Durham Book Festival programme announced – line up includes Chris Mullin tribute to Tony Benn

FESTIVAL STALWART: Chris Mullin being interviewed at a previous Durham Book Festival.
FESTIVAL STALWART: Chris Mullin being interviewed at a previous Durham Book Festival.
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THE impact of the miners strike 30 years on will be discussed at this year’s Durham Book Festival.

Keith Pattison, who was commissioned to photograph the picket lines in Easington Colliery in 1984, will visit the village with Anne McElvoy of The Economist as part of the 2014 programme of events.

Other highlights include former Sunderland MP and festival stalwart Chris Mullin, leading a tribute to his friend, the late Tony Benn, which promises to be “affectionate but not uncritical”.

At Durham Cathedral, Sunderland-born journalist Kate Adie will talk about the First World War through the eyes of women, which will be followed by War Corespondents, a piece of theatre co-commissioned by festival organisers New Writing North combining song, testimonies and drama.

Bryan Talbot, who wrote Alice in Sunderland and author, fellow writer and wife Mary will present their latest novel Suffragette with their collaborator Kate Charlesworth.

BBC 6 Music broadcaster Stuart Maconie will talk about his journey across County Durham, the people he met and the stories they told, while Michael Chaplin will follow in the footsteps of his late father Sid by taking seven walks between Holy Island and Durham.

Anna Disley, acting chief executive of New Writing North and Durham Book Festival, said: “We are delighted to be working in partnership from Durham County Council to bring the country’s top writers, artists and thinkers to County Durham.

“Journalism features strongly in our special commissions programme this year, with some of the country’s leading reporters focusing on where we find ourselves on the North East in 2014, as well as taking a fresh look at our history and heritage.

“We also cast our net further afield, looking at war reportage in international conflict in a new song theatre performance at Durham Cathedral.

“We are building our relationships with Durham University and this year we have worked together to programme debates, events of poetry, ancient history and novels as well as the Durham Book Festival Big Read. We hope there is something for everyone whatever their age or interest and we look forward to welcoming a range of audiences to enjoy our pack programme.”

Talks by long-serving Labour MP Dennis Skinner, actress Sheila Hancock, journalist Kirsty Wark, and poet, spokenword artist and playwright Kate Tempest are also on the programme, which will also be hosted at the Gala Theatre, Durham Town Hall and the newly refurbished Palace Green Library, as well as libraries and community centres across the county.

The launch event, held last night at Durham Castle, also revealed special book days will be held at Durham Johnson School.

The county is also hosting The Big Read, which will see children and their families read The Wind In The Willows, and 1,000 free books be made available.

A musical theatre adaption of The Worst Princess, written by Anna Kemp and illustrated by Sara Ogilvie will also be performed.

The festival is backed with funding by the council, Durham University and Arts Council England in addition to a host of sponsors. Tickets can be booked from 10am today via www.durhambookfestival.com.