Scroll down for the 2018 programme


Monday 5 March

Another Dinner with Montalbano

Partnership Event with Salvo's Salumeria

Sold out already for this date - but it's happening again on Monday 12 March!

Tuesday 6 March

Recovery Songs

Partnership event with Hyde Park Book Club

Recovery Songs by Ralph Dartford tells a true story of how and why addiction occurs, and how it can eventually stop. Painful, insightful, funny, and ultimately redemptive, Ralph Dartford draws from the stories of his life to fuse narratives and poems that will move you to understand that everything you thought you knew about addiction is maybe wrong.

Ralph hails from Basildon, Essex and is founder member of highly acclaimed spoken word collective A Firm of Poets. Ralph has been published in The Guardian, Stirring Magazine (US), Pulp Faction, Exterminating Angel Press (US) and London Territories. His first collection, Cigarettes, Beer and Love was published by Ossett Observer Presents in July 2013.

'Wonderfully dynamic' - York Press

‘Great Support’ - Kate Tempest

'This is proper, visceral stuff about real life. Poetry for the rest of us' – Luke Wright

Contains adult themes and some strong language.

7.30pm Hyde Park Book Club, Headingley Lane

Free. Donations welcome. Just turn up.

Wednesday 7 March

The Trials of Salomé: The Maud Allan Libel Case

In the early part of 1918, one might have thought that the British government and the British press had more important matters to consider than whether a Tory MP had maligned the character of a Canadian dancer. The outcome of the war remained in doubt – libel was surely unimportant measured against the scale of the war effort. 

But when Noel Pemberton-Billing published an excoriating review of Maud Allan’s performance as Salomé, under the heading 'The Cult of the Clitoris', which implied that Allan, then appearing in her Vision of Salomé, was a lesbian associate of German wartime conspirators, she sued Billing for libel. This very minor story became a sensation, implicating the government at the highest levels. In this public talk, Professor Ruth Robbins (Leeds Beckett) retells the story, and traces its implications – some of which continue to have resonance even now.

7.30pm  Leeds Library, Commercial Street

Free. Donations welcome. Tickets from Leeds Library to ensure your seat

Thursday 8 March

Feminism and the Future

Partnership event with Talking Heads at Heart




Over forty years since the women's liberation movement was born, perhaps it's the end of the beginning!  Have things got better for women? It's International Women's Day this day so, after a short film, long-standing feminist Al Garthwaite will speak and lead a discussion on women's position today and in the future.

Heart Centre, Bennett Road
Suggested donation £3. 
Refreshments available from Assembly Bar and Kitchen

Thursday 8 March

Stand and Friends

Partnership event with Stand magazine

The international quarterly Stand has been a significant feature on the literary scene since its foundation by the poet Jon Silkin in 1952. Over the last sixty years it has published work by leading poets and novelists, including Alison Brackenbury, Vahni Capildeo, Geoffrey Hill, Tony Harrison, Helen Mort, Ken Smith, Anne Stevenson, and Peter Carey. It has always provided opportunities for emerging poets and writers. An independent charitable body, it is currently published from the School of English at the University of Leeds.

Members of the current editorial board - Jon Glover, Elaine Glover and John Whale - invite you to a reading with friends of Stand which will celebrate the past and present of the magazine.

7.30pm HEART Centre Bennett Road

Free. Donations welcome.

Friday 9 March

Cabaret Thirty

Do you still love to tread the boards? Love open mic events? 
If you are under thirty, or okay if you look under thirty, this is your chance to perform. It could be poetry, or song, or stand-up comedy, in a group or on your own. If you think you’ve got it, then flaunt it! At the last LitFest, there was an astonishing range of acts for this wildly popular event..

There’s no age limit for the audience. Get in touch now to make sure
 you are on the list if you want to perform.

Contact with all the details.

7.30pm HEART Centre, Bennett Road
Free. Donations welcome.

Saturday 10 March

Is Anything Happening?

