What’s On: North East Literature and Book Events in October 2019

For most people, October means autumn leaves, Halloween costumes, and shorter days. For book lovers in the North East, October means three major literary festivals, hundreds of authors coming to the region, and not enough time to pack everything in. This month’s roundup of book events happening in Durham, Newcastle, Teesside, Sunderland and around the North East is a bumper harvest of literary delights.

Obviously the headlines go to Durham Book Festival (5th to 13th October), Sunderland Libraries Literature Festival (1st to 30th October) and Berwick Literary Festival (17th to 20th October). Bringing world-renowned authors such as Jung Chang, Mark Haddon, Roger McGough to our region, in combination with some of the finest local literary talent, you certainly need to check out the full programmes of all three.

Durham Book Festival, Sunderland Literature Festival, Berwick Literary Festival

In the October listing, we’ve picked out a few of the obvious highlights – but also some of the gems that might otherwise be missed.

But alongside the Festivals are many other happenings. While own Late Summer Lecture Series concludes with talks on literature of the American midwest and terror from the middle ages to now, our friends at the Newcastle Centre for the Literary Arts begin their 2019-20 programme with readings by some great writers: Sinéad Gleeson, Patricia Smith, and Ilya Kaminsky.

As we enter Black History Month, a particular word should go to the Newcastle University Insights Lecture, which brings Professor Leigh Fount, author of Women in the World of Frederick Douglass, to identify the North East connections of the African-American abolitionist.

A final standout event this month is the Institute of Medieval and Early Modern Studies annual History of the Book lecture, by the distinguished American scholar Matha Rust who works on the literary-historical period of the Middle Ages.

These are just a few of the book events in the North East this month. The full newsletter is below. To ensure you don’t miss anything, subscribe or follow us on Twitter and Facebook where we post regular updates. If you’re running an event next month, please submit it to the next newsletter by 25th.

20191002T17:30

Wed 02
17:30 in Alington House, Alington HouseDurham
The Geographic and Linguistic Identity of the American Midwest
with Molly Becker
Link to event The Midwest is often seen as the heartland of America – and writers played a large part in constructing this sense of its significance. Molly Becker will map the regional and geographic identities of American fiction in this Late Summer Lecture. Free and open to all, from students and schools to members of the public. Organised by Late Summer Lecture Series.

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20191003T19:15

Thu 03
19:15 in Culture Lab, Culture LabNewcastle
Sinead Gleeson in conversation with Rachel Hewitt
Link to event Sinéad Gleeson’s Constellations: Reflections from Life (Picador, 2019) is a debut collection of essays about the body, mortality, grief, motherhood, health, adventure, artists and writers. Organised by Newcastle Centre for the Literary Arts.

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20191004T14:00

Fri 04
14:00 in The Curve, The CurveTeesside University
Through the eyelashes
with Jane Ford
Link to event Teesside University’s Dr Jane Ford discusses the work and the life of Lucas Malet, the pseudonym of fin de siécle novelist Mary St Ledger Kingsley. Organised by Teesside University English Department.

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20191004T18:00

Fri 04
18:00 in Biscuit Factory, Biscuit FactoryNewcastle
Against Memoir
with Michelle Tea
Link to event A queer countercultural icon opens up about all things artistic, radical and romantic. Winner of the PEN American Center essay prize. Organised by Forum Books and The Biscuit Factory.

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20191005T11:00

Sat 05
11:00 in Library, LibraryNewton Aycliffe
Catch Your Breath
with Christy Ducker
Link to event Poet Christy Ducker will lead a workshop on writing in response to art, artefacts and ideas from around the world, thinking about breath and respiratory health in new ways. Expect to play with breath in the poetic line, and let the air into your writing! Organised by Durham Book Festival.

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20191005T11:00

Sat 05
11:00 in Palace Green Library, Palace Green LibraryDurham
Literary Letters
with Dr Laura Mckenzie
Link to event The archives of Palace Green Library hold letters written by some of the most significant literary figures of the modern age, and this session offers the chance to read them in their original form and discuss the stories that bring them to life. Organised by Durham Book Festival.

