Shrewsbury Festival of Literature - November 24 to 26

International authors, poets, storytellers and historians will descend on Shrewsbury from November 24 to 26 for the town’s second annual Festival of Literature.

Among the headline names taking part are the artist and poet Frieda Hughes, archaeologist and TV presenter Alex Langlands and author and screenwriter Stef Penney.

Fifteen events – ranging from author talks, readings and story-telling to writing workshops, a ‘poetry slam’ and self-publishing expo – will take place at venues across the town centre.

The festival launches on Friday November 24 when award-winning writer Stef Penney will be in conversation with the novelist and festival patron Jonathan Coe at The Wightman Theatre, 7.30pm.

Penney is the author of three acclaimed novels, including the Costa Award-winning ‘The Tenderness of Wolves’, and will be talking about her most recent fictional work ‘Under a Pole Star’. Coe’s latest work, ‘The Broken Mirror’, will be published in November.

Frieda Hughes will be at the Wightman Theatre on the evening of November 25, talking about her recent illustrated poetry collection, Alternative Values, which contains poems for love, marriage, life, death and some of her childhood experiences as the daughter of poets Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath. The event, starting at 7.30pm, will be hosted and supported by national award-winning Shropshire-based poet Liz Lefroy.

Alex Langlands, best known as one of the historian/presenters for the BBC TV series Victorian Farm, Edwardian Farm, Wartime Farm, and Victorian Bakers will be talking about the subject of his new book, Craeft, which explores how traditional crafts are about more than just making, on Sunday November 26, 5pm at the Wightman Theatre.

Festival Chair Susan Caroline said: “We are building on the big success of our inaugural festival last year with a fantastic weekend programme of wonderful authors. 

“We have 15 exciting events covering poetry, non-fiction, fiction and workshops. We are especially grateful to our volunteers, supporters and sponsors who make it all possible.” 

Other festival highlights:

Author Nina Lyon will explore the tradition and cult of the Green Man in ‘Uprooted’ a debate on the nature of belief, idols and mythology with writer and performer Soma Ghosh (Nov 25, 3pm, Shropshire Wildlife Trust).

Lifelong cyclist, cycling instructor and environmentalist Anna Hughes, the author of ‘Eat Sleep, Cycle’ will share inspirational stories form the world of cycling in ‘Pedal power’ (Nov 26, 1pm, Stan’s Cycles cafe).

Prize-winning poet Fiona Sampson will paint a fascinating lyrical portrait of landscapes and cultures forged by limestone in ‘Limestone Country’, the title of her new book, (Nov 26, 3pm Shrewsbury Unitarian Church).

Emergency Poet Deb Alma will be prescribing poetic cures and pills from her 1970’s ambulance in St Alkmund’s Churchyard (Nov 25, 11am - 3pm).

‘Coming to Shropshire: Stories from Overseas’: A story-telling performance of the lives of people who have uprooted themselves from their country of origin and ended up making Shropshire their home. Performed by international storyteller Fran O’Boyle and a cast of readers (Nov 25, 1pm, Shrewsbury Unitarian Church).

Poetry Slam championship: Dave Pitt, Emma Purshouse and Steve Pottinger, from the Poets, Prattlers and Pandemonialists Collective host a battle of the poets to find the very first Shrewsbury Lit Fest Slam Champion (Nov 25, 4pm, Wightman Theatre).

Writing Crime: Four experienced crime and thriller writers will share their experiences of writing for this genre as a panel before taking questions from smaller groups (Nov 25, 5pm, The Hive).

Festival Workshops:

‘Rewriting Myth’ with Bethany Rivers  (Nov 25, 10am, Shrewsbury Central Baptist Church). ‘Fanatstic Imaginings: Writing Sci-fi, Fantasty & Horror’ with Adrian Cole (Nov 26, 10am, Shrewsbury Museum).

For the full list of events visit the festival website or pick up a brochure from festival venues or Pengwern Books, Fish Street, Shrewsbury. Tickets can be booked online via the website or purchased at Pengwern Books.