Featuring over 100 speakers over seventeen days, MLF returns from 4-20 October

Back with an array of familiar faces and compelling debuts from 4-20 October, Manchester Literature Festival (MLF) has revealed its 2019 line-up. Award-winning writers rub shoulders with rock stars, while new Poet Laureate Simon Armitage chats to Elbow frontman Guy Garvey and shortlisted Booker Prize authors read work alongside some of literature’s most exciting new talents.

Amongst those appearing are Jeanette Winterson, Jonathan Safran Foer, Celeste Ng, David Nicholls, Mona Eltahawy, Deborah Levy, Howard Jacobson, Jackie Kay, John Lanchester, David Nott, Simon Armitage, Guy Garvey, Deborah Moggach, Jon Savage, Elif Shafak, Dave Haslam, Sarah Hall, Brett Anderson, Jung Chang, Caroline Criado Perez, Clementine Ford, Lemn Sissay, Henry Normal, Cathy Newman and more.

Jeanette Winterson
Jeanette Winterson will discuss her extraordinary new novel, Frankissstein

Manchester Literature Festival offers more than the Q&A sessions, its unique in-conversation pairings giving new insights and a respite from a world that can often seem turbulent and bewildering. The programme considers the greatest issues of our day - climate crisis, gender equality, toxic masculinity, islamophobia, political activism and class division - as well as exploring the diverse worlds of music, 1980s art and clubbing and even trauma surgery in conflict zones.  

Featuring over 100 speakers in a broad range of events across seventeen days, the festival also includes the popular Weightmans Literary Walking Tours and and plenty for younger readers in a programme that features immersive theatre show Ready Steady Lift Off! and an afternoon with David Baddiel. 

Lemn Sissay Cv 20015030969
Lemn Sissay will perform with fellow famed poet Henry Normal

As ever, MLF will also support original writing with a series of new commissions; including the annual Castlefield Manchester Sermon, delivered by Gillian Slovo, and new work by local poets Hafsah Aneela Bashir and Isaiah Hull as part of Re-Writing Longsight. 

‘Bookend’ events outside the main festival dates include Pulitzer Prize winner Colson Whitehead and Scottish crime queens Val McDermid and Denise Mina.

Now in its fourteenth year, MLF has more than tripled in size since its 2006 debut. Last year’s event attracted over 13,000 visitors; truly reflecting why Manchester is now a UNESCO City of Literature.

Manchester Literature Festival takes place citywide from 4-20 October - the full list of authors can be seen below  

Main images: Guy Garvey by Deirdre O'Callaghan and Stephen Morris by by Warren Jackson 


Colson Whitehead (a pre-MLF event)

The Pulitzer Prize winner of The Underground Railroad talks about his forthcoming novel The Nickel Boys.

Jeanette Winterson

A solo event at the RNCM to showcase Winterson’s extraordinary new novel, Frankissstein; exploring Mary Shelley, Manchester’s radical past, AI, sex-bots and gender fluidity.

Celeste Ng

The bestselling American author talks about her writing and latest novel, Little Fires Everywhere.

David Nicholls

The Award-winning British novelist and scriptwriter talks about his work for the page and screen, his characters, his humour, the art of balancing comedy, drama and tragedy, coming of age stories, winning a BAFTA for Patrick Melrose and his acclaimed new novel, Sweet Sorrow.

Deborah Levy

The MLF favourite returns to talk about her much anticipated new novel, The Man Who Saw Everything, and her recent memoir, The Cost of Living.

Hanif Kureshi

The acclaimed British writer talks about his fiction, his screenplays, his craft, his thoughts on writing and his forthcoming book of essays and short stories, What Happened?

Howard Jacobson

The much-loved Manchester writer talks about his forthcoming novel, Live a Little.

John Lanchester

The best-selling author of Capital talks about his brilliant new novel The Wall, dystopian fiction and the urgency of climate departure.Deborah Moggach

The popular British author and scriptwriter talks about her forthcoming novel, The Carer.

Sarah Hall

The much loved Cumbrian writer returns to read and discuss her new book of short stories, Sudden Traveller.

Heather Morris

The New Zealand writer talks about Cilka’s Journey, the sequel to her best-selling novel The Tattooist of Auschwitz.

Booker Prize 2019

Three of the four authors shortlisted for this year’s Booker Prize read and discuss their novels at this special showcase event.

Helen Mort & Jessica Andrews

Two poets talk about their brilliant and life-affirming debut novels, Black Car Burning and Saltwater; novels that explore the importance of landscape, place and nature alongside the body, desire, identity and relationships.

Oyinkan Braithwaite & Candice Carty-Williams

Two brilliant debut novelists read and discuss their work. Oyinkan is a young Nigerian writer whose debut My Sister, the Serial Killer is both dark and deeply comedic. Candice is a London based author, journalist and Penguin Books Write Now mentor. Her debut Queenie is a funny and fearless novel that’s been praised by Nikesh Shukla, Kit de Waal and Louise O’Neill.

