Looking back at our brilliant 2023 festival
Friday 20th October
6.30pm Elizabeth Cook: Poet
We open this year’s Festival, as we always have, with poetry.
Celebrated poet, Elizabeth Cook, is returning to Bury where, some years ago, she was Poet in Residence at the Cathedral, to talk about and read poetry from her collections BOWL and WHEN I KISS THE SKY.
About the author:
Elizabeth Cook is a poet, novelist and librettist. She is the author of Achilles, a noveland theatre work, and Lux, which links the Scriptural story of David and Bathsheba with 16th century English poet, Thomas Wyatt. In 2013 she was St Edmundsbury Cathedral's first writer in residence. Her long poemEdmund in Edmundsbury; was initially published in a small hand-printed edition and is now available in the longer collection, When I Kiss the Sky. The title poem of her earlier collection, Bowl, was a Poem on the Underground. She was recently a Royal Literary Fund Fellow at Queen Mary University. While she writes in various genres, poetry is at the heart of it all and her work is grounded in a strong sense of bodily reality.
7.30pm Opening Party & Open Mic
Join us as we launch this year's Bury St Edmunds Literature Festival with our annual party and Open-Mic.
The mic-will be open for 5 minutes to those who wish to share their poetry, spoken word, storytelling or fiction works or works in progress.
This will also be an opportunity to mingle with other book lovers, raise a glass to the festival by purchasing a drink at our fully licenced bar.
It will also see the announcement of the winners of this year's Short Story Competition.
Saturday 21st October
12pm Hannah Gold
Award-Winning Children's Author
Join award-winning author Hannah Gold for a morning of storytelling and discussion for children, young people and parents. If you like animals and big-hearted adventures then this is the event for you!
Can you imagine making friends with a polar bear? Are you passionate about protecting our planet? Hannah Gold’s heart-warming and unforgettable stories celebrate the love between children and animals and show that no one is too young or insignificant to make a difference. In Hannah's inspirational event, prepare to be enthralled by tales of April and Bear from the bestseller The Last Bear (winner of the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize 2022 and Blue Peter Book Award 2022) and discover their latest exciting adventure (including a tiny polar bear cub!) in the highly anticipated sequel, Finding Bear.
About the author:
Hannah Gold worked in the film and magazine industries before taking time out to pursue her dream of writing. The Last Bear, is her middle-grade debut which became an instant classic and international bestseller on release in 2021. It has won the Blue Peter Book Award for Best Story, the Waterstones Children's Book Prize for Younger Readers and Overall Children's Book of the Year, and was shortlisted for the British Book Awards Best Children's Book of the Year, nominated for the CILIP Carnegie Medal as well as being The Sunday Times Children's Book of the Week. The Lost Whale is Hannah’s second middle-grade novel which tells an incredible story about the connection between a boy and a whale and the bond that sets them both free. It won the Stanford Travel Writing Award for Children's Book of the Year in 2023 and Hannah has been appointed an official ambassador of the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society. Hannah’s eagerly awaited new novel Finding Bear, the sequel to Hannah’s dazzling debut, will see April and Bear reunite in an unforgettable adventure publishing on the 28th of September 2023. All novels are illustrated by renowned artist Levi Pinfold.
1.30pm Marianne Levy
Unspoken Truths About Motherhood
Like grief or falling in love, becoming a mother is an experience both ordinary and transformative. But alongside the sleeplessness and wonder, the extent to which it can be profoundly destabilising can come as a shock. DON’T FORGET TO SCREAM is a frank, funny and fearless exploration of what it means to become a mother that confronts the psychological shifts that can overturn a woman's sense of self. It aims to break the silence around the emotional turmoil that having a child can unleash and asks why motherhood is at once so venerated and so undervalued. Marianne Levy will be in conversation about her book, considering the real story of being a mother in the modern world. Bold, humane and uncompromising, she writes with dazzling honesty about love and loss, rage and pain, heartache and joy. This is a book that mothers will be glad to have read - and will need everyone else to read, too.
