Durham Book Festival announces 2013 programme

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We’re delighted to let you know that the Durham Book Festival 2013 programme was announced last night at Durham Castle. This year’s festival takes place from 12-20 October in a selection of venues around Durham. The varied programme for 2013 includes a thrilling list of internationally known crime authors, politicians, academics, poets, and writers of all genres and styles.

The programme includes many household names from literature, politics and broadcasting, including Jeremy Vine, Lynda La Plante, Alan Johnson, Lucy Worsley and Walter Mosley.

There are also several new commissions for this year, including a new piece of work by Festival Laureate, poet Paul Muldoon; Benjamin Markovits as the first ever Investec Ashes writer-in-residence; and musician and singer Kathryn Williams with a new EP of songs inspired by Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar to celebrate 50 years since its publication.

The festival will be hosting Carina Rodney’s specially-commissioned musical adaptation of Val McDermid’s children’s book, My Granny is a Pirate, directed by Annie Rigby. Musicians from Sage Gateshead and a team of performers will bring the acclaimed crime author’s first foray into children’s literature to life at Durham Town Hall on Saturday 12 October. New Writing North is also delighted to be taking the show on the road, touring to community centres, libraries and schools across County Durham as well as to Manchester and Sheffield as part of a partnership with other book festivals in the North.

The programme launch event included an appearance by acclaimed writer David Peace, author of the Red Riding Quartet and The Damned United, who read a short extract from his new novel, Red or Dead, and also announced the shortlist for the Gordon Burn Prize, which you can read more about here.

The launch also revealed a series of exciting events scheduled for young readers and writers in this year’s programme, with the Durham Book Festival Schools Day on Wednesday 2 October and the Cuckoo Shop in Framwellgate where 14-25 year-olds can blog, book advice sessions with established authors, and generally take a sideways look at the festival. The Cuckoo Shop will also host exclusive masterclasses with authors Gavin Extence, Benjamin Markovits and Matt Haig and poets John Challis and Anna Woodford so aspiring writers can learn from the best. You can find out more about the Cuckoo programme for young writers at

There are many more events – over 60 this year, including a number of free events – so have a look at the full programme and book tickets at

Durham Book Festival is produced by New Writing North for Durham County Council and supported by Durham University and Arts Council England, with sponsorship from Banks Group, Swinburne Maddison, PwC, and the University of Sunderland.

Other events in the region

Durham Streets Festival
Durham City plays host at the end of August to the Durham Streets Festival, including a gig with twice Mercury Music Prize-nominee Eliza Carthy and Jim Moray in the Cathedral. A full programme and booking is available at

War Horse at the Sunderland Empire
The Sunderland Empire is one of the stops on the national tour next spring of War Horse, the critically-acclaimed production of Michael Morpurgo’s classic children’s books. The production arrives in April, and you can get full details and book at