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, with over 200 events taking place over 17 days. 

The University of Leeds is an official supporter of the festival, with writers and researchers from the University featuring in the festival’s programme of talks, events and activities.

Wartime fashions Oxford Street, in 1943.

Fashion, Tweed and Abraham Moon: See event details, below. 

Women on Paper, Men in Khaki 

Saturday 30 September, 5.30pm–6.30pm
Ilkley Playhouse Wharfeside, £7 (£5 for concessions)

Books played a key role in the First World War and writing by women gives us a vital insight into women’s thoughts and feelings during the conflict. Three leading experts, Professor Alison Fell (University of Leeds), Dr Angela K Smith (University of Plymouth) and Dr Jane Potter (Oxford Brookes University) open up an inspiring discussion on gender and war writing. They’ll be exploring everything from memoirs, diaries and creative non-fiction about the experience of women on the Eastern Front and in nursing, to the novels and serialised stories which sustained soldiers in the trenches and families at home.

Book here

Branwell Brontë and Writing Under the Influence

Saturday 30 September, 7.45–8.45pm
Ilkley Playhouse Wildman, £7 (£5 for confessions)

How did alcohol and laudanum affect Branwell Brontë – and numerous other 19th century writers? What was the real impact on his creative work and his sisters’ lives? 

Michèle Roberts, author and Emeritus Professor of Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia, Ann Dinsdale, Principle Curator at the Brontë Parsonage, and John Whale, Professor of Romantic Literature at the University of Leeds, explore the impact of writing under the influence. 

Book here

Book launch: Connecting Threads with Malika Booker

Sunday 1 October, 2-2.30pm
Manor House, free

The Yorkshire Year of the Textile was a year-long celebration and exploration of the region’s rich textile heritage, coordinated by the University of Leeds Cultural Institute. The commemorative publication Connecting Threads, launched today, brings together poems, essays and images to celebrate the new visual art, poetry and performance commissions, and the accompanying programme of workshops, exhibitions and lectures. With readings by poet and Douglas Caster Cultural Fellow Malika Booker

Book here

Knit/Lit Drop in Workshop

Sunday 1 October, 2.30-4.30pm
Manor House, free, for families with children ages 8+ and adults

Learn to finger-knit and contribute to a collaborative festival canopy, in a special workshop from the Yorkshire Year of the Textile team. Textile artists Elizabeth Gaston and Jane Scott, both lecturers at the School of Design, will be joined by Malika Booker, who will weave musings and thoughts into a poem during this free drop-in event. All materials supplied. 

Book here

‘A rose by Any Other Name…’ Translating Shakespeare: Dr Sameh Hanna

Sunday 1 October, 5.30-6.30pm
Clarke Foley Centre, £7 (£5 for concessions)

Shakespeare’s plays were first introduced to Egypt in the late nineteenth century. Dr Sameh Hanna, Lecturer in Arabic Literature and Translation, investigates Arabic translations of Hamlet and Othello from the time, exploring whether Shakespeare’s work was used for border-crossing or boundary-making between Egyptian/Arab and British Cultures. His talk reveals the fascinating internal cultural and political dynamics of the Arab world. 

Book here

H.G. Wells – The Time Machine: Guided Reading Group

Monday 2 October/Wednesday 4 October/Monday 9 October/Wednesday 11 October, 6-7pm 
Manor House Education Room, £15 (£10 for concessions) 

Following hugely popular reading groups in previous years, PhD student Alex Aylward offers an expert guide to H.G. Wells’ seminal early science fiction work, The Time Machine. The book offers a fascinating reflection of late nineteenth century thought on evolution, degeneration and humankind’s place in nature. Alex will be helping the group explore this and themes of class, society, civilisation and decadence. 

Book here

Stephen Coleman on Internet Democracy

Monday 2 October, 7.45-8.45pm 
Ilkley Playhouse Wildman, £7 (£5 for concessions)

Can the internet invigorate democracy? Stephen Coleman, Professor of Political Communication at the School of Media and Communication and Research Associate at Oxford University’s Internet Institute, argues that governments and global institutions have failed to democratise their ways of operating. Instead, online citizens are leading the way, developing practices that are revolutionising the exercise of political power. Democracy needs to be reinverted for the twenty-first century. 

Book here

Grand Hotel Abyss – The Lives of the Frankfurt School: Stuart Jeffries

Saturday 7 October 3.15pm
Ilkley Playhouse Wharfeside, £7 (£5 for concessions)

In 1923 a group of young radical German thinkers and intellectuals, including Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno, came together in Frankfurt, determined to explain the workings of the modern world. Nearly a century on, Stuart Jeffries argues their diagnoses of our sick western society have never been more relevant. Jeffries, a freelance journalist for the Guardian and Financial Times, will read and answer questions. He will also be in conversation with Frank Finlay, Professor of German and Executive Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures at the University of Leeds.

Book here

London’s Triumph: Stephen Alford on Tudor London

Sunday 8 October, 6-7pm 
Ilkley Playhouse Wildman, £7 (£5 for concessions)  

Stephen Alford, Professor of Early Modern British History, tells the story of Tudor London’s century of transformation from a modest European city to a centre of global endeavour. Painting a vivid picture of life in Elizabethan London, Alford shows how, through voyages, adventures and misadventures, its merchants began to discover the world far beyond Europe. 

Book here

Just Another Jihadi Jane: Tabish Khair in Conversation with John McLeod

Tuesday 10 October, 7.30-8.30pm 
Ilkley Playhouse Wildman, £7 (£5 for concessions)

Born in India and currently based in Leeds, the distinguished writer Tabish Khair has explored themes of conflict, xenophobia and survival in a series of award-winning books. His latest novel, Just Another Jihadi Jane, depicts two Yorkshire schoolgirls, Jamilla and Ameena, tempted by the allure of radicalisation and fundamentalism. Khair reads and discusses his work with John McLeod, Professor of Postcolonial and Diaspora Literatures at the School of English. 

Book here

Fashion, Tweed and Abraham Moon: Regina Lee Blaszczyk

Tuesday 10 October, 7.30-8.30pm
Ilkley Playhouse Wharfeside, £7 (£5 for concessions)

Regina Lee Blaszczyk, Professor of Business History at the University of Leeds, examines the relationship between the textile mills of Yorkshire - which for 200 years provided the entire western world with wool fabrics – and their customers. Don’t miss intriguing stories about tweeds. Blaszczyk is the former cultural history curator at the Smithsonian and Professor of American studies at Boston University. 

Book here

Image above: Wartime fashions from British woollens, as shown at Selfridges, Oxford Street, in 1943.

Alan Hollinghurst in Conversation

Thursday 12 October 7.30pm
Ilkley Playhouse Wildman, £7 (£5 for concessions)

Alan Hollinghurst, supreme stylist of contemporary British fiction and previous winner of the Man Booker Prize, introduces his long-awaited sixth novel, The Sparsholt Affair, laden with witty, richly-observed prose. From Oxford, during the dark days of the Second World War, to contemporary London, Hollinghurst explores shifting taste, class and human interaction and reflects on sexuality, art and family secrets. This event will be chaired by John McLeod, Professor of Postcolonial and Diaspora Literatures at the School of English.

Book here

Poet of the Great War: Ivor Gurney

6th Annual British Academy/Leeds Humanities Research Institute Lecture
Friday 13 October, 5.30-7pm
Clothworkers Hall, University of Leeds, free 

Ivor Gurney was both a poet and a composer. Dr Philip Lancaster, accompanied by the pianist Gavin Roberts, combines talk, poetry readings and song to explore Gurney’s response to literature, landscape, history, memory and the First World War. 

Book here