York Literature Festival 2024


Caroline Quentin: Drawn to the Garden

Wednesday 28 February, 7pm

£10 – St Peter’s School, Clifton, York, YO30 6AB.

Find solace in your outdoor space in this delightful horticultural journey with actress Caroline Quentin, as she draws on her life-long passion for gardening.

Through the pages of this gift book, Caroline shows how much joy she gets from spending time in her garden, whether it be grappling with the best way to grow plants and vegetables, or raising seeds in her potting shed. Though she now has a large following on her Instagram account, @CQGardens, her attitude to gardening is the same as it has always been – expertise helps but is not essential. Gardening should be fun and enjoyable, filled with the simple pleasures of planning, planting, harvesting and cooking. It is also a meditative and restorative pastime, and a great way to lift your spirits.

Written in a warm and engaging way that reflects her personality, Caroline tells stories of growing chillies from seed in her greenhouse, berating the thieving blackbirds in her fruit cage, and swimming in her pond singing to dragon flies and flag irises. Over the years, she has come to realise that gardening, just like life, is a series of happy accidents, unplanned successes, and baffling and frustrating failures.

Illustrated by Caroline herself, this gorgeous book mixes personal stories of her life and experiences in the garden, with practical tips, recipes for food and drink, and even the occasional favourite poem. As she likes to misquote Dorothy Parker: ‘Take to horticulture, it’s cheaper than a shrink’.

Iain Dale – Kings and Queens

Friday 1 March 2024, 7pm

£12 – St Peter’s School, Clifton, York, YO30 6AB.

The British monarchy is one of the oldest in the world – dating so far back that even its origins are the subject of debate. Was William the Conqueror the first king of England, or was it Alfred the Great? Iain Dale will chart this long history of the English and British monarchy, joined by a panel of experts who have contributed to his book on every individual to have sat on the throne. Iain Dale has previously produced best sellers The Prime Ministers and The Presidents, hosts his show on LBC and is a Telegraph Columnist. He has long been an innovator in the fields of blogging, twitter and podcasts.

On Iain’s panel will be multi award winning author Justin Hill, the historian, novelist, barrister & journalist Dominic Selwood and author & presenter Charlotte White a regular on History Hack – all of whom have contributed to Iain’s book.

From Sheep to Shore – Philippa Robinson-Gill and Adam Gill Children’s Illustration Session

Saturday 2 March, 10am

£5 – York Explore Library and Archives, Library Square, Museum Street, YO1 7DS

‘From Sheep to Shore’ is based on the adventures of sheep dogs Meg & Jack. We will have readings from the book and a practical hands-on workshop on how to create your own illustrations.

Philippa wrote this story based on her own lovely sheep dogs Meg & Jack. Adam helped out by illustrating the story and during this creative process has developed a ‘look’ for the pictures which we think children will enjoy trying to copy and perhaps using this workshop as a starting point they might develop their own style of drawing pets and other animals.

We will have a reading from the book and Adam will be there to explain how he draws Meg and Jack, and give positive, friendly advice to young artists.

Maybe bring along pictures of your own pets or animals that you think would make good illustrations.

There will also be a preview of the next book featuring Meg and Jack’s latest adventure, ‘Salty Sheepdogs Set Sail’.


Carole Bromley – Blast Off! A Poetry Workshop for Children

Saturday 2 March 2024, 11:30am

£5 – York Explore Library and Archives, Library Square, Museum Street, YO1 7DS

Carole Bromley is a well-known poet for both children and adults. She will give a short reading from her poetry collection, Blast Off! (copies will be available to purchase) and from the various anthologies in which she is featured. This will be followed by a fun, interactive poetry workshop where participants will be invited to respond to a variety of prompts and to experiment with writing their own poems.


Cynthia Murphy – Signed Sealed Dead

Saturday 2 March, 11:30am

£5 – York Explore Library and Archives, Library Square, Museum Street, YO1 7DS

Acclaimed Young Adult thriller writer Cynthia Murphy will be in conversation about horror and mystery writing, as well as reading from her latest novel Signed Sealed Dead. Cynthia Murphy is the author of four other thrillers for Young Adults, including Last One to Die and The Midnight Game.


Folk Horror Day – LAST FEW TICKETS!

Saturday 2 March 2024, 10.30am – 5.30pm

Free – De Grey Lecture Theatre DG/017 (VENUE CHANGE) and Creative Centre CC/011, York St John University, Lord Mayor’s Walk, YO10 7EX.