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20191005T14:00

Sat 05
14:00 in Gala Theatre, Gala TheatreDurham
How to Submit Your Manuscript
Link to event Literary agents receive hundreds of manuscript proposals each week. Learn how to stand out. Organised by Durham Book Festival.

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20191006T15:00

Sun 06
15:00 in Palace Green Library, Palace Green LibraryDurham
Breathtaking Books
with Professor Corinne Saunders and Professor David Fuller
Link to event Join the Life of Breath researchers as they delve into a wide range of project topics, from the social and political history of tobacco, to the imagery of breath invoked by Chaucer, Shakespeare, and the Black Mountain poets. Organised by Durham Book Festival.

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20191006T18:30

Sun 06
18:30 in Palace Green Library, Palace Green LibraryDurham
Independent Alliance Proof Party
with James Clarke, Will Harris and Ingrid Persaud
Link to event Join publishers Faber & Faber, Granta and Serpent’s Tail for this exclusive preview of the books they are most excited about launching in 2020. Organised by Durham Book Festival.

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20191007T17:40

Mon 07
17:40 in World Heritage Site Visitor Centre, World Heritage Site Visitor CentreDurham
Richard III, Bakhtin, and the Soliloquy
with Helen Clifford
Link to event Everyone is welcome to attend this seminar, which sees Helen Clifford of the Department of English Studies talk about Shakespeare through the theories of Mikhail Bakhtin. Organised by Durham University Medieval and Early Modern Studies Students Association.

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20191009T17:00

Wed 09
17:00 in St Chad’s College, St Chad’s CollegeDurham
Hanging out with “Old Scratch”: editing Dylan Thomas’s lost notebook
with Professor John Goodby
Link to event The Centre for Poetry and Poetics will be hosting Professor John Goodby (Swansea University) who will give a talk on Dylan Thomas, editing, and experimental poetics in the post-war era. Organised by Durham University Centre for Poetry and Poetics.

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20191009T17:30

Wed 09
17:30 in Alington House, Alington HouseDurham
Terror in Literature
with Alex Jordan and Nadia Terki
Link to event The final event in Late Summer Lectures 2019 will feature a pair of talks on ‘Demons, Vikings, Pagans and Terror in the Early Middle Ages’ and ‘Political Violence: Joseph Conrad’s The Secret Agent and Kamila Shamsie’s Home Fire’. Free and open to all, from students and schools to academics. Organised by Late Summer Lecture Series.

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20191009T19:30

Wed 09
19:30 in Lit and Phil, Lit and PhilNewcastle
Alexander McCall Smith
Link to event A very special opportunity to be part of an audience with one of the world’s most prolific and best-loved authors. Organised by The Lit and Phil.

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20191010T20:00

Thu 10
20:00 in Town Hall, Town HallDurham
The Gordon Burn Prize
Link to event An evening of literature and music at the 2019 Gordon Burn Prize ceremony, as Durham Book Festival showcase the six shortlisted books and announce this year’s winner. Including a special musical performance by acclaimed folk group, The Unthanks. Organised by Durham Book Festival.

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20191012T10:30

Sat 12
10:30 in Durham School, Durham SchoolDurham
Writing Science into Fiction
Link to event Join The Society of Authors for a day dedicated to the physics, chemistry and biology in your writing – whether you write crime, drama or intergalactic space opera, or you simply want to ground your characters in a more authentic world. Hear from authors, scientists and publishers offering industry insights and practical advice on research methods and developing the science in your work. Organised by The Society of Authors.

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20191012T13:00

Sat 12
13:00 in Town Hall, Town HallDurham
Alta’ir Exchange
with Andrew Michael Hurley and Kafa Al-Zoubi
Link to event The Alta’ir cross-cultural exchange was established in 2018 and we’re delighted to be working with two new writers again this year. The exchange between Durham and Amman was established to help raise the profile of British writing in Jordan and of Arab writing and culture in the UK. Organised by Durham Book Festival.