In the days before mobile phones, the internet and 24-hour news channels, the easiest way for a British foreign correspondent to find out what was going on in the world was to phone the local office of Reuters news agency and ask: ‘Is anything happening?’

That’s how the award-winning BBC reporter and presenter Robin Lustig started out in journalism, working for Reuters as an agency man. During a distinguished career spanning more than forty years, he watched the world of news change beyond recognition, as he reported on terror attacks, wars and political coups.

In this witty and illuminating memoir, Lustig looks back on his life as a newsman, from coming under fire in Pakistan to reporting on the fall of the Berlin Wall; from meeting Nelson Mandela to covering Princess Diana’s sudden death.

Back in the studio, Lustig lets us in through the BBC’s back door for a candid, behind-the-scenes look at some of his triumphs and disasters working for the nation’s favourite broadcaster. He writes of his childhood as the son of refugees from Nazi Germany and, drawing on thirty years of reporting about the Middle East, he comes to a startling conclusion about the establishment of the state of Israel.

Astute, incisive and frequently hilarious, Is Anything Happening? is both an irresistible personal memoir and an insightful reflection on world events over the past forty-five years.

“This memoir is everything you would expect from its author: intelligent, shrewd, witty, civilised and great company. He lifts the lid on life within BBC newsrooms and captures the fun of touring the world’s trouble spots as an eyewitness to great events and interviewing the lead characters. Along the way, he reminds us why serious journalism still matters.”
Richard Sambrook, Professor of Journalism, Cardiff University, and former Director, BBC News

“Robin Lustig’s memoir is an engaging mix of anecdote, reportage, reflection and the odd bit of gossip – as good a late-night companion as his voice on Radio 4’s The World Tonight.”
Lindsey Hilsum, International Editor, Channel 4 News

Leeds Library, Commercial Street
Free. Donations welcome.
Tickets from Leeds Library to ensure your seat

Saturday 10 March


Richard Ormrod, Jacqui Wicks and Peter Spafford

Schwa is a Headingley trio comprising Peter Spafford on piano and vocals, Richard Ormrod on woodwind, electric guitar, percussion and loop station, and Jacqui Wicks on vocals and ukulele. Schwa takes poems by a range of poets dead and alive (including Alfred Lord Tennyson, Edward Thomas, Kathleen Jamie, Derek Mahon) and sets them to intelligent, emotive music. In the past, Schwa has premiered both 'Threshold' and last year’s 'I Am Alive' at the Lit Fest. Tonight they fledge a nestful of new pieces from their forthcoming song cycle about birds and migration.

Vivid lyricism and authentic vocals blended with fantastic eclectic arrangements. Testament

7.30pm Heart Centre, Bennett Road

Tickets £5

Sunday 11 March
Beck Arts Walk

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Monday 12 March

Another Dinner with Montalbano

Partnership Event with Salvo's Salumeria

Luca Zingaretti (Montalbano) and Andrea Camilleri

During the past four Headingley LitFests, the Salumeria has hosted highly successful dinners with some of the greats of Italian literature – Dante, Boccaccio and Petrarch. Last year, we moved on to a well-known character from modern times – the Sicilian detective Inspector Montalbano, and it was an immediate sell-out! In 2018, by popular demand, we're doing it again in an updated version, with Gigliola Sulis and Richard Wilcocks. Montalbano is played in television versions by Luca Zingaretti, pictured here with the man who wrote the novels – Andrea Camilleri. While working as a TV and stage director, he published the first of a long series of novels - La forma dell'Acqua (The Shape of Water) featuring the fractious Montalbano, who is part of the police force of Vigàta, an imaginary Sicilian town. 

Montalbano’s adventures are wildly popular in Italy, where fans often talk and write about what he loves to eat – he is very demanding. This makes him the ideal focus of an event devoted to food and literature. You can relish the cooking and listen to Gigliola and Richard, who will talk about Sicily and Camilleri’s work, read extracts and draw attention to some of the featured menus.  

