Literature festivals in the North this autumn

If the last few months were all about #summerreads, autumn is the season of the literature festival – and the North has some pretty major ones. Here's our guide

Preview by The Skinny North | 06 Sep 2016

Ilkley Literature Festival, 30 Sep-16 Oct

The daddy of the North's literature festivals, Ilkley Lit Fest has been running since 1973 and this year's edition feels particularly strong as they've weathered the threat of funding cuts recently.

Don't miss the great Scottish author James Kelman in conversation about his new book, Dirt Road, a powerful story of father and son; and if you've been engrossed in Elena Ferrante's Neapolitan Novels, you'll be thrilled to hear that Ferrante's translator Ann Goldstein will appear on a panel with others closely involved in the publication of the series. We're also looking forward to Jamaican poets Kei Miller and Jean 'Binta' Breeze; Hollie McNish reading from her collection Nobody Told Me: Poetry and Parenthood, and science writer Ed Yong talking about his title I Contain Multitudes and how we're not one person, we're trillions of microbes. Yummy.

Manchester Literature Festival, 7-23 Oct 

Balancing Northern talent and global literature, Manchester Literature Festival offers a window on the world, with writers from Sudan and South Korea joining Preston's finest. There's no shortage of heavyweights – Margaret Atwood, Anne Enright and Ben Okri all appear – but there's also a commitment to emerging work. 

Highlights include Eimear McBride discussing the follow-up to her Goldsmiths and Baileys prize-winning debut; and a duet from Jenn Ashworth and Andrew Michael Hurley, who together will look at how the Lancashire landscape has influenced their writing.

Chester Literature Festival, 8-23 Oct 

As Chester prepares to welcome its new storytelling-focused arts venue Storyhouse, the Literature Festival provides a suitable warm-up. Don't miss comedian Sara Pascoe, whose funny and analytical book Animal encourages us to reconsider everything we think we know about the female body. We'd also recommend the very charming writing duo Molly Naylor and John Osborne, who both appear but in separate guises, Naylor leading a poetry pub crawl and Osborne telling a number of stories he's broadcast on Radio 4.

Liverpool Literary Festival, 28-30 Oct 

The new kid on the block this season is a one-weekend festival organised by the University of Liverpool. If the appearance of one of McBusted doesn't do it for you (!), then Ali Smith – delivering a lecture on the value of public libraries – certainly should. You can also catch a masterclass from The Illuminations author Andrew O'Hagan, and 'Three Revolutionaries': a panel led by Shami Chakrabarti discussing the life and work of Mary Wollstonecraft, Eleanor Marx and Sylvia Pankhurst.

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