10.30 -11.30am – De Grey Lecture Theatre DG/017 (VENUE CHANGE)

Thomas Hardy and the Folk Horror Tradition with Rob Edgar and Alan Smith

Robert Edgar and Alan Smith are the authors of Thomas Hardy and the Folk Horror Tradition (Bloomsbury, 2023), which identifies parallels between Hardy’s early life in rural Dorset and contemporary urban Britain as a site of and for folk horror. Robert and Alan will define folk horror, discuss Hardy as a novelist and look at Hardy’s evocation of landscape before leading a Q&A and discussion.

12-1pm – De Grey Lecture Theatre DG/017 (VENUE CHANGE)

Circles of Stone: Weird Tales of Pagan Sites and Ancient Rites, with Katy Soar

Katy Soar is the editor of Circles of Stone: Weird Tales of Pagan Sites and Ancient Rites (British Library Tales of the Weird, 2023) and the co-editor (with Amara Thornton) of Strange Relics (Handheld Press, 2022). Katy will be discussing the strange and unsettling allure of standing stones, stone circles, barrows and ancient rites amd how this informed her choice of classic short stories as editor of her new collection published by the British Library.

Katy Soar

2-3.30pm – Creative Centre, Room CC/011.

Writing Horror Fiction – a writing workshop with Naomi Booth.

Naomi Booth is the is the author of the short story collection Animals at Night and the novels Sealed and Exit Management. Naomi will be leading a writing workshop focusing on techniques approached in writing horror fiction. Writers of all levels are welcome.

4.30-5.30pm – De Grey Lecture Theatre DG/017 (VENUE CHANGE)

Andrew Michael Hurley: On Writing Folk Horror Fiction

Andrew Michael Hurley is amongst the leading writers of folk horror and his work includes The Loney, Devil’s Day and Starve Acre, now a film adaptation. Andrew will be in discussion about the allure of folk horror, writing horror fiction, his work in adaptation and forthcoming projects.

Starve Acre
Andrew Michael Hurley

Scarred For Life – Folk Horror Show – SOLD OUT

Saturday 2 March 2024, 7pm

£12 – Creative Centre, York St John University, Lord Mayor’s Walk, YO10 7EX.

From terrifying films like The Wicker Man and Witchfinder General to the gentle eeriness of The Owl Service and Worzel Gummidge, “Folk Horror” has become a thrilling genre in its own right. In this brand new live show, Stephen Brotherstone – co-author of the acclaimed Scarred For Life books – joins writer and broadcaster Bob Fischer to explore ancient magic, eerie stone circles and ask… what does actually lie beneath?

This event will start with a showing of a short film entitled Cold Warnings before the Scarred for Life show begins.

Cold Warnings is a film that explores the impact of the inclusion of the Cold War in the new GSCE Curriculum of 1986. Although the topic of the Cold War featured in the UK school system before the roll-out of the GCSE, it was more explicitly included across a range of subjects in the inaugural curriculum. The film is based around interviews with those who studied this at the time and contains reflections from GCSE students today. Novels such as the dystopian Z for Zachariah were chosen for the English Literature syllabus and the deeply disturbing 1984 film Threads was often screened in schools, and many have a lasting memory seeing this traumatic docudrama in the classroom. The result is a thought-provoking intergenerational dialogue, drawing on memory and reflection. 

Runtime: 16 Minutes. 


Writing the Future – SOLD OUT

Tuesday 5 March 2024, 2.30-6pm

Free – Creative Centre, York St John University, Lord Mayor’s Walk, YO10 7EX.

A celebration of science fiction and speculative fiction. The afternoon will include a writing workshop with Adam Marek and a panel discussion with Dan Coxon, Una McCormack, S.J. Groenewegen and Abi Curtis.

You can sign up for either or both events.


Writing Workshop with Adam Marek

Creative Centre Recital Room, CC/201

Imagining the future: what could possibly go wrong?

When we sit down to imagine the future, what are we hoping to achieve? Are we aiming for stories that make plausible predictions, or that take imaginative flights to inspire wonder? In this workshop, Adam Marek will take you through a simple, practical and reliable technique for generating story ideas set in the future. Strap a jetpack to your imagination and see where it takes you.