7.00pm Salvo's Salumeria, Otley Road
£20 from Salvo’s          Book by phone 0113 275 8877 0r online    

Monday 12 MarchFrom Frankenstein to Heinz Beans

Partnership event with Café Scientifique

How the weather has shaped our world
Two hundred years ago Mary Shelley's landmark Gothic tale, Frankenstein, was published. However, this horror story might never have been imagined were it not for the spectacular eruption of Tambora in Indonesia, three years earlier in 1815. The vast quantities of ash, thrown high into the atmosphere by this volcano, resulted in 'the year without a summer' in 1816 and worldwide harvest failures. And it was during this incredibly gloomy summer that Shelley started to write Frankenstein.

Join science journalist Kate Ravilious for a whistle-stop tour of weather events that have shaped the world we see today. From the weather that inspired the skies in Edvard Munch's The Scream, to the harsh weather that ultimately led to Heinz beans, Kate will be exploring how some weather events have been turning points in history, and pondering what kind of weather might shape our future.

Kate Ravilious is an award-winning independent science journalist who is the grand-daughter of WW2 war artist Eric Ravilious, and is based in York. She writes about the latest discoveries in the scientific world and has a particular passion for weather, earth sciences and archaeology. She contributes regularly to the 'Weatherwatch' column in The Guardian newspaper, and you can also see her work in a number of magazines, newspapers and websites including New Scientist, The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph, The Independent, Cosmos, Archaeology and Environmental Research Web.

New Headingley Club, St Michael's Rd
£3  Pay on the door.

Tuesday 13 March

Living with Emily Brontë

Ann Dinsdale                Photo Richard Wilcocks

Painting believed to be of Emily Brontë

An illustrated talk by Ann Dinsdale, Principal Curator of the Brontë Parsonage Museum in Haworth, to mark the bicentenary of the birth of  Emily Brontë, the author of Wuthering Heights, who spent nearly all her life at the Parsonage. The talk draws on a curator’s experience of working at the Museum, and looks at items in its collection which help illustrate Emily’s life. 

Ann is pictured with Nero, a merlin hawk rescued from the moors by Emily and painted by her in October 1841. 'And like myself lone, wholly lone,' she wrote in a poem about it. The bird was given away, never to be seen again, while she was at a boarding school in Brussels in 1842.

Leeds Library, Commercial Street
Tickets from Leeds Library to ensure your seat

Tuesday 13 March

Partnership event with Films at Heart


Beloved Nobel Prize-winning poet Pablo Neruda is the most famous communist in Chile. When the political tides shift in 1948, he is forced to go into hiding with a perseverant police inspector hot on his trail. Neruda cunningly plays with the inspector, leaving clues designed to make their game of cat-and-mouse ever more perilous.

The 2016 film, directed by Pablo Larrain, stars Gael García Bernal, Luis Gnecco (Neruda) and Mercedes Morán.

' unlikely, often surreal and incredibly entertaining film that plays fast and loose with facts and time... inventive and entertaining.' Guardian

8pm   Heart Centre, Bennett Road        
Pay on door £6/£5/£4

Wednesday 14 March

Sweet Wild Note

Partnership event with Leeds Libraries and Read Regional

Richard Smyth is a writer, researcher and editor based in Bradford. He is a regular contributor to Bird Watching magazine, and reached the final of Mastermind with a specialist subject of British birds. In A Sweet, Wild Note, Smyth asks what it is about birdsong that we so love, exploring the myriad ways in which it has influenced literature, music and art, our feelings about the natural world, and our very ideas of what it means to be British. 

A Guardian `Readers' Choice' Best Book of 2017

7.30pm  Heart Centre, Bennett Road 

Thursday 15 March

Amit Dhand - Girl Zero

Amit Dhand                                              Photo Mark Davis

Amit Dhand, our friendly local pharmacist, leads a double life as a writer of crime fiction. His sellout event last year at Headingley Library detailed his debut novel Streets of Darkness. His hero is Harry Virdee, a Sikh detective, with flaws in his professional and private lives.

