New chapter in Ilkley Literary Festival partnership


The University is an official partner of Ilkley Literature Festival (ILF) for the second year running.

The festival – one of the most prestigious in the UK – runs from 4-20 October. The full programme is available to download and tickets are on sale now.

As ever, there is a strong focus on poetry, with Simon Armitage, Poet Laureate and University of Leeds’ Professor of Poetry opening the proceedings, and a poetry showcase featuring writers from the University of Leeds Poetry Centre.

Professor Armitage said: “I’m very pleased the University’s partnership with Ilkley Literature Festival has been renewed for another year.

“This is a wonderful cultural celebration between two proud literary institutions, and I’ve been a keen supporter and creative collaborator for many years now."

Staff from across the University are giving talks on topics ranging from the beers of Yorkshire to dinosaurs.

Vice-Chancellor Sir Alan Langlands said: “Our partnership not only celebrates creative writing; it seeks to support, inspire and amplify our emerging talent and enhance the breadth of possibilities for future writers and performers.”

Big names booked to appear at what is the largest and longest-running literary festival in the North of England include Clare Balding, Prue Leith, John Lanchester, Alastair Campbell, Mark Radcliffe, Kirsty Wark and Oyinkan Braithwaite

Professor Armitage added: "My role in helping shape the Stanza Stones trail from Marsden, where I was born, to Ilkley, as well as my work to commemorate Branwell Brontë’s bicentenary in nearby Haworth, highlight my strong affinity with the local landscape and its rich cultural heritage. It’s a particular honour to be asked to open this year’s festival.

“It’s also pleasing to see so many University colleagues adding to the festival programme through events showcasing some of the great work that goes on at the University, often behind the scenes and outside the spotlight, and I really would encourage people to attend some of the sessions on offer, especially on subjects they might not be familiar with. Chance encounters are nearly always the most rewarding and memorable.”

Erica Morris, Acting Festival Director, said: “We are delighted to be continuing our partnership with the University through the Cultural Institute.

“Our festival audiences hugely appreciate the opportunity to hear University academics share their research and expertise on a fascinating range of topics, and one of the joys of the partnership is providing opportunities for University students to get involved with the running, management and organisation of one of the longest established festivals in the UK literary calendar.

Events presented in partnership with the University

Opening night with Professor Simon Armitage
Friday 4 October, 7.30-8.30pm

King’s Hall, £14 (£10 for concessions)
Simon will be reading from his latest collection, Sandettie Light Vessel Automatic, which features some of the hundreds of poems he has written for various projects, commissions, collaborations and events. They vary from single poems, such as Zodiac T Shirt, written to be performed at the launch of music artist Beck’s Song Reader, to a suite of poems written to commemorate Branwell Brontë’s bicentenary and the six poems commissioned by ILF to form the Stanza Stones trail.

Dr Sarah Hudspith: Tolstoy and Contemporary Russia
Saturday 5 October, 1.30-2.30pm

Ilkley Playhouse Wharfeside, £8 (£5 for concessions)
Associate Professor of Russian at Leeds, Dr Sarah Hudspith, presents an illustrated talk on how Leo Tolstoy is viewed in Putin’s conservative, nationalist Russia. Tolstoy’s works, such as War and Peace and Anna Karenina, are rightly acknowledged to be among the pinnacles of world literature, but his work is out of kilter with the Russian state’s current nationalistic and militaristic stance. Looking at the use of Tolstoy’s work in events such as the opening of the 2014 Sochi Olympics and a televised marathon reading of War and Peace, Sarah will explore how Russian society attempts to reconcile Tolstoy’s political views with his cultural status.

Guided Reading Group: Dubliners
Sunday 6, Sunday 13 and Sunday 20 October, 3-4.30pm

Ilkley Moor Vaults, £20 (£12 for concessions) for all three sessions
Dr Georgina Binnie and Dr Karl O’Hanlon are running the reading groups this year with an in-depth conversation about James Joyce’s 1914 collection of seminal modernist short stories, Dubliners. Written at the peak of nationalism in Ireland, when the country itself was experiencing a progressive period of influences in its search for national identity, Joyce places Dublin at the heart of this movement and attempts to depict Irish middle class life.

James McKay: Trilobites, Dinosaurs and Mammoths
Sunday 6 October, 5-6pm

St Maragaret’s Hall, £8 (£5 for concessions)
Palaeoartist James McKay from Leeds introduces the prehistory of the British Isles. The British Isles are a special place for understanding the evolution of our world, as almost every time period is preserved in the rocks beneath our feet. James uses his detailed reconstructions of dinosaurs and other prehistoric animals to lead us through the changes that happened to life on our islands since the beginning of life on Earth.

Dr Fozia Bora: Capturing the Past
Sunday 13 October, 3-4pm

Church House, £8 (£5 for concessions)
In late 1300s Egypt, an obscure school teacher, Ibn al-Furat, began writing a history book. Resourceful in filling the work with letters, documents, poems and anecdotes from Arab, Persian and Latin sources, a rich treasure trove has been left to us. It would turn out to be a monumental endeavour. His own school crumbled to dust over time, but his history book survived. It seemed Arab communities valued books over buildings. Exploring the mindset and working methods of this influential historian, lecturer and prize-winning author, Dr Fozia Bora, takes us on a journey through this vivid account of history and the ‘archival’ mindset that produced historical works in the medieval Islamic world.

