York Literature Festival

York Literature Festival 2023
 Autumn Events

Emma Donoghue, Rick Broadbent and Emma Smith

York Literature Festival is partnering with St Peter’s School and Fox Lane Books to bring you three events in October. 


More information is available on the Events page including all the relevant links to tickets.

Tickets for each evening are only £8 each.

Emma Donoghue: Learned By Heart
Tuesday 3 October. St Peter’s School, 7-8.30pm.

We are excited that the bestselling author Emma Donoghue (Room) will be discussing her latest novel, Learned by Heart, with fellow writer Fiona Shaw. Learned by Heart is the heartbreaking story of the love of two women – Anne Lister, the real-life inspiration behind Gentleman Jack,and her first love, Eliza Raine. In 1805, at boarding school in York, two fourteen-year-olds meet – an orphan heiress, sent from India to England at six, and a gifted troublemaker. Anne Lister would go on to be a gifted diarist, famous the world over. But in the early nineteenth century she met Eliza Raine, someone who would change her life forever.

Rick Broadbent: Now Then. A Biography of Yorkshire.
Friday 6 October. St Peter’s School. 7-8.30pm.

Rick Broadbent has written for The Times for 20 years and authored and ghost-written 12 books. His latest is Now Then to be published at the beginning of October and he will be here then to discuss it. 

Written from the perspective of an exiled Yorkshireman this bestselling, award winning author returns to his native county to discover and reveal its soul. We all know the tropes – Geoffrey Boycott incarnate, ferret-leggers and folk singers gambolling about Ilkley Moor without appropriate headgear – but why is Yorkshire God’s Own County?

Now Then is a biographical mosaic incorporating social history, memoir and author interviews. However, Now Then is not a hagiography. Broadbent visits the scenes of industrial neglect and forgotten tragedy, as well as examining the truth about well-known Yorkshire figures and institutions. Now Then is an affectionate but unsparing look at a county, its inhabitants and their flinty vowels.

Emma Smith: Portable MagicA History of Books and Their Readers
Monday 9 October. St Peter’s School. 7-9pm. 

In our final event of the series we will be joined by Emma Smith. This event is a must for anyone who loves to read and appreciates the “portable magic” of books.

 Emma’s book Portable Magic unfurls an exciting and anarchic new story of the book in human hands, exploring when, why and how it acquired its particular hold over us. Gathering together a millennium’s worth of pivotal encounters with volumes big and small, Smith reveals that, as much as their contents, it is books’ physical form – their ‘bookhood’ – that lends them their distinctive and sometimes dangerous magic.

Emma Smith was born and brought up in Leeds, went unexpectedly to university in Oxford, and never really left. She is now Professor of Shakespeare Studies at Hertford College, the author of Portable Magic and the Sunday Times bestseller This is Shakespeare.


YLF 23

Sponsored by York St John University

We are pleased to announce that 2023 is the first year of a new official sponsorship agreement with York St John University.

Join Us

We hope that you will join us at our events taking place across our wonderful city.

Ticket Information

To book tickets and for more information about all the events and author bios, please click here.