Literature Events in Manchester and the North

Sarah-Clare Conlon, Literature Editor

August rounds off with an appearance at The Lowry by YA author (and Children’s Laureate 2013-15) Malorie Blackman talking about her new novel Crossfire, the latest in the Noughts & Crosses series, which is being adapted for TV by the BBC and hitting the small screen later this year. Use the code CROSSFIRE20 to get 20% off your ticket price when you book via The Lowry website. Don’t say we never give you anything.

September sees Splash Fiction, a follow-up to the first Weekend of Words at Victoria Baths, featuring an appearance by our very own Literature Editor, Sarah-Clare Conlon wearing her Victoria Baths Writer-in-Residence hat and reading some of the pieces she’s been working on while residing, and introducing the winners and runners-up of the Baths’ first creative writing competition. The always popular and super-useful Northern Lights Writers’ Conference is 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. Two book launches of note are taking place at Blackwell’s: Nicola Mostyn’s The Love Delusion, follow-up to Writers’ Guild Best First Novel-shortlisted The Gods Of Love, on 5 September, and 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). The Manchester Indie Book Fair is back and some of the Forward Prizes poets are putting on a preview ahead of the glittering awards ceremony in London. Also in September, poetry dates to be confirmed include Peter Barlow’s Cigarette, Poets & Players and the last-ever instalment of avant gardeists Murmur, coinciding with a launch of their much-anticipated anthology. 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.

Then it’s October and Manchester Literature Festival, with some events (including the new Poet Laureate Simon Armitage chatting to Elbow frontman Guy Garvey) on sale – more on that soon…

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 – next up, on Sunday 11 August (11am-4pm); 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. 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 - Visit now

    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.

  • 2. Splash Fiction at Victoria Baths

    Writer Sarah-Clare Conlon. Photo by Gwen Riley Jones.

    Splash Fiction at Victoria Baths, Manchester, 7 September 2019, 1:00 pm–2:00 pm, free entry - Find Out More

    Victoria Baths follow up Weekend of Words with a pop-up reading as part of the Swim for Restoration, when the Gala Pool is filled and the public can take the plunge. Writer-in-Residence Sarah-Clare Conlon will present some more of her work and the winners of the Splash Fiction creative writing competition will be revealed.

  • 3. 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 (next up: 8 September and 13 October) 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.

  • 4. Northern Lights Writers’ Conference 2019 at Waterside

    Author Jane Rogers at Northern Lights Writers' Conference 2019.
    Author Jane Rogers. Photo by Sarah Eyre.

    Northern Lights Writers' Conference 2019 at Waterside Arts, Manchester, 21 September 2019, 10:00 am–4:00 pm, from £25 - Book now

    The Northern Lights Writers’ Conference is back for a sixth day-long event for emerging and established writers, with one-to-one advice, workshops, talks, panel discussions, networking and readings, plus a keynote speech and ‘in conversation’ session by prolific author Jane Rogers, whose eighth novel is out in November.

  • 5. 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.

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

    Liz Berry
    Poet Liz Berry.

    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.

  • 7. 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.

  • 8. 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

    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.

More in Literature

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…

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.

Dance 3 October 2019, 6:30 pm–8:45 pm, FREE

Dancing with Words at Kala Sangam

Dancing with Words, as the title suggests, is a fusion of poetry and dance. An exploration of the relationship between two art forms, this evening is the culmination of an innovative project that has seen dancers and poets collaborating to push boundaries and take new, exciting approaches to creating work.

The Lakes International Comic Art Festival
Literature 11–13 October 2019, from £14.00

The Lakes International Comic Art Festival 2019

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.

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


Escape to the cinema this month. We round up the best new releases, special one-off screenings and retrospectives showing near you.

Christina Quarles at The Hepworth Wakefield


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

Digital Dimensions at Eureka! Children playing in digital dimensions with light pillars


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

Theatre in Manchester


We’re gearing up for the new theatre season – our guide this month features all the best performances happening now and over the next few weeks.

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.

comedy character

Tours and Activities

Challenge yourself to try something different this summer with our guide of Manchester based Tours and Activities. You’re bound to find something new to do in the city.

Things to do right now

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