Tickets for our 2023 festival are now on sale!
Continue reading below to find out more about our guest authors from previous festivals.
Poetry - BLOOD RAIN
André Mangeot’s poetry has appeared in the Spectator, New Statesman, Times Literary Supplement and has won many competitions, including the 2019 Robert Graves Prize. His latest collection, Blood Rain (Seren, 2020) combines the personal and the public to touch on some of the major challenges now facing the planet & has been described as as “a thought-provoking book for turbulent times”. As a member of poetry ensemble The Joy of Six he has performed at festivals across the UK and in New York. He also writes fiction and has published two books of short stories: A Little Javanese and True North (Salt) and recently completed a novel. He lives in Cambridge.
Non-Fiction - THE SEARCH
John Henry Philips
Bury St Edmunds born John Henry Philips is an author, archaeologist and filmmaker. A chance meeting with a D Day veteran led him to search for a shipwreck and to his latest book The Search, a moving true story of a devastating time in history, an unlikely, life-changing friendship and a quest to honour a wartime home and family lost over seventy-five years ago.
Fiction - THE BURNING QUESTION
Linda Regan is an actor best known for her roles in Hi-De-Hi!, the Carry On films, The Bill and Birds of a Feather. She is also a prolific and best selling author of gritty crime novels all set in South London where Linda grew up and where, in her words, crime is pretty tough. Her most recent book, The Burning Question, is the eighth in the DCI Banham series and reunites readers with detective duo DCI Paul Banham and DI Alison Grainger as they search for the link between a chain of suspicious arson attacks fatally targeting young women.
Linda meticulously researches her books but recently this got her into an unexpected brush with the Law. She had been shadowing a Met Dog training team and as a result there was cocaine on her shoes which a police dog smelt at Canary Wharf Tube Station.
Biography - SYBIL & CYRIL CUTTING THROUGH TIME
Jenny Uglow OBE FRSL is a distinguished biographer, historian, critic and publisher who has written biographies of George Eliot, Elizabeth Gaskell, William Hogarth, Thomas Bewick, and Edward Lear amongst others. She has been awarded the Hawthornden Prize, the James Tait Black Memorial Prize and the Hessell-Tiltman Prize and many of her books have been short listed for the Whitbread Prize, the Baillie Gifford Prize (formerly the Samuel Johnson Prize) and the Duff Cooper Prize for Non-fiction. She also compiled the first edition of The Macmillan Dictionary of Women’s Biography about which she said: “I embarked on the Macmillan Biographical Dictionary of Women in a fit of pique because all reference books were full of men: it was a mad undertaking, born of a time when feminists wanted heroines and didn’t have Google.”
Jenny’s biographies have been particularly praised for their vivid, detailed recreation of the time and place in which their subjects lived and nowhere more so than in her latest book, the beautifully illustrated Sybil and Cyril – Cutting through Time, the story of Sybil Andrews and Cyril Power. Sybil Andrews was an outstanding artist best known for her ground breaking stylised linocuts portraying daily rural and urban life. She was born in Bury St Edmunds in 1898 where her family had an ironmongers (Andrews & Plumpton) in Guildhall Street and she often used the town as her subject. A rare tapestry made by her is in the Cathedral and Moyses Hall holds a number of her linocuts and paintings. The Sybil Andrews Academy on Moreton Hall is named after her.
This event is generously supported by the Bury Society.
Fiction - DEAR LITTLE CORPSES & THE CAT AND THE PENDULUM
Nicola Upson & Mandy Morton
Real life partners Nicola and Mandy both write crime novels but of very different genres. Nicola writes historical crime fiction featuring Josephine Tey, a real-life crime novelist. Her latest novel Dear Little Corpses is set in Suffolk at the beginning of the Second World War when many children were evacuated from the cities.
“The obvious subject matter at the time that it was written, which was in the early days of lockdown, was separation. It was difficult to write about, but very easy to imagine. All the fear and uncertainty of a world on the brink of a war and also the pain of separation. That was very real to us,” said Nicola.
