Literature Events in Manchester and the North

Sarah-Clare Conlon, Literature Editor

Verbose continues in its fourth-Monday-of-the-month slot at Fred’s, but with a new line-up of organisers – Adam Evans, Ava Macpherson and Zoe Turner (of Comma Press), up until now all regulars on the bill – who kick off their new residency with the theme of rebirth and headliners Clare Fisher and Reshma Ruia. The usual monthly outing for Bad Language follows on the last Wednesday at Gullivers, featuring Women’s Prize shortlistee Yvonne Battle-Felton, while bi-monthly Poets & Players is back at The Whitworth on the Saturday, with poetry from Mona Arshi, Will Harris, Maryam Hessavi and Degna Stone, plus music from ‘country and eastern’ band Paula Darwish and Serpil Kılıç, and again on 18 May with a special pre-summer break outing featuring Forward Prize-winner Kei Miller announcing the winners of the annual P&P poetry-writing competition.

May unfolds with a double bill of international poets at The Portico Library on the 2nd and 16th courtesy Carcanet Press, and continues afoot with Feminist Book Fortnight celebrated by a Boudicca Press and Bad Language co-production, presenting new anthology Disturbing The Beast: Women Of Weird Fiction at Blackwells on 8 May; the first in The Longer Read new Man Met series on 16 May featuring Alan Hollinghurst (please note Mark Haddon has been cancelled due to unforeseen circumstances); the opening of comic book art exhibition Kapow! at the Cooper Gallery in Barnsley on 18 May, and Simon Armitage launching his new Faber poetry collection Sandettie Light Vessel Automatic at Central Library on 29 May.

Also at Central Library is the Northern Publishers’ Fair on 25 May, organised by Fly On The Wall Poetry and featuring a whole host of indies from Carcanet (see above) to The Knives Forks and Spoons Press. Meanwhile Gorton Monastery is holding Manchester Book Fair for the first time on 28 April, and Victoria Baths’ inaugural Weekend of Words (see below) is putting on its own pop-up book market on 9 June. Our updated Guide To Bookshops In Manchester is here, so we have your book-buying antics well covered.

Finally events wise, tickets are on sale to hear from Bret Easton Ellis, in the UK with a new non-fiction book, and Matt Haig, presenting his latest memoir Notes On A Nervous Planet at the Leeds International Festival, and for Storyhouse Women Weekend running 26 to 28 April. Other festivals to pop in your now heaving diary include the second annual Altrincham Word Fest from 11 to 26 May, featuring Dave Haslam as top billing, and the first Weekend of Words at Victoria Baths, taking place 7 to 9 June, featuring our very own Literature Editor, Sarah-Clare Conlon, as Writer-in-Residence.

Before you go, 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 (where Rosie Garland is Writer-in-Residence) and the oldest public library in the English-speaking world Chet’s – with events including an Iris Murdoch evening in June.

And should you fancy venturing further afield now the days are longer and more bank and school holidays beckon, then our tips for trips include must-go Literary Places in Liverpool, Leeds, Sheffield and Cumbria.

Here are our picks

  • 1. Bret Easton Ellis at RNCM

    Bret Easton Ellis
    Author Bret Easton Ellis.

    Bret Easton Ellis at Royal Northern College of Music (RNCM), Manchester, 26 April 2019, from £7 - Book now

    American Psycho and Less Than Zero author Bret Easton Ellis is in town as part of a mega-tour to promote his new non-fiction book, White; a collection of thematically related essays, which he describes as ‘a lament from a disillusioned Gen X-er’.

  • 2. Storyhouse Women at Chester Storyhouse

    Storyhouse Women at Chester Storyhouse
    Author, actor and activist Rose McGowan.

    Storyhouse Women at Storyhouse, Chester, 26–28 April 2019, from £10 - Book now

    Feminist activist, actor and Brave author Rose McGowan and best-selling writer, journalist and co-founder of the Women’s Equality Party Catherine Mayer have been announced as headlining the second annual Storyhouse Women Weekend festival taking place at the city arts venue 26 to 28 April.

  • 3. Notes On A Nervous Planet: Matt Haig at L19 Cube – The Village

    Author Matt Haig.
    Author Matt Haig.

    Notes on a Nervous Planet - Matt Haig at L19 Cube - The Village, Leeds, 9 May 2019, from £12 - Book now

    Taking his latest memoir, Notes On A Nervous Planet, as a guide to navigating the technology-strewn modern world, author Matt Haig rounds off a series of four What Does It Mean To Be Human? talks curated by Leeds Beckett University for Leeds International Festival.

  • 4. Altrincham Word Fest at various venues

    Dave Haslam. Photo by Chris Payne
    Writer Dave Haslam. Photo by Chris Payne.