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20191012T14:30

Sat 12
14:30 in St Chad’s College, St Chad’s CollegeDurham
Showcase
with Naomi Booth and Sunjeev Sahota
Link to event We’re delighted to showcase two of the talented authors who are new arrivals to Durham University’s English Department. Organised by Durham Book Festival.

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20191012T16:00

Sat 12
16:00 in St Chad’s College, St Chad’s CollegeDurham
Festival Laureate
with Raymond Antrobus
Link to event This year’s Durham Book Festival laureate is the phenomenal poet, Raymond Antrobus, whose debut collection The Perseverance won the 2019 Ted Hughes Award and the Rathbone Folio Prize for best work of literature in any genre. Organised by Durham Book Festival.

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20191015T17:30

Tue 15
17:30 in Percy Building, Percy BuildingNewcastle
British Women in the Liberation of Frederick Douglass
with Professor Leigh Fought
Link to event Frederick Douglass’s slave master was demanding his return to bondage when the African-American abolitionist arrived in Newcastle in 1846. Eight months later, Douglass returned to the United States with the master paid off and funds to begin his own anti-slavery newspaper in his pocket. In this lecture the author of Women in the World of Frederick Douglass will describe the efforts of the women Douglass met in Newcastle and elsewhere to bring about this reversal in fortunes, liberating him from claims upon his person, his labour, and his ideas. Organised by Newcastle University Insights.

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20191016T10:30

Wed 16
10:30 in Theatre Royal, Theatre RoyalNewcastle
The Children’s Bookshow
with Daniel Morden
Link to event Daniel Morden has travelled all over the world as a professional storyteller, bringing to life the stories and tales that have helped us make sense of our world through the ages. His new collection of traditional stories, Secret Tales from Wales, are tales of enchantment, mystery and danger, where ordinary people triumph through their own bravery and native wit. Organised by The Children’s Bookshow.

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20191016T17:30

Wed 16
17:30 in Gala Theatre, Gala TheatreDurham
The Roundel: Window onto the Domain of a Concept
with Professor Martha Rust
Link to event This lecture, by a distinguished American scholar who works on the literary-historical period of the Middle Ages, focuses on late medieval manuscript culture – the network of beliefs and practices that constituted the milieu of medieval book production and use. Organised by Durham University Institute of Medieval and Early Modern Studies.

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20191017T14:30

Thu 17
14:30 in Washington Library, Washington LibrarySunderland
Author Session
with Glenda Young
Link to event Glenda was born and bred in Ryhope and her novels are set there during 1919. Organised by Sunderland Libraries Literature Festival.

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20191018T10:00

Fri 18
10:00 in United Reformed Church, United Reformed ChurchBerwick
In a Glass Darkly
with Richard Moore
Link to event Richard Moore is a graduate of Cambridge University with a doctorate in Victorian fiction. His recent book The Progress of Fun, about the history of comedy theatre, is to be published this year. Richard’s talk will take us through the origins of the Gothic via Edgar Allan Poe to Stevenson and Bram Stoker. “If afraid of vampires, bring garlic and a cross!” Organised by Berwick Literary Festival.

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20191018T12:00

Fri 18
12:00 in United Reformed Church, United Reformed ChurchBerwick
Sight
with Jessie Greengrass
Link to event Jessie Greengrass was born in 1982 and lives in Berwick. Her short story collection, An Account of the Decline of the Great Auk, According to One Who Saw It, won the 2016 Edge Hill Prize. Her first novel, Sight, has been shortlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction and for the James Tait Black Memorial Prize and was on the longlist for the 2019 Wellcome Book Prize. Organised by Berwick Literary Festival.

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20191018T14:30

Fri 18
14:30 in Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens, Sunderland Museum & Winter GardensSunderland
Author Session
with Janet MacLeod Trotter
Link to event Janet has had 24 books published, 19 of them historical family dramas. Her first, ‘The Hungry Hills’ was nominated for the Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award, while ‘In the far Pashmina Mountains’ was shortlisted for the RNA Historical Romantic Novel of 2019. Latest novel ‘Secrets of the Tea Garden’ is set in the dying days of the British Raj and Indian Independence. Organised by Sunderland Libraries Literature Festival.

