Scroll down for the 2018 programme


Monday 5 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, 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    

Wednesday 7 March

Maud Allan and The Cult of the Clitoris

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 libelled 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 Salome, this very minor story became a sensation, and implicated 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

Thursday 8 March

Tribute to Stand Magazine

Brotherton Library, University of Leeds

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

Saturday 10 March


Poetry and music about the short walk from light to the edge of darkness - and back. Schwa is Peter Spafford on piano/vocals and Richard Ormrod on at least nine instruments, joined by singer Jacqui Wicks. Here they set to music poems by Elizabeth Bishop, Emily Dickinson, Anne Sexton, and Edna St.Vincent Millais, besprinkled with original text by Peter Spafford.

Schwa's 'Threshold' was premiered at Headingley Litfest in 2015 and is touring this spring for the second time, funded by The Arts Council.

Playful, but not frivolous. Intricately constructed songs that manage to constantly surprise, whilst sounding like I'd always known them. It was genuinely exciting to witness the music being played and was a stand-out moment of the year. I bought the album and have played it endlessly since. It's good to know that music can still bring new joy, even when I don't deserve it.   Rob Reed, cultural blogger

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

Monday 12 March
From 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, 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, 56 St Michael's Rd., Leeds LS6 3BG


Tuesday 13 March
Emily Brontë

Ann Dinsdale

Leeds Library, Commercial Street

Tuesday 13 March

Films at Heart

Wednesday 14 March

Sweet Wild Note

Richard Smyth

Shire Oak Room, Heart Centre

Thursday 15 March

Amit Dhand

Girl Zero

Saturday 17 March

Julian Oxley

Meanwood Institute
11 - 12.30

Saturday 17 March

The Mayflower Generation

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.

Selected by The Sunday Times as a History Book of the Year 2017

Leeds Library, Commercial Street
2pm. Free. Donations welcome.

Saturday 17 March

Trio Literati

Eleanor Rastall

Maggie Mash, Jane Oakshott and Richard Rastall gave their first performance as Trio Literati in November 2003. Set up to do simple poetry readings, the group quickly started on the enchanting and slippery slope of hats and sound effects. They now offer a wide range of performance options, from pure poetry to full-scale dramatic works, often commissioned and scripted to fit a special occasion or place.

As performers, their backgrounds are varied - television, theatre, music - but they share a passion for words and a taste for comedy. Producing many very different shows since 2003, they have gained a reputation for energy, wit and style.

Shire Oak Room, Heart Centre

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 Hebden Bridge based Bluemoose Books. 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:

Kevin Duffy - Bluemoose Books

Jamie McGarry – Valley Press

Alison Taft - Novelist and Editor for Cornerstones Literary Consultancy

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

Places to pitch are limited. For further details and to apply to pitch please email

£5 to pitch £2 to attend

Bluemoose Books is an independent publisher based in Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire. Kevin and Hetha Duffy started Bluemoose in 2006 and as a ‘family’ of readers and writers their aim is to publish cracking stories that engage and inspire.

Valley Press is an independent publishing house based in Scarborough, North Yorkshire, UK. Established in 2008, their mission is to bring the best new poetry, fiction and non-fiction to bookshelves and e-readers around the world.

Tuesday 21 March

Creative Edge

Partnership event with local creative writing groups
Sponsored by Workers Education Association

Once again we are delighted to welcome two local groups of creative writers – from Headingley and 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 or arouse your curiosity.

11am - 1pm HEART Centre, Bennett Road

Free - donations invited for refreshments

Our Community Programme


Headingley LitFest is indebted once again to have the support of the local councillors and others on the Inner and Outer North West Leeds area management committees 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, Khadijah Ibrahim, James Nash and Rommi Smith.  Schools in our 2016/17 programme have been: Brudenell, Quarry Mount, Shire Oak, Spring Bank and Weetwood.  We have still to complete work with St Chad's.  We have also worked with Leeds City Academy and Ralph Thoresby and are working now with Lawnswood.

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 and we are delighted that the WEA is sponsoring the event this year.