Mandy Morton writes crime novels to make you smile. Her No. 2 Feline Detective Agency series is set in an alternative cat world, which is much like our human one, with the exception that there aren’t any police in the picture. They feature Hettie Bagshot, a long-haired tabby cat whose whiskers twitch at the first sign of a mystery, and her best friend Tilly Jenkins. They are brimming with puns, food, and fun but also solid mysteries, many of which are by no means as cosy as you might expect. In Mandy’s latest book, The Cat and the Pendulum, Hettie and Tilly are called in to investigate Agatha Crispy’s stolen manuscript.
Nicola was born in Bury St Edmunds and is a Patron of the Festival. She started as an arts journalist and writer and she originally planned to write a biography of Josephine Tey, a complex and multi-talented woman who had fascinated Nicola for many years. However, in the end, Nicola decided to tell Tey’s life through a series of fictional murder mysteries, which is the genre she is best known for these days. Nicola’s novels draw on all the much-loved conventions of the Golden Age writers and are underpinned by sound historic research, though she gives her stories a very contemporary twist.
Nicola has been long and short listed for the CWA Gold Dagger Award and the CWA Sapere Books Historical Dagger.
Mandy Morton began her professional life as a musician with Cambridge folk rock band, Spriguns. Her songwriting formed the basis of six albums during the 1970s and early 1980s, when she toured extensively with the band and then as a solo artist both here and in Scandinavia. More recently, she has worked as a freelance arts journalist for national and local radio, specialising in making music and theatre documentary. She is the co-author of a non-fiction theatre book, In Good Company. It was after retiring from her broadcasting career that she started writing her novels, spurred on by Nicola. PD James called them ‘Original and intriguing… a world without people which cat lovers will enter and enjoy.’
Poetry - EAST COAST POETS
John Row and the East Coast Poets
John Row is a well known & much loved poet and storyteller. He is also the first storyteller to be 'in residence' in a British prison, and worked at HMP Highpoint, HMP Wayland and HMP Blundeston as Writer in Residence. He has been a visiting writer in over 30 prisons as well as working in schools and in the community both here and abroad.
East Coast Poets are a loose collective of poets from Norfolk and Suffolk that grew out of a long running series of workshops led by John. Their styles vary from the humerous verse of Emma Brookes 'The Norfolk Dumpling' reinventing traditional tales and putting them in a modern setting, through the dry and incisive words of Andrew Underwood, through Clare Smith's individual take on the world and life to 'The Skinny Poet' Jody Lee's epic performance [pieces cutting to the very heart of the human condition.
Non-Fiction - ANYONE FOR EDMUND?
Comic writer Simon Edge talked about his latest book ANYONE FOR EDMUND, which Francis Young calls "Gripping, funny and richly entertaining. Not only a compelling read, but also grounded in real history and the genuine questions of national identity that are still thrown up by the legacies of medieval patron saints."
ANYONE FOR EDMUND takes aim at politicians who never miss an opportunity to promote themselves. He talks about the genesis of his novel, the benefits of telling historical stories in a modern setting, the ups and downs of publishing his tale in the year everything was cancelled.
Simon is a former journalist and gossip columnist so is familiar with the world he satirises in ANYONE FOR EDMUND. His books mix with historical facts and figures with warm hearted comedy and satire. He is also a publisher, editor and enthusiastic yoga practitioner.
Non-Fiction - UNDER THE STARS : A JOURNEY INTO LIGHT
Matt Gaw is a writer, journalist and naturalist who lives in Bury St Edmunds. He has been called 'One of the most inspiring of our young nature writers.' by Stephen Moss, naturalist and author of THE ROBIN : A BIOGRAPHY.
In his first book, THE PULL OF THE RIVER, Matt chronicles his exploration, by canoe, of Britain's rivers.
In his second book, UNDER THE STARS: A JOURNEY INTO LIGHT, Matt explores the power of walking by the light of the moon in Suffolk and under the scattered buckshot of starlight in Scotland; braving the darkest depths of Dartmoor; investigating the glare of 24/7 London and the suburban sprawl of Bury St Edmunds; and, finally, rediscovering a sense of the sublime on the Isle of Coll. he calls us to reconnect with the natural world, showing how we only need to step outside to find that, in darkness, the world lights up.
Matt has had work published in the Telegraph, the Guardian and the Times. He works with the Suffolk Wildlife Trust, edits Suffolk Wildlife and writes a monthly country diary for the Suffolk Magazine.
