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Manchester Literature Festival summed up

Top authors, the Poet Laureate, and the Confidential editor lead the celebrations

Published on October 13th 2010.

Manchester Literature Festival summed up

We all know what literature festivals are like, don’t we? The great and the good glad-hand some ordinary mortals in a glamorous location, and books are flogged in an appropriately decorous manner amidst the chatter and chilled wine.

“It’s a festival where innovation is as crucial as celebration: one that uniquely combines the chance to see some of the greatest writers working today with the inspiring opportunity to do-it-yourself”

But, as befits a Manchester event, the Manchester Literature Festival is distinct. It’s a festival where innovation is as crucial as celebration: one that uniquely combines the chance to see some of the greatest writers working today with the inspiring opportunity to do-it-yourself!

Heaven knows there are the biggest of big names - after Orange Prize-winning author Lionel Shriver launches the festival on 14 October, some of the celebrated writers appearing over the next twelve days include Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy, former children’s laureate Michael Rosen, and Nobel Prize-winning poet Seamus Heaney, who closes the Festival on 25 October (an instant sell out), as well as best-selling author and creator of the Sharpe novels Bernard Cornwell, making his only UK appearance to talk about his latest novel, Captivate, Kill or Destroy set during the American War of Independence.

But the Festival also prides itself on encouraging and nurturing new writing. Specially commissioned new work, including the inaugural Manchester Sermon delivered by Jeanette Winterson at Manchester Cathedral on 21 October, complements the Manchester Blog Awards and Rainy City Stories; home-grown events that bring attention to the wealth of writing talent in the city.

What I'm missing is a few more books

Back for a second year too, comes Is There Novelist In The House? The Festival’s very own unique “X-Factor for the writing world”. One of the success stories of last year’s event, the Festival along with local publisher Commonword and Manchester City Library offers unpublished writers the opportunity to submit their work for the scrutiny of a panel of experts.With 60 events, in over 25 venues, spread across 12 days means that a host of writers from as far afield as the USA, China and Scandinavia will be descending on the city for this huge celebration of the written word. The festival grew out of the city’s much loved poetry festival, and once more there’s the chance to walk, talk, eat, drink, read, debate, listen, but above all, celebrate Manchester’s unique take on literature.

Tickets are going fast – highlights include:

Events for lovers of the historical novel - tales from the turbulent court of Eleanor of Aquitaine and Henry II to the cloisters of a renaissance nunnery, are brought to life at this year’s Festival with renowned historical novelists and historians Sarah Dunant and Alison Weir.In her anniversary year, the work of Elizabeth Gaskell is explored through a literary coach tour taking in the recently restored Gaskell House, where she penned many of her works, as well as visiting The Gaskell Memorial Tower and finishing with afternoon tea in Knutsford, the inspiration for Cranford. BBC TV Producer Sue Birtwistle and scriptwriter Susie Conklin also launch the Cranford Companion while this year the ever-popular BBC Writersroom features Cranford scriptwriter Heidi Thomas.Dubbed as the poet laureate of New Orleans, one of the USA’s premier spoken word poets Chuck Perkins performs his work with local jazz musicians Aid Todd, Andy Boothman, Rich Sliwa and Lawrence Woof. Perkins has performed with many of the worlds greatest jazz musicians, his work fusing poetry, jazz and the vibrant rhythms of the American Deep South.A series of literary walks and talks looking at how the city influenced sundry writers includes Burgess’s Manchester, where Confidential’s very own, Jonathan Schofield gives a lively lecture on one of Manchester’s greatest literary icons, delivered in the auspicious surroundings of the new International Anthony Burgess Foundation.And if you haven’t had enough of Manchester inspired writing, acclaimed poet John Siddique has been jointly commissioned by the Festival and Manchester Art Gallery to respond to the Pilkington’s Lancastrian Pottery exhibition. In a series of unique events he will read from his latest work against the backdrop of his inspirations as well as providing guidance to other aspiring writers.Tickets visit: www.manchesterliteraturefestival.co.uk Twitter @McrLitFest.

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