Birmingham Literature Festival announces October 2019 line up

The ten-day festival, which runs from the 3-13 October, presents a line up of writers, artists and commentators including new UK Poet Laureate Simon Armitage, former Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy, actor and writer Toby Jones, former Blue Peter presenter Konnie Huq, novelist Fatima Bhutto and former junior doctor and writer Adam Kay.

Birmingham Literature Festival returns to the city this autumn with an exciting line up of novelists, poets, feminist writers, performers, activists, and artists from the UK and abroad.

The ten-day festival runs from 3rd to 13th October in venues across the city, including the Birmingham Repertory Theatre, Midlands Arts Centre, Town Hall and the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire.

Audiences can look forward to a discussion from fearless Birmingham Yardley Labour MP Jess Phillips, speaking out on injustices and successfully fighting back with her latest book Truth to Power. A thought-provoking and honest discussion on sexuality, desire, intersectional identity and the LGBTQ+ culture with Amelia Abraham, Amrou Al-Kadhi and Michael Amherst; and join acclaimed writer Fatima Bhutto as she shares her explorations into new global pop cultures – Bollywood, Turkish soap operas and South Korean pop music.

The festival will once again kick off on National Poetry Day on Thursday 3 October, and outgoing UK Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy will headline the celebration with an evening of performance and poetry. She will be joined by Keith Hutson, Mark Pajak and her daughter Ella Duffy.

Delve into Birmingham’s Victorian history with novelist Carolyn Kirby, who will be taking audiences on a historical canal walk and visiting locations from her latest novel The Conviction of Cora Burns – the only Victorian novel to be set in Birmingham. And for something more contemporary, local writer Anna Lawrence will lead you on a unique postcard tour of the Latvian city of Riga, right here in Birmingham city centre as part of a new British Council commission

With 56 events, this year’s festival is packed with performances by a wide range of writers, artists, comedians and speakers. With events about sex, politics, grief, real-life parenting, the Windrush scandal, activism, mental health, masculinity, money and psychology (to name a few!) you’re sure to find something to intrigue and excite you. There will even be a chance to explore the darker side of writing with events on the occult, gothic tales and the supernatural.

Festival Director Antonia Beck says:

“We work hard to create a festival that is relevant and reflective of the conversations people are having today. A festival – bringing writers, artists, commentators, readers and things together – reminds us of the power of writing, reading and communicating, and how these things can help us connect with the world and spark positive change.”

Birmingham Literature Festival is also delighted to announce that writer, broadcaster and journalist Stuart Maconie has taken on the role of Guest Curator this year. Though a Northerner by origin, Birmingham and the Black Country have become his adopted home and he has been associated with Writing West Midlands for many years.

Guest Curator Stuart Maconie says:

“I wanted to bring together a mix of writers and styles that reflect the nature of the city, the country and literature now in all its moods.

“Simon Armitage has contributed like no other to inspire readers and writers, and to promote literature, especially poetry (a passion of mine). I am delighted that he is our new Poet Laureate.

“The Common People anthology is a brilliant, moving, funny, richly nuanced and empowering collection of work by working class writers new and emerging and I am delighted to be a part of it.

“Finally, bringing together Paul Mason, Billy Bragg and Selina Todd, who all write about being British, or even human, in this political climate, will make for a lively and thought-provoking discussion.

“I hope that the writers I’ve chosen for my events at this year’s festival will reflect Birmingham and the West Midlands character as a great and dynamic working city.”

The Birmingham Literature Festival runs 3-13 October 2019. For tickets and full details of events, see


For more information, to request images or to arrange an interview, please contact Olivia Chapman on 0121 246 2770 or 0778 605 1892 or

Notes to editors:

Birmingham Literature Festival was established in 1998 to bring literature to the city and beyond. It is a project of Writing West Midlands, which is an Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation.

Writing West Midlands is the literature development agency for the West Midlands, supporting creative writers and creative writing. It offers support to help writers establish their writing careers. It supports young writers as they develop their interest in creative writing. It runs festivals and events, including the Birmingham Literature Festival and the annual National Writers’ Conference. It exists to champion the West Midlands region as a great place to be a writer.