Non-Fiction - EDMUND - IN SEARCH OF ENGLAND'S LOST KING
Dr Francis Young is a well known historian with a particular interest in Counter-Reformation culture and popular religion (including magic and the supernatural) in England. He is also an expert on St Edmund and his Abbey in Bury St Edmunds, the ruins of which are the glorious Abbey Gardens. Edmund was the martyred monarch of the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of East Anglia and England's first patron saint. Francis firmly beleives that St Edmund's body will be found somewhere beneath the Abbey Gardens, possibly under the site of the old tennis courts and has set out his theories in EDMUND: IN SEARCH OF ENGLAND'S LOST KING.
Fiction - THE SECRET OF THE LAKE
Liz trenow, international bestselling author of historical novels such as IN LOVE AND WAR and THE SILK WEAVER, returns to her East Anglian roots for her latest book THE SECRETS OF THE LAKE, a very personal novel inspired by her childhood and a mysterious local legend.
Liz's family have been silk weavers for nearly three hundred years, and she grew up in the house next to the mill in Sudbury which still operates today, weaving for top-end fashion houses and royal commisions. This unique history inspired her first two novels and the fourth novel, THE SILK WEAVER.
THE SECRET OF THE LAKE is a coming of age story set in Suffolk with a tragic mystery at its heart. The traumas of two world wars reverberate through a rural village, rocking the community and threatening the innocence of a new generation.
Liz talked about her writing life and her fascination with history.
Fiction - TIME SONG
Julia is the author of 16 books, including two novels both of which were shortlisted for the Orange Prize, poetry and several biographies and memoirs. THREADS: THE DELICATE LIFE OF JOHN CRASKE was the 2015 East Anglian Book of the Year and won the New Angle Prize and she has been shortlisted for many other prestigious prizes and awards.
Julia Blackburn has always collected things that hold stories about the very distant past, as she trawls the Suffolk coastline near her home: mammoth bones, two million years old shells, a flint sharpened into a weapon. Her latest book TIME SONG brings many of these stories together as it tells of the creation, the existence and the loss of a country now called Doggerland, a huge and fertile area that once connected the entire east coast of England with mainland Europe, until it was finally submerged by rising sea levels around 5000BC.
Fragments from Julia's own life feature alongside a series of eighteen 'songs' and stories about the places and people she meets in her quest to get closer to an understanding of Doggerland.
Fiction - THE DEAD OF WINTER
Bury born Nicola Upson is the author of a best selling series of crime novels featuring a fictional Josephine Tey who, in real life, was a noted writer of detective novels herself. Her latest novel, THE DEAD OF WINTER, the ninth in the series, is set in Cornwall in 1938 as dark clouds gather over Europe. It was long-listed for the 2021 CWA Gold Dagger Award and CWA Sapere Books Historical Dagger.
Nicola's crime novels draw on all the much loved conventions of the Golden Age writers, underpinned by sound historic research, whilst giving them a very contemporary twist.
Fiction - THE TRAWLERMEN
Before becoming a crime writer, William Shaw was an award-winning journalist and the author of several non-fiction books including WESTSIDERS: STORES OF THE BOYS IN THE HOOD, about a year spent with the young men of South Central Los Angeles, and A SUPERHERO FOR HIRE, a compilation of columns in the Observer Magazine.
William's series featuring DS Cathal Breen and the brash young constable Helen Tozer are set in late sixties London amidst the cultural and political revolution of the times. They have been called "an elegy for an entire alienated generation".
Following his acclaimed novel, THE BIRDWATCHER, set in the bleak landscape of Dungeness, he has written a contemporary series also set there, featuring DS Alexandra Cupidi, a woman making her way in what is still a male dominated world. The latest in the series is THE TRAWLERMEN.
Autobiography - ABOVE THE LAW
After the RAF, Adrian Bleese began working for Suffolk Constabulary and spent years flying on police helicopters. In ABOVE THE LAW he recounts the most intriguining, challenging, amusing and downright baffling episodes in his career working for Suffolk Constabulary and the National Police Air Service. Rescuing lost walkers, chasing cars down narrow country lanes, searching for a rural cannabis factory and disrupting an illegal forest rave...they're all in day's work!
It's a side of policing that most of us never see, and he describes it with real compassion as he lives his dream job, indulging his love of flying, the English landscape and helping people. More than anything it's a story about hope.
