The first ever Morpeth Book Festival with Ann Cleeves will take place in April


Another Northumberland town is set to become a ‘book paradise’ for a weekend in April – with author Vera Ann Cleeves and American novelist and screenwriter Chuck Hogan set to take center stage.

More than 30 writers and poets will perform live at the inaugural Morpeth Book Festival, many of whom have won awards for their work, such as Robert Scragg from the North East, winner of the Lindisfarne Prize for Fiction; Trevor Wood, winner of the 2021 Specsavers Debut Mystery Novel Award; and OBE nominee Ann Cleeves.

From further afield, American writer Chuck Hogan, creator of the Strain trilogy and the TV series with Guillermo Del Toro, will appear via video link to give a talk on dystopian fiction.

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Mari Hannah will also give a talk on her latest installment in the Kate Daniels series, His last request, Saturday evening, while romantic fiction writer Glenda Young performs on Sunday.

With some big names on the program, the organizers are hopeful that the festival will become the “first of a long series” and that each event will be sold out.

Frank Rescigno, director of arts and culture at the Greater Morpeth Development Trust, said: “We hope this will be the first of many (book festivals) in Morpeth. We have quite a few authors who have agreed to attend and we are really delighted.

And Frank believes there is space for more cultural events in Morpeth, although the town has no cultural center or theatre, unlike other Northumberland towns such as Alnwick and Hexham.

He continued: “There isn’t really a book festival in South East Northumberland. You have Berwick International and Hexham but nothing here. Since we decided to have the book festival we have received tremendous support from Northumberland Libraries.”

The festival has been designed to be as inclusive as possible, with the RNLI coming to show blind and visually impaired people how to access its library of audible fiction, while future festivals are expected to have BSL performers, although the budget will be not go that far for this year’s offering.

He said: “We want to make it as inclusive as possible. It’s different from many book festivals because we’ve included poetry, a children’s program and we want to help everyone have access to literature.”

The Morpeth Book Festival is a joint project between the Greater Morpeth Development Trust, Northumberland Libraries and Northumberland County Council.

Morpeth Book Festival tickets and more information can be found here.

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