'There are some surprises that no-one should ever have to experience.  Standing over the body of your beloved – and murdered – niece is one of them.   For Detective Inspector Harry Virdee, a man perilously close to the edge, it feels like the beginning of the end.'

This next book in the series, Girl Zero, takes up his story a year later. It's another fictional dark look at a criminal underworld placed in Bradford, and involving the kind of things you see pretty much every day on the news. 

'Outstanding – relentless, multi-layered suspense and real human drama.'
Lee Child

'Harry Virdee is one of the most multi-layered policemen to have appeared in recent years. Girl Zero is a story as fresh as today's newspaper headlines - and all the more potent for being so . . . Fierce, fast-paced and vivid, it underlines just how good Dhand is'
Mail on Sunday

'Dhand is a fearless writer'
Sunday Times

'A character destined for television.' 
Daily Mail

'This was an exciting, fast-paced crime novel with a unique and likeable main character. Harry is tough, unconventional and motivated by justice but doesn’t quite fit the mould of the usual maverick police officer found in these sorts of books – something about him is unusual and really engaging to read about …  it was really interesting to have an Asian lead and host of Asian characters, as this is definitely a group that is massively under-represented in crime fiction'
Top 100 Amazon reviewer

Amit is currently working with a UK broadcaster to develop a TV adaptation of the book.  He still works full-time as a pharmacist and writes late at night into the early hours
Amit will read from his new work and will both tell you more about himself and his writing life as well as answer questions.  The paperback edition will be released on 22 February 2018 and will be on sale at the event

New Headingley Club, St Michael's Road (To be shortened for brochure)
7.15 pm

Saturday 17 March

Florence and Jem return in the third and final book of the illustrated children's series set in the enchanted woodland of The Hollies, written by Julian Oxley, illustrated by  Clare Morgan.

Florence sleeps through a wild storm dreaming of adventure aboard a pirate ship. She is shocked to learn from the whale that there is in fact a pirate ship stranded in the woods somewhere. With her ever loyal dog, Florence seeks out the mysterious ship and its treasure.

The Florence and Jem books are intended to provoke children's imaginations. All the magic is based on real things in the local woods with just enough directions for families to find them. 

This is a Meanseas book launch event. Families welcome. Cake available.

11am - 12.30pm  Meanwood Institute, Green Road
Free. Donations welcome.

Saturday 17 March

The Mayflower Generation

Rebecca Fraser 

Selected by The Sunday Times as a History Book of the Year 2017
The voyage of the Mayflower and the founding of Plymouth Colony is one of the seminal events in world history. But the poorly-equipped group of English Puritans who ventured across the Atlantic in the early autumn of 1620 had no sense they would pass into legend. They had eighty casks of butter and two dogs but no cattle for milk, meat, or ploughing. They were ill-prepared for the brutal journey and the new land that few of them could comprehend. But the Mayflower story did not end with these Pilgrims’ arrival on the coast of New England or their first uncertain years as settlers. Rebecca Fraser traces two generations of one ordinary family and their extraordinary response to the challenges of life in America.

Edward Winslow, an apprentice printer born in Worcestershire, fled England and then Holland for a life of religious freedom and opportunity. Despite the intense physical trials of settlement, he found America exotic, enticing, and endlessly interesting. He built a home and a family, and his remarkable friendship with King Massassoit, Chief of the Wampanoags, is part of the legend of Thanksgiving. Yet, fifty years later, Edward’s son Josiah was commanding the New England militias against Massassoit’s son in King Philip’s War.

The Mayflower Generation is an intensely human portrait of the Winslow family written with the pace of an epic. Rebecca Fraser details domestic life in the seventeenth century, the histories of brave and vocal Puritan women and the contradictions between generations as fathers and sons made the painful decisions which determined their future in America.

