Literary Leicester 2014

Wednesday 12 to Saturday 15 November

Will Self, a guest in 2012 and 2014 (© Michael Wildsmith)

A serious gathering, seriously run, with a seriously cosmopolitan audience... Even I enjoyed it. (Will Self, 2012)

Join us in celebrating the written word with a host of award-winning and renowned writers, fascinating talks and readings, performance and panel discussions.

2014 sees a fantastic line-up: leading historian Mark Bostridge discusses what it was like to live in England in 1914; Booker-Prize winners Penelope Lively and John Banville; Will Self returns to discuss his new novel Shark; multi-award-winning A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing with Eimear McBride; young adult and children's events including CBeebies' presenter Cerrie Burnell and Leicester-born ex-Children's Laureate Anne Fine, poetry with the brilliant Moniza Alvi and Carrie Etter; Patience Agbabi retells The Canterbury Tales; we celebrate the life of Sue Townsend with renowned local author Bali Rai...and much more. Literary Leicester really does offer something for everyone.

Bali Rai
Bali Rai
See below for details of all events. Our full e-brochure can be viewed on the left of this page.

And remember, all of our events are completely free!

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It was very well organised and the fact it was free was even better!  The festival is a chance for people not in London to get some extremely high quality literary input. (Cath Sibley, visitor in 2012)


Wednesday 12 November

5.30-6pm Formal Festival Opening - join us for a free drinks reception from 5.30pm in the festival foyer

6pm WORLD WAR ONE: 'The Fateful Year: England in 1914' with leading historian Mark Bostridge

7.30pm John Banville

10-11am 'Decadence, Diaries and Discovery': A Year on the Complete Works of Evelyn Waugh Project (alternative venue - see below)

11.30am-12.30pm Andrew Mitchell: Darwin and the Voyage of the HMS Beagle - music and poetry performance, back by popular demand after his amazing appearance last year

Thursday 13 November

1.45-3pm 'What's the Point of Young Adult Fiction?' A Panel Discussion (ages 13+) This event held in association with Whatever it Takes.

6pm An evening of poetry with the brilliant Moniza Alvi and Carrie Etter

7.30pm Eimear McBride discusses her multi-award winning novel (and now play) A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing

2-3pm Fulke Greville and the Invention of History - a fascinating look at the history of 'History'

4-5pm Inaugural Readings: Creative Commissions by The Centre for New Writing - come and hear some of Leicestershire's finest authors reading new work


Friday 14 November

6pm Will Self discusses his new novel Shark

7.30pm Penelope Lively - A Life in Letters

12-1pm An Invitation to the Joe Orton Archive - the university's library is home to Orton's archive. Come and see and hear about some of the real treasures (ticketed event at alternative venue - see below LIMITED SPACES)

LATE ADDITION (not in the brochure!) 1.30pm Unveiling Joe Orton’s Entertaining Mr Sloane: A Commemorative Pot   To mark the 50th anniversary of Leicester-born writer Joe Orton’s first stage play, his sister Leonie Orton Barnett will unveil a pot specially commissioned for the David Wilson Library from ceramicist Rachel Barnett, Orton’s niece.  Join University Librarian Caroline Taylor to admire the latest addition to the library’s growing collection of contemporary art and to celebrate the play that launched Orton’s career (alternative venue - see below)

2-3pm Telling Stories about the East Midlands in World War One  - part of the BBC's 'World War One at Home' project

4-5pm Susanna Watts and Elizabeth Heyrick: Leicestershire Authors and Activists in the 19th Century

Saturday 15 November

11.30am-12.30pm Creepy Crawlies Workshop (ages 4-8)  (alternative venue - see below)

1-2pm ex-Children's Laureate Anne Fine - author of Madame Doubtfire, that became the smash-hit movie starring Robin Williams (ages 8-12)

2.30-3.30pm CBeebie's Cerrie Burnell (aged 4-8)  This event held in association with Booktrust.

6pm The fantastic Patience Agbabi retells The Canterbury Tales

7.30pm Celebrating Sue Townsend with Bali Rai and Guests - Bali will be joined on stage by Sue's long-time illustrator and friend, Caroline Holden, and celebrated Leicester-born singer-songwriter, author and poet, Carol Leeming FRSA.

LATE ADDITION (not in the brochure!) 2-4.15pm Betjeman and Auden: Two Figures in a Landscape, with Professor Andrew Biswell, Director of the International Anthony Burgess Foundation - John Betjeman and W H Auden were two of the best-loved poets of the last century but very little is known about their friendship...a talk, with tea served in the interval (3.15-3.45), and a Q&A to follow. This event held in association with The Betjeman Society (Shires Branch). (alternative venue - see below)

4-5pm Discover Sue Townsend - The Archives - the university is home to many of Sue's archives. Come and hear about the treasures the library holds (ticked event at alternative venue - see below - LIMITED SPACES!)


All events last one hour unless otherwise described.


All Main Events are held at the Peter Williams Lecture Theatre, Fielding Johnson Building South Wing, University or Leicester EXCEPT the 'Creepie Crawlies Workshop', which will be held at New Walk Museum.

All Fringe Events are held at Embrace Arts, the university's arts centre, EXCEPT 'Decadence, Diaries and Discovery' (Leicester Central Library), the Joe Orton and Sue Townsend Archive (and commemorative pot unveling ceremony) events held in the university's David Wilson Library, and 'Betjeman & Auden' to be held in the university's Ken Edwards Lecture Theatre 3.

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Previous guests

Authors who have visited Literary Leicester include: Lauren Child, Louis de Bernières, Colin Dexter, Carol Ann Duffy, Michael Frayn, Amitav Ghosh, Germain Greer, Linton Kwesi Johnon, Penelope Lively, David Lodge, Roger McGough, Will Self, Colm Tóibín, Sue Townsend, Fay Weldon and Jaqueline Wilson

"A serious gathering, seriously run, with a seriously cosmopolitan audience... Even I enjoyed it..." Will Self

Contact us

For general enquiries, please contact:


T: 0116 252 2620