Discussion Panel: Writing the Future

Creative Centre, CC/011

Adam Marek is the author of three short story collections: Instruction Manual for SwallowingThe Stone Thrower, and, most recently, The Universe Delivers the Enemy You Need. His stories have appeared on BBC Radio 4, and in many magazines and anthologies, including The Penguin Book of the British Short Story. He regularly works with SciFutures, using storytelling to help prototype the future. Visit Adam at

Dan Coxon is an award-winning editor and writer based in London. His non-fiction anthology Writing the Uncanny (co-edited with Richard V. Hirst) won the British Fantasy Award for Best Non-Fiction 2022, while his short story collection Only the Broken Remain (Black Shuck Books) was shortlisted for two British Fantasy Awards in 2021 (Best Collection, Best Newcomer). His latest book, Writing the Future, was published by Dead Ink Books in September 2023. Visit his website at

Dr Una McCormack is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling science fiction writer whose has written more than twenty novels based on TV shows such as Star TrekDoctor Who and Firefly. She is on the editorial board of Gold SF, an imprint of Goldsmiths Press aimed at publishing new voices in intersectional feminist science fiction. An associate fellow of Homerton College, Cambridge, her academic interests include feminist science fiction, transformative works, and creative writing practice and methodology; she writes and broadcasts regularly on these and other topics. 

S.J. Groenewegen is the author of The Disinformation War (GoldSF, 2023) and Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart: A Most Haunted Man (Candy Jar Books, 2022). Her short fiction has appeared in the award-winning Doctor Who Short Trips anthologies (Big Finish). SJ’s 20-year career in criminal justice in Australia and the UK saw her awarded with a British Empire Medal for her services to LGBTQIA people. 
Abi Curtis is Professor of Creative Writing at York St John University. She is the author of two poetry collections and a climate change novel, Water & Glass (Cloud Lodge 2017). She has also written on motherhood, creativity and the uncanny. She is currently writing a book on speculative fiction for Routledge with Dr Liesl King, and her next novel, a speculative fiction entitled The Headland, is forthcoming from Gold SF in August 2024.

How to Get Published: Agent, Publisher and Editor Panel Q&A – LAST FEW TICKETS

Wednesday 6 March, 6pm

Free – De Grey Lecture Theatre (VENUE CHANGE), York St John University, Lord Mayor’s Walk, YO10 7EX.

A panel discussion with 6 UK agents, publishers and editors answering all of your burning questions about how to get your writing out there.

The panel includes Donald Winchester and Megan Carroll from London based literary agency Watson, Little; Jen Hamilton-Emery and Christopher Hamilton-Emery from award-winning independent publisher, Salt; Una McCormack, best-selling sci-fi author and editor; and Wendy Pratt, poet, prose-writer and editor of Spelt poetry magazine. Introduced by Abi Curtis, Professor of Creative Writing.

Megan Carroll graduated from Goldsmiths with a BA in English and American Literature in 2013 and has worked at the agency since 2014, first as the assistant and now as a Literary Agent. Megan is looking for writers in a variety of areas, and from a wide range of backgrounds – she is particularly keen to hear from Black, Asian, and LGBTQIA+ writers across all genres. Her list is predominantly commercial – good quality books that will appeal to lots of readers – and spans women’s fiction, upmarket fiction, MG and YA, as well as select non-fiction for adults and young readers.

Donald Winchester: After splitting his childhood between Edinburgh, Ohio, and Watford, Donald studied English Literature and History at Queen Mary, University of London and University College London. He worked at Penguin Press and A P Watt before joining Watson, Little as an agent in 2013. He was the Secretary of the Association of Authors’ Agents (AAA) from 2017-19. He is also a member of the Association of Scottish Literary Agents (ASLA). He currently splits his time between Scotland and London. Donald is interested in literary, upmarket, and well-written commercial fiction, particularly debut authors, as well as memoir. In non-fiction, he is keen to see writing on history, popular science, social issues, nature, music, sport, film and technology.

Wendy Pratt is a poet, author, editor and workshop facilitator living and working on the North Yorkshire coast. She is the author of five collections of poetry. Her collection When I Think of My Body as a Horse won the Poetry Business Book and Pamphlet award in 2021. She is the founder and editor in chief of Spelt Magazine and runs online courses and workshops. Her Nan Shepherd prize longlisted nature memoir, The Ghost Lake, is published by The Borough Press at Harper Collins.

