ILKLEY Literature Festival drew to a close on Sunday following yet another hugely successful run.

Here, Catherine Turnbull reviews some of the final shows held during the popular fortnight.

Jellyfish: Janice Galloway and Vicki Jarrett

These two Scottish authors are sticking two fingers up to the literary establishment, which underestimates the power of short story collections by bringing out their own through small publisher Freight Books.

It was an absolute tonic to hear Janice Galloway and Vicki Jarrett read and then discuss their stories irreverently and with the humour for which Galloway is known.

Jarrett’s first collection of short fiction, The Way Out, sees her characters living everyday lives, facing crises and even the end of the world. In her title story it is the ominous blue light of the office kettle, which signals the end of the world.

Both authors agreed that publishers want themes but they wrote their unconnected stories and then had to think up a theme afterwards. Galloway’s was a David Lodge assertion that literature is mostly about having sex and not a lot about having children whilst in life it is the other way round.

Her reading began with an excerpt about a young boy cracking his head on a glass table followed by a joyful tale about sex with a much younger man.

Both writers have a great gift for the unforeseen.

The War in the West: James Holland

War historian and novelist James Holland attempted to explode the myths of a whole two years surrounding the Rise of Germany from 1939-41 in just one hour; the subject of his book The War in the West.

This was a valiant attempt to pack the main events into one lecture by Holland whose book is the first of three lengthy volumes covering WW2.

His premise is the reversal of the mythology around invincible Nazi superiority and comparative Allied incompetence. Britain, he says, was far more mechanised than Germany, which also made the mistake of ignoring the fact that Britain ruled the waves through its navy and merchant shipping, whilst the Nazis failed to build up a fleet.

Other Nazi errors, which are perceived as victories, include the gamble of invading Norway when troops were needed elsewhere, ditto with Crete and having Hitler at the helm, who was charismatic but had a narrow world view.

Holland has interviewed thousands of survivors and spent 12 years in archives researching this huge piece of revisionist work.

The first volume ends with the Nazi invasion of Russia, Operation Babarossa, another huge error.

A question from the audience asked if the Holocaust itself hadn’t been a huge mistake in terms of resources; to which the answer was yes.

Holland captivated his audience with his epic narrative.

Jonathan Dimbleby

Although the Germans failed to build up an effective surface fleet their U-Boats were a formidable force, as described in Jonathan Dimbleby’s new book The Battle of the Atlantic. The writer and broadcaster told the epic story of the longest campaign in the Second World War to a packed King’s Hall on Sunday.

There were horrific eye-witness accounts of the vessels of merchant and navy sailors being blown up into seas of boiling oil and of victims starving to death or perishing from hyperthermia in life rafts. The human cost amongst the casualty figures tells the story that led to the Allied victory in the Atlantic and the paving of the way for the D-Day landings.

Dimbleby was challenged by an audiences member over the ability of planes to land on aircraft carriers and he incorrectly described the sinking of the Duke of York in Scapa Flow; in fact the Royal Oak.

John Godber, Peter Samsom and Helen Cross

There was a Yorkshire flavour when the third most performed playwright in the UK, John Godber appeared alongside poet Peter Samsom and novelist Helen Cross in the Wildman at Ilkley Playhouse on Saturday afternoon.

Godber spoke of his early career and how he worked on a refuse lorry when he was a drama student but pretended not to in a bid to avoid ridicule.

Peter Samsom endeared his audience with engaging poems about everyday life, sometimes with violent endings, that somehow kept the humour intact.

And Helen Cross read from her in-progress fourth novel and spoke about working on her own adaptation of her book Spilt Milk, Black Coffee.

Jackie Kay and Zaffar Kunial

Festival regular, acclaimed poet Jackie Kay brought a warmth and empathy to a feel-good evening on Sunday through a great performance of poems about her Scottish identity, finding her birth father in Nigeria, race and sexuality. The audience responded to her wit and playful humour and the pathos of her tribute to a lost friend.

Reading alongside was festival poet in residence, Zaffar Kunial, a fan of Kay who helped him in his early years. His approach to identity conflict is skillful with a sense of mischief and won many admirers throughout his many appearances in Ilkley.