Published: 8 July 2016

Packed line-up for very first Liverpool Literary Festival

Liverpool Literary Festival

The very first Liverpool Literary Festival opens this Autumn across three days and three venues, with a packed line-up featuring novelist Colm Tóibín, poet Lemn Sissay, family favourites and much, much more.

Ali Smith’s passionate discussion of the value of public libraries launches the inaugural festival, run by the University of Liverpool, on Friday October 28, before the event fully opens up over Saturday and Sunday with a huge variety of speakers to get all your literary juices flowing.

On Saturday, Frank Cottrell Boyce will be at Liverpool Central Library; former Liberty chief, Shami Chakrabati will be at the Victoria Gallery and Museum (VG&M); we’ve got Alastair Watson talking Diary of a Wimpy Kid; Bel Mooney and Jonathan Bate discussing the life of former poet laureate, Ted Hughes and The University of Liverpool’s own Professor Tom Solomon – once Roald Dahl’s doctor – using the legendary children’s author’s stories to explain how the body works.

The headliner for Saturday is London Olympics poet, Lemn Sissay whose performance at the VG&M will begin with performances of Chartist poetry. Colm Tóibín, whose work Brooklyn, was recently turned into an Oscar-nominated film, will join a panel featuring BBC’s Fergal Keane and Ireland’s ambassador to the UK, Daniel Mulhall, among other prominent Irish figures, to commemorate the centenary of Ireland’s 1916 Easter Rising, ahead of Lemn’s show.

Sunday should prove a bumper day for budding writers. Colm returns to the festival for his main event, An Audience with Colm Tóibín from 11.30am at St George’s Hall. Andrew O’Hagan is offering a Royal Society of Literature Masterclass in the VG&M, while writer, broadcaster and critic, Sarah Dunant considers the increasing popularity of historical fiction from 9.45am. A discussion of The Books of the Future, featuring Liverpool University Press’ Anthony Cond, runs from 3.30pm. And Frank Cottrell Boyce is back for the second day, but this time tracing the influence of some of David Bowie’s favourite books on his music.

For those on the lookout for something a little lighter, Alastair Watson and McBusted’s Tom and Dougie bring the best-selling children’s story, The Dinosaur that Pooped to Liverpool Central Library. All the Literary Festival’s family events are free to attend.

Helen Taylor, Director of Liverpool Literary Festival, says: “This inaugural Festival was initiated by the University’s Vice Chancellor Professor Janet Beer, a literature scholar, and I’m delighted to have curated a diverse line-up of celebrated writers and artists for a weekend of discussion and debate. The strength of Liverpool’s cultural heritage is amply on show; through paintings, poems, and writers associated with the city – from Frank Cottrell Boyce and Bel Mooney to Carys Bray, Adrian Henri and Deryn Rees-Jones.

“Our varied family events, as well as collaborations with Young Everyman Playhouse, Liverpool Library and the city’s Irish and Chinese communities, all confirm the University’s unique offer to its home city.”

Well worth a explore in between literary events is celebrated Liverpool artist, Adrian Henri’s Poetry and Painting 1960-2000 exhibition, which will be on show at the VG&M for the duration of the festival.

Liverpool Literary Festival runs from Friday, October 28 to Sunday, October 30, with events taking place at the Victoria Gallery and Museum (VG&M), St George’s Hall and Liverpool Central Library. To find out more, and book your tickets, please visit

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