Carol Ann Duffy to open second book festival

Carol Ann Duffy, the Poet Laureate, and Helen Mort, Derbyshire Poet Laureate, will open the second Derby Book Festival next year it was announced yesterday.

Carol Ann will read from her acclaimed poetry collections at the festival’s opening event, sponsored by Geldards Law Firm, in Derby Cathedral. She will be joined by John Sampson, (pictured with her above) her ‘favourite court musician’, who will perform on a collection of period and modern instruments. Helen Mort will perform her poetry at an event in Déda on the same evening.

Following the success of the first Derby Book Festival this year, the second festival will take place next summer from June 3-11.

It will again feature internationally acclaimed authors and celebrate local writing talent with the aim of bringing people together in a love of books and inspiring new readers to appreciate the pleasure and power of reading.

The festival organisers have also announced two more events at the 2016 Festival, with more to be announced in the coming months.

The festival will include an event to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Charlotte Brontë’s birth with bestselling author, Tracy Chevalier, and literary biographer, Claire Harman, discussing her remarkable life. Tracy, whose novels include Girl with a Pearl Earring and The Last Runaway, has recently contributed to and edited Reader, I Married Him, a collection of original stories based on the first line of Jane Eyre by twenty of today’s finest women writers—including Helen Dunmore, Esther Freud, Salley Vickers and Lionel Shriver—taking inspiration from the opening line in Charlotte Brontë’s most beloved novel, Jane Eyre. The acclaimed literary biographer Claire Harman has written the definitive biography of this extraordinary novelist giving a uniquely intimate and complex insight into one of Britain’s best loved writers. They will pay homage to the literary genius of Charlotte Brontë, and discuss why her extraordinary vision continues to inspire readers and writers.

The festival will also welcome Derbyshire born author, Joanna Cannon whose debut novel The Trouble with Goats and Sheep will be published by Borough Press on  January 28 2016. Joanna, who left school with one ‘O’ level, went on to study medicine and specialised in psychiatry before joining the WoMentoring Programme for aspiring female authors and writing her first novel.

The nine-day festival programme will again include a broad range of events and activities aimed at all ages and interests from children’s book trails, storytelling and ‘Make It’ sessions, to author talks, discussions, live performances, films, quizzes and workshops for budding writers. Events will take place in venues across the city centre and in local schools and communities. It will also include events to appeal to local people with Derby-related themes – cycling, railways, real ale, football and cricket.

The festival is chaired by Liz Fothergill, local businesswoman and chairman of Pennine Healthcare, who will be the next High Sheriff of Derbyshire. Liz, who is a keen reader and also a trained librarian, told guests at a launch event at Waterstones in Derby yesterday evening that last year’s event had been one of the best weeks of her life.

She went on to say: “We are delighted that Geldards Law Firm has agreed to sponsor our opening event for a second year. We were overwhelmed by the success of the first Derby Book Festival, which was due in no small part to the support of our arts and educational partners in the city, as well as generous sponsorship from local businesses.

“We plan to build on this success with another exciting programme in 2016. We are determined there will be something to excite people of all ages and interests and the festival will be a magnet for visitors to our city.”

The festival is organised in partnership with all the major arts, cultural and educational partners in the city: Déda, Derby Cathedral, Derby City Council, Derby College, Derby LIVE, Derby Museum and Art Gallery, Derby Theatre, Intu, Marketing Derby, QUAD, University of Derby, Waterstones and the WEA, who will all be hosting events.

Tickets for the opening event with Carol Ann Duffy will go on sale on  January 1 2016 at £12. Seats will be unreserved and ticket holders will be encouraged to arrive early to ensure the best seats. These can be bought online from the Festival website: or in person from the festival box office at QUAD.

The festival programme will be published on April 5 2016.

To find out more, visit the festival website and sign up for more information. You can also follow the festival on Twitter at: @DerbyBookFest and ‘like’ the festival on Facebook: