Lancaster Litfest

Part of our Online events guide

Sarah-Clare Conlon, Literature Editor
Sarah Hall. Photo by Richard Thwaites.
Author Sarah Hall. Photo by Richard Thwaites.

Lancaster Litfest, online, 12–21 March 2021, free entry - Visit now

Litfest 2021 will look a little different, heading online from 12 to 21 March, but rest assured the 42nd festival will feature the usual packed programme of writers, artists and speakers, new initiatives and content specially commissioned, and plenty of opportunities for audiences to get involved through competitions, book clubs and writing workshops.

Twice nominated for the Man Booker prize, Sarah Hall is the author of five novels and three short-story collections, and the only author to be four times shortlisted for the BBC National Short Story Award.

Fully digital and free (although donations, big or small, are welcome!), this year’s Litfest welcomes, among others, Kendal Poetry Festival co-director Kim Moore, Yvonne Battle-Felton, who appeared at Victoria Baths’ inaugural Weekend of Words, AC Grayling, Daniel Hahn, Fatima Ibrahim, Andrey Kurkov, Karen Lloyd, Michael Marmot, Jackie Morris, Johny Pitts, Emma Rucastle, James Suzman and Shaun Tan.

The Festival Launch is subtitled The Litfest Big Read and features two events: one for readers aged 11 to 14, with AM Dassu and her book Boy, Everywhere, followed by Matt Haig’s latest novel for adults, The Midnight Library. Both include a talk and reading by the authors, a conversation with reading development and children’s book consultant Jake Hope, and a live online Q&A.

Our Litfest highlights this year include Sarah Hall in Conversation on 17 March and Fiction and Landscape on 20 March. Twice nominated for the Man Booker prize, Sarah Hall is the author of five novels and three short-story collections, and the only author to be four times shortlisted for the BBC National Short Story Award, which she won in 2013 with ‘Mrs Fox’ and in 2020 with ‘The Grotesques’. Born in Carlisle, most of her novels are set in the northwest, including 2015’s The Wolf Border, and this event will see her read and discuss her fiction.

The Fiction and Landscape event invites James Clarke and Sarah Moss to read from their latest books – Hollow In The Land and Summerwater respectively – and discuss the impact and importance of place on fiction. James Clarke grew up in the Rossendale Valley, and this Lancashire setting, featuring both neglected high streets and the wilderness of the surrounding moors, plays a major role in his work. He lives in Manchester and his Betty Trask Prize-winning debut novel The Litten Path was written while studying at the Manchester Writing School. Prize-winning author Sarah Moss was born in Glasgow, grew up in Manchester and now lives in Dublin, and her seventh novel, told over 24 hours, is set in the Scottish Highlands.

Also looking at place, on 16 March, Manchester’s Comma Press presents Reading The City: The Book of Ramallah, when the anthology’s editor Maya Abu Al-Hayat and contributor Ameer Hamad will be joined by Lindsey Moore, who has has published extensively on Arab World literature and is Reader in Postcolonial Literature at Lancaster University.

On 19 March, Paul Farley, Professor of Creative Writing at Lancaster University, will be Talking About Birds with Tim Birkhead in the context of the RSPB Leighton Moss bird reserve, introduced with a short film by the visitor manager there, Jon Carter, then on 20 March he’ll be teaming up with Andrew McRae for a special Poetry Day event. Places of Poetry Northwest marks the finale of the project of the same name, with readings from the 2020 Places of Poetry anthology alongside six brand-new poems selected by Andrew and Paul from the public submissions to Litfest’s freshly revealed poetry map of the North West (you have until 8 March to submit poems).

Other Poetry Day happenings include three double bills: Tara Bergin and Sean O’Brien, Paul Farley (again!) and Colette Bryce, and Raymond Antrobus and Doireann Ní Ghríofa. They’re nicely spaced out – 2pm, 3.30pm, 5pm – so you can fit in all three if you fancy.

Tickets are free, but must be booked in advance in order to receive the online event links.

Lancaster Litfest, online

12–21 March 2021
Free entry