About the author:
Marianne Levy is the author of several children's books and her journalism has appeared in the Independent, the Guardian and the Financial Times. She writes features, book and television reviews for the i newspaper, where she is the lead children's book critic.
Children are welcome to attend this event with their parents -there will be an area with colouring activities and babes in arms are welcome.
3pm Ashley Hickson-Lovence
YOUR SHOW: the life of Uriah Rennie, the Premier League’s first Black referee
‘The Uriah Rennie Show? Damn right it is.’
From Jamaica to Sheffield to the recently formed Premier League, Uri rises through the ranks as a referee, making it to the highest level of our national game. But along the way he is confronted with tensions and prejudices, old and new, which emerge as his every move is watched, analysed and commented on.
Norwich based author, Phd and creative writing lecturer Ashley Hickson-Lovence will be in conversation about his second novel YOUR SHOW, a stirring, stylistically unorthodox novel that fictionalises the life of Uriah Rennie, the Premier League’s first Black referee. It is a book about a football referee, yes, but it is also the story of one man's pioneering efforts to make it, against the odds, to the very top of his profession and beyond.
Ashley will also read a short extract and talk about his upcoming East Anglia based novel for Young Adults WILD EAST which is due to be published in early 2024.
About the author:
Ashley Hickson-Lovence is a novelist and Lecturer of Creative Writing. While working as a secondary school English teacher, he completed his MA in Creative Writing and Publishing from City, University of London and has recently completed his PhD in Creative and Critical Writing from the University of East Anglia. His debut novel THE 392 was published in 2019. His second novel YOUR SHOW was released with Faber in 2022 and was longlisted for the Gordon Burn Prize and shortlisted for the East Anglian Book Awards. His third book, a young adult novel-in-verse called WILD EAST, is to be released with Penguin in 2024. He is currently completing a new novel called ABOUT TO FALL APART.
4.30pm Kate Sawyer
author of Bury St Edmunds set THIS FAMILY & Costa Shortlisted THE STRANDING
Local author Kate Sawyer will be in conversation about her new Bury St Edmunds based novel THIS FAMILY.
With shades of Mrs Dalloway, THIS FAMILY is set over the course of an English summer's day but punctuated with memories from the past forty years of love and loss, hope and joy, heartbreak and grief. This is the story of a family told by a chorus of characters. It is an exploration of the small moments that bring us to where we are, the changes that are brought about by time, and what, despite everything, stays the same.
Kate will also discuss her Costa shortlisted and East Anglian Book Award winning debut novel THE STRANDING and talk about the process of adapting it for the screen.
About the author:
Kate Sawyer was born and grew up in Bury St Edmunds. She trained as an actor at Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art in London and subsequently worked as an actor, producer and wrote several short films before turning her hand to fiction. Her debut novel, THE STRANDING (Coronet, 2021), was shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award, won the East Anglian fiction prize, was adapted for BBC Radio 4 Book at Bedtime and is being developed for TV by Fremantle and Afua Hirsch's production company Born In Me. Her second novel THIS FAMILY (Coronet, 2023) was published in May this year to great critical acclaim. She is the host of Novel Experience, a weekly podcast where she talks to authors about their writing practices and the experiences that brought them to, through and beyond publication. After twenty years living in London, and briefly New York and LA, she recently returned to her native Bury St Edmunds, where, as a solo mother by choice, she lives with her young daughter.
6pm Annie Garthwaite
author of CECILY -‘Has the New Hilary Mantel arrived?’ The Sunday Telegraph
Wife. Mother. Politician. Traitor. Fighter. Survivor.
You are Cecily.
But when the king who governs you proves unfit, what then?
Loyalty or treason - death may follow both. The board is set. Time to make your first move.
Novelist Annie Garthwaite will be in conversation about her hugely successful novel CECILY, told through the eyes of its greatest unknown protagonist, Cecily Neville, Duchess of York. Annie will talk about the true history behind her debut that plunges you into the closed bedchambers and bloody battlefields of the first days of the Wars of the Roses. There will be much to discuss as Cecily stayed close to the centre of power through 80 years of tumultuous British history: mothering two kings, bearing twelve children, burying all but two, surviving beyond her house’s ruin. For a woman at any time she is remarkable. For a woman during the 15th century, she is extraordinary. Written off over the centuries, her life is the one of the greatest untold stories in British history and has never been bought to life like this before.
About the author:
Annie Garthwaite grew up in a working-class community in the northeast of England. She studied English at the University of Wales before embarking on a thirty-year international business career working with multi-national companies and eventually establishing her own communications consultancy. In 2017 she studied for an MA in Creative Writing at Warwick University and, during two years of study, wrote her debut novel CECILY which was published by Penguin in 2021. Cecily was named a ‘top pick’ by The Times and Sunday Times and a ‘Best Book of 2021’ by independent bookshops and Waterstones. Annie’s second novel, THE KING’S MOTHER, will be published by Penguin in July 2024.
7.30pm Elly Griffiths
Sunday Times Bestselling & Award-Winning author of the Ruth Galloway Mysteries
Join us as we welcome back Elly Griffiths, queen of Crime fiction and author of over 25 novels in the genre, for her second appearance at Bury St Edmunds Literature Festival. Elly, last talked about her work as a headline act for our inaugural festival in 2018.
This time she will be interviewed about her work, with a focus on her East Anglia set Dr Ruth Galloway Mysteries and her most recent novel in that series THE LAST REMAINS. Elly will also talk about her shortly to be released NORFOLK, a photographic journey through magical Norfolk and a stunning companion to her beloved crime series. In this book Elly takes us through a year in the Norfolk landscape, featuring the fascinating locations that have inspired her series and her writing.
About the author:
Elly Griffiths is the author of the bestselling DR RUTH GALLOWAY SERIES, THE BRIGHTON MYSTERIES and three stand-alone crime novels. She also writes the JUSTICE JONES MYSTERY SERIES for children. She won the 2020 Edgar Award for THE STRANGER DIARIES and, in 2016 was awarded the prestigious CWA Dagger in the Library Award for her work in the genre.
Sunday 22nd October
1.30pm Gwen John : A Radical Life in Art Professor Maggie Humm & Annabel Abbs
This year, with the spotlight clearly on Gwen John with a high-profile exhibition at Pallant House Gallery (the first solo exhibition of John’s work since 1926), Maggie Humm and Annabel Abbs will be in conversation about what the celebrated artist can teach the women of today about how to live a life of creativity, purpose, and independence. They will discuss their award-winning books, A RADICAL WOMAN: GWEN JOHN & RODIN and WINDSWEPT: WHY WOMEN WALK, both of which centre John’s work and life.
About the authors:
Annabel Abbs is a writer of highly acclaimed fiction and non-fiction. Her first novel, THE JOYCE GIRL, won the Impress New Writer Prize and was translated into 12 languages. Her second novel, FRIEDA: THE REAL LADY CHATTERLEY, was a Times Book of the Year 2018, and translated into eight languages. Her third, THE AGE-WELL PROJECT, was published in June 2019. Her fourth book, WINDSWEPT: WHY WOMEN WALK, a memoir and history of walking women, including Gwen John, was shortlisted for several awards in the UK and the US. Her fifth book, international best-seller, THE LANGUAGE OF FOOD, tells the fictionalised story of cookery writer, Eliza Acton and has been translated into 20 languages Her most recent nonfiction book, 52 WAYS TO WALK, explores the art and science of walking.
Professor Maggie Humm’s novel RADICAL WOMAN: GWEN JOHN & RODIN (EER 2023) is a fictional autobiography of Gwen and her tumultuous affair with Auguste Rodin the sculptor and was short-listed for the Page Turner Award 2022. Her debut novel TALLAND HOUSE (SWP 2020), was shortlisted for the Impress Prize, Fresher Fiction Prize, Retreat West Prize and Eyelands Prize and longlisted by the Historical Writers’ Association. Talland House was one of the Washington Independent Review of Books ‘51 Favorite Books of 2020′, 2021 Next Generation Indie Book Awards Finalist in Historical Fiction and 2021 Eric Hoffer Award Grand Prize Shortlist. She is also the author of fourteen academic books including the best-selling MODERN FEMINISMS, and several books on Virginia Woolf.
