Rochdale Literature & Ideas Festival

Sarah-Clare Conlon, Literature Editor
Olivia Lomenech Gill, the award-winning illustrator of JK Rowling's Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Olivia Lomenech Gill

14 — 21 October 2019 Tickets from £3.00 — Book now

For its seventh year, Rochdale Literature & Ideas Festival is still thinking big, with a week-long stretch from Monday 14 to Monday 21 October across various venues. More than just your average book festival – it’s the ideas bit that makes the difference, and they’ve got plenty. As well as literature, creative writing and spoken word, you’ll find drama, music, comedy, dance, current affairs and plenty for the kids and young people – expect exciting arts for all ages.

From former poet laureate Dame Carol Ann Duffy to Chocolat author Joanne Harris MBE, internationally acclaimed writers and thinkers have played an important part in Rochdale Literature & Ideas Festival’s development. This year is no exception, with television presenter John Craven popping in, along with feel-good fiction writer Milly Johnson, hosting afternoon tea at Rochdale Town Hall and reading from her latest novel, The Magnificent Mrs Mayhew, which made the top five of the Sunday Times bestseller list.

Author Hanna Jameson.
Author Hanna Jameson.

Also here are Gogglebox star and broadcaster Reverend Kate Bottley, children’s author and TV presenter Konnie Huq, author and autism, invisible disability and LGBTQIA+ activist Erin Ekins, international bestselling crime author and poet Sophie Hannah, popular children’s authors Harry Heape and Hannah Lee, as well as Olivia Lomenech Gill, the award-winning illustrator of JK Rowling’s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them as well as Michael Morpurgo’s Where My Wellies Take Me.

From former poet laureate Dame Carol Ann Duffy to Chocolat author Joanne Harris MBE, internationally acclaimed writers and thinkers have played an important part in Rochdale Literature & Ideas Festival’s development

The festival will launch with a very special event: the unveiling of a new blue plaque at Touchstones Rochdale in honour of local couple Annie and Frank Maskew, who met in Rochdale Library in the 1950s and shared a passion for reading and thinking – so much so that they donated a generous bequest which made the Rochdale Literature & Ideas Festival possible.

We’re looking forward to the ‘Women Who Write: Dystopia’ event on Wednesday 16 October, when Hanna Jameson, bestselling author of end-of-the-world novel The Last, and Fiona Shaw, author of YA hit Outwalkers, will be talking about the concept of dystopia and the impact of female writers on the genre. Discussing the rise and revival of women-driven dystopian fiction, from Margaret Atwood’s 1985 novel-turned-weirdly-popular TV series The Handmaid’s Tale to Naomi Alderman’s recent award-winner The Power, this is set to be an interesting and thought-provoking evening.

Lancashire-based American fiction and creative nonfiction writer, and co-organiser of Lancaster’s popular Stories At The Storey, Yvonne Battle-Felton appears on Friday 18 October, reading from her debut novel Remembered, a powerful story of segregation and slavery, recently longlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2019.

The Festival culminates with Tales From The Town Hall, taking place in the iconic Gothic-style building with an exclusive performance of the winning competition entry for the playwright competition for young people aged 14-25 in Rochdale. 22-year-old Riz Ali’s play was chosen from a stellar line-up of entries, and is currently being mentored by TV and stage scriptwriter Nicola Schofield to turn her entry into a 30-minute play. It will be performed at the finale event, which includes a tour of Rochdale Town Hall and a drinks reception. Tickets for all events are available now. For the full line-up and details of venues and to book tickets, see the festival website.

14 — 21 October 2019

Where to go near Rochdale Literature & Ideas Festival

White Cloth Hall

White Cloth Hall is a new food and drink project, based in a Grade II listed venue in Leeds city centre.

MUSU Restaurant & Bar

Musu is a modern Japanese restaurant and bar in Manchester City Centre, specialising in awe-inspiring food. We take an advance look at their festive menu. 

House of Fu Manchester

First Leeds, now Manchester. Expect picture perfect ramen, gyoza and cocktails at the upcoming restaurant and cocktail bar.

City Centre

Allpress at NOMA is a home to all things coffee, with a café and seasonal menu incorporating locally sourced ingredients.


Forty-Seven is a luxury boutique hotel on Peter Street in Manchester city centre, above the high-end Indian restaurant Asha’s.

Event venue
The Bookish Type

An independent bookshop specialising in literature across the LGBTIQA+ spectrum
From novels to children’s books, YA to memoirs, non-fiction to graphic novels… there’s a whole range of specialist queer literature to be found at The Bookish Type.

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