My Family Creates

My Family Creates is a specially commissioned Festival project, which began as a pilot in 2021, creating free resources for SEND families to fill a gap in provision.

You can download the My Family Creates activity packs and find video links here.

Thanks to support from the National Lottery’s ‘Awards for All’ Community Fund, we will be adding a range of further resources for SEND families to our website in April 2022.

The project is being delivered by industry experts, Salma Zaman and Nisha Lall.

Northerners: A History

One of the foremost experts in British regional and national affairs, Brian Groom talks about his new book Northerners: A History, from the Ice Age to the Present Day, the definitive biography of the north of England as told through the lives of its inhabitants.

In a sweeping narrative that takes us from the earliest times to the present day, the book shows how the people of the north have shaped Britain and the world in unexpected ways.

At least six Roman emperors ruled from York. The Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Northumbria was Europe’s leading cultural and intellectual centre. Cartimandua, Queen of the Brigantes, deserves to be as famous as Boudica. Neanderthals and Vikings, Central European Jews, Afro-Caribbeans and South Asians, have all played their part in the making and remaking of the north. Northern writers, activists, artists and comedians are celebrated the world over, from Wordsworth, the Brontës and Gaskell to LS Lowry, Emmeline Pankhurst and Peter Kay. St Oswald and Bede shaped the spiritual and cultural landscapes of Britain and Europe, and the world was revolutionised by the inventions of Richard Arkwright and the Stephensons. The north has exported some of sport’s biggest names and defined the sound of generations, from the Beatles to Britpop.

Northerners also explores how the past echoes down the centuries, the north-south divide and the divisions between northerners, such as the rivalry between Lancashire and Yorkshire. Finally, Brian Groom explores what northernness means today and the crucial role the north can play in Britain’s future.

Brian Groom is a writer and journalist who started his career at the Goole Times and moved on to work as a writer and section editor for the Financial Times and as editor of Scotland on Sunday.

‘Brian Groom is one of the most respected journalists of his generation – an essential writer on politics and business and a tireless champion of the north.’ George Parker, political editor, Financial Times

Book tickets

Location: Huddersfield Library

Age guidance: 12+ (under 16s should be accompanied by an adult)

Access Guide:

Book Launch – Four Letter Words


Award-winning novelist, poet and playwright Michael Stewart launches his gritty and blackly comic new collection of short fiction Four Letter Words, exploring twin contemporary urban dystopias: work and home.

The first section, Work, comprises seven stories that explore what work is like for many people now: deadening, grinding and underpaid. A barmaid who has to put up with being sexually abused as part of her job, a sex worker who finds out just how far she will go to raise the money she needs to see her son, a painter and decorator who only sees white, a beggar who goes too far, and an office worker who discovers his boss has a skeleton in his closet, literally.

The second section turns to the world as it is for many people once work is over. Home comprises six stories that explore dysfunctional domestic settings. A single mum who has to hand over her child to a violent ex-boyfriend, a woman driven through loneliness to form a relationship with her vacuum cleaner, and an unusual coupling between an advertising exec and a homeless girl. For some home offers little respite from the toil and tyranny of work.

Stylish, gritty and unsettling with a seam of black comedy running throughout the collection, Four Letter Words is a baker’s dozen of modern urban noir that offers responses to a number of contemporary concerns such as homelessness, addiction and sexual exploitation.

 Michael Stewart is a multi-award-winning writer for radio, TV and theatre, a novelist and a short-story writer. His novels include King Crow and Ill Will: The Untold Story of Heathcliffe. He is Head of Creative Writing at the University of Huddersfield and editor of Grist Books. He is also the creator of the Brontë Stones project, four monumental stones situated in the landscape between the birthplace and the parsonage, inscribed with poems by Kate Bush, Carol Ann Duffy, Jeannette Winterson and Jackie Kay.

Age guidance: 16+

Location: Festival Hub

Acessability Guide: huddersfield-literature-festival/access-guides/hlf-festival-hub

Landscape and Setting with Joanne Harris & Rupert Thomson

Celebrated authors Joanne Harris and Rupert Thomson discuss ideas around place, landscape and belonging in their work.

From the rural north of England and traditional French village life to 17th-century Florence, 19th-century Mexico, and Barcelona on the eve of the 2008 financial crash.

Joanne Harris MBE is the author of the Chocolat series set in rural France and the St Oswald’s series set in a northern grammar school – the most recent being A Narrow Door. She has also set novels, novellas and short stories in worlds of myth and magic, and her non-fiction includes Ten Things About Writing. Joanne has won a number of British and International awards and has seen her books published in more than 50 countries. She lives in Yorkshire.

Rupert Thomson is the author of 13 critically acclaimed novels, set across a wide range of locations and eras, and a memoir This Party’s Got to Stop. His latest work, Barcelona Dreaming, is a series of interconnected novellas set at the time of the 2008 global financial crash and exploring themes of addiction, racism, celebrity, immigration and self-delusion. He currently lives in London but has travelled widely and lived in Barcelona for six years.