Leeds Library, Commercial Street

Free. Donations welcome. Ensure your seat with ticket from

Saturday 17 March 

Trio Literati

War on our Doorstep (Headingley 1939) 


Maggie Mash, Richard Rastall, Jane Oakshott                   Photo Lloyd Spencer

Tune into wartime Leeds through three local diary writers -- a housewife, a theatre buff, and a raw recruit to the RAMC.   From the price of blackout materials, to backstage dramas, to square bashing and lectures on VD, their personal stories give a colourful picture of our community as the world slid into war.

Like the famous 'Housewife, 49' two of the diarists were volunteers for Mass Observation, set up in 1938 to record everyday life in Britain.

Trio Literati  - 'full of energy, wit and style' - are known for their lively mix of thought-provoking content, and light-hearted, clear delivery.  Their versatile musicians -- Eleanor Rastall (soprano), Jonathan Drummond (piano) and Laurie Covell (sax)  -- add to the WW2 ambience with the smokey, nostalgic, foot-tapping music of  'Forces' Favourites':  The Andrews Sisters, Glenn Miller, The Ink Spots, Vera Lynn and more.

Heart Centre, Bennett Road

Sunday 18 March

Literary Walk

Partnership event with Leeds Combined Arts

J R R Tolkien

















There and back again - or to a happy ending

Join Leeds Combined Arts members and guests at the Statue of Alderman Marsden on Woodhouse Moor for a linear walk with new material on Tolkien's life in Leeds and how local landscapes and landmarks may have influenced his creative imagination and his sub-creation of Middle Earth, and The Lord of the Rings.  Also including settings known to Alan Bennett, T.S. Eliot and Lucy Newlyn, with short readings from their works. The walk will finish in the centre of Headingley. 

1.15 pm
£1 Donations 

Tuesday 20 March

Taking the Plunge

Partnership event with local creative writing groups

                                                                    Photo by by Пётр Иванов (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Once again we are delighted to welcome three local groups of creative writers – one from Headingley and two from the Osmondthorpe Hub – to take the plunge and share their work with us.  Dark tales? Wry poems?  A drama?  Short stories with a twist? Or just an entertaining excerpt from life writing? An eclectic selection of pieces to fascinate, amuse and arouse your curiosity. We also have a short interlude with local poets who share a snippet to whet your appetite.

11am - 1.30pm HEART Centre, Bennett Road
Free - donations invited for refreshments

Tuesday 20 March

Launch of Strix - Issue Three

Partnership event with Strix

Carol Rumens described Strix in the Guardian as 'handsome, streamlined and sharp-eyed', and since its first issue launched in May last year, this Leeds-based magazine has published neatly a hundred writers from all over the English-speaking world and at all stages of their writing lives. Join us for a lively and packed launch at our spiritual home.

Hyde Park Book Club, Headingley Lane


Free. Donations welcome.

Wednesday 21 March

Surrealism in Art - Uncanny Landscapes

Partnership event with Leeds Arts Society

A lecture by Dr Julia Kelly:   

French surrealism in the 1920s and 1930s looked for instances of the marvellous in the urban environment. Its British equivalent preferred to draw upon the natural world for motifs and source materials, in paintings, photography, sculptures and found objects. The irrational forces of nature at work in strange rock formations, in the shapes of bones, shells and sea creatures and in plants and tree growth fascinated artists like Eileen Agar, Paul Nash, Edward Wadsworth and F. E. McWilliam. 

The surrealist concept of change found a focus in the British Landscape: the accidental form encountered while walking in the country, or beachcombing at the coast.  This lecture will explore the British Surrealists' interest in nature made strange and uncanny, as a source both of wonder but also anxiety: extraordinary but troubling.

Dr Julia Kelly was educated at Oxford University and the Courtauld Institute in London. She has taught at the Universities of Manchester and Hull and is currently Research Associate at Loughborough University. She has published on surrealism, art and anthropology, modern and contemporary sculpture and the history of museums and galleries .

