The Ilkley Literature Festival, based in the Yorkshire spa town just 15 miles from Leeds, is the largest literary festival in the North of England. This year it will take place from 28 September until 14 October and comprises 240 events across 15 venues.

The University of Leeds is an official partner of the festival. Writers, researchers and students from the University feature in the festival’s programme of talks, events and activities. See below for the list of our events for the 2018 festival:

Can Gender Equality Change the World
Saturday 29 September, 7.30pm
St Margaret's Hall

In this exciting debate, Italian women’s rights expert Paola Diana and Sally Hines, Professor of Sociology and Gender Identities at the University, throw open some of the crucial questions around gender and equality. They’ll be asking: do we need more women at the top of politics and economics? Are traditional binary male and female gender roles still relevant in an increasingly fluid and flexible world? How is it that countries where women have achieved political and social rights seem indifferent to nations where women’s status is in question? Come and throw your questions into the mix!

The Human Planet
Saturday 29 September, 8pm
Clarke Foley Centre Concert Hall

Human action has driven the planet into a new geological age: The Anthropocene. The Human Planet is a compelling exploration by leading British scientists Mark Maslin (Professor of Climatology at University College London) and Simon Lewis (Professor of Global Change Science at both University of Leeds and UCL) into how humans became a force of nature and ushered in this new chapter. Bringing together the history of the planet and humanity, they argue that understanding the Anthropocene can shine a light on our current environmental crisis.

Guided Reading Group on Frankenstein
Monday 1, Wednesday 3, Monday 8 and Wednesday 10 October, 6-7 pm
Manor House

Following hugely popular reading groups in previous years, Carl McKeating from the University of Leeds offers an expert guide to Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein. First published in 1818, Shelley started work on it two years earlier when she was only 18. The text encompasses elements of the Romantic movement, the Gothic and early science fiction which these sessions will help you tease out. Details of which chapters to read will be sent to participants.

What isn’t Life?
Monday 1 October, 7:45 pm
IP Wildman

Can everything in the universe be considered to be ‘living’? University of Leeds chemist Terence Kee, who researches the origin of human existence, explores the question of ‘what isn’t life?’ Join him in a no holds barred session that takes on the big philosophical, spiritual and existential questions – like how we all came to be.

200 Years of Emily Bronte
Tuesday 2 October, 6pm
University of Leeds Conference Auditorium B

Marking the 200th anniversary of Emily Brontë’s birth, Professor Sally Shuttleworth FBA (University of Oxford), discusses the brief life and work of the writer who gave us Wuthering Heights, her place in the literary canon and the enduring legacy of the Brontë sisters. The seventh annual British Academy lecture at the University of Leeds is hosted by the Cultural Institute and Leeds Arts and Humanities Research Institute at the University of Leeds.

Dream of a Low Carbon Future
Wednesday 3 October, 7:45 pm
IP Wharfsdale

Ever wondered what the future will look like? Concerned about humanity’s impact on the planet? Climate scientists, engineers, children, writers and artists visualised their ideas for a sustainable zero carbon world as a graphic novel. Meet the scientists and engineers who participated in the creation of A Dream of a Low Carbon Future for a ‘Climate Solutions Chat’ and help imagine a positive, zero carbon future for Yorkshire.

Joined at the Hip – Jack Kerouac, Jazz and Rock
Saturday 6 October, 8 pm
Clarke Foley Centre Concert Hall

American author Jack Kerouac (On the Road) was at the heart of the Beat Generation. Popular music specialist Simon Warner talks to poet and spoken word performer Heath Common about a remarkable literary movement which became entangled with jazz and rock. It left a deep imprint on transatlantic culture, with Allen Ginsberg and Charlie Parker, William Burroughs and The Beatles, Neal Cassady and Bob Dylan, Tom Waits and

Voices of Light and Dark
Saturday 6 October, 7:15 pm
IP Wildman

If you’d like expert insight into contemporary poetry and how to approach it, join Professor John Whale, Director of the University of Leeds Poetry Centre. He’ll be ‘annotating’ and explaining poems focussed on light and its close relation darkness, including work by Simon Armitage, Vahni Capildeo, and Ian Duhig, all poets with a strong connection to Leeds and the University.