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20191018T19:15

Fri 18
19:15 in Culture Lab, Culture LabNewcastle
Poetry Reading
with Patricia Smith
Link to event Patricia Smith is the author of eight books of poetry, most recently Incendiary Art (Triquarterly, USA, 2017; Bloodaxe Books, UK, 2019), winner of the 2018 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award, the 2017 Los Angeles Times Book Prize, the 2018 NAACP Image Award and finalist for the 2018 Pulitzer Prize. Organised by Newcastle Centre for the Literary Arts.

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20191019T12:00

Sat 19
12:00 in Parish Centre, Parish CentreBerwick
Beyond the Thirty-Nine Steps
with Ursula Buchan
Link to event With access to documents, papers and photographs, many of which have never been published, Ursula Buchan brings her grandfather John Buchan to life in a major new biography of the man who created the modern thriller. Ursula Buchan is an award-winning journalist and author, who brings vividly to life this remarkable man and his times. Organised by Berwick Literary Festival.

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20191020T12:00

Sun 20
12:00 in Parish Centre, Parish CentreBerwick
Jackself
with Jacob Polley
Link to event Jacob Polley won the 2016 T.S. Eliot Prize for poetry for his fourth book of poems, Jackself, which was described by the judges as ‘a firework of a book’. A poet of the uncanny and the startlingly lyrical, Jacob’s work explores his rural upbringing, the forces of tradition and history, and the power of speech as it approaches song. Organised by Berwick Literary Festival.

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20191020T14:00

Sun 20
14:00 in Parish Centre, Parish CentreBerwick
Edge
with Katrina Porteous
Link to event Northumberland-based Katrina Porteous is best-known for poems on local landscape and communities. Edge is Katrina’s third poetry book and presents new work on a different theme; a poet’s approach to astronomy and science. Her performance features space images, and compositions by computer music pioneer Peter Zinovieff. Organised by Berwick Literary Festival.

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20191024T19:15

Thu 24
19:15 in Culture Lab, Culture LabNewcastle
Ilya Kaminsky in conversation with Sasha Dugdale
Link to event Deaf Republic (Faber & Faber, 2019), Kaminsky’s second collection, which was shortlisted for the Forward Prize 2019, is a modern parable for our precarious times: in an unnamed country, a deaf child is killed by soldiers dispersing a protest, and the town falls sympathetically deaf in response, coordinating their dissent via sign language. Organised by Newcastle Centre for the Literary Arts.

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20191028T19:00

Mon 28
19:00 in Forum Books, Forum BooksCorbridge
Confessions of a Bookseller
with Shaun Bythell
Link to event Join bestselling author Shaun Bythell for a very special evening in conversation to celebrate the release of his new book, Confessions of a Bookseller. Organised by Forum Books.

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20191029T19:00

Tue 29
19:00 in Lit and Phil, Lit and PhilNewcastle
Poetry Reading and Launch
with Sean O’Brien and Birtley Aris
Link to event A poetry reading by Sean O’Brien and the launch of his most recent collaboration with Hexham-based artist Birtley Aris. Organised by The Lit and Phil.

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20191030T19:00

Wed 30
19:00 in Lit and Phil, Lit and PhilNewcastle
Poetry Reading
with Raymond Tallis
Link to event Raymond Tallis has published fiction, poetry, and 25 books on the philosophy of mind, philosophical anthropology, literary and cultural criticism. Sunburst is his fourth volume of verse and the third to be published by Iron Press. Organised by The Lit and Phil.

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20191031T19:00

Thu 31
19:00 in 7Even, 7EvenSunderland
Spectral Visions
with Allison and Colin Younger
Link to event Spectral Vision Press is an innovative publishing house located at the University of Sunderland. It specialises in publishing outstanding works of creative writing. Organised by Sunderland Libraries Literature Festival.

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