NEWS: Hexham Book Festival | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Image: June Sarpong

As a proud Hexhamite, I jumped at the chance to find out more about what I assumed would be a quaint gathering of local hobbyist writers in which I could whimsy about St Mary’s Wynd and the Sele.  Instead I am greeted by a behemoth; a star-studded collection of heavyweight authors and thinkers, TV personalities and Wimbledon champion enablers, political mainstays and cookery legends throughout the festival, which takes place between Sunday 26th April to Sunday 6th May

Whether it’s Evan Davis voicing what we all know about politicians (habitual liars), John Crace poking fun at the Maybot, AC Grayling prophesising the fall of democracy, David Starkey looking into the history of our European affair, or Harriet Harman discussing women in politics, there will be stimulating political debate.

Speaking of women, 100 years have passed since the suffragette movement, and Emmeline Pankhurst’s great granddaughter will be in the ‘Ham to discuss a range of topics.  She is joined by a host of other amazing women, namely June Sarpong talking diversity; Dame Jenni Murray from Radio 4’s Women’s Hour; Judy Murray (no relation), who has raised an Olympic gold medallist, easily qualifying her to discuss sport changing the lives of young people; chefs Mary Contini, Rachel Roddy and Trine Hanhemann and top authors in the shape of bestselling novelist Kate Mosse (Labyrinth, Sepulchre), Elizabeth Day (The Party), Rachel Joyce (The Music Shop) and Sarah Winman (Tin Man).

You can even learn about bee-keeping with Steve Benbow or at the opposite end of the scale, hear about Russian politics and avoiding the KGB from journalist Angus Roxburgh (I’m definitely on a list after mentioning that…)! 

This is an ultra-diverse, mind-blowingly interesting and fascinatingly evocative few days in Britain’s most beautiful market town.  Barely a stone has been left unturned by the fabulous founder Susie Troup, who said “Each year we try to cater for diverse interests and literary genres. [We have] more events and more speakers than ever, so I’m expecting a very busy 10 days.”

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