7 must-see people who’ll be at the York Literature Festival 2015

York Literature Festival 2015

Venues include York St John University, the Grand Opera House and Waterstones

Thu Mar 19-Sun Mar 29

York Lit Fest website

As the full programme for York Literature Festival 2015 is launched, we pick out some of the big names coming to talk books this March.


Dr David Starkey

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Never minces his words… Dr David Starkey
David Starkey: York’s place in history

Grand Opera House

on Sun March 22

Aka “the rudest man in Britain”.

Dr David Starkey is best-known as an abrasive debater on BBC Radio 4’s Moral Maze, a controversial contributor to Question Time, and the creator and presenter of popular historical TV series including Henry VIII, Elizabeth I, The Monarchy and The Churchills.

Dame Jenni Murray

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The woman of the hour: Jenni Murray. Photograph: Emilie Sandy / BBC
An audience with Jenni Murray

St Peter’s School, Clifton

Sat March 21

Presenter of the daily Woman’s Hour on Radio 4, Jenni Murray has never shied away from difficult topics, mixing the personal with the political.

When she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2006, she shared the news with listeners, returning the following year after making a full recovery.

More recently she revealed she was getting a gastric band to combat a weight problem. She is the author of several books, most recently My Boy Butch.

Polly Toynbee

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Woman of letters: Polly Toynbee
Cameron’s Coup: How The Tories Took Britain To The Brink by Polly Toynbee and David Walker

York St John University

Thurs Mar 19

The Guardian columnist and a leading voice of the Left for decades, Polly Toynbee is author of many books including Hard Work: Life In Low-Pay Britain, and Better Or Worse?: Has Labour Delivered?.

Her latest work, co-authored with David Walker, took Toynbee around Britain to find out the impact of the coalition government on the people.

Helen Lederer

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Comedian and writer Helen Lederer. Photograph: Matt Crockett
Helen Lederer: Losing It

St Peter’s School, Clifton

Sat Mar 28

A familiar face from such telly classics as Absolutely Fabulous, The Young Ones and Horrid Henry: The Movie, Helen Lederer is a stand-up, actor and presenter.

She’s at the fest to talk about her new book Losing It, which tells the story of Millie who has too many pounds around her middle, not enough pounds in the bank – and the desperate measures she endures to reverse this situation.

John Hegley

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Poet and funnyman John Hegley
John Hegley and Blackbeard’s Tea Party

Grand Opera House

Sun Mar 22

Performance poet, comedian and musician, John Hegley is on the fast-track to becoming an official national treasure.

The author of Glad To Wear Glasses, My Dog Is A Carrot and New And Collected Potatoes, John is joined by York folk stars Blackbeard’s Tea Party for an evening of fun and music.

Matthew d’Ancona

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Political journalist Matthew d’Ancona. Photograph: Alistair Richardson
Matthew d’Ancona: Coalition – past and future

St Peter’s School, Clifton

Fri Mar 20

Former editor of The Spectator and political columnist for the Evening Standard, Matthew d’Ancona knows Britain’s political right like no one else.

Drawing on unprecedented access to the likes of David Cameron, Nick Clegg and Boris Johnson he has written an insider’s guide to the Lib Dem-Tory coalition, In It Together.

Matthew will talk about the government and what might be lurking ahead in this election year.

Matt Haig

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Best-seller Matt Haig
Matt Haig: Reasons To Stay Alive

Waterstones, Coney Street

Mon Mar 23

Best-selling York author Matt Haig has built up a huge readership with novels like The Radleys and The Humans.

In his new book out in March, Reasons To Stay Alive, he draws on his own experience of coming close to suicide before learning to live again.

Filled with anecdotes, lists and advice, the book is like no other self-help guide. Matt will read from it and talk about his experiences at this unique event.

Much more besides…

The York Lit Fest 2015 programme is packed with events, from literary walks to poetry doubles, discussions and entertainments.

And don’t forget the YorkMix poetry competition, with a top prize of £400.

“We also celebrate many of York’s own literary talent, with a chance to hear from local authors including Joanna Ezekiel, Toni Bunnell and Shash Trevett, an football-themed Evening With The Minstermen, and even walks around the city to find the places where authors have lived and found inspiration within the city walls.”

– Miles Salter, festival director

For full details, go to the York Literature Festival 2015 website.