Jen Hamilton-Emery is a commissioning Editor and editor at Salt, where she has worked since it was founded 25 years ago. She specialises in literary novels and short fiction.

Christopher Hamilton-Emery was born in 1963 in Oldham. He is a director of Salt, a UK trade publisher based in Sheffield. He has published four collections of poetry, a writer ’s guide, an anthology of art and poems, and edited selections of Emily Brontë, Keats and Rossetti.

Dr Una McCormack is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling science fiction writer whose has written more than twenty novels based on TV shows such as Star Trek, Doctor Who and Firefly. She is on the editorial board of Gold SF, an imprint of Goldsmiths Press aimed at publishing new voices in intersectional feminist science fiction. An associate fellow of Homerton College, Cambridge, her academic interests include feminist science fiction, transformative works, and creative writing practice and methodology; she writes and broadcasts regularly on these and other topics.

Polari Literary Salon

Thursday 7 March, 7pm

£10 – Theatre@41, 41 Monkgate, York, YO31 7PB

Award-winning Literary Salon Polari, inspired by the gay slang of the same name, is a celebration of LGBTQ+ words and voices – whether written, spoken or sung. This evening is an exciting and eclectic showcase of LGBTQ+ writers and performers, both local and from outside York. Founder Paul Burston will also be in conversation discussing LGBTQ+ writing and publishing.

Polari was founded in 2007 by author Paul Burston. Since then, Polari has appeared at The British Library, The Southbank Centre, The Museum of London and at book festivals, bars, clubs, libraries, museums, and theatres across the UK. The salon also runs The Polari Prize awards – the UK’s only book awards for LGBTQ+ writing.

About the Artists

Local guest slot – York Literature Festival and Polari are delighted to be opening up a guest slot for an LGBTQ+ artist based in York to perform their material at the Literary Salon.

Jay Gadhia Leeds based Jay Gadhia has always written but the catalyst for performing spoken word poetry was attending an online men’s writing group during lockdown.

He tends to focus on the Asian queer experience, cultural and racial history, faith and the complications of relationships.

Paul Burston – Paul will be reading from hisacclaimed memoir ‘We Can Be Heroes.’

‘One man’s journey from Prejudice to Pride. Paul Burston came out in the mid-1980s, when ‘gay’ still felt like a dirty word, especially in the small Welsh town where he grew up. He moved to London hoping for a happier life, only to watch in horror as his new-found community was decimated by AIDS.  He became an activist and joined ACT UP taking part in many demonstrations and being arrested.’

“Probably the gay book of the year” – E.S Magazine

“A compelling and hugely enjoyable memoir about a fearless life lived to the full” – Bernardine Evaristo

Karen McLeod/Barbara Brownskirt – Barabara Brownskirt is the alter ego of Karen McLeod, she originated from Karen’s unconventional drag performances, where she impersonated men impersonating women. Transitioning to writing fiction and after her first novel, Karen crafted Barbara Brownskirt as an angry, passionate character, deliberately defying traditional drag aesthetics by concealing her hair, wearing unflattering attire, and rejecting all gender signifiers as an inverse of mainstream drag on the spectrum.

Barbara Brownskirt – Karen Mcleod

Food Writing: Nina Mingya Powles and Ella Risbridger in Conversation

Thursday 7 March, 7pm

£12 – The Mount School, Dalton Terrace, York, YO24 4DD

Join award-winning writers Nina Mingya Powles (Tiny
Moons, Small Bodies of Water
and Magnolia) and Ella
Risbridger (Midnight Chicken, The Dinner Table and
The Year of Miracles) in conversation on all things food
writing. Dip into the cuisines that have shaped these
authors and their writing and discover that there is
more to the genre than just delicious cookbooks.

International Women’s Day Poetry Showcase

Friday 8 March, 7pm

£10 – The Basement, City Screen Picturehouse, Coney Street, YO1 9QL

Celebrate International Women’s Day with a special performance from acclaimed poets Olivia Mulligan, Anne Caldwell, Simone Yasmin and Allie Esiri. As well as reading from their work, the poets will also be in conversation with Chloe Hanks, co-host of York-based open mic group Howlers.

Olivia Mulligan has 3 collections of poetry published by Fisher King Publishing. Passionate about sharing uplifting material with others, Olivia has taken to the stage performing her poetry, she runs poetry workshops for both children and adults and at the start of 2021, she was appointed BBC Radio York’s Poet Laureate.