‘Empower a girl’ and ‘Goats for Christmas’: Challenging the Myths of Development Aid
Saturday 6 October, 8 pm
Clarke Foley Centre Concert Hall

With recent scandals in the news about aid and how it is being used and, in some cases, abused, this panel discussion brings together global development expertise from the University of Leeds to reflect on the challenges of development aid. If we want a more equal or sustainable world, is ‘development’ the answer? Drawing partly on reflections from Dr. Lata Narayanaswamy’s recent book Gender, Power and Knowledge for Development, the panel - which includes Dr. Polly Wilding and Dr. Anna Mdee from the University's Global Development Team - considers the power relations that shape how we ‘know’ the world.

Writers from Singapore
Saturday 6 October, 8:30 pm
IP Wildman

Don’t miss this exciting opportunity to hear from four of Singapore’s leading writers making a welcome visit to the Festival. Recipient of the prestigious S.E. Asia Write Award, Suchen Christine Lim’s celebrated novels include Fistful of Colours (winner of the inaugural Singapore Literature Prize) and her latest The River’s Song. Currently Writer-in-Residence in The National Gallery of Singapore, Madeleine Lee’s work often explores the fraught relationship between nature and man. Her nine volumes of poetry include square root of time. Inaugural winner of the Asian Woman Writers Short Story Competition, Audrey Chin’s collection of short stories has been described as ‘hunting for stories in dark places’. Euginia Tan writes poetry, creative non-fiction and plays and enjoys cross-pollinating art into multidisciplinary platforms.

Simon Armitage candlelit reading: Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
Monday 8 October, 8:00 pm
St John’s Church

Award-winning poet Simon Armitage gives an atmospheric, candlelit reading of a marvellous, newly revised and illustrated edition of his acclaimed modern translation of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, alongside projections of the book’s richly textured screen-prints by artist Clive Hicks-Jenkins. Simon Armitage was elected Professor of Poetry at the University of Oxford in 2015 and is currently Professor of Poetry at the University of Leeds.

Frankenstein and Climate Change
Tuesday 9 October, 7:30 pm
IP Wharfeside

The eruption of the Indonesian volcano Mount Tambora in 1815 had a defining impact: on the climate, and on Romantic literature. The following “year without a summer” was exceptionally cold and wet with famine, political unrest and disease across the globe. It also saw the conception of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Dr David Higgins, Associate Professor of English Literature at the University of Leeds, unravels the relationship between Frankenstein and climate change.

New Writing Showcase Hosted by Imtiaz Dharker
Tuesday 9 October, 7:30 pm
Manor House

Poet in Residence Imtiaz Dharker introduces inspiring new writing from poets in the region. Rachel Bower is co-editor of the anthology Verse Matters with Helen Mort. Rachel’s debut collection Moon Milkexplores pregnancy, birth and early childhood. Her work has been shortlisted for The London Magazine Poetry Prize. Jade Cuttle is a former Festival Apprentice Poet in Residence. She’s a winner of the BBC Proms Poetry Competition and an Emerging Poetry Critic at Ledbury Poetry Festival. Karl O’Hanlon’s poetry pamphlet, And Now They Range, was published in 2016 and his poems have appeared in Poetry, PN Review, Agenda, and Stand. Hafsah Aneela Bashir is a TOAST2016 poet, passionate about platforming voices absent from the mainstream. Her work has been published by Crocus Books (When Saira Met Sarah, Elevator Fiction) and in Stand.