3pm New Voices in Fiction Out of East Anglia :
a panel event with Karen Angelico, Sussie Anie, Rajasree Variyar and Eva Verde
Who are the new voices of the region that we should be looking out for and what are they writing about?
Join us as we introduce four exciting new voices in fiction: Sussie Anie, Karen Angelico, Rajasree Variyar and Eva Verde. Expect this panel event to involve discussion of what tools studying on University of East Anglia’s celebrated writing courses gave them and if and how East Anglia has influenced their writing or how they write. Each author will also introduce their novel, talk about the experience of debuting as an author and share what might be on the horizon for their futures.
About the authors:
Sussie Anie is a British-Ghanaian writer, born in London in 1994. Her writing has been published in Lolwe magazine and was shortlisted for the 2020 White Review Short Story Prize. She has an MA in Creative Writing from the UEA, where she was the recipient of the 2018-19 Kowitz Scholarship. Her debut novel TO FILL A YELLOW HOUSE was longlisted for the 2023 Authors' Club Best First Novel Award.
'Anie's touching debut delivers a heartfelt message about what can happen when strangers from different backgrounds connect.' Washington Post
Karen Angelico was born in Coventry and grew up in the West Midlands. She now lives in Suffolk with her four sons and works as a marketing content writer. She has a degree in Literature & Art History and an MA in Creative Writing from UEA. EVERYTHING WE ARE is her first novel.
'This is a story about lack of communication, of secrets and lies and bottling things up. It's urban, slick and wonderfully written with plenty of sex, drugs and glossy modern lifestyle detail. But at its centre is someone twisted and sad and Angelico's great achievement is to create sympathy for him' Daily Mail
Rajasree Variyar grew up in Sydney, Australia and now lives in London, where she juggles writing while working in digital insurance product development. She holds a MA in Creative Writing from UEA. Her novel THE DAUGHTERS OF MADURAI was shortlisted for Hachette UK's 2019 Mo Siewcharran prize. Her short stories have won second prize in the Shooter Literary Magazine short story competition and been longlisted for the Brick Lane Bookshop short story competition.
'Lying at the heart of this powerful and moving novel is the shocking practice of female infanticide. Once read it is not easily forgotten' Daily Mail
Eva Verde is a writer from East London. Identity, class and female rage are recurring themes throughout her work. Her debut novel LIVES LIKE MINE, is published by Simon and Schuster. Eva's love song to libraries, I AM NOT YOUR TITUBA forms part of Kit De Waal’s COMMON PEOPLE: AN ANTHOLOGY OF WORKING-CLASS WRITERS. She has written for Marie Claire, Grazia, Elle and The Big Issue, and penned the new foreword for the international bestselling author Jackie Collins Goddess of Vengeance. Eva lives in Essex with her husband, children and dog. Her second novel IN BLOOM will be published in August 2023.
'Lives Like Mine explores the theme of a school-run affair and the complications and joys it brings to a dual-heritage mother struggling with her intolerant in-laws' Independent
4.30pm Mysteries of the Suffolk Coast Polly Crosby and SA Harris, discuss their novels steeped in the mystery and ghosts which haunt the Suffolk coastline
The Suffolk coast is many things: beautiful, unspoiled and wild in parts, built up and industrialised in others, not to mention certain well-heeled spots that are overrun with tourists at high season. The work of two local authors, Polly Crosby and SA Harris, focuses on the mystery and ghosts of the area.
Polly and Sally will discuss their work in this genre, reading from and discussing their most recent books: Polly’s VITA AND THE BIRDS, a dual timeline novel about a derelict building and a heart-breaking secret that links two women through time and SA Harris’ SEAHURST a novel about the secrets of a summer home on the Suffolk coast and the souls that haunt it seeking their revenge.
