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

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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

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.

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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)

An Evening with Adrian Lukis

An entertaining and intimate In Conversation with celebrated character actor Adrian Lukis, known for playing the rakish Mr Wickham in the 1995 BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, alongside Colin Firth.

Adrian will talk about his long career – from Shakespearean theatre to roles in Judy, Downton Abbey, The Crown, Black Mirror and Peak Practice – and the slow descent from the glamorous leads to recently being asked to audition for the part of “a filthy wizened old man”. Incidentally, he didn’t get the part.

Adrian will also discuss Being Mr Wickham, the play that he wrote (with Huddersfield writer Catherine Curzon) about the older Wickham looking back over his life, described by the Sunday Times as “A fine one-man show”. He may also be persuaded to tell us how he ended up naked and drunk in a jacuzzi with Colin Firth!

Please book tickets with the Lawrence Batley Theatre
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Location: Lawrence Batley Theatre

This event will have LIVE subtitling to promote Access for All

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

Sponsored by Longley Farm

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This is the Canon

This Is the Canon is for anyone who wants to redress the imbalance of their education and to rethink what are considered the ‘classics’.

Joan Anim-Addo, Deirdre Osborne & Kadija Sesay discuss their timely and important book, tapping into the ongoing discussions around race and identity.

This event is for anyone who wants to redress the imbalance of their education and to rethink what are considered the ‘classics’ of literature. This is the Canon offers a rich and multifaceted perspective on our past, present and future which deserves to be read by all bibliophiles and teachers and students alike.

From literary giants such as Toni Morrison and Chinua Achebe to equally vital writers such as Caribbean novelist Earl Lovelace or Indigenous Australian author Alexis Wright, the novels recommended here are in turn haunting and lyrical, innovative and inspiring.

‘A vital and timely introduction to some of the best books I’ve ever read. Perfectly curated and filled with brilliant literature’ Nikesh Shukla

Professor Joan Anim-Addo is Professor Emerita of Caribbean Literature and Culture at Goldsmiths University and the co-founder of the world-first MA in Black British Literature.

Dr Deirdre Osborne is Reader in English Literature and Drama at Goldsmiths University, London and the co-founder of the world-first Black British Literature MA. She is also associate editor of Women’s Writing.

Dr Kadija Sesay Hon FRSL is a writer and editor of several anthologies, the founder of SABLE LitMag, and AfriPoetree SIV and co-founder of The Mboka Festival in The Gambia

Free (Booking required to send your Zoom link)
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ONLINE EVENT: A zoom link will be sent to you the day before the event.

Age recommendation: 16+

Cultural Connections Conference

An opportunity for festival and cultural event organisers to network, share best practice and hear from industry experts following a challenging period for event managers. Join us in person or online.

12pm-12.45pm Networking session

Complimentary coffee/tea & biscuits will be served (sandwiches etc available to buy on campus). Informal introductions for online delegates.

12.45pm-12.50pm Introduction

12.50pm-1.55pm The 3 As of Digital Events: Accessibility, Audiences, Accounts

Speakers: Julie Farrell & Ever Dundas, creators of the Inklusion Guide: and Lee Randall, author of Exploring the Post-Pandemic Landscape of Scottish Literary Festivals: Where Do We Go from Here? Chaired by HLF Festival Director Michelle Hodgson.

1.55-2.05 Comfort break

2.05pm-3.15pm The Climate Crisis: From Programming to Practical Processes

Speakers: Peter Watkins and James Dove, environmentalists and Carbon Literacy Trainers. Chaired by Michelle Brown, Climate Emergency Co-ordinator Holme Valley Parish Council.

3.15pm-3.30pm Coffee/tea break

3.30pm-4.30pm Meet the Northern Fiction Alliance Independent publishers often lead the way with award-winning, ground-breaking publications that can bring fresh and diverse voices to festivals and venues. Find out more from Zoe Turner from Comma Press, Sara Hunt from Saraband and Adam Lowe from Peepal Tree Press.

Those joining us via Zoom will be sent a link to access the conference the day before the event.

Our Speakers

Ever Dundas is a queer crip author represented by Jenny Brown Associates. Her debut novel Goblin won the Saltire First Book of the Year Award 2017, and Ever’s second novel, HellSans, will be published early 2023. Passionate about good access, Ever set up Inklusion with Julie. Twitter & Instagram: @everdundas

Julie Farrell is a queer, disabled, neurodivergent author, award-winning poet, and accessibility consultant. This year she won the Aurora Prize for Writing, and her young-adult novel was longlisted for the Undiscovered Voices Award 2022, and was shortlisted for Write Mentor Children’s Novel Award 2021 and Owned Voices Novel Award 2021. She set up Inklusion with Ever to make the industry more inclusive. Twitter: @Julie_Farrell_

Lee Randall is a freelance writer, interviewer, and festival programmer based in Edinburgh. She is the author of Exploring the Post-Pandemic Landscape of Scottish Literary Festivals: Where Do We Go From Here?, commissioned by Creative Scotland.

Peter Watkins is a Zero Carbon Consultant at Treligan, a commercially focused Environmental, Sustainability and Circular Economy consultancy, providing advice and support, and helping organisations work towards global standards for sustainability.

James Dove is a grass roots musician/producer and environmentalist who has written the first accredited Carbon Literacy course for the music industry to bridge the gap between climate awareness and climate action. He is also an A Greener Festival Assessor, as certified by A Greener Festival and Falmouth University.

Michelle Brown is the Climate Emergency Co-ordinator, Holme Valley Parish Council and Digital Manager of the Huddersfield Literature Festival.

Comma Press is a not-for-profit publisher specialising in the short story and fiction in translation. They publish collections by new and established authors, interdisciplinary collaborations between authors and experts, and translation commissions devised to identify cutting-edge (often marginalised) voices from across the world.

Peepal Tree Press is an independent publisher founded in 1985 to bring the very best of international writing from the Caribbean, its diasporas and the UK. Based in Leeds, their list features new writers alongside established voices, with the goal of publishing books that make a difference.

Saraband is an award-winning independent publisher of outstanding fiction, absorbing nature writing, pressing environmental issues and compelling memoir. Based in Salford, their aim is to publish books that inspire, inform and entertain – and that make the world a better place.

Age guidance: 18+

Heritage Quay, University of Huddersfield, Queensgate, HD1 3DH

Click here for our Access Guide to the venue