Literature Events in Manchester and the North

Sarah-Clare Conlon, Literature Editor

September continues apace, with the always popular and super-useful Northern Lights Writers’ Conference back for a sixth outing, with a line-up that’s already bulging but still growing, including Body Tourists author Jane Rogers taking on keynote speaker duties. Back too is the Manchester Indie Book Fair, and, in a change to the usual literature schedule, this year Chorlton Book Festival has come forward a couple of months and centres around Chorlton Library 20 to 28 September.

Some of the Forward Prizes poets are putting on a preview ahead of the glittering awards ceremony in London and more poetry dates as we approach the latter half of September include: Peter Barlow’s Cigarette featuring Jeremy Over, Eleanor Rees, Mamta Sagar and Steven Waling, Poets & Players on 21 September, featuring Sasha Dudgale, James Byrne and Kathryn Bevis, Bad Language on 25 September with acclaimed poet Jean Sprackland headlining, plus, on 26 September, the last-ever instalment of avant gardeists Murmur, coinciding with a launch of their much-anticipated anthology, called, er, Murmur Anthology I. This one takes place at Siop Shop and has readings from Rachael Allen, Bryony Bates and Allan Fielden. Busy week, that.

Prose wise, Verbose on 23 September has a theme of “body” and features invited guests Treats and Supper Club author Lara Williams (also at Blackwell’s in October, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves) and former host Zena Barrie, while a book launch of note taking place at the aforementioned campus-based book shop is that of multi-award-winner David Constantine‘s fifth collection of short stories, on 24 September (it was his story ‘In Another Country’ that inspired the motion picture 45 Years).

Then it’s October and Manchester Literature Festival, including the (now sold out – sorry!) event featuring new Poet Laureate Simon Armitage chatting to Elbow frontman Guy Garvey – more on MLF soon – and Burnley Literary Festival, including a short-short fiction showcase in a caravan – Flash In The Van, natch, on Saturday 5 October, featuring our very own Literature Editor alongside Michael Conley, Kate Feld, David Gaffney, Tania Hershman and Fat Roland. It’s also the seventh Lakes International Comic Art Festival, the seventh Rochdale Literature & Ideas Festival and the seventh Gothic Manchester Festival (more soon), plus the special one-off Dancing With Words on 3 October, showcasing a trilogy of new performances for National Poetry Day, and an evening with bestselling author Jojo Moyes. The Centre For New Writing’s Literature Live programme at Martin Harris Centre relaunches after the academic break, starting on 3 October with Paul Muldoon and Alice Oswald, recently named as taking on the prestigious role of Oxford Professor of Poetry. Strap yourselves in: after something of a slow summer in Literature Land, things are getting moving again, so be sure to keep checking back…

Before you get back to your books, scroll down to our More in Literature stories, and don’t forget to check out our guide to the UNESCO City of Literature, where you’ll find some bookworm-friendly go-tos, including John Rylands Library and the oldest public library in the English-speaking world, Chet’s. Our updated Guide To Bookshops In Manchester is here, and there’s a regular secondhand book sale at Elizabeth Gaskell’s House; combine with a look at the new Ruskin exhibition on until July 2020. Fancy heading out of town? Our tips for trips include must-go Literary Places in Liverpool, Leeds, Sheffield and Cumbria.

Here are our picks

  • 1. David Constantine at Blackwell’s

    Author David Constantine.
    Author David Constantine.

    David Constantine - The Dressing-Up Box and Other Stories book launch at Blackwell’s Manchester, Manchester, 24 September 2019, 7:00 pm–8:30 pm, from £3 - Book now

    Award-winning author David Constantine and the writer behind Oscar-nominated motion picture 45 Years launches his much-anticipated fifth short story collection The Dressing-Up Box and Other Stories, out in September on Manchester’s own Ancoats-based Comma Press.