Val McDermid & Denise Mina (post-MLF event)

Two Scottish crime queens come together to read and discuss their latest novels.


International Literature Showcase with Jackie Kay

Scottish Makar and much-loved poet Jackie Kay reveals her ten recommended UK writers of colour, with performances from three of the writers.

Lemn Sissay & Henry Normal

Two of our most talented British poets come together for a special event, 25 years after they first performed together at Manchester Poetry Festival.

Raymond Antrobus & Jay Bernard

A night of electrifying performance from two boundary-breaking poets

Patricia Smith

The acclaimed American poet makes her debut at MLF to read from her blistering collection Incendiary Art, with support from local poet Keisha Thompson

Poets & Players

Poets Rebecca Goss & Jamie McKendrick read from their new collections with music from cellist Li Lu

Isabel Galleymore & Stephen Sexton

Stephen Sexton is an American poet whose new collection is being published with Penguin and Isabel Galleymore’s collection is published by Carcanet. A partnership event with Centre For New Writing

Ilya Kaminsky, Karen Solie & Vona Groarke

US-based, deaf poet Kaminsky reads from his daring and brilliant collection The Deaf Republic and Canadian poet Solie will be reading from her forthcoming collection (Picador). Groarke will be reading from her forthcoming collection, Double Negative. A partnership event with Centre For New Writing.

Cabaret For Freedom

Celebrating the Windrush generation and Caribbean culture with a special event at St John’s Church, Old Trafford. Featuring poets Khadija Ibrahim, Roger Robinson and Young Identity, music from Yvonne Shelton and hosts Jackie Kay and Shirley May.

Carol Rumens: Poem of the week (a post-MLF event)

Celebratory event to mark the fiftieth anniversary of Manchester’s Carcanet press. Poets confirmed to read include Carol Rumens, Simon Armitage, Helen Mort, Zaffar Kunial, Stephen Raw and Afshan D’souza-Lodhi amongst others.


Elif Shafak

The acclaimed Turkish novelist and broadcaster talks about her acclaimed new novel, 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in this Strange World.

Jung Chang

The internationally bestselling author of Wild Swans, Mao and Empress Dowager Cixi returns to talk about her ambitious new biography, Big Sister, Little Sister, Red Sister: Three Women at the Heart of Twentieth-Century China.

Chen Quifon & Xia Jia

Two of China’s most interesting science-fiction writers and possible contributors to Comma’s forthcoming The Book of Shanghai read and discuss their rich and imaginative writing. In partnership with the Confucius Institute.

Legna Rodríguez Iglesias

The Cuban poet visits MLF for the first time to launch her first collection of verse in English translated by Abigail Parry.

Ayelet Gundar-Goshen

Israeli scriptwriter and author of Waking Lions and One Night, Gundar-Goshen makes her debut at MLF to talk about her new novel Liar and the power of stories, lies and human nature.

Patjim Stavoci

The award-winning Finnish-Kosovian novelist (My Cat Yugoslavia) makes his debut at MLF to talk about his new novel Crossing, a complex tale of two young men on a fearless journey across borders and identities, and of war, exile, love, betrayal and heartbreak.

Palestine +100: Stories from a century after the Nabka

What might their country look like in 2048, exactly a century after the ‘catastrophe’? Palestinian authors Selma Dabbagh & Anwar Hamed read and discuss their stories from the forthcoming Comma anthology with editor and translator Basma Ghalayini.


Guy Garvey & Simon Armitage

A special event featuring new Poet Laureate Simon Armitage in conversation with singer, songwriter, DJ and Elbow frontman Guy Garvey. Together they will discuss how they create their work, their literary and musical influences, the power of Simon’s poems and Guy’s lyrics, the songwriters, poets and writers they return to, their collaborations with other artists, and how the people, place and landscape of the North have inspired and shaped their work. Presented in partnership with Manchester Metropolitan University.

Brett Anderson

The Suede singer, musician and author of Coal Black Mornings returns to talk about his forthcoming memoir, Afternoons with The Blinds Drawn.

Jon Savage & Stephen Morris

Music critic and author Savage talks to drummer Stephen Morris about Joy Division, New Order and his biography Record Play Pause: Confessions of a Post-Punk Percussionist.

Dave Haslam – We the Youth; Keith Haring’s New York Nightlife

Author and DJ Dave Haslam launches his new book and shows how the clubs, venues and music that filled artist Keith Haring’s nights out in NYC 1978 are key to our understanding of his attitudes, his life and his art.

Neil Tennant

The front man of the iconic pop duo Pet Shop Boys discusses the art of songwriting, crafting lyrics, the band’s many collaborations and side projects; and the musicians, singers, writers and poets that have inspired and shaped his work and life. Hosted by poet Andrew McMillan.