Book tickets

Location: University of Huddersfield

This event will have LIVE subtitling to promote Access for All

Age guidance: 12+ (under 16s should be accompanied by an adult

Access Guide:


WORKSHOP: Let’s Do Words!: Writing for Wellbeing and Resilience

Join Bethan Rees to explore the world of wellbeing-based creative writing, where the goal is: “I have written something down”… That’s it, you win!

Creative writing for wellbeing allows you to explore your feelings, the environment, your imaginative ideas and just about anything, without the pressure of spelling, grammar or inspiration holding you back. The only thing in the way of your creative limits is yourself.

Bethan will set small, attainable and fun writing exercises to encourage you to write about whatever is on your mind in that present moment.

Everything is down to choice: how deep you go, how much you share with others and how you interpret the exercises set. There will also be flexible safety guidelines in place, which will be shared at the beginning of the session.

New data from the Office for National Statistics reveals that depression rates have doubled since the Covid-19 outbreak began. Wellbeing activities, including expressive writing, have been found to boost mood, enhance wellbeing, reduce symptoms of depression, reduce intrusion and avoidance symptoms post-trauma, and even improve your working memory (Baikie & Wilhelm, 2005).

Bethan Rees is currently studying for an MSc in Creative Writing for Therapeutic Purposes. She is an experienced creative writing tutor who has led workshops in person and online. As a writer she has been published in a number of online and print poetry magazines and is working on chapbook/poetry pamphlet. Although she is not a counsellor, if anything should cause concern or a need for further exploration during your writing experiences, she will have signposted options available.

Note: this workshop has limited places and advanced booking is recommended.
Book tickets

Age guidance: 16+

Location: Festival Hub

Please note: this event will take place in our Festival Hub on the Piazza; however, as Bethan has tested positive for covid and is unable to travel, she will appear via Zoom on a large screen at the Hub to teach the workshop.

Poetry Slam

From 7:30 pm to 10:00 pm come and see 10 amazing poets battle through spoken word to see who will be crowned the HLF 2022 Slam Champ. Expect to be entertained, moved, lifted and transported by competitive poetry! Hosted by award-winning poet Rose Condo.

1st Prize: £50, and a guest spot at the HLF2023 Poetry Slam.

Want to apply to take part? Send a video (max length three minutes) of you performing your work to (it’s fine to use a phone to record your video). The deadline to apply is 1 March 2022.  See below for T&Cs.

Rose Condo is an award-winning Canadian poet based in Salford. She studied Theatre & Drama at the University of Winnipeg and earned her MA in Theatre & Development Studies at the University of Leeds. Rose has been writing, performing and teaching for over 20 years, and she is the Mentoring Manager (North) for Arts Emergency. Her debut poetry collection After the Storm was published in 2020 and she has won awards for her projects and shows, which include, The Empathy Experiment, The Geography of Me and How to Starve an Artist. She has hosted and won many Slams.

Terms and Conditions

  1. To apply please send a video (max length three minutes) of you performing your work to (it’s fine to use a phone to record your video). The deadline to apply is 1 March 2022.
  2. We will only view one application per person. Further applications will be ignored.
  3. The deadline for applications is strictly 5pm on 1 March 2022. We regret that we cannot view any applications received after this time.
  4. Successful artists should hear back from us by five working days after the deadline.


  1. Poetry must be your own original work
  2. No singing or props.
  3. There will be two rounds. The poets will draw numbers from a hat and perform in that order. In the second round, the order will be reversed.
  4. Poets have 3 minutes to perform their poetry. The clock starts from the very first thing you say – including hello.

Points will be deducted for over-running as follows:

1-9 seconds minus 1 point

10-19 seconds minus 2 points

20-29 seconds minus 3 points

30 seconds minus 4 points, the host will stop you, you’ll be judged on your incomplete poem.

  1. The poets will be scored out of 10 in two categories. Written content and quality of performance. The highest total score over both rounds wins £50. In the event of a tie, there will be a final sudden death round.
  2. Judges’ decisions are final. Please remember the slam motto: “The points are not the point, the poetry is the point.”

Places are limited due to venue capacity
Book tickets

Venue: Small Seeds

Age Guidance: 16+

Access Guide:


ONLINE: The Joy of Being Selfish with Michelle Elman

Accredited life coach and creator of the campaign ‘Scarred Not Scared’  gives honest and compassionate advice from her latest book: The Joy of Being Selfish: Why you need boundaries and how to set them.

Is your friendship group constantly filled with drama?
Does your boss make constant unreasonable demands?
Do you find yourself saying ‘yes’ to people and events to keep those around you happy?
Do you often find yourself emotionally exhausted and physically drained?

If so, you need a strong dose of boundaries.

It’s time to discover the joy of being selfish. Putting the needs of everyone around us before our own is ingrained in us from a young age. Often, this leaves us with little time or energy for much-needed self-love and self-care, and to figure out who we truly are and what we really want.