  • 2. Forward Prizes Northern Preview at No 70 Oxford Street

    Fiona Benson. Photo by Gareth Franklin.
    Poet Fiona Benson. Photo by Gareth Franklin.

    Forward Prizes Northern Preview at Number 70 Oxford Street, Manchester, 26 September 2019, 6:00 pm–8:00 pm, free entry - Find Out More

    Ahead of the the glittering awards ceremony in London in October, hear from the poets shortlisted for the prestigious 2019 Forward Prize for Best Collection at this exclusive preview event at the Manchester Writing School’s base camp in old Cornerhouse.

  • 3. Manchester Indie Book Fair at Burgess Foundation

    Dostoyevsky Wannabe Editor Victoria Brown
    Dostoyevsky Wannabe Editor Victoria Brown.

    Manchester Indie Book Fair at International Anthony Burgess Foundation (IABF), Manchester, 28 September 2019, 12:00 pm–6:00 pm, free entry - Find Out More

    All your indie literature and culture needs catered for in one place as independent publishers Dostoyevsky Wannabe get the gang back together to bring you a third Manchester Indie Book Fair, taking over the International Anthony Burgess Foundation for a relaxed afternoon of book-browsing and beer-drinking.

  • 4. Jojo Moyes at The Dancehouse

    Jojo Moyes at The Dancehouse
    Author Jojo Moyes. Photo by Stine Heilmann.

    Jojo Moyes at The Dancehouse, Manchester, 3 October 2019, 7:30 pm–9:50 pm, from £19.25 - Book now

    Join Jojo Moyes, bestselling novelist and author of Me Before You, as she celebrates the publication of her latest novel, The Giver of Stars. The book is being described as her best yet and is based on a true story rooted in America’s history.

  • 5. Dancing With Words at Kala Sangam Bradford

    Dancing With Words. Photo by Rob Crampton
    Dancing With Words. Photo by Rob Crampton.

    Dancing with Words at Kala Sangam, 3 October 2019, 7:30 pm–9:45 pm, free entry - Find Out More

    Poets Lydia Allison, Lucy Burnett and Shamshad Khan have teamed up with dancers and choreographers for this innovative project that has created three brand-new performance pieces combining words and movement to be showcased on National Poetry Day.

  • 6. Secondhand book sale at Elizabeth Gaskell’s House

    Elizabeth Gaskell House. Photo by Maddie Farris Photography
    Elizabeth Gaskell's House. Photo by Maddie Farris Photography.

    Secondhand book sale at Elizabeth Gaskell's House at Elizabeth Gaskell’s House, Manchester, 13 October 2019, 11:00 am–4:00 pm, from £5 - Find Out More

    Mrs Gaskell would be proud – a regular book-buying opportunity literally on her doorstep. Peruse the secondhand tomes then perambulate around the rather pleasant gardens and soak up the atmosphere of the North & South author’s Plymouth Grove villa. Check out the Ruskin exhibition too – on until July 2020.

  • 7. Guy Garvey and Simon Armitage at RNCM

    Guy Garvey
    Singer-songwriter Guy Garvey.

    Guy Garvey and Simon Armitage In Conversation at Royal Northern College of Music (RNCM), Manchester, 13 October 2019, 8:00 pm–9:15 pm, from £18 - Book now

    As part of this year’s Manchester Literature Festival – running 4 to 20 October – the newly appointed Poet Laureate Simon Armitage and one of Manchester’s singer-songwriter exports, Elbow frontman Guy Garvey, chat about writing to see what, if any, differences there are between the creation of poetry and that of songs.

  • 8. Lakes International Comic Art Festival 2019 at Brewery Arts Centre

    LICAF 2019 Festival artwork by Junko Mizuno

    The Lakes International Comic Art Festival at Brewery Arts Centre, Cumbria, 11–13 October 2019, from £14.00 - Book now

    The Lakes International Comic Art Festival is back in the Cumbrian town of Kendal for a seventh year, bigger and better than ever, and with plenty of storytelling treats in both words and pictures, with graphic novel launches and appearances by the likes of Comics Laureates past and present Charlie Adlard and Hannah Berry.