The lecture starts at 2pm but you are asked to arrive a little earlier and be in your seat
by 1.50pm. Sandwiches and tea / coffee £4 - £5.00 can be purchased if required - available
from 12.30 pm.

£5 - Places are limited and will be available on a first come first served basis. To book please
email quoting LitFest ticket.

Castle Grove Masonic Hall
Castle Grove Drive, Moor Road, Leeds LS6 4BP

Wednesday 21 March
Literary Quiz

Partnership event with HEART Centre and Oxfam

The mind-bending Oxfam Quiz at HEART will bring a bit more of a literary focus in March. In conjunction with the LitFest there will be something for bookworms and the literati, as well as those who like pictures and brainteasers!  HEART Centre Manager Mike will be the Quizmaster par excellence.
It’s just £1 per person, with a maximum of five in a team. There will be a raffle too.
Proceeds to Oxfam.

Assembly Bar and Kitchen, HEART Centre, Bennett Road
£1 Pay on the door

Friday 23 March 

Yorkshire Rows

7.30pm New Headingley Club, St Michael's Road

Saturday 24 March

Pitch and Pen

Ever wondered whether that idea you have for a novel , or a poetry or short story collection could fly?

Would you like the chance to pitch to a team of publishing industry professionals?

You’ve seen Dragons’ Den, so now Headingley Litfest invites you to pitch your ideas in front of an audience and a panel of professional writers and publishers. Not only is this a great chance to see whether your idea is sound, it also gives you a chance to see what the competition is like out there. What makes a great idea stand out from the pile?

The winning pitcher(s) will be invited to submit a synopsis and sample of their work for consideration by either Valley Press based in Scarborough , or Sheffield based And Other Stories. Regardless of whether a publishing contract is offered, feedback will be provided on the submission package.

The panel of judges will be made up of:
Jamie McGarry – Valley Press
Anna Glendenning – And other Stories
Alison Taft - Novelist and Editor for Cornerstones Literary Consultancy

4.00 - 6.00pm New Headingley Club St Michael’s Road

£5 to pitch - places to pitch are limited and to apply for a ticket you must please email stating whether you want to pitch poetry/short stories or a novel.

£2 to attend – on the door or from the box office.

Valley Press (est. 2008) is a thriving independent publishing house based in Scarborough, North Yorkshire. With authors from all corners of the UK, as well as Canada, the USA, India, Bermuda and China, we are bringing the world to Yorkshire and Yorkshire to the world.
We have more than 100 titles currently in print, including poetry (collections, pamphlets and anthologies), fiction (novels and short stories) and non-fiction (travel writing and memoirs). 2018 will see us expand further, with musical history and graphic novels appearing on our shelves. Our most important belief is that great literature, and great publishing, is for everyone and anyone – if you agree, we'd love to hear from you.

And Other Stories publishes some of the best in contemporary writing. It aims to push people’s reading limits and help them discover authors of adventurous and inspiring writing.
And Other Stories is its readers, editors, writers, translators and subscribers. While all its books are distributed widely through bookshops, it is subscribers’ support makes the books happen. The press now has about 1,000 active subscribers in over 40 countries, receiving up to 6 books a year in advance of publication date.

Sunday 25 March


Partnership event with Irish Arts

A film written and directed by Tom Collins and based on Jimmy Murphy's play The Kings of the Kilburn High Road,  starring Colm Meaney, Donal O'Kelly, Brendan Conroy and Donncha Crowley. In the mid-1970s a group of young Irish men leave the Connemara Gaeltacht, bound for London and filled with ambition for a better life. After thirty years, they meet again at the funeral of their youngest friend, Jackie. The film intersperses flashbacks of a lost youth in Ireland with the harsh realities of modern life.

For some the thirty years has been hard, working in building sites across Britain. Slowly the truth about Jackie's death become clear and the friends discover they need each other more than ever.

