Manchester Literature Festival returns from 9-17 October 2021 with a dazzling live events programme that is packed with award-winning writers and musicians including Bobby Gillespie, Tracey Thorn, Andrew O’Hagan, Paul Morley and Bernardine Evaristo.

Many of these events explore the worlds of writing, creativity, identity, friendship and music from very personal viewpoints, taking an in depth look at the characters behind the public facing performers. Returning to the Festival is Booker Prize winning author Bernardine Evaristo. In 2019 she made history as the first Black woman winner of the prize and in this intimate evening she will offer an inspiring manifesto for never giving up. Paul Morley discusses his long-awaited biography of Factory Records co-founder Tony Wilson, a book he was charged with writing by the Manchester icon. Primal Scream front-man Bobby Gillespie discusses his much-anticipated autobiography, days after it is published.

Further Festival events will be announced in September and following the success of the 2020 online festival, a digital programme of events is planned for November 2021.

Andrew O'Hagan

From Manchester with Love: Paul Morley in Conversation
Saturday 9 Oct, 3pm, HOME (Theatre)

Best-selling author Paul Morley discusses the long-awaited biography of Factory Records co-founder and Manchester supremo Tony Wilson. To write about Tony Wilson, aka Anthony H. Wilson, is to write about several public and private characters and personalities. At the helm of Factory Records and The Haçienda, Wilson unleashed landmark acts such as Joy Division and New Order into the world as he pursued myriad other creative endeavours, appointing himself a custodian of Manchester’s legacy of innovation and change.

Presented in partnership with Faber Members.

Andrew O'Hagan & Tracey Thorn Hosted by Jackie Kay
Saturday 9 October, 8pm, HOME (Theatre)

Andrew O’Hagan’s critically acclaimed Mayflies is an ode to friendship as much as it is a celebration of youth and the transformative effect of music. The novel charts an epic night of youthful excess in 1980s Manchester, set against the greatest soundtrack ever recorded, to its tragic aftermath 30 years later.

In My Rock 'n' Roll Friend, Tracy Thorn takes stock of 37 years of friendship with Lindy Morrison, drummer for The Go-Betweens, teasing out the details of connection and affection between them. The book asks what people see, who does the looking, and ultimately who writes women out of – and back into – history.

Presented in partnership with Faber Members.

An Evening with Bernardine Evaristo
Hosted by Jackie Kay
Monday 11 October, 8pm, HOME (Theatre)

Bernardine Evaristo’s 2019 Booker Prize win – the first by a Black woman - was a revolutionary moment both for British culture and for her. Manifesto is her intimate and inspirational account of how she did it, refusing to let any barriers stand in her way. Her life story is a declaration of courage, integrity, optimism, resourcefulness and tenacity. A manifesto for anyone who has ever stood on the margins, and anyone who wants to make their mark on history. A manifesto for being unstoppable. Presented by poet and MLF patron Jackie Kay and sponsored by Weightmans.

Bob Stanley & Tessa Norton: Excavate!
The Wonderful and Frightening World of The Fall

Hosted by Adelle Stripe
Wednesday 13 October, 6.30pm, HOME (Cinema 1)

Bob Stanley and Tessa Norton’s latest book is described as a definitive insight into the ever-influential world of Mark E. Smith and The Fall, featuring never-before-published essays and ephemera from fans and collectors. This is not a book about a rock band. This is not even a book about Mark E. Smith. This is a book about The Fall group – or, more precisely, their world. Over a prolific 40 year career, The Fall created a world that was influential, idiosyncratic and fiercely original; it was an education.

Presented in partnership with Faber Members.

Tenement Kid: Bobby Gillespie in Conversation
Saturday 16 October, 8pm, HOME (Theatre)

Tenement Kid is Bobby Gillespie’s story up to the recording and release of Screamadelica, the album that has been credited with ‘starting the 90s’. Published 30 years after the release of their masterpiece, Bobby Gillespie’s memoir cuts a righteous path through a decade lost to Thatcherism and saved by acid house.

Cllr Luthfur Rahman, Deputy Leader of Manchester City Council, said: “Welcoming the Manchester Literature Festival back to the city following a virtual event last year should be celebration enough on its own. But to welcome it back with the wealth of incredible events and writers on offer is something else. From Booker Prize winner Bernardine Evaristo to the legendary Bobby Gillespie, this year’s event offers one of the most exciting line-ups yet. No wonder Manchester Literature Festival is considered the cream of the UK’s literary calendar.

John McAuliffe, Director, Creative@Manchester, The University of Manchester, added: "The 2021 line-up of the Manchester Literature Festival looks, as ever, like an education in itself. The Festival's stories, poems and interviews promise to start and sustain conversations for all of us who will be attending events, online and in-person, this October."

Join the conversation: #MLF21 @McrLitFest

Manchester Literature Festival gratefully acknowledges the generous support of our main funders Arts Council England, Manchester City Council and the Greater Manchester Combined Authority, our Higher Education Partner, The University of Manchester, our hotel partner The Edwardian Manchester, law firm Weightmans and Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce.


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Manchester Literature Festival is a celebration of imagination, ideas, stories, and voices from around the world. It is part of Manchester’s rich cultural tapestry and is committed to bringing together the most exciting storytellers, poets, and thinkers for everyone to enjoy.



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