About the author:
Polly Crosby grew up on the Suffolk coast, and now lives with her husband and son in the heart of Norfolk. Polly’s third novel, Vita & the Birds, came out in May this year. Her first novel for young adults, This Tale is Forbidden - a dystopian fractured fairytale with hints of the Brother’s Grimm and The Handmaid’s Tale - is out in January next year with Scholastic. In 2018, Polly won Curtis Brown Creative’s Yesterday Scholarship, which enabled her to finish her debut novel, The Illustrated Child. Later the same year, she was awarded runner-up in the Bridport Prize’s Peggy Chapman Andrews Award for a First Novel. Polly received the Annabel Abbs Creative Writing Scholarship at the University of East Anglia. Polly can be found on Twitter, Instagram & Tiktok as @WriterPolly Website: pollycrosby.com
'Crosby succeeds in delivering a bittersweet tale of love, loss and lies that stretches across the 20th century' Historical Novel Society
'Full of atmospheric tension.' Mail on Sunday
Sally Harris writes supernatural fiction as S.A. Harris, and her first novel, Haverscroft, was published by Salt Publishing in May 2019. Haverscroft was a semi-finalist for The Book Bloggers Novel of the Year Award 2020, a Den of Geek Top Ten Read 2019 and Halloween 2020 in Prima Magazine. Sally’s second novel, Seahurst, was published in May 2023 and is set on the Suffolk coast, where she spent much of her time growing up. She now lives in Norwich with her husband and three children and works as a prosecutor for the Crown Prosecution Service. Sally was runner-up in the Brixton Bookjam Debut Novelist Competition and won the Retreat West Crime Writer Competition 2018. She was shortlisted for The Fresher Prize First 500 Words of a Novel Competition and published in their anthology, Monsters in November 2018. Twitter @salharris1 Instagram @sallyharrisauthor Website saharrisauthor.com
'The writing is taut and fluid. Both the atmosphere of the old house and the wider family dynamics are evoked with skill. Whatever one thinks of a place harbouring the spirit of past deeds this story could throw shade over certainties. Recommended, but exercise caution if reading after dark.' neverimitate
6pm MONSTERS & THE MONSTROUS Rosie Andrews author of Sunday Times Bestseller THE LEVIATHAN
She is awake…
Norfolk, 1643. With civil war tearing England apart, reluctant soldier Thomas Treadwater is summoned home by his sister, who accuses a new servant of improper conduct with their widowed father. By the time Thomas returns home, his father is insensible, felled by a stroke, and their new servant is in prison, facing charges of witchcraft.
Thomas prides himself on being a rational, modern man, but as he unravels the mystery of what has happened, he uncovers not a tale of superstition but something dark and ancient, linked to a shipwreck years before.
Something has awoken, and now it will not rest.
Richly researched, incredibly atmospheric, and deliciously unsettling, The Leviathan is set in England during a time of political and religious turbulence. It is a tale of family and loyalty, superstition and sacrifice, but most of all it is a spellbinding mystery and a story of impossible things. Rosie will be in conversation about her beguiling tale of superstition, myth and murder, discussing her work and the works that influenced her writing of her hugely successful novel.
About the author:
Rosie Andrews was born and grew up in Liverpool, as the third of twelve children. She studied History at Cambridge before becoming an English teacher. Her first novel The Leviathan became a Sunday Times bestseller in 2022 and was shortlisted for the Historical Writers Association Debut Crown. She lives in Hertfordshire with her husband and daughter.
'Hugely atmospheric debut... Gloriously dark and brimful of gothic-infused dread, this is an eerie tale of age-old evil' Daily Mail
'The plot is as surprising and sinuously twisting as the legendary sea monster of its title... More than just an entertaining fantasy, the novel offers a lesson about the importance of accepting responsibility'. Guardian
7.30pm The Women they called Witches
a panel event with AK Blakemore, Margaret Meyer & Marion Gibson
East Anglia is synonymous with witch hunts due to one of medieval history’s most notorious figures: Matthew Hopkins - the self-styled 'Witchfinder General'. It's estimated Hopkins' work led to around 100 executions across East Anglia. The first recorded account of a witch trial at Bury St Edmunds was in 1599. In 1645, 16 women and 2 men were found guilty of witchcraft, all of them were from villages in the surrounding area. The trial, facilitated by Witchfinder General Matthew Hopkins, saw all 18 executed in one day on August 27 1645. Up until then the biggest legal case had been in Pendle, Lancashire (memorably fictionalised in Jeanette Winterson’s The Daylight Gate). The last witch trial at Bury St. Edmunds was in 1694. After just three years, Matthew Hopkins retired as Witchfinder General. He moved back to Manningtree, and before the year ended had died of supposed tuberculosis. But his disturbing legacy lived on with his book ‘The Discovery of Witches’ providing a blueprint for further persecution of witches over the next hundred years.