Cathy Newman

Channel 4 news presenter Newman discusses her book, Bloody Brilliant Women: The Pioneers, Revolutionaries and Geniuses Your History Teacher Forgot to Mention.

Caroline Criado Perez

The British broadcaster and feminist campaigner talks about her groundbreaking new book, Invisible Women: Exposing data bias in a world designed by men.

Clementine Ford

The Australian author, broadcaster and feminist discusses male privilege, entitlement, rape culture, the #MeToo movement and her new book Boys Will Be Boys: Power, Patriarchy and Toxic Masculinity.

Emilie Pine & Sinead Gleeson

Two of Ireland’s most acclaimed non-fiction writers discuss their brilliant and ground-breaking essay collections, Notes to Self and Constellations: Reflections from Life, and the many connecting themes in their work; from courage, identity and feminism to pain, pleasure, infertility, motherhood, medicine and the female body.

Jonathan Safran Foer

American novelist and non-fiction writer Foer returns to MLF to talk about climate change, climate justice, the environment, vegetarianism, industrial farming and his new book, We are the weather: Saving the Planet Starts at Breakfast.

David Nott

The author of War Doctor: Surgery on the Front Line talks about his work as a trauma surgeon providing life-saving treatment to victims of conflict and catastrophe in Bosnia, Afghanistan, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Haiti, Iraq, Pakistan, Libya, Syria, Gaza and Nepal.

It’s Not About the Burqa: Mariam Khan, Salma El-Wardany, Yassmin Midhat Abdel-Magied and Afshan D’souza-Lodhi

Editor Mariam Khan and contributors from the landmark new anthology read extracts from their essays and talk about faith, feminism, sexuality, race, representation and calling time on oppression, lazy stereotyping and Islamophobia.

Kerry Hudson

The author and campaigner talks about her acclaimed new book, Lowborn: Growing Up, Getting Away and Returning to Britain’s Poorest Towns.

Common People

Broadcaster Stuart Maconie & Northern authors Lisa Blower and Adam Sharp read and discuss their contributions to Kit de Waal’s landmark anthology of essays and memoir by working class writers.

Mona Eltahawy

Egyptian-American author, broadcaster and social commentator Eltahawy makes a rare appearance in Manchester to talk about feminism and her forthcoming book, The Seven Necessary Sins for Women and Girls.

Sandi Toksvig (a post-MLF event)

Much loved British-Danish writer, broadcaster and co-founder of the Women’s Equality Party in conversation about her extraordinary life, her career, her activism, her sexuality, her family and her forthcoming memoir.


HOME Storytelling and Craft Workshop (a pre-MLF event)

A tie-in with HOME’s monthly family film screening of Ferdinand.

Naomi Wood on Bauhaus and Creativity

To mark the 100th birthday of the Bauhaus art school, author Naomi Wood will give a solo talk on the impact and influence of the artists involved.

Dorian Lynskey on George Orwell

The author of 33 Revolutions Per Minute talks about his new book The Ministry of Truth, how the concepts of George Orwell’s 1984 from Big Brother to Newspeak have become eerily relevant, 1984’s roots in utopian and dystopian literature and how the book has influenced literature, films and popular culture.

The People’s Poetry Lecture: Sean Borodale on Sylvia Plath

A partnership event with MMU where a leading poet talks about a poet that has inspired and influenced them. Featuring Sean Borodale on Sylvia Plath and Jean Sprackland on Elizabeth Bishop.

Raucous Writers Afternoon Tea

Tour guide Suzanne Hindle tells stories about the North West’s celebrated writers at Elizabeth Gaskell’s House.


David Baddiel

The children's author and broadcaster launches his latest book.

Children’s Bookshow with Guo Yue & Clare Farrow

A magical schools event including music and readings from a Little Leap Forward, a story about friendship and freedom inspired by Yue’s own childhood during the Chinese Cultural Revolution. Schools Event.

Family Reading Day

Central Library day hosts a family reading day; featuring author Chris Haughton, musician and author Nick Cope, Very Hungry Caterpillar story time with Toni-Dee Paul and Ready Steady Lift Off interactive theatre show.

Grimm Takeover at Z-arts

Unleashing children’s imaginations through interactive storytelling.

Access All Areas at Z-arts

A free family fun day for families with disabilities to explore their creativity.

Create Project

Four disabled and non-disabled pupils from four Manchester and Salford Schools take part in an award-winning music and song-writing project designed to build confidence and break down barriers.


Anne Beswick, Suzanna Hindle and Ed Glinert present a series of themed walking tours: including Working Class Manchester, Literary Manchester, Rebel Manchester, Manchester Thinkers and Drinkers Pub Tour, The Original Punk Poet Pub Tour, Dickens’ Manchester and Howard Spring’s Manchester: Fame is the Spur.