  • 9. Rochdale Literature & Ideas Festival

    Author Hanna Jameson.
    Author Hanna Jameson.

    Rochdale Literature & Ideas Festival, 14–21 October 2019, from £3.00 - Book now

    Not just literature – and ideas! – the seventh festival has on offer drama, comedy, poetry, spoken word, visual arts plus children’s and young people’s shows and events to get you reading and thinking. Guests include bestselling and award-winning authors plus well-known broadcasters and acclaimed illustrators.

More in Literature

Caroline England
Literature 20–28 September 2019, FREE

Chorlton Book Festival 2019 at Chorlton Library

Chorlton Book Festival is back for a 15th time, centring around the Chorlton Library hub, with a varied line-up of readings, talks and events.

Archive Poetry Workshop
Activity 27 September 2019, 10:00 am–11:30 am, FREE

Archive Poetry Workshop with Jennifer Lee Tsai

Join poet Jennifer Lee Tsai as she delves into the CFCCA archive to produce poetic responses. The poetry workshop focuses on themes of migration, identity and inheritance.

Literature 3 October 2019, 7:30 pm–8:45 pm, from £6

Paul Muldoon and Alice Oswald at Martin Harris Centre

Marking the start of the Centre For New Writing’s Live Literature programme for this university year, this event brings together two of the finest English-language poets at work today: Alice Oswald and Paul Muldoon.

Activity 4 October 2019, 6:00 pm–7:30 pm, FREE

Talk: Spirou et Fantasio and Gaston Lagaffe at Alliance Française

Join Dr Matthew Screech, Senior Lecturer in French at Manchester Metropolitan University for a discussion about the use of comics in the francophone world.

Author Armistead Maupin. Photograph by Christopher Turner.
Literature 8 October 2019, 8:00 pm–10:00 pm, FREE

Armistead Maupin at The Lowry

Catch bestselling, much-loved author of groundbreaking series Tales of the City and LGBT activist Armistead Maupin on his first-ever UK tour.

Literature 7 November 2019, 7:30 pm–10:30 pm, from £15

Roger McGough at Liverpool Playhouse

Roger McGough launches his new collection joinedupwriting in his home town of Liverpool. Described as ‘exuberant’, the poems within range from forgotten friendships and the idiosyncrasies of family life to the trauma of war and contemporary global politics.

Culture Guides


Indian independent cinema, shadowy film noir, cult queer classics and trip under the sea. Film fans are spoilt for choice this month.

Exhibitions in Manchester and across the North


Like the 58th Venice Biennale which opened earlier this May, our latest pick of exhibitions across the north also has a strong ecological bent.

RNCM Young Explorers event. DJ Switch is shown by turntables in front of an orchestra. Included in family things to do guide.


Avoid the post summer holiday blues with our latest top picks of family things to do. Enjoy some quality family time together this autumn.


Manchester’s Autumn months are always chock-a-block with great gigs, and this year is no exception.

Theatre in Manchester


The English National Ballet, Emma Rice’s Wise Children, Liverpool’s LEAP Dance Festival and much more feature in our new theatre guide.

Food and Drink in Manchester and the North

Discover the best food and drink that the North has to offer in our expert guide to food and drink in Manchester and beyond.

Tours and Activities

Tours and Activities

Explore the mindful tours and activities Manchester has to offer in this month’s Tours and Activities guide.

Things to do right now

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Cézanne at the Whitworth
Exhibitions 24 August 2019–1 March 2020, FREE

Cézanne at the Whitworth

Cinema 20 September–3 October 2019, from £9

Ad Astra at HOME

Experience The Magic of Trees at Beningbrough Hall, Gallery and Gardens
Families 5 March 2019–1 March 2020, Normal admission charges apply/free to National Trust members

Autumn at Beningbrough Hall, Gallery and Gardens