Welcome to the 2019 Birmingham Literature Festival

We are living in a time of change and uncertainty, and it puts into question the purpose of events such as the Birmingham Literature Festival. When conversations about Brexit, LGBTQ+ rights, refugees, the NHS and climate change are front and centre, we can’t help but reflect on how creative writing and reading can give us strength and a voice in challenging times. Literature and the arts are important in all our lives, and we work hard to create a festival that is relevant and reflective of the conversations people are having today.

As always, the programme is packed with highlights from many different writers and creatives. With events about sex, politics, the supernatural, grief, real-life parenting, the Windrush scandal, activism, mental health, LGBTQ+ culture, dystopian stories, exile
and disconnection, murder and true crime, democracy, feminism, masculinity, money and
psychology (to name a few!) you’re sure to find something which intrigues and excites you.

This year we are thrilled that long-time friend of the festival Stuart Maconie is our Guest Curator, and I want to thank Stuart for his work and on-going support and enthusiasm. As a leading writer and broadcaster, Stuart is all too familiar with the importance of the spoken and written word and is a perfect match for our festival this year. The events he’s keen to present to you are below.

A festival – bringing writers, artists, commentators, readers and thinkers together -  reminds us of the importance and power of writing, reading and communicating, and how these things can help us connect with the world and spark positive change.

This also feels particularly significant here in Birmingham, and as we continue to explore the role of a literature festival in this great city, we hope you’ll join us once again in October to share, learn, connect, and enjoy 10 days of great creative writing.

Join the discussion and let us know what you think. We’re on social media @bhamlitfest

See you in October.

Antonia Beck


Introducing: Guest Curator, Stuart Maconie

Though a Northerner by origin, Brum and the Black Country has been my adopted home for decades now, and I’m proud to have been associated with Writing West Midlands and the
Birmingham Literature Festival for many of those years.

I love the region’s mix of people and culture, its unique world view and energy. 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. 


I first met Simon Armitage doing radio shows together in the mid 90s. I think I suspected
then that the letter from the palace and the case of sherry would arrive one day. No-one has
done more to inspire readers and writers, and to promote literature, especially poetry (a passion
of mine) than him.


When I was approached by novelist Kit De Waal about being part of the Common People anthology, I was delighted. Not enough time and space is given to these stories, and the result is a brilliant, moving, funny, richly nuanced and empowering anthology of work by working
class writers new and emerging.


As a writer whose work is often political, whether intended or not, I wanted to explore the craft and current popularity of political/social historical non-fiction. Bringing together Paul Mason, Billy Bragg and Selina Todd, all of whom write about being British, or even human, in this
political climate.

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.

Let me know what you think!


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