    Altrincham Word Fest at altspace, Altrincham, 11–26 May 2019, from £5.00 - Book now

    A twist on the usual literature festival, Altrincham Word Fest is back for a second year in May, with some inspiration to kindle your own creativity via writing workshops, talks and readings, and performance events from some of the North West’s most talented writers.

  • 5. Carcanet International Poets at The Portico Library

    Sheri Benning
    Poet Sheri Benning.

    Carcanet International Poets at The Portico Library at The Portico Library, Chinatown, 16 May 2019, from £3.79 - Book now

    Manchester-based poetry publisher Carcanet Press presents an international double bill over two dates in May, featuring Sheri Benning, Jenny Lewis and Christine Marendon on 2 May and Chris Wallace-Crabbe, Marius Kociejowski and Carola Luther on 16 May.

  • 6. The Longer Read with Alan Hollinghurst at Burgess Foundation

    Alan Hollinghurst
    Author Alan Hollinghurst.

    The Longer Read with Alan Hollinghurst at International Anthony Burgess Foundation (IABF), Manchester, 16 May 2019, free entry - Find Out More

    The Manchester Writing School at Man Met has teamed up with the International Anthony Burgess Foundation to launch a new series of in-conversation events called The Longer Read, kicking off proceedings with Man Booker Prize-winning novelist Alan Hollinghurst, of The Swimming-Pool Library fame.

  • 7. Kapow! Original Comic Book Art at Cooper Gallery Barnsley

    Kapow! Original Comic Book Art from Dean Ormston & Fiona Stephenson
    Artwork in Kapow!

    Kapow! Original Comic Book Art from Dean Ormston & Fiona Stephenson at The Cooper Gallery, Barnsley, Barnsley, 18 May–28 August 2019, free entry - Find Out More

    Award-winning 2000AD artist Dean Ormston and internationally renowned DC Vertigo artist Fiona Stephenson curate a unique and colourful comic book art exhibition, featuring their own work alongside the likes of Charlie Adlard, Jamie Hewlett and Mike Mignola.

More in Literature

Literature 28 April 2019, from £1

Manchester Book Fair at Gorton Monastery

Gorton Monastery is holding its first-ever Book Fair, with tours of the building plus family-friendly activities and workshops.

Festivals 2–12 May 2019, from £00.00

Leeds International Festival 2019

Leeds International Festival, the UK’s leading metropolitan festival of new ideas and innovation, is back for its second year, this time featuring more than 45 events over 11 days.

Book-club - L'Oeuvre Intégrale de Jacques Brel
Activity 13 May 2019, FREE

Book-club – L’Oeuvre Intégrale de Jacques Brel at Alliance Française

The monthly book club at Alliance Française welcomes all with an intermediate level of French. This month the focus is on the complete song texts of Jacques Brel, compiled and edited by Robert Laffon.

Activity 3 June 2019, FREE

Book-club – Voyage au bout de la nuit by Louis-Ferdinand Céline at Alliance Française

Join the monthly book club at Alliance Française, to discuss works of literature in French.

An Evening with Moby at Martin Harris Centre
Literature 5 June 2019, from £20

An Evening with Moby at Martin Harris Centre

Join singer, songwriter and producer Moby for a discussion about his life and music at this event hosted by Manchester Literature Festival, when he’ll be reading from and talking about his new memoir Then It Fell Apart.

Old Tools >New Masters ≠New Futures
Literature 12 June 2019, from £10.00

Contact Young Company + Young Identity: Old Tools >New Masters ≠New Futures

Tunde Adefioye joins forces with the Contact Young Company and Young Identity to explore the decolonisation of public culture. This event takes place at a secret location which has yet to be announced.

Families 5–7 July 2019, from £70

Timber Festival 2019

An extraordinary new festival where music, art, philosophy and sustainability weave together into an exhilarating weekend in the heart of the National Forest, one of Britain’s boldest environmental projects.

Red Dust Road at HOME
Literature 11–21 September 2019, from £10.00

Red Dust Road at HOME

Growing up in 1970s Scotland as the adopted mixed raced child of a Scottish couple, young Jackie blossomed into an outspoken, talented poet. Then she decided to find her birth parents…

Culture Guides


MIF make a big announcement, Women, Organise! at HOME and we highlight some festivals across the region.

Exhibitions in Manchester and the north


Not an exhibition but a narrow, soot-stained Georgian terrace earns its place at the top of our list this month.

Fashion Fun at the Science and Industry Museum


Nature-inspired outdoor literary larks, scientific shenanigans and a giant mechanical baby larger than a double decker bus. It’s all here.


In this month’s music guide, you’ll find some of the most creative and forward-thinking artists that 2019 has to offer.

Theatre in Manchester


Our picks of the hugely impressive MIF19 line-up feature in our guide this month, alongside innovative binaural performance and world premiere literary adaptations.

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

As spring emerges we highlight tours from Manchester’s heritage sites, with a mixture of well known civic treasures as well as some hidden gems.