The Fashion Forecasters
Thursday 11 October, 7:30 pm
IP Wildman

The fashion business has been collecting and analysing information about colours, fabrics, silhouettes and styles since the 18th century – activities shrouded in mystery. Regina Lee Blaszczyk, Professor of Business History at the University of Leeds, reveals the hidden history of colour and trend forecasting and explains its relevance to the fashion business. Find out about trend studios and colour experts as she probes the inner workings of the global fashion system.

I am Dynamite: Sue Prideaux on Friedrich Nietzsche
Thursday 11 October, 7:30 pm
IP Wharfeside

Award-winning biographer Sue Prideaux takes one of the most complex figures in contemporary thought, Friedrich Nietzsche, and illuminates his ideas in her vital portrait of the German philosopher. She’ll be shedding light on Nietzsche’s relationships with mental illness, family, music and women with a fluency and transparency that makes the work of this great thinker accessible to all.

Picture a Zero Carbon Future
Saturday 13 October, 10 am – 4 pm
Ilkley Bandstand

Artist James McKay will paint a vision of a zero carbon future Ilkley – live. Talk to climate and renewable energy researchers while your portrait is painted into the picture!

1968 - Radical Protest and its Legacy
Saturday 13 October, 3:30 pm
IP Wharfeside

1968 saw protests across much of the western world. Around 10 million French workers went on strike and the whole state teetered on the brink of collapse. Other rebellions had profound long-term implications – feminist collectives, gay rights activists, terrorist groups, Bill Clinton and even Tony Blair are, in many ways, a product of that year. Ever since, 1968 has been part of our mythology. But where did the uprisings stem from and why have they had such an impact on our cultural memory? Richard Vinen, Professor of History at King’s College London, discusses 1968 and its legacy with Dr Ingo Cornils, Senior Lecturer in German at the University of Leeds, in an event chaired by Professor Frank Finlay.

Windrush Women: Val Bloom and Hannah Lowe
Sunday 14 October, 3:15 pm
St Margaret's Hall

What was the impact of Windrush on women? How did it feel to travel to the UK or to be left behind? Award-winning poet Hannah Lowe, short-listed for the Forward, Aldeburgh and Seamus Heaney Best First Collection Prizes, explores the legacy of Windrush in relation to women’s experience and writing with fellow poet Valerie Bloom. Poet and novelist Valerie Bloom is a recipient of The Voice Community award for literature, and a Smarties Award Bronze prizewinner for her children’s book, Fruits. Her writing is heavily influenced by her Jamaican background – she even begins most performances with a crash course in Jamaican Patois, so non-speakers can enjoy the Patois poems in her set. Chaired by John McLeod, Professor of Postcolonial and Diaspora Literature.

Women Talking, Women Writing
Sunday 14 October, 5.30-6.30 pm
Church House

Celebrate the launch of the latest issue of Moving Worlds: A Journal of Transcultural Writings ‘Women Write Now: Reading the Contemporary’. In this roundtable conversation with Lucy Arnold, Leeds writers Amina Alyal and Becky Cherriman will discuss the intersections of writing, womanhood and the contemporary moment. How can women write back to crucial local and global issues? Join us for an enriching engagement with contemporary women’s writing.

Carol Ann Duffy and Imtiaz Dharker: Luck is the Hook
Sun 14 Oct, 7:30 pm
Kings Hall

Carol Ann Duffy is one of Britain’s best known and most admired poets, her poems are “… at once accessible and brilliantly idiosyncratic and subtle” (The Observer). The current Poet Laureate, she has won the Forward, Whitbread and T.S. Eliot prizes. Imtiaz Dharker is ILF Poet in Residence. Brought up a Muslim Calvinist in a Lahori household in Glasgow, her themes are rooted in a life of transitions. An acclaimed poet, artist and documentary filmmarker she holds the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry.

The evening begins with a short reading by Lizzi Hawkins, former member of Ilkley Young Writers, winner of The Ted Hughes Young Poets Award and the Poetry Business New Poets Prize. This special event is hosted by the Cultural Institute as part of our support of the Ilkley Literature Festival.