Biography - ORWELL : THE LIFE
Norwich born David Taylor has written over 26 books, a dozen novels among them. These include ENGLISH SETTLEMENT, which won a Grinzane Cavour Award, TRESSPASS and DERBY DAY, both longlisted for the Booker Prize, KEPT, a Publisher's Weekly Book of the Year, THE WINDSOR FACTION, joint winner of the Sidewise Award for Alternate History, and , most recently, ROCK AND ROLL IS LIFE: THE TRUE STORY OF THE HELIUM KIDS BY ONE WHO WAS THERE. He has published two collections of short stories, with a thrid, STEWKEY BLUES, due to come out next year.
He has written two magisterial biographies, one of the life of Thackeray and Whitbread prize-winning biography of Orwell. David is currently annotating Orwell's novels as well as writing a new updated biography ORWELL ; THE NEW LIFE and it is this that he spoke on at the festival.
Fiction - A BEAUTIFUL SPY
Rachel is a multi-million copy Sunday Times bestselling auhtor, has been shortlisted for the Romantic Novelists' Association Novel of the Year, and was a Richard and Judy Bookclub pick. She is an Honorary Lecturer in Creative Writig at UEA. She is the author of ten novels, many of which are woven from the past and the present. Her latest book A BEAUTIFUL SPY was inspired by the life of Olga Gray.
Playwriting - R4's CONVERSATIONS FROM A LONG MARRIAGE
Jan Etherington is a multi-award-winning comedy writer. She has written for local and national newspapers and magazines as well as being an entertaining broadcaster. She is best known as a playwright for stage, television and radio. Her gentle, but perceptive comedy has universal appeal. Many listeners identify with the couple in her hugely popular BBC Radio 4 drama CONVERSATIONS FROM A LONG MARRIAGE which stars Joanna Lumley and Roger Allam.
Jan has always written comedy, having started young contributing to her school magazine. Her early career, as a journalist, began on music magazines and continued through features, humorous columns and star interviews for major newspapers and magazines. She still works as a freelance newspaper writer, contributing travel, features and comment articles to many national newspapers and magazines, as well as a monthly column to the Suffolk magazine.
Fiction - THE LAND OF THE LIVING
Georgina is the author of five novels, including THE SPY GAME, which was shortlisted for the Encore Award, and PAINTER OF SILENCE, which was shortlisted for the Orange Prize for Fiction 2012. her deeply moving novel, THE LAND OF THE LIVING was published in 2018 to widespread critical acclaim.
The much loved Wendy Cope talks about her long career, her poetry and reads some of her witty and pitch perfect poetry.
Fiction - PERFIDIOUS ALBION
Sam was born in Bury St Edmunds and in his critically acclaimed, and darkly funny novels, IDIOPATHY and PERFIDIOUS ALBION he explores the political present and the possibilities of the near future.
A conversation with the hugely popular, award-winning Erica James and an opportunity to ask her questions. Erica's feel good novels are the antidote to grey, anxious times.
Writer, journalist and naturalist Matt Gaw brings the beauty of the natural world to life in his luminous writing.
Fiction & Playwriting
Jackie Carreira & Pauline Manders
Award-winning local playwright and novelist, Jackie, and writer of the popular Suffolk-based 'Utterly' crime series of novels, Pauline, discuss the highs and loves of independent publishing.
Self-Development - HOW TO HOLD A GRUDGE
Sophie will talk about her career as a renowned poet, award-winning writer of scary psychological thrillers, reincarnation of Agatha Christie - her Hercule Poirot mysteries are best sellers - and now her self development writing with HOW TO HOLD A GRUDGE: FROM RESENTMENT TO CONTENTMENT- THE POWER OF GRUDGES TO TRANSFORM YOUR LIFE.
Poetry - EDWARD FITZGERALD'S RUBAIYAT OF OMAR KHAYYAM
Edward Fitzgerald was born in Woodbridge and educated in Bury St Edmunds. His 1859 translation of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam was called 'One of Suffolk's greatest gifts to the world' by Alfred, Lord Tennyson. Charles Mugleston brang both poem and translator to life in this special event.
Best-selling author Ruth Hogan talked about her warm-hearted fiction - just what we need today.
Non-Fiction - HOLY AND UNHOLY SUFFOLK: ADVENTURES IN SUFFOLK'S HISTORY AND FOLKLORE.