Simone Yasmin (she/her) is a Black writer and spoken word artist born and based in Leeds. Both her written and vocal work raises awareness for issues many choose to ignore in order to sit in comfort. Simone brings that discomfort into the centre of the room, pulling no wool over eyes with her blunt and realistic words.

Anne Caldwell is a poet, editor and writer specialising in prose poetry. She works for the Open University. Her work explores relationships with the natural world, each other and contemporary life. It has been described as provocative, playful and full of feeling. She is the author of four poetry collections and has co-edited The Valley Press Anthology of Prose Poetry with Oz Hardwick. She has been widely published internationally and is a runner up in the James Tait Prize, 2023.

Allie Esiri read Modern and Medieval Languages at Cambridge and is an award-winning curator, described by The Sunday Times as a ‘poetry powerhouse’. Credited with bringing poetry into the digital age, Allie’s poetry app The Love Book features readings by Helena Bonham Carter, Tom Hiddleston, Damian Lewis, Helen McCrory, Gina Bellman and Emma Watson. Her latest collection 365 Poems for Life is out now.

Chris Mullin: Didn’t You Use to be Chris Mullin?

Friday 8 March, 7pm

£10 – St Peter’s School, Clifton, York, YO30 6AB.

No longer in the tent, but not quite out of it, celebrated diarist Chris Mullin will return to York to give his take on the twelve turbulent years since he left Parliament. With his trademark wit and keen eye for the absurd, he will recount events from the fall of New Labour to the death of the Queen. Rich in anecdote, this promises to be an evening of insight and entertainment. Chris Mullin was the long serving MP for Sunderland & is a journalist, campaigner and celebrated political diarist.

“One of Mullin’s charms is his readiness to like people who don’t echo his politics.” Jenni Russell, Sunday Times

Rafael Behr: Politics: A Survivor’s Guide

Saturday 9 March, 7pm

£10 – St Peter’s School, Clifton, York, YO30 6AB.

We live in an age of fury and confusion. A new crisis
erupts before the last one has finished: financial crisis,
Brexit, pandemic, war in Ukraine, inflation, strikes. Prime
Ministers come and go but politics stays divided
and toxic.
It is tempting to switch off the news, tune out and hope
things will get back to normal. Except, this is the new
normal, and our democracy can only work if enough
people stay engaged without getting enraged. But how?
To answer that question, award-winning journalist
Rafael Behr takes the reader on a personal journey
from despair at the state of politics to hope that there
is a better way of doing things, with insights drawn from
three decades as a political commentator and foreign

Beyond the Walls Student Showcase

Monday 11 March, 7pm

Free – Creative Centre, York St John University, Lord Mayor’s Walk, YO10 7EX

Join us for exciting readings of creative pieces written by the talented students and staff of York St John University. The event is celebrating the annual Beyond the Walls anthology project and is hosted and organised by York St John University creative writing students. 

Nicholas Royle: David Bowie, Enid Blyton and the Sun Machine – SOLD OUT

Tuesday 12 March, 6pm

Free – Creative Centre, Room CC/011, York St John University, Lord Mayor’s Walk, YO10 7EX

In this one-of-a-kind book, novelist and academic Nicholas Royle brings together two remarkably different creative figures: Enid Blyton and David Bowie. Blending elements of memoir and cultural commentary, Royle creates a tender and often hilarious portrait of family life during the pandemic, weaving it together with musings on dreams, second-hand bookshops and unpublished photos of Bowie taken by Stephen Finer. He also shares previously unrecorded details about Blyton’s personal life, notably her love affair with Royle’s grandmother.

In this special event, Nicholas Royle will be in conversation with Dr Sam Reese, Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing at York St John University.

Ian Moore: Death at the Chateau

Thursday 14 March, 6pm

£8 – York Explore Library and Archives, Library Square, Museum Street, YO1 7DS

From the bestselling author of Death and Croissants and
Death and Fromage comes a murder mystery perfect for
fans of Richard Osman, Julia Chapman or MC Beaton.
Richard Ainsworth’s French B&B has been taken over
by a production company shooting a historical film at
the Château de Valençay. But everything grinds to a halt
with the sudden passing of an actor under suspicious

Come and join author Ian Moore as he discusses his latest
mystery novel with Dr Angela Ranson from the festival team.