The film is bilingual, having both Irish and English dialogues. It premiered at the Taormina Film Festival (Italy) in June 2007, and was selected as Ireland's official entry for the 2008 Academy Awards in the best foreign-language film category. The film was nominated for a record 14 Irish Film and Television Awards (IFTAs) in 2008, – going on to win 5 IFTAs, including Best Irish Language Film.

The screening is part of Irish History Month 2018 

Hyde Park Picture House

3 pm
£7.50/ £6.00 Concessions

Tuesday 27 March 

Meet the Authors

Frances Brody, Clare Fisher, Chris Nickson and June Taylor

Frances Brody

Frances Brody is the author of popular mystery novels set in 1920s Yorkshire, featuring Headingley-based Kate Shackleton, First World War widow turned sleuth, her sidekick, former policeman Jim Sykes and housekeeper Mrs Sugden.  

Before writing the Kate Shackleton series, Frances wrote as Frances McNeil - short stories, scripts and plays for radio, theatre and television. JEHAD, was produced at Manchester Library Theatre, the Gate, Nottingham Playhouse and Theatr Clwyd and was nominated for a Time Out Award. Her Leeds-based sagas, the first of which won the HarperCollins Elizabeth Elgin award, have recently been re-published as Frances Brody books.

Clare Fisher

Clare Fisher was born in Tooting, south London in 1987. After accidentally getting obsessed with writing fiction when she should have been studying for a BA in History at the University of Oxford, Clare completed an MA in Creative and Life Writing at Goldsmiths College, University of London.  All The Good Things is her first novel and was described as 'a sparky and unsettling debut' by The Guardian. 

When she's not writing, she's selling books, teaching writing, running, or tweeting about not writing @claresitafisher. Find out more at

Chris Nickson

Chris Nickson is the author of over 20 historical crime novels., including the six acclaimed Richard Nottingham novels, set in Leeds in the 1730s. Cold Cruel Winter was named one of the 10 Best Mysteries of the Year by Library Journal, while the audiobook of The Broken Token was cited as one of the Audiobooks of 2012 by the Independent on Sunday.
Born and raised in Leeds, Chris spent 30 years living in the US and working as a music journalist in Cincinnati and Seattle before returning to Britain in 2005. Along with the novels, he’s the author of over 30 non-fiction books.

The Tin God, the sixth novel in his Victorian Leeds crime series featuring Detective Superintendent Tom Harper, comes out in March.

June Taylor

June Taylor is a writer from Leeds, living in Headingley. Her debut novel Losing Juliet was published in 2017 by HarperCollins.  She is currently working on her second book, set in contemporary LeedsJune is active in the local writing scene in all its forms, and is on the Board of Script Yorkshire.

Losing Juliet was nominated for the Not the Booker Prize 2017.  She was also runner-up in the 2011 Times/Chicken House Fiction Competition for her Young Adult novel and writes plays and flash fiction. 

You can find her at

Twitter: @joonLT

Café, Heart Centre, Bennett Road
Free. Donations welcome.

Wednesday 28 March

War on Gender

Partnership event with Leeds Combined Arts

Transgender rights have recently come to the fore as a social issue, and yet there are many who feel that this is being pushed too far and too fast. Claire Rae Randall is a transsexual woman who transitioned over thirty years ago and is deeply concerned about this precipitous rate of change. Can this have a happy ending?  

Claire Rae Randall’s forthcoming book The War on Gender examines the progress of trans from a personal perspective that has seen it come from being a marginal issue to one that is now having a disproportionate influence on social values.

Heart Centre, Bennett Road
£3.50 -  includes refreshments.

Wednesday 18 April

Reading Shakespeare -  Hot off the Press

Partnership event with Leeds Arts Society

A talk by Professor Emma Smith

What was it like to read a newly published play by Shakespeare? This talk discusses Shakespeare  in print during his lifetime, asking whether Shakespeare was really as popular as we assume, and identifying his role in the development of drama as something to read as well, or even instead of, something to see.  It will be illustrated with pages from early editions of the plays, from the earliest, Titus Andronicus  in 1594, to the collective editions known as the First Folio and published posthumously in 1623.