Life coach and influencer @scarrednotscared Michelle Elman is here to teach you about reclaiming your life through the art of boundaries.

The practical side of self-love, creating and upholding strong boundaries will teach others how to treat you, rid your life of drama and toxic relationships and allow you to love yourself and others in the best way possible.

Michelle Elman will be interviewed by Cat Lumb.

Michelle Elman is a five-board accredited Life Coach and is most known for her campaign Scarred Not Scared. She has an active social media presence with over 300k followers across her accounts. She has appeared on Sky News, Loose Women, Channel 5 News, BBC Radio London, BBC Radio 5 Live, LBC sharing her expert opinion, as well as radio worldwide from Hong Kong to Los Angeles to Ireland.

Her TedX talk Have You Hated Your Body Enough Today? has been viewed over 50,000 times and her debut book Am I Ugly? was released in 2018. She has also written for a number of reputable publications including Huffington Post, Grazia, Metro, MTV and Stylist.

In 2020, she was named as one of The Sun’s 50 most inspirational women in the UK. She recently launched her life coaching podcast In All Honesty and her new book The Joy of Being Selfish was published in 2021.

About Cat Lumb: Cat is a writer and writing coach with‌ 10 ‌years‌ ‌of‌ ‌writing‌ ‌under‌ her ‌belt and helps to support other writers in finding ways to live their own writing dreams. Her debut Novel – In Lies We Trust – reached #16 in the Kindle Spy Thriller Bestseller charts in its release week, and she’s been published in Writing Magazine, Women’s Weekly, and by Mslexia and Comma Press.

‌You can find out more about her via her website:

Book tickets

ONLINE EVENT: A zoom link will be sent to you the day before the event.

Age guidance: 14+ (under 16s should be supervised by an adult)

Toni Tone – I Wish I Knew This Earlier

The award-winning speaker, writer, social content creator and ambassador for the charity Young Women’s Trust talks about the inspirational life lessons in her instant Sunday Times bestseller: I Wish I Knew This Earlier (#IWIKTE).

Packed with invaluable advice to improve any relationship and offering insights into our own behaviours – from the value of intuition and taking responsibility for our choices to flourishing through heartbreak – this bestselling book is a practical guide to achieving growth and self-respect.

Toni Tone is the first-ever ambassador for the Young Woman’s Trust, a feminist organisation working to achieve economic justice for young women across the UK. In 2021, she featured in Channel 4’s Highlife about young, ambitious British West Africans, and presented the podcast Money Moves in collaboration with BBC Sounds to help young people with money management. Her writing on Twitter averages over 40 million impressions a month and her insights have been featured in many mainstream publications.

Get tickets

ONLINE EVENT: A zoom link will be sent to you the day before the event.

Age guidance: 12+ (under 16s should be supervised by an adult)

WORKSHOP: Illustrating Children’s Books

Ever fancied producing a children’s book? Open to adults and families alike, this interactive workshop with artist Lucy Farfort will introduce you to children’s picture book illustration, looking at the basics of character design, and weaving text with imagery.

Lucy Farfort is an Illustrator and Author of dual Caribbean-English heritage. She knew from a young age, that she wanted to make a living out of her great love of drawing, however growing up in a small town in the 80s, meant she never saw children’s books with kids in who looked like her, and it was a love of manga comics and animation that initially drew her towards an illustration career.

Lucy studied Illustration and Animation at Manchester Metropolitan University, and after graduating in 2002 began work as a freelance illustrator and graphic designer. As an avid fan of picture books, Lucy’s work veered increasingly towards story, and after years of freelancing whilst working a day job, she eventually followed up on encouragement to seek work as a children’s book illustrator.

In 2017 Lucy won first prize in illustration for Faber Children’s inaugural FAB Prize competition and has gone on to work with Little Tiger Press as an illustrator on their Our Town picture book series, Knight’s Of and Scholastic. This year Lucy is debuting as an author and will have a story published in the ‘Faber Book of Bedtime Stories’ out in Oct, and her own picture book ‘In Our Hands’ will be coming from Tate Publishing in September.

Please note, this workshop replaces the one advertised in our brochure with Onyinye Iwu.

This event is FREE, however, due to limited event capacity booking is required.
Book tickets

Age guidance: all ages (under 16s should be accompanied by an adult)

Location: Festival Hub


SCRAPtastic Stories

Join fairandfunky for SCRAPtastic Stories – a creative, crafty story session.

Enjoy readings of Someone Swallowed Stanley, a brilliant children’s book with a strong environmental message about littering, and make a jellyfish or fish mobile from recycled materials.

A drop-in session with readings of the story at 11.30am, 1.00pm and 2.30pm.

Free (no booking required)
However, you can make a donation to the festival if you wish 

Make a Donation

Location: MakerWorld

Age guidance: all ages (Under 16s should be accompanied by an adult)

For accessibility please call the Piazza Centre on 01484 534594