Literary Walk, with David Holt

Saturday 16th March, 11am

£10 – Pay the guide on arrival in cash.

Museum Gardens, Museum Street Entrance

Join Blue Badge Guide for Yorkshire David Holt on a literary themed tour of York. David has outstanding knowledge of York and Yorkshire as well as having taught History for almost 30 years. Advanced bookings are encouraged by contacting David on 07803 605037 or

Martin MacInnes: In Ascension

Saturday 16 March, 2pm

£10 – York Medical Society, 23 Stonegate, York, YO1 8AW

Martin MacInnes, the Scottish writer, appearing at the Edinburgh International Book Festival. Edinburgh, Scotland. 14th August 2017 Picture by Gary Doak

Leigh grew up in Rotterdam, drawn to the waterfront as
an escape from her unhappy home life and volatile father.
Enchanted by the undersea world of her childhood, she excels in
marine biology, travelling the globe to study ancient organisms.
When a trench is discovered in the Atlantic ocean, Leigh joins the
exploration team, hoping to find evidence of the earth’s first life
forms – what she finds calls into question everything we know
about our own beginnings.

Longlisted for The Booker Prize 2023, In Ascension is a
mesmerising and compelling novel. Come and join Martin
MacInnes as he reads from and discusses the book alongside writer and lecturer Caleb Klaces.

Jessica Andrews: Milk Teeth

Saturday 16 March, 6pm

£10 – York Medical Society, 23 Stonegate, York, YO1 8AW

From the author of the award-winning Saltwater comes a
beautifully told love story set across England, France and Spain.
A girl grows up in the north of England amid scarcity, precarity and
the toxic culture of heroin chic, believing that she needs to make
herself smaller to claim presence in the world.

Years later, as a young woman with unattainable ideals, she
meets someone who calls everything into question, and is forced
to confront episodes from her past. Their relationship takes
her from London to Barcelona and the precipice of a new life,
full of sensuality. Yet she still feels an uneasiness. In the sticky
Mediterranean heat, among tropical plants and secluded beaches,
she must decide what form her adult life should take and learn how
to feel deserving of love and care.

Jessica will be in conversation about her novel.

Steve Richards: Turning Points

Saturday 16 March, 7pm

£10 – St Peter’s School, Clifton, York, YO30 6AB.

With his trademark insight, forged over several decades as one of the UK’s foremost political commentators, Steve Richards blends anecdote and analysis to explore the biggest events in British political history. The evening promises to be enlightening and entertaining in equal measure. Steve will take us through turning points from 1945 to Liz Truss as we await this year’s general election – quite possibly our next big turning point.

Steve Richards has had a long and distinguished journalistic career on newspapers and the BBC and is the host of the Rock & Roll Politics podcast.

Smith and Waugh Talk Satire Live –

The Brontës and Satire – LAST FEW TICKETS

Sunday 17 March, 2pm

Free – Creative Centre, York St John University, Lord Mayor’s Walk, YO10 7EX

Join Drs Jo Waugh and Adam James Smith (co-hosts of the ongoing podcast Smith and Waugh Talk About Satire and directors of the York Research Unit for the Study of Satire) for a deep dive into the lighter side of the lives, literature and legacies of the Brontë sisters. Following their talk Jo Waugh and Adam Smith will open the conversation up to the audience, examining together the implications of acknowledging the comedy and satire that surround the life and work of the Brontë sisters.

Mini Zine Fair and Workshop

Tuesday 19 March, 6-9pm

Free – No need to book.

The Crescent Community Venue, 8 The Crescent, York, YO24 1AW

A pop-up of evening in collaboration with York Zine Fest, featuring stalls from local, grassroot publishers. If you have ever wondered what a zine is or wanted to have a go, there is an opportunity to get creative and make your own unique zine at a drop-in workshop. Friendly, fun and free for all.

Catherine Taylor: Stirring Up the Past with Memoir

Tuesday 19 March, 6pm

£8 – York Explore Library and Archives, Library Square, Museum Street, YO1 7DS

Catherine Taylor’s memoir, The Stirrings, takes readers back to
Sheffield in the 1970s and 80s and one young woman’s coming of
age there. Behind it all, the murders of serial killer Peter Sutcliffe are
a haunting presence. The Stirrings evokes all this with sharp wit and
poetic language. It is a book for anybody who wants to be taken back
to the past, experience it vividly and find ways to make sense of it all.