Well known historian Francis Young will talk about Holy and Unholy Suffolk: Adventures in Suffolk's History and Folklore.
Children's Fiction - THE GARDEN OF LOST SECRETS
Ann-Marie will talk about her magical debut novel THE GARDEN OF LOST SECRETS and how she came to write it.
Fiction - SENTINEL TRILOGY
Josh will talk about his books including Vicious Rumer "A truly bad-ass heroine" & his dark fantasy SENTINEL TRILOGY.
Fiction - THE DEATH OF LUCY KYTE
Nicola will talk about her series of crime novels starring Josephine Tey including THE DEATH OF LUCY KYTE inspired by the Red Barn Murders.
Poetry - a joint event with Poetry Aloud
A BALLAD OF THE FEN
Fen Song, a beautiful and haunting sequence of poetry and song inspired by the East Anglian landscape followed by the ever popular Open Mic.
Louis de Bernières
Louis de Bernières is known for his 1994 historical war novel Captain Corelli's Mandolin which won the Commonwealth Writers Prize for Best Book. It has been translated into over 11 languages and is an international best-
Linda Davies and her husband hit national headlines in 2005 when they were taken hostage by Iranian militants off the coast of Dubai. Linda decided to tell her story in the bestselling book 'Hostage'.
Harry Sidebottom & Anthony Riches in conversation
Two bestselling masters of historical fiction come together for an evening of entertainment as they chat about writing, history and more.
Fiction - THE ESSEX SERPENT
Bestselling author and writer of Waterstones Book Of The Year 2016: THE ESSEX SERPENT. An opportunity to hear Sarah talk about her work and inspiration for her award-winning novels.
Best known as the natural history writer for The Guardian, Patrick has also published a number of fascinating books. In his latest, 'Islander' (due to be published in October) he takes us on a journey around Britain's many islands, considering the history, wildlife and landscapes of these magical places. Patrick talks about his findings and his desire to discover what it truly means to be an Islander.
James Campbell, children's writer and comedian and author of the 'Boyface' series of books, will be at Waterstones, The Arc, Bury St Edmunds, talking about his work and inspiring the next generation of writers in his unique, hilarious way.
Fiction - DEAR AMY
Published in 2016, Helen's debut novel 'Dear Amy' quickly became a Sunday Times Bestseller. A tense and imaginative plot with plenty of twists, it's easy to see why this psychological thriller has enthralled so many readers. Currently working on her second novel, Helen will talk about how she got into writing, how 'Dear Amy' came about and maybe a few hints at what's in store for readers in her next book.
History - George Orwell in Suffolk
September 1934 in Southwold, George Orwell complains in a letter to a friend that "...the fair, or part of it, has come back and established itself on the common just beyond the cinema, so that I have to work to the accompaniment of roundabout music that goes on till the small hours." In this talk Ann Kronbergs will look at the ways a place and its people can shape a writer’s imagination.
Children's Fiction - The Fox in The Box
Children's author Amanda has lived in Suffolk all her life. She's always had a love of wildlife and been surrounded by many animals including dogs, horses and sheep. Amanda started writing in her spare time only a year ago but soon discovered she really enjoyed writing in verse. With a desire to educate children, and pass on her passion, about the environment and our wonderful wildlife 'The Fox in the Box' was written.
Non-Fiction - HOLY AND UNHOLY SUFFOLK: ADVENTURES IN SUFFOLK'S HISTORY AND FOLKLORE.
Well known historian Francis Young will talk about Holy and Unholy Suffolk: Adventures in Suffolk's History and Folklore.
Fiction - CONVERSATIONS IN CRIME
ALISON BRUCE & ELLY GRIFFITHS
Two queens of crime come together in conversation about their work. Alison Bruce's first novel, Cambridge Blue, introduced both detective, DC Gary Goodhew, and her trademark Cambridge setting. She went on to complete the series with a further six novels before writing the psychological thriller I Did It for Us. In 2013 and 2016 Alison was short-listed for the CWA Dagger in the Library Award. Among Elly Griffiths' novels is her bestselling series of Dr Ruth Galloway books, featuring a forensic archaeologist in Norfolk. This series won the CWA Dagger In The Library Award and has been shortlisted three times for the Theakston's Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year.