Emma Smith was born and educated in Leeds and now teaches Shakespeare and early modern literature at the University of Oxford. Her most recent book is Shakespeare’s First Folio : Four Centuries of an Iconic Book, Oxford University Press 2016

The lecture starts at 2pm but you are asked to arrive a little earlier and be in your seat
by 1.50pm..

£5 - Places are limited and will be available on a first come first served basis. To book please
email quoting LitFest ticket.

Castle Grove Masonic Hall
Castle Grove Drive, Moor Road, Leeds LS6 4BP

Long Live the LitFest!
This LitFest is the eleventh, and the last to be made up of a series of events in the last three weeks of March. From now on, we are going to scatter the LitFest across the year, something we do already with our ‘Beyond the Lines’ events, but on a bigger scale. Writers and performing artists from Headingley and beyond will continue to be our guests, but not in one burst of talent.

Plenty of talent has come our way in the ten years since the first LitFest in 2008 which quickly got into gear with a poetry slam at Lawnswood School. As part of a packed and varied programme, Nicolette Jones talked about her new book on the great Victorian reformer Samuel Plimsoll, a play by Peter Spafford on the life and death from pneumonia in Headingley of Prince Alamayou of Abyssinia drew a large audience and poet James Nash compered a poetry reading in a café basement. The style was set for future years.

In 2009 we had our first big headliner – Dame Beryl Bainbridge, who read from her work-in-progress (and final novel) The Girl in the Polka Dot Dress, followed in 2010 by David Peace, who spoke about his latest novel GB84, which focused on the miners’ strike. In 2011 our principal guest was Booker Prizewinner Ben Okri, and in 2013 we booked the Howard Assembly Room in the city centre for a reading by poet Roger McGough. In the same year Headingley resident Kay Mellor spoke about her new television series, The Syndicate.

In 2014, a non-fiction book by LitFest secretary Richard Wilcocks, Stories from the War Hospital, was launched with a play, and novelist Alison Taft presided over the third annual session devoted to the work of creative writing students from Headingley and Osmondthorpe. She reappeared in 2015 in Yorkshire Noir, an evening devoted to crime writers. In the same year, David Robertson, the driving force behind Theatre of the Dales, a group regularly performing in the LitFest, gave a stunning performance of Samuel Beckett’s Krapp’s Last Tape. Trio Literati is another group of local performers, extremely talented amateurs seeming like professionals, who have been with us every year.

Children and young people have always made an important contribution, and not just when we have worked with poets in schools: Julian Oxley’s beautiful Florence and Jem books for pre-schoolers have launched at the LitFest, and for the last couple of years an evening entitled ‘Cabaret Thirty’ has been allocated to people of less than that age.

So look forward to more of the same, but not concentrated into a few weeks in the spring. We live on!


Our Community Programme


Headingley LitFest is indebted once again to have the support of the local councillors and others on the Inner North West Leeds area management committee to fund their work with a wide range of local schools.  Our local councillors have been consistent supporters of the interventions we make in the schools in our 'patch'. 

The grants support the work with primary and secondary school groups to develop confidence in writing and presentation through poetry, spoken word and short stories.  Each young poet gets to perform their work and some have their original work included in a book or e-book as a further legacy of their work.  Our work in schools starts in the late autumn and runs through the winter to early spring, so it is a large commitment from our volunteers and our poets.  However, we are all passionate that developing original writing, using poetry as a genre, encourages a love of words, a curiosity about poetry and literature and an increased self-confidence in both writing and performing.

This year we have commissioned work with professional poets Malika Booker,  James Nash and Rommi Smith.  Schools in our 2017/18 programme so far have been: Quarry Mount, Spring Bank and Ireland Wood.  We have still to complete work with Brudenell, St Chad's, Shire Oak and Weetwood. 

We are also working once again with the disabled writers from the Osmondthorpe Hub, in partnership with some of the Headingley creative writers, both WEA groups.