morrissey, Colette Bryce and Tara Bergin.

From current talent to cherished novelists, Outsiders tells the story of five female authors – Mary Shelley, Emily Brontë, George Eliot, Olive Schreiner, Virginia Woolf – whose creativity was inspired by their lives as outsiders. Lyndall Gordon is the author of this new collection; she’ll be in conversation with Professor Claire Harman.

A similar sense of past tradition will be found at Discovering Dante. The influence of the medieval poet is everywhere in literary and artistic culture, and as part of a forthcoming exhibition at Palace Green Library our Professors Michael O’Neill and Jason Harding will joined Professor Nicola Gardini to discuss Dante’s enduring popularity and legacy.

After taking a trip to hell via the Inferno, some light relief might be needed. So join Robert Webb (of The Mitchell and Webb Look and Peep Show) as he chats with Professor Simon James about his new memoir, How Not to Be a Boy. An equally deadbeat but humorous memoir is Things Can Only Get Worse, a rollercoaster ride through the experiences of Labour activist John O’Farrell; again Professor James will be in the chair.

Lastly, and reinforcing the Festival’s roots in our region, make sure you pick up a copy of this year’s Big Read, the short story collection Half a Creature from the Sea, by North East writer David Almond. Set in some familiar locations, especially David Almond’s home landscape of Felling, the stories draw on themes ranging from the anxieties of childhood to experiences of the Great North Run. Whether you are local or not, these stories will resonate; as Professor Stephen Regan puts it, in his introduction to this special edition, “Real worlds and dream worlds collide and collude continuously” in this brilliant collection.

These are just some of the many events taking place at this year’s Festival, which runs from 7th to 15th October. We’ll be blogging, twittering and reviewing throughout, but in the meantime get your tickets soon to avoid missing out. 

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