In conversation with Dr Helen Pleasance, Catherine will talk about how
memoir provides new routes back to the past.

Natalie Haynes – Divine Might – SELLING FAST

Tuesday 19 March, 7pm

£12 – St Peter’s School, Clifton, York, YO30 6AB.

In Divine Might, Natalie Haynes, the bestselling author of Stone Blind and Pandora’s Jar, introduces us to the stories of the Greek goddesses. As fearsome, powerful and beloved as their male counterparts, it’s time to look beyond the columns of a ruined temple to the awesome power within.

Examining the role of these goddesses and more, Divine Might will change everything you thought you knew about our most ancient stories. Full of fire, fury and devotion, Natalie Haynes brings the divine women of Olympia kicking and screaming into the modern age

Sheena Patel – I’m A Fan

Thursday 21 March, 6pm

£8 – York Explore Library and Archives, Library Square, Museum Street, YO1 7DS

Sheena Patel’s debut novel I’M A FAN tells the story of an
unnamed narrator’s involvement in a seemingly unequal romantic
relationship. With a clear and unforgiving eye, Sheena Patel
makes startling connections between power struggles at the
heart of human relationships to those in the wider world, offering a
devastating critique of social media, access and
patriarchal systems.

One of the Observer’s Best Debut Novels of the Year 2022, I’M A
is an exhilarating, addictive take on obsession, race, gender
and power dynamics through the lens of a corrosive relationship.

Literary Walk, with David Holt

Saturday 23 March, 11am

£10 – Pay the guide on arrival in cash

Museum Gardens, Museum Street Entrance

Join Blue Badge Guide for Yorkshire David Holt on a literary themed tour of York. David has outstanding knowledge of York and Yorkshire as well as having taught History for almost 30 years. Advanced bookings are encouraged by contacting David on 07803 605037 or

Venue Stories

Sunday 24 March, 1pm

£5 – The Crescent Community Venue, 8 The Crescent, York, YO24 1AW

Venue Stories is an anthology that pays a visit to the
toilet venues, back rooms and ad-hoc club nights that
make up our musical landscape. The writers in this
collection have a shared passion for venues in all their
splendid variety with memories of seismic gigs and
life-altering raves in spaces which are independent,
original and wonderfully weird. This event celebrates
the importance of these cultural spaces.

Contributors will be reading from the book.

Miki Berenyi in Conversation: Fingers Crossed

Sunday 24 March, 3pm

£12 – The Crescent Community Venue, 8 The Crescent, York, YO24 1AW

The searingly honest and beautifully written memoir by musician Miki
Berenyi, former lead singer, rhythm guitarist and founder member of
Lush. Fingers Crossed is an incredible account of a trailblazing woman
and a seminal band delivered with the vivid, emotional power of an
accomplished storyteller.

Miki will be in conversation about the book and her career with Dr Fraser Mann from York St John University.

‘Breaks the mould of music memoir’ The Guardian
‘A salutary corrective to a much-mythologised musical era’ Observer
‘Outstanding’ Record Collector
‘Utterly engrossing’ Red Magazine
‘A brilliant and engaging read’ Classic Rock

Folklore and Fantasy Fiction: RJ Barker and Eliza Chan in Conversation

Tuesday 26 March, 6pm

£10 – York Medical Society, 23 Stonegate, York, YO1 8AW

RJ Barker is the acclaimed author of the two fantasy series The Wounded Kingdom and The Tide Child. His new novel The Gods of the Wyrdwood imagines a
forest world born from our darkest folklore.

Eliza Chan’s debut novel Fathomfolk reimagines marine folklore into a creative fantastical world.

Both authors will be in
conversation about their novels and the role of folklore
within fantasy fiction.

Matthew Gibson: Mr Stoker and the Vampires of the Lyceum

Thursday 28 March, 6pm

£8 – York Explore Library and Archives, Library Square, Museum Street, YO1 7DS

Join leading Bram Stoker scholar Matthew Gibson as he discusses his debut Gothic crime thriller Mr Stoker and the Vampires of the Lyceum.

Set in 1888 Jack-the-Ripper London, the novel features Stoker – acting manager of The Lyceum Theatre by day and aspiring novelist by other means – as the inadvertent investigator of unfolding vampiric events; events that may have inspired his masterpiece, Dracula.

