Will Self and Lemn Sissay to star at Leigh & Wigan Words Literary Festival 2013


Outspoken journalist, author and broadcaster Will Self is one of the star attractions at Wigan's annual celebration of all things written and spoken – the Words Literary Festival.

Outspoken journalist, author and broadcaster Will Self is one of the star attractions at Wigan's annual celebration of all things written and spoken – the Words Literary Festival. The 51-year-old self-proclaimed 'psychogeographer', who has been a columnist and contributor for The Times, The New York Times, Harpers and The New Statesman, is probably most recognisable as a team captain on comedy game show Shooting Stars.

Self is also a regular on Have I Got News For You and Question Time – recently telling Mail columnist, Peter Hitchens, to 'take a chill pill' during a furious debate about drugs.

Witty, opinionated and often televisual dynamite, Self is also an acclaimed author who this year was shortlisted for the Man Booker prize for his ninth novel - Umbrella.

The stream-of-consciousness novel tells the story of a psychiatrist, Zack Busner, and his treatment of a patient with encephalitis lethargica. The patient, Audrey De'Ath, has two brothers whose days fighting in the Second World War are interwoven into her own story.

Self will give a reading from Umbrella as part of the Words Literary Festival at the Mill at the Pier from 7.30pm onwards on Thursday 4 April.

Now in its 10th year, the literary festival, which celebrates the best in local and international historical and modern writing, is organised by the Leigh and Wigan Words Together Committee supported by WLCT (Wigan Leisure and Culture Trust) and funded by the Arts Council England's National Lottery Grants for the Arts scheme. It starts on Monday 1 April and boasts a two-week programme packed with entertaining, thought-provoking, interactive events.

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Words co-ordinator Sharon Lowe says: “It is really fitting that we celebrate the first decade of the festival with a special guest of the calibre of Will Self. A true social commentator and voice for the arts and contemporary culture, we are delighted to welcome Will to the Words Festival.

As well as being a celebration of the written and spoken word, the ethos behind the festival is about encouraging new writers to take inspiration, learn some of the tricks of the trade and get writing. We have some truly great writers who will be passing on their knowledge and experience at the festival. We anticipate that the Will Self reading and many of the other festival events are likely to be sell-outs so we would advise booking in advance.”

Other highlights include special sessions with Wigan-born poet and broadcaster Lemn Sissay, MBE.

Travel writer Alan Whelan will be revelling in a fascination with Africa that has led to three solo overland motorcycle journeys through the continent, and two books:African Brew Ha-Ha, his journey from Lancashire to Cape Town in search of the ultimate cup of tea, and The Black Stars of Ghana, an intimate portrait of the vibrant West African nation.

For younger fiction fans, poet and children's television star Dommy B will be bringing his show The Dragon Who Hates Poetry to the festival on Saturday 6 April. Staying with poetry, Radio 4 Poetry Slam champ, Ben Mellor will be bringing his Anthropoetry performance to the festival on Tuesday 9 April after a successful opening tour down under at the Fringe World Festival, Perth. With folk music, haiku, improvised comedy, lively debate and practical workshops, the Words Festival 2013 promises something for everyone.

Alison Boyle, Arts Council England’s Literature Relationship Manager in the North West said: "The archives in Wigan are a rich resource for the region. Wigan Archives Service is supporting the Wigan Words festival this year by bringing in experts from Liverpool Hope University and Liverpool University to share their insights into regional diaries.

The festival event Women of Words will encourage visitors to discover more about the past from the diaries women left to posterity. Maybe a few new diaries will even be begun in response to the festival event. This kind of partnership supports the Arts Council’s commitment to finding fresh ways of widening public access to literature. Through the publication of the first diary in a series, the Culture team are enabling hidden stories of the North to be heard."

WLCT Chief Executive Stuart Murray says: “From humble beginnings a decade ago, the Words Literary Festival has grown to become one of the best of its kind in the North West and beyond. We are really pleased to be supporting an event that promotes and encourages local talent to share a platform with some of the biggest and best names in literature.“Wigan Borough has many faces and is famous for many different things. Through the Words Festival we are hoping to help put the borough on the map as a literary destination.”

Words Literary Festival is organised by the Leigh and Wigan Words Together committee in association with WLCT and supported by the Arts Council England's National Lottery funded Grants for the Arts scheme.For a Words brochure visit your nearest library or leisure centre. For more information visit www.wlct.org/words