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The 2019 Berwick Literary Festival

Award-winning writers, sex scandals, Vikings, Nazis, otters, criminals and Dirty Dancing – the 2019 festival has something for everyone!

The 2019 festival begins with the annual Wilson’s Tales show and ends on Sunday at 4 PM when Max Adams discusses the Vikings who invaded Northumbria – have they been unfairly treated by historians? Between these two events there will be a wealth of fascinating speakers, a theatre production, a story-telling session and, for the first time, exciting fringe events.

Book group favourite Salley Vickers will discuss her best-selling novel The Librarian and James Runcie will present the latest novel in his Grantchester series, so successfully dramatized by ITV for Sunday evening viewing. Berwick-based, award-winning novelist Jessie Greengrass will discuss her debut novel Sight which was shortlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2018. Festival favourite Chris Mullin returns to Berwick to explain why it has taken so many years for him to write the sequel to his hugely successful A very British Coup. As always Chris will be willing to discuss the current political scene, he may even mention the dreaded ‘B word’!

Ursula Buchan will talk about her highly praised biography of her grandfather John Buchan, Jeremy Dronfield will reveal a story of courage and survival amidst the horrors of Auschwitz, Brian Ward will tell the extraordinary story of Martin Luther King’s eleven hours in Newcastle in 1968 and Eric Thompson will lift the lid of the ultra-secretive world of cold war nuclear submarines. Andrew Lownie’s account of the scandalous lives and loves of the Mountbattens is also sure to be very popular. Perhaps the nature writer Laurence Rose will touch upon the sex lives of Tweed otters when he discusses various species with a conservation tale to tell!

Many festivals ignore poetry but this festival is proud to support regional poets and poetry fans will be delighted to learn that Katrina Porteous and Poppy Holden are returning, while making his festival debut is Jacob Polley who will read and discuss his T. S. Eliot Prize-winning collection Jackself. As always festival supporters have been reading poems in local care homes.

Additionally, comedian Katy Brand will delight her audience talking about her life-long obsession with the film Dirty Dancing, the superb Dyad Company return to the Maltings with a production of Orlando and there is an evening of storytelling, mythology and music at Pier Red. On the fringe there is an exhibition, a paper-making exhibition and a book-signing at the Slightly Foxed bookshop.

A vital part of the festival is work with young people. All week Arty-Fact theatre group have been running workshops and performances of Macbeth and Oliver Twist for all the schools in Berwick and on Saturday the Rotary short story school awards will be presented.

Something for everyone indeed! These events are selling out so book soon to avoid disappointment!

For full details of this year’s programme go to https://berwickliteraryfestival.com/

Ticketsfor events can be bought online, in person or by phone from the Maltings in Berwick. For full details see https://www.maltingsberwick.co.uk/

We look forward to welcoming you to your ‘small and friendly festival in a historic walled town’.

Mike Fraser