Sunderland's annual literature festival is taking on an unashamedly local theme this year as it celebrates the city's rich literary talent with local authors, local artists and local themes.

The festival, which is organised by Sunderland Libraries, begins this Monday 16 October and runs right through until 4 November.

Highlights include an open mic performance poetry afternoon celebrating the city, in one of its most iconic Victorian pubs,  a candlelit retelling of the dastardly deeds of Mary Ann Cotton, Sunderland's 'Angel of Death' at the 18th century Donnison School Heritage Centre and a meet the author session with Nancy Revell whose saga 'The Shipyard Girls' charts the fortunes of the first women to work in local shipyards during the Second World War.

Fittingly on the 31 October, Spectral Visions Press, an innovative publishing house based at the University of Sunderland, and specialising in all things Gothic, is holding a book launch for two new books 'Tyne and Wear'd' and 'A Bestiary of Monsters'.

While for those who like their soaps, there's a session with local blogger Glenda Young who has been running the  Coronation Street Blog fan Website since 2007 and has been commissioned to write the first ever soap opera for the People's Friend Magazine.

Councillor John Kelly, Portfolio Holder for Public Heath, Wellness and Culture, said: "I'm proud to say that this year's festival celebrates all things Sunderland with local authors, local artist and local themes. The city has a real wealth of literary and creative talent and it's only right that we should celebrate that.

"The majority of the events are free and there really is something for everyone whatever their age and interests. This year we're holding some of our events in interesting new venues too like the 18th Century Donnison School Heritage Centre in Old Sunderland and The Peacock, one of the city's most iconic Victorian pubs. So I'd urge everyone to have a look through the programme to see what they're interested in and to come along and join in."

Other highlights include:

  • University of Sunderland lecturer Alison Younger on the extraordinary folklore and fables of North East England
  • Local crime writer Alan Parkinson talking about his three novels ' Leg It', 'Idle Threat' and ' Life in the Balance' 
  • Internationally published author Ben Irvine presenting an interactive nuts and bolts guide to  improving your writing and your approach to writing
  • 'Forget Carter' - Author and media historian Chris Phipps' guide to the filming of many television programmes and films in the North East
  • Ancestry taster sessions
  • A heritage walk around the East End of Sunderland looking at the characters, events and buildings that tell the story of Sunderland's past
  • 'How to write a best seller' with University of Sunderland lecturer Colin Younger
  • Time for Rhyme sessions and craft activities for children
  • The History Wardrobe - Dress historian Lucy Adlington looks at the world of fashion, fabrics, hats and home sewing in the 1940s to celebrate the publication of her new novel the Red Ribbon inspired by the dressmakers of Auschwitz
  • Scott Joplin - the Triumph of the Tragedy of his Opera - a lecture looking at the ragtime composer's life accompanied by the performance of some of his works
  • Words and Pictures - Sunderland Past and Present - a creative writing session taking its inspiration from photos of Sunderland's local studies library archive and photos they bring along themselves


Visit: Sunderland Libraries Literature Festival 2017 for a programme and more information on the festival.