Lancaster Literature Festival - Litfest Preview

Penny Darby reveals the big names heading for Lancashire's top literary festival

For over 30 years, writers and readers have made their way to Lancaster for the city’s Literature Festival. And if you love a good book or a great story, there’s no better place to be this October.

Lancaster Literature Festival runs from October 15 to 24 with an impressive line-up of novelists, poets, storytellers and children’s writers. The headline guest is Carol Ann Duffy, who became Poet Laureate in 2009 - the first woman to hold the title. Arguably our most admired and best-loved contemporary poet, she has been described by The Times as ‘a poet of skill, talent and great heart.’

Her reading kicks off the festival on Friday, October 15 at 7.30pm when she reads at the Great Hall, Lancaster University. Tickets can be booked online at or by calling 01524 594151. Other highlights include the crime novelist Ian Rankin - best known for his Rebus books - who will be talking about his first graphic novel.

The novelist Anne Fine will also be reading from her eighth novel for adults, Our Precious Lulu, a sharp and witty tale about sibling rivalry and revenge.

There’ll be stars from the TV and film world, such as Alexei Sayle and Steven Berkoff, who will present their new biographies.

Families should look out for events for children by Anne Fine and Carol Ann Duffy - both successful children’s writers - and there will be free storytelling for the under fives. This year’s festival is full of spellbinding tales - such as novels of love in amazing lands of ice and snow from the authors Amy Sackville and Ali Shaw.

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Novelist Betsy Tobin brings her new book about identity, culture and love, based on the Morecambe Bay cockling disaster of 2004. And there’ll be days packed with short stories and poetry. Whether you regularly read poetry and short fiction, or you’d like to find out more, these are great ways to discover a range of writers including Helen Simpson, David Constantine, and Michael Symmons Roberts.

Also based in the Storey is Jennifer Pritchard Couchman, a bridal and women’s wear designer. She’ll be designing a wedding dress made from the pages of books - and the dress will be worn by writer Claire Massey, the editor of New Fairy Tales, who has been commissioned to write a new fairy tale especially for the festival.

There will be more tales on offer during the festival with one of the events in the Chasing Tales series - a partnership with the Dukes Theatre, Lancaster. Chasing Tales is a new series of performance storytelling events that invite the audience on a verbal journey into old and new stories.

Litfest’s popular Litfest Classics also return for a new season this Autumn. These 40-minute events give you a chance to become well-read in your lunch hour: already lined up are events about Dickens, Emily Dickinson and Alfred, Lord Tennyson.

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