ILKLEY Literature Festival has announced a diverse and distinguished line-up, guaranteed to pack a big literary punch.

From October 3 to19 the 41st Ilkley Literature Festival continues to be a magnet for leading contemporary writers, attracting authors from a wide range of genres including fiction, journalism and current affairs, poetry, biography, historical and scientific writing to a programme of over 240 events at venues across Ilkley.

Headline speakers include Booker Prize-winning author Margaret Atwood, presenting, Maddaddam, the final instalment of the internationally acclaimed dystopian trilogy. Ilkley Literature Festival veteran, Will Self, will introduce his new novel Shark, released in September, featuring the return of psychiatrist Zack Busner.

Appearing for the first time in Ilkley will be New York Times bestseller Jodi Picoult presenting her latest novel, Leaving Time. Former poet laureate Sir Andrew Motion will open the festival with an exploration of poetry and prose as he introduces his new novel, The New World, an adventure set ten years on from Treasure Island. Poet Michael Rosen will share his thoughts on education beyond the classroom with Good Ideas, How to be Your Child's (and Your Own) Best Teacher.

Events for children feature prominently within the Festival and, this year, three of the UK’s leading children’s fiction writers will make an appearance. Marking her Festival debut is Lauren Child, author of the phenomenally popular children’s picture books Charlie and Lola, talking about the inspiration behind her latest book Ruby Redfort – Feel the Fear. Former children’s laureate, Michael Morpurgo returns to the Festival with a moving performance of his award-winning, story Private Peaceful with renowned Yorkshire a cappella ensemble Coope, Boyes and Simpson. Carnegie medal winning author of Skellig, David Almond also returns to Ilkley with an event for adults as well as one for young people.

This year’s programme includes internationally acclaimed writers, alongside fresh talent from the north of England, many of whom are making their Ilkley Literature Festival debuts. Running through the Festival are a number of themes exploring: WWI beyond the trenches, wealth and responsibility, moorland landscape, history, and science. Authors currently confirmed include:


• Having written novels such as The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas and The Thief of Time, John Boyne will introduce his new chronicle A History of Loneliness, the first of his novels to feature his home country of Ireland.

• Suzannah Dunn, bestselling historical novelist, will discuss her new book The May Bride.

• Esther Freud will present her new novel, Mr Mac and Me, the tale of an unlikely friendship and set to a vivid portrait of a home front community during the First World War.

• Familiar with neighbouring Haworth, after presenting ITV’s ‘Perspectives: The Brilliant Brontë Sisters’, much-loved British actress, Sheila Hancock, will discuss her new novel Miss Carter’s War.

• Orange Prize shortlisted novelist Kamila Shamsie, one of Granta’s Best Young British Novelists, will be making a welcome return to the Festival to talk about her new novel A God in Every Stone.

Political writers:

• Dianne Abbott, making her Ilkley Literature Festival debut

• Douglas Hurd, following a long and distinguished career in politics, including 16 years in government, will discuss his recent political biography, Disraeli, written and researched in partnership with Edward Young.

• Alan Johnson will discuss the sequel to his Sunday Times bestseller This Boy, Please Mr Postman.

• Also making his festival debut is controversial former London Mayor and MP, Ken Livingstone, in discussion about his extraordinary political career.

• Talking about his new memoir, Calendar Boy, due for release in October, Austin Mitchell will revisit his time as the presenter of the regional news programme Calendar in the seventies at Yorkshire TV.

Broadcasters, Journalists, Commentators:

• Journalist, TV presenter and sports commentator, Clare Balding revisits Ilkley, a walker’s paradise, to present her newest biography Walking Home: My Family, and other Rambles.

• Tim Brooke-Taylor OBE will be looking back over his career and writing in conversation with former That’s Life presenter Chris Searle.

• Political activist and bestselling author, Owen Jones will introduce his latest book, The Establishment, presenting a cutting critique of modern day democracy.

• Legendary music broadcaster and foreign correspondent, Andy Kershaw offers a rare chance to hear of his long and varied career.

• Radio 4 veteran, James Naughtie will present his debut political thriller The Madness of July.

Historical writers:

• Chief Executive of the Heritage Education Trust and joint Chief Curator of Historic Royal Palaces, Tracy Borman, talking about her new biography of Thomas Cromwell.

• Helen Castor, one of the new generation of leading British historians presents her new book Joan of Arc: A History.

• Making his Ilkley Literature Festival debut, David Kynaston, discusses Modernity Britain, which focuses on how Britain’s social and political landscape in the late 1950s still affects today’s Britain.

• Jill Liddington, historian and writer, introduces her historical account of the suffragette boycott of the 1911 census, Vanishing for the Vote.

• Charles Spencer, brother of Princess Diana and a noted historian in his own right, will be discussing his new book, Killers of the King, The Men Who Dared to Execute Charles I.

• Well known (and at times controversial) historian David Starkey will be regaling audiences with his view on the Tudors

Rachel Feldberg, Festival Director said: “We are delighted to be gearing up for another packed Festival which will bring authors and audiences from across the country to enjoy 17 days of literary heaven in the glorious setting of Ilkley Moor. With over 240 events- more than 30 of them completely free- there will be lots to see, join in with, and enjoy for the whole family. ”

More events will be announced in the coming weeks.

Priority booking for Friends of the Festival opens from August 13 to 20. Booking opens for the general public on August 26.