British Academy Annual Lecture: Dyslexia – A Very Short Introduction
Thursday 17 October, 6-7pm
Clothworkers' Centenary Concert Hall, Leeds (free, but
book in advance)
Professor Margaret Snowling CBE FBE presents the eighth British Academy Annual Lecture at Leeds. Since dyslexia was first described in the British Medical Journal in 1896, there has been debate about the definitions and diagnostic procedures used, with some casting doubt on its very existence. However, the contemporary view of dyslexia has emerged from a century of research in medicine, psychology and more recently neuroscience, and we now know enough about this learning disorder to guide policy and practice. Drawing on the findings in her latest book, Professor Snowling (President of St John’s College, Oxford) discusses how our understanding of dyslexia has evolved over time.

Simon Jenkins: The Great Beers of Yorkshire
Thursday 17 October, 8-9pm

Ilkley Playhouse Wildman, over-18s only, £10 (£6 for concessions), includes tasting samples
Beer writer and Development Communications Officer in the Alumni and Development team at Leeds, Simon Jenkins, trawled the length and breadth of Yorkshire seeking out brewers old and new, large and small. From fiercely traditional brewers producing time-honoured beers in slate Yorkshire squares, to the new-wave craft brewers embracing a dizzying variety of imported hops; from the ancient brewer hemmed in by a tight knot of cobbled streets to the brewery set up in a care home to draw attention to life-limiting genetic conditions, Simon found them all. Join Simon on an entertaining, hop-fuelled journey around the county.

DARE Liberty Lecture (produced by Opera North and the University): Maya Goodfellow
Saturday 19 October, 3.30-4.30pm

Ilkley Playhouse Wharfeside, £8 (£5 for concessions)
Maya Goodfellow is a writer, researcher and academic, whose new book, Hostile Environment, scrutinises why it is that migrants have become the scapegoats of contemporary mainstream politics. In this talk, she will offer a compelling answer, showing that distinct forms of racism and dehumanisation have directly resulted from immigration policy, and reminding us of the human cost of concessions to anti-immigration politics.

Dr Alan Mackintosh: Patents, Print and Georgian Medicine
Saturday 19 October, 5-6pm

Church House, £8 (£5 for concessions)
In the 18th and 19th centuries, patent medicines constituted a national industry that was popular, reputable and stable, not the visible manifestation of dishonest quackery as described later by doctors and many historians. Dr Alan Mackintosh, Research Fellow in the Centre for the History and Philosophy of Science at Leeds, explores how the roots of the commercial for-profit health care industry began much earlier than we might imagine and how much advertising copywriting was used to influence consumers’ imaginations to boost the effects of the products.

Dr Kimberley Campanello: MOTHERBABYHOME
Saturday 19 October, 7.30-8.30pm

Church House, £8 (£5 for concessions)
MOTHERBABYHOME is an excavation of voices connected to St Mary’s Mother and Baby Home in Tuam, Ireland. Run by the Bon Secours Sisters on behalf of the Irish State, it housed unmarried mothers and their children. The location of the graves of 796 infants and children who died there between 1926 and 1961 is still unknown. These poems are composed entirely of text taken from historical archives and contemporary sources related to the Home. Poet Dr Kimberly Campanello will read from the sonically rich pages of MOTHERBABYHOME and will be joined by Professor Fiona Becket – Head of the School of English at Leeds – to discuss MOTHERBABYHOME’s poetic response to this important and timely subject.

Professor John Whale: Preparing Poems for Publication
Sunday 20 October, 11.30am to 1.30pm

Clarke Foley Centre, £15 (£10 for concessions)
Director of the University of Leeds Poetry Centre and co-editor of Stand magazine, Professor John Whale will lead a workshop to help you prepare your poems for submissions to magazines. Drawing on his 18 years of editorial experience, John will help guide you along the route to successful publication. Workshop participants are asked to bring three or four poems with them for shared group discussion.

University of Leeds Poetry Centre Showcase
Sunday 20 October, 3.30-5pm

Ilkley Playhouse Wildman, £8 (£5 for concessions)
Poetry in the UK is thriving and nowhere is this more apparent than in the roster of poets at the University of Leeds Poetry Centre. Jamaican poet Jason Allen-Paisant’s work has appeared in sx salon, The Cossack Review and POUI. Dr Rachel Bower’s collection Moon Milk was published in 2018 and she is co-editor of the Verse Matters. Dr Kimberley Campanello’s publications include Consent, Strange Country, Imagines and Hymn to Kālī. Dr Karl O’Hanlan’s pamphlet And Now They Range was published by Guillemot Press in 2016. Dr Hannah Copley was shortlisted for the Faber New Poets Prize and her work appears in Verse Matters. Charlotte Eichler’s work has appeared in PN Review, The Rialto and Stand. Professor John Whale is Director of the University of Leeds Poetry Centre. His collections include Waterloo Teeth and Frieze.