Matthew Gibson is one of the world’s leading scholars on Bram Stoker and the Gothic. Currently associate professor of English Literature at the University of Macau, Gibson has worked as an academic in Poland and Bulgaria, as well as in the UK. Author of Dracula and the Eastern Question, co-editor of Bram Stoker and the Late Victorian World and curator of Stoker resources for Oxford Bibliographies, Mr Stoker is his debut novel.

Howl Owt Open Mic

Thursday 28 March, 7pm sign-up, 7.30pm start

Free – No need to book.

The Blue Boar, 5 Castlegate, York, YO1 9RN

York poetry organisations Howlers and Say Owt are teaming up
for a raucous night of words. The poetry pals are swapping duties: Say Owt will be running the open mic. The Howlers hosts will be presenting a special guest poet!

Alex Mepham is a writer and translator based in York. Alex’s work has been published in various print and online journals, and was awarded the 2023 Northern Debut Award for Poetry by New Writing North.

Lemn Sissay: Let the Light Pour In

Saturday 30 March, 2pm

From £16.25. Grand Opera House York, Clifford and Cumberland Street, YO1 9SW

For the past decade, Lemn Sissay has composed a short poem as dawn breaks each morning. Life-affirming, witty and full of wonder, these poems chronicle his own battle with the dark and are fuelled by resilience and defiant joy. Let the Light Pour In is a collection of the best of these poems, and a book celebrating this morning practice.

Lemn Sissay is a BAFTA-nominated, award-winning
writer and broadcaster. He has authored collections of poetry and plays and his memoir My Name Is Why was a number one Sunday Times bestseller. His Landmark poems are visible in London, Manchester, Huddersfield and Addis Ababa. He has been made an Honorary Doctor by the Universities of Manchester, Kent, Essex, Huddersfield and Brunel, and in 2019 he was awarded the PEN Pinter Prize. He received an MBE in 2010 and an OBE in 2021 for services to literature and charity. In 2023, Sissay was awarded the Freedom of the City of London. He is British and Ethiopian.

@lemnsissay |

‘How do you do it?’ said night
‘How do you wake up and shine?’
‘I keep it simple,’ said light
‘One day at a time.’

An Audience with Grace Dent

Saturday 30 March, 7pm

From £22 – Grand Opera House York, Clifford and Cumberland Street, YO1 9SW

Come and join us as we celebrate the end of the 2024 York Literature Festival with food critic, columnist, author and presenter Grace Dent. In this special event, Grace will be in conversation about all things food, her memoir Hungry and her
other work.

As a columnist, Grace has written weekly columns for The Independent and The London Evening Standard until she took on the revered role of restaurant critic for The Guardian, for which she won the Guild of Food Writers’ Food Writing Award 2019. In
October 2020, HarperCollins published Grace’s memoir Hungry, a book for people who love to eat and love to laugh.

On screen Grace is perhaps best known as a regular guest and critic on MasterChef and MasterChef: The Professionals. She also hosts the hugely successful podcast entitled Comfort Eating, which inspired the recent book of the same name.

This promises to be an entertaining evening of informal discussion. Make sure you don’t miss out!

Stuart Turton: The Last Murder at the End of the World

Thursday 4 April, 6pm

£10 – The Basement, City Screen. St Martins Courtyard, 13-17 Coney St, York YO1 9QL

Stuart Turton will be conversation about his brand new
novel, The Last Murder at the End of the World.
This is the outstanding new high-concept murder
mystery from the Sunday Times bestselling and Costa
Book Award winning author of The Seven Deaths of
Evelyn Hardcastle.

An ingenious puzzle, an extraordinary backdrop, an
audacious solution. A world destroyed by a mysterious
fog. An island, living in peaceful harmony, shook to its
core by a murder. Solve the murder to save what’s left
of the world



If you wish to volunteer as a steward for the York Literature Festival then please get in touch with us at Please be aware that volunteers may be required to carry out light manual tasks (e.g. moving chairs) and must have an enthusiasm for literary events. Volunteers will be asked to steward for 30-60 minutes before the start of each event and will be welcome to join the audience once the event has started.

Sponsored by York St John University

Our thanks go to those people and organisations that continue to support us every single year: York St John University, St Peter’s School, The Mount School, York Theatre Royal and Explore York Libraries and Archives. 

Rob O’Connor, Festival Chair.