New Writing North were delighted to host the launch of Durham Book Festival 2019 at Hotel Indigo on 8 August. We took over the beautiful Council Room for the night, inviting some special guests for a preview of this year’s programme. Established nearly 30 years ago, the festival brings an exciting range of writers and performers to the city each year. The 2019 festival is our biggest yet, with over 100 events taking place between 5 – 13 October. From fiction to feminism, politics to poetry, Durham Book Festival 2019 has something for everyone.
We were thrilled to announce some literary legends who will be coming to Durham Book Festival for the first time. This autumn will see events from Louis de Bernières, One Day author David Nicholls, and the prolific writer Alexander McCall Smith. We also have some returning festival favourites, including worldwide bestselling biographer Jung Chang, broadcaster and journalist Kirsty Wark and the wonderful writer and ex-Sunderland MP Chris Mullin. Our Festival Laureate this year is the poet Raymond Antrobus, who this year alone has won two major prizes. Joining him on the poetry line-up is one of Britain’s best-loved poets, the iconic Roger McGough.
The launch also saw us to reveal this year’s Big Read – a project that will see 3,000 copies of Colm Tóibín’s award-winning novel Brooklyn distributed for free across County Durham. Colm will be appearing at the festival on Sunday 13 October, discussing his influential career.
Accompanying the Big Read, we’re thrilled to announce the return of the Little Read, and this year’s book Perfectly Norman by Tom Percival. We will be sending a copy of the charming picture book to every primary school in the County, as well as working deeply with families and communities as part of the festival’s significant outreach work.
Amongst the wine and canapés, the evening had an extra special addition in the form of Durham born, multi-award winning writer Benjamin Myers. Ben joined us at Hotel Indigo to celebrate his new book The Offing, which is out this August. New Writing North commissioned a short film with talking about how growing up in Durham has inspired him, which is available on the Durham Book Festival website.
This year’s festival is full of special events; we have film screenings (Brooklyn, Breakfast at Tiffany’s and more) art installations and even afternoon tea with writer Janet Ellis. We also have the return of The Gordon Burn Prize Ceremony on 10 October. Each year the winner of the prestigious £5,000 literary prize is announced at Durham Town Hall. The evening has a limited number of tickets open to the public, with a free Durham Gin and Tonic courtesy of Durham Distillery included in the price.
We’re grateful to Hotel Indigo Durham for allowing us to have such a brilliant start to what we’re sure will be a fantastic Durham Book Festival. Tickets are on sale from Friday 9 August and are available at https://durhambookfestival.com
Durham Book Festival is a Durham County Council festival, produced by New Writing North with support from Durham University and Arts Council England