Meet David Olusoga, Lemn Sissay, Grace Dent and the Poet Laureate, plus local literary luminaries Mark Cocker, Patrick Barkham and Adam Buxton, to explore hidden history, comfort food, politics and comedy.

Bestselling novelists, television historians and comedians, cutting edge columnists, and fabulous food writers are among the stars of the first Mannington Book Bash over the weekend of October 6-8.

The new festival is the brainchild of Henry Layte of the Norwich and Aylsham Book Hive bookshops, and independent publisher Propolis. He promises ‘A weekend of rollicking events with old friends, local heroes and world-class writers. All served with top-notch food in the stunning gardens of medieval Mannington Hall.’

Great British Life: Henry Layte at The Book Hive in Aylsham. Picture: Sonya DuncanHenry Layte at The Book Hive in Aylsham. Picture: Sonya Duncan

Black history for every day

David Olusoga will talk about themes from his new book Black History for Every Day of the Year which introduces unsung heroes as well as famous black people from ancient times to the modern day.

David is well known to television audiences for his hugely popular A House Through Time documentaries tracing the history of homes and their occupants through the centuries. The professor of public history began his television career as a researcher, moving on to produce and then present history programmes, including documentaries about the Indian, African and Asian troops who fought in the First World War and a sequel to Kenneth Clark’s Civilisation series, presented alongside fellow historians Mary Beard and Simon Schama. He won a BAFTA for his documentary Britain’s Forgotten Slave Owners and was commissioned by the BBC to talk to Barack Obama about the first volume of his presidential memoirs.

Food for thought

Have you ever thought that eating cheese feels like a cuddle, or craved a good curry after a tough day? Grace Dent’s new book Comfort Eating is about the food, steeped in nostalgia, we turn to behind closed doors. Discover the secret snacks of the famous from Jo Brand's fried bread sandwich and Russell T Davies' butter pepper rice, to Scarlett Moffat's beans on toast topped with crushed Wotsits. Writer and broadcaster Grace is a regular critic on MasterChef and reviews restaurants around the country for The Guardian.

There is more food and drink from food historian Annie Gray. She is a regular on radio and television and has produced books ranging from the Official Call The Midwife Cookbook to the Downton Cocktail Book. She will talk about her culinary biography of Georgina Landemare, cook to Winston Churchill. Victory in the Kitchen is the story of a woman who was not a royal, rich, or famous but had a highly successful career, cooking for a man who loved food and used it as a diplomatic tool, as well as a family life involving travel, marriage and children. There is even a recipe for curried brains.

Great British Life: Doon Mackichan will be at the Mannington Book Bash. Picture: Matt CrockettDoon Mackichan will be at the Mannington Book Bash. Picture: Matt Crockett

Politics, poetry and centre stage for female comics and gods

Start Saturday morning with The Guardian's parliamentary sketch writer John Crace. Fans adore his furious, hilarious commentary on life in the Westminster bubble. He will be in Mannington to talk about his latest collection of excoriating writing, Depraved New World, which includes his takes on partygate, Boris Johnson, Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak. He will be in conversation with Norfolk writer and Guardian columnist (and Norfolk Wildlife Trust president) Patrick Barkham.

As dawn breaks each morning Lemn Sissay writes a short poem. For the past decade the poet, playwright, performer and broadcaster has welcomed each day with poetry and now a selection of his life-affirming, witty works, make up Let The Light Pour In.

Lemn did not discover his real name until he was 17. Taken into care at birth, and renamed Norman by a social worker, he did not know his mother had been searching for him throughout his childhood or anything of his Ethiopian heritage. He spent his teens in children’s homes, leaving at 17, when he published his first poetry. Now his morning poems feature on buildings around the UK and he was the official poet of the 2012 London Olympics, as well as author of the best-selling autobiography My Name Is Why.

Comedian and actor Doon Mackichan is a veteran of decades of television comedy including Smack the Pony, The Day Today, Knowing me Knowing You, Brass Eye and The Mary Whitehouse Experience. She will be talking to Norfolk podcaster Adam Buxton about her new autobiography My Lady Parts, including discussing her career-long battle against sexism.

Ahead of her appearance, Natalie Haynes, who specialises in showcasing the forgotten female characters of the classics, will talk about the goddesses of Greek myths, and Emily Wilson will introduce her new translation of The Iliad.

The festival also includes Louis De Bernieres (of Captain Corelli’s Mandolin fame) talking about his new novel Light Over Liskeard, AK Blakemore introducing her historical novel The Glutton, nature writer Mark Cocker his new book about swifts and Poet Laureate Simon Armitage.

Great British Life: Mannington Hall. Picture: MARK BULLIMOREMannington Hall. Picture: MARK BULLIMORE

Book for the book bash

Mannington Book Bash opens on Friday October 6 with Louis De Bernieres at 6pm, and Lemn Sissay at 8pm.

On Saturday hear John Crace and Patrick Barkham at 10am, then Natalie Haynes at noon, Emily Wilson at 2pm, Doon Mackichan and Adam Buxton at 4pm and Grace Dent at 6pm.

The Sunday programme features Mark Cocker at 10am, Annie Gray at noon, David Olusoga at 2pm, AK Blakemore at 4pm and Simon Armitage at 6pm.

The festival talks and interviews leave time for Q&A sessions and book signings and between events there are book stalls to browse and fabulous local food and drink to enjoy. Day, weekend and single event tickets all give access to the pretty grounds of moated Mannington Hall

Full details from