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Star-studded line-up revealed for Literature Festival

The full programme for City of Wolverhampton’s third Literature Festival in February 2019 has been announced.

This year’s line-up will see heavyweight politicos Alan Johnson and Ann Widdicombe – also of Strictly Come Dancing fame - battle it out for their fair share of audience favour on Saturday, February 2.

That’s just two of the numerous highlights in this year’s hefty schedule.

With over 100 events confirmed, the festival will again offer a vast scope of literary-related workshops, readings, presentations and performances, with the majority of events happening over three days from Friday, February 1 to Sunday 3, at venues across the city.

During the weekend there will be numerous free events at the city’s libraries, with Central Library welcoming million-selling novelist Miranda Dickinson and Birmingham Poet Laureate Roy McFarlane, who co-hosts an event with Somerset Maughan Award winner Liz Berry.

There will also be many storytelling events including a handful in the beautiful surroundings of Bantock House by Daisy Black, John Edgar and Ian Douglas.

Wolverhampton’s rich relationship with the written and spoken word will be celebrated, with a hand-picked selection of festival fringe shows running for free at The Lych Gate Tavern.

The Arena Theatre welcomes back local collective Poets, Prattlers, and Pandemonialists to host this year’s Poetry Slam, and will be running open mic events for those who have a hidden talent to showcase.

Classic literary films will also be on at The Arena Theatre and The Light House Cinema.

In keeping with City of Wolverhampton’s strong music heritage there will a host of music-related events. Sunday, February 3 will see Tracey Thorn, f Everything But The Girl singer, preview a reading from her new biography, ‘Another Planet’, at Wolverhampton Art Gallery, with the book being released the next day. BBC 6 Music’s new music guru and author of ‘Going Deaf For A Living’ Steve Lamacq will regale audiences at The Slade Rooms on the same day with tales of his experiences of indie music in the 90s and the rise of Britpop.

On Saturday, February 2, one of the UK’s best known comedians Stewart Lee will read from his contribution to the book ‘Home Town Tales’ about his youthful fascination for Midlands post-punk band The Nightingales and the giant King Kong sculpture previously located outside Birmingham’s Bullring. The same will also see Paul ‘Bigun’ Ashbee, the man who introduced Liam Gallagher to the rest of Oasis, talking about the band’s early days and heady rise to fame.

Several writing workshops will take place over the weekend including blogging and research workshops by Dr Who writer, William Gallagher. Other workshops will cover life writing, finding an agent and self-publishing, while Rowena McDonald will teach you how to use your workplace as inspiration for fiction.

Providing the laughs will be Richard Herring who brings his Leicester Square Theatre Podcast, with an unnamed special guest, on a rare field trip to Bilston Town Hall on Friday, February 1. Also that day, Peter Chand’s (100 Masters) new show, ‘Tales From The Motherland’, will be at Newhampton Arts Centre.

On Saturday, February 2, there will be plenty on offer for children and families, including ‘Great Big Rhyme Time’ at Wolverhampton Libraries, children’s authors, storytelling and the winning plays performed by City of Wolverhampton College from the city-wide ‘Page To Stage’ schools competition.

‘How Clean Is Your House?’ and ‘I’m a Celebrity’ star, Kim Woodburn, will be in conversation with Alex Belfield, at the Art Gallery, for hygiene enthusiasts, on Saturday, February 2.

Meanwhile, on Sunday, February 3, Express & Star veteran Peter Rhodes will return to the Art Gallery with extracts from some of his favourite dispatches in a career that has taken him all over the world.

Retired British Police Murder Squad detective Trevor Marriot will be lifting the lid on ‘The Real Truth of Jack The Ripper’ with focus on Bilston-born Ripper victim Catherine Eddowes.

Local culture will be celebrated including Wolverhampton Wanderers’ Premier League promotion, with Tim Spiers and Nathan Judah reliving the memories from their recent book ‘On Our Way Back’, at the Art Gallery on Friday, February 1.

East-Enders writer Joanna Toye will be discussing how City of Wolverhampton department store Beatties inspired her debut novel ‘A Store At War’.

This year’s festival welcomes women’s groups including the Punjabi Women’s Writing Group featuring Kuli Kohli, who share poems about family life on Friday, February 1. Chai and Chat, on Sunday, February 3 will see stories shared over a hot cuppa and is hosted by Sampad as part of their work with women and girls to get their voices heard through the arts.

Indian dance in the Black Country will be celebrated by Jai Jashn Dance at the Art Gallery on Friday, February 1 in a free event that includes a dance performance by the company.

Councillor John Reynolds, City of Wolverhampton Council Cabinet Member for City Economy, said:

“The popular Literature Festival is now entering its third year and thanks to funding from Arts Council we hope that it will now become a regular feature on the city’s calendar.

“Whether you want to listen and learn from writers, or hone your own literary skills, there really is something for everyone.”

For information and tickets, please visit the Wolverhampton Literature Festival website:, Twitter @WolvesLitFest and Facebook @WolvesLitFest.

Issued by the City of Wolverhampton Council’s Corporate Communications Team. For more information, please call 01902 555439.

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