Derby Book Festival programme launch at Derby Reads

The programme for the fifth Derby Book Festival is revealed tonight (Wednesday 10 April) at Derby Reads, a special event to be held in QUAD, Derby when the Festival programme is published.  The Festival, which will be held from 31 May - 8 June, will include over 90 events and activities in venues across the city.  Derby Reads will feature readings from books to be featured at this year’s Festival. 

As well as the launch of the programme, the theme for the Festival’s annual Fifty Word Flash Fiction Writing Competition will be announced.  This year’s competition has three age categories as well as one specifically for HM Prison Foston Hall. Derby Reads also marks the opening of the Festival Box Office at QUAD with all this year’s Festival events now on sale. 

This year’s programme cover has been illustrated by Charlotte Bayliss, a second year Illustration student at the University of Derby in a competition held for the students. 


Highlights of this year’s Festival will include:

  • Broadcaster, author and Parliamentarian, Melvyn Bragg talking about his new novel, Love Without End in Derby Theatre on Friday 7 June
  • A special event to commemorate the 75th anniversary of D-Day in Derby Theatre on Thursday 6 June with authors Giles Milton and Bali Rai talking about their latest books on soldiers experiences of D-Day.  There’ll also be music and dance from, and inspired by, the period and the books

Liz Fothergill, Chair of the Festival says: “This year we are delighted to include writers from across the world and celebrate the diversity of our city.  We have authors flying in from Australia and Norway and have a strong South East Asian programme.  The programme is more exciting than ever with our usual broad range of events and genres for all ages and interests.  We know we have a loyal following in the city but every year we aim to attract new audiences to enable them to enjoy the pleasure that books bring to our lives.”

Four of this year’s family events will be signed by a BSL interpreter, in partnership with Communication Unlimited.

This year’s programme also includes:

  • Australian author and international best-seller, Markus Zusak, whose novel The Book Thief sold 16 million copies worldwide.  His follow-up Bridge of Clay looks destined to follow its success
  • Novelists Patrick Gale (Take Nothing With You, Costa-shortlisted for A Place Called Winter), Victoria Hislop (The Island and The Return), Melissa Harrison (All Among the Barley) and award-winning poet, Helen Mort will discuss her first novel, Black Car Burning
  • Business and Politics, with BBC Editorial Director, Kamal Ahmed talking about his memoir of growing up in 1970s London, former Channel 4 Economics Editor, Paul Mason and Professor Steve Peters on Managing the Mind
  • Crime writers: James Runcie (Grantchester series), Mark Billingham, Stephen Booth and a panel of female crime writers including C J Tudor and Jo Jakeman
  • A Day of Dragons on Saturday 8 June with lots of fun and activities in the Market Place, including a special Dragons and Wizards event in QUAD with best-selling children’s author Cressida Cowell (How to Train Your Dragon and The Wizards of Once series)
  • Nordic Noir and Beyond with crime writer Gunaar Staalesen and two contemporary fiction writers: Marta Breen and Helga Flatland
  • History fans can enjoy Alison Weir (Anna of Kleve), Tracy Borman talking about Henry VIII and the Men Who Made Him, Kate Hubbard on Bess of Hardwick plus Sir Simon Jenkins whose most recent book is A Short History of Europe
  • Art lovers can hear Martin Bailey talk about Van Gogh whilst Clare Hunter will talk about the history of needlework
  • Poetry fans will enjoy Hollie McNish, Henry Normal, Rupinder Kaur and Nafeesa Hamid and local poet Dan Webber launches his first collection, Genre Fluid.
  • For lovers of Science and Nature, Greenpeace UK’s Head of Oceans, Will McCallum will talk about How to Give Up Plastic, the UKs most eminent forensic scientist, Angela Gallop will share some of the cases she has worked on and Rose George explains all you need to know about blood in Nine Pints
  • A pick of the latest crop of debut authors: Anne Griffin (When All is Said), Elizabeth Macneal (The Doll Factory), Bridget Collins (The Binding), and Laura Shepherd-Robinson (Blood and Sugar) and Sophie Draper (Cuckoo)
  • For sports fans: cricketer Graeme Fowler looks at the pressures of playing international cricket, Premier League lawyer, Daniel Geehy reveals the inner workings of modern football from his first-hand knowledge of negotiating transfer deals and Tom Isitt recounts the story of the toughest bicycle race ever staged
  • Relax and enjoy author talks over lunch or afternoon tea: the annual Festival Lunch with Rory Stewart MP and Afternoon Tea events with Clare Hunter, who will talk about Threads of Life, the history of needlework and Griselda Kerr on gardening.

Claire Twells, partner at Smith Partnership, said: “Smith Partnership are delighted to again be sponsors of Derby Book Festival and feel sure it will repeating the success of the four previous Festivals. It is now firmly established as an annual event putting Derby firmly on the cultural map with the biggest and most successful literary festival in the East Midlands and contributing to the wider renaissance we see taking place across our wonderful City.

“The quality and breadth of this year’s programme is once again testimony to the very highest standards that everyone involved in the Festival has come to expect. We wish everyone every success for this year’s event and in the years to come.”

QUAD will again be the main Festival Box Office and will host many of the exciting Festival events, but events will also be held at venues across the city including Déda, Derby Theatre, Guildhall Clubrooms, Cathedral Quarter Hotel, 3aaa County Ground, Derby County Football Club and Derby Museums.  The Festival programme will be available from all Festival venues, as well as Artboxes, all libraries and tourist offices. The Festival is organised in partnership with all the major arts and cultural partners in the city.  Tickets can be booked online at or in person or by phone at QUAD and other host venues. 

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