This panel event with three celebrated authors, whose work tells the stories of the women they called witches, will explore both the history and the modern relevance of such stories. The authors will read from and talk about their books and there will be discussion about why we shouldn’t forget the plight of the people who lost their lives to the witch trials in the town we live in.
About the authors:
A. K. Blakemore is the author of two novels The Glutton (Granta, 2023) & THE MANNINGTREE WITCHED (Granta, 2021) Winner Of The Desmond Elliot Prize 2021, Shortlisted For The Rsl Ondaatje Prize 2022, The Times Paperback Bestseller & Sunday Times Book Of The Year 2021, Costa Prize Debut Book Award 2021 Shortlist, The Writers Guild 2021 Shortlist. She has also written two full-length collections of poetry: HUMBERT SUMMER (Eyewear, 2015) and FONDUE (Offord Road Books, 2018), which was awarded the 2019 Ledbury Forte Prize for Best Second Collection. She has also translated the work of Sichuanese poet Yu Yoyo (My Tenantless Body, Poetry Translation Centre, 2019). Her poetry and prose writing has been widely published and anthologised, appearing in the The London Review of Books, Poetry, Poetry Review and The White Review, among others.
The persecutors in this tale are given close scrutiny, but the book belongs to the persecuted. And on these pages, in all their ordinary glory, those women are at last allowed to live Guardian
[Blakemore's] deft commentary on the patriarchy, balancing wit and anger, fear and suspicion... makes this debut such a joy... Full of relevance for our times Observer
Margaret Meyer has an MA in prose fiction from the University of East
Anglia and her work has appeared in a variety of literary publications. Her
first novel, THE WITCHING TIDE, was inspired by England’s deadliest witch
hunt, which swept across East Anglia in 1644-6 and claimed the lives of many innocent women. Margaret was born in New Zealand and now lives in Norwich with her family.
'The Witching Tide is propelled by the utter conviction of the writing, in prose that is both stylish and raw. Martha seizes the reader's sympathy and does not let go.' Anne Enright
Bewitching . . . one to watch Evening Standard
Marion Gibson is Professor of Renaissance and Magical Literatures at the University of Exeter, UK. She’s been thinking about witches in history since she read her first account of a witch trial in a book lent to her on a dark, rainy afternoon in November 1991. She was so excited by the story that she forgot to give the book back.Thirty years on, she is the author of seven books on witches in history and literature: READING WITCHCRAFT (Routledge, 1999), Possession, Puritanism and Print (Pickering and Chatto, 2006), WITCHCRAFT MYTHS IN AMERICAN CULTURE (Routledge, 2007), IMAGINING THE PAGAN PAST (Routledge, 2013), REDISCOVERING RENAISSANCE WITCHCRAFT (Routledge, 2017), WITCHCRAFT: THE BASICS (London: Routledge, 2017) and with Jo Esra SHAKESPEARE’S DEMONOLOGY (Bloomsbury, 2014). She’s currently writing THE WITCHES OF ST OSYTH for Cambridge University Press.
'These stories of witchcraft, true and vividly told, demonstrate the potent reality of belief in evil and how in any era or place fear can be weaponised and marginal people, mostly women, labelled as wicked and dangerous. Together they comprise not just a history of witchcraft but a cautionary tale of the uncomfortably human habits of paranoia and persecution' Malcolm Gaskill, author of The Ruin of All Witches