Candlelit retelling of Mary Ann Cotton's dastardly poisonings among highlights of Sunderland Literature Festival 2017

Sunderland Literature and Creative Writing Festival is returning for 2017
Sunderland Literature and Creative Writing Festival is returning for 2017

A candlelit storytelling session on Sunderland's "Angel of Death" and a performance poetry session in a Victorian pub are among highlights of a literary extravaganza in the city.

The Sunderland Literature and Creative Writing Festival is returning for 2017, aiming to celebrate the city's rich literary talent with Wearside authors, artists and themes.

Mary Ann Cotton

Mary Ann Cotton

Highlights include an open-mic performance poetry afternoon celebrating the city in the newly refurbished The Peacock pub, and a retelling by candlelight of the dastardly deeds of serial poisoner Mary Ann Cotton at the 18th century Donnison School Heritage Centre.

A meet-the-author session with Nancy Revell, whose saga The Shipyard Girls charts the fortunes of the first women to work in Sunderland's shipyards during the Second World War, and a session on the extraordinary folklore and fables by Sunderland University lecturer Alison Younger are also on the bill.

John Kelly, the senior councillor responsible for culture in the city, said: "I'm proud to say that this year's festival celebrates all things Sunderland with local authors, local artist and local themes.

"The city has a real wealth of literary and creative talent and it's only right that we should celebrate that.

"The majority of the events are free and there really is something for everyone whatever their age and interests. This year we're holding some of our events in interesting new venues too like the 18th Century Donnison School Heritage Centre in Old Sunderland and The Peacock, one of the city's most iconic Victorian pubs.

Donnison School Heritage Centre

Donnison School Heritage Centre

"So I'd urge everyone to have a look through the programme to see what they're interested in and to come along and join in."

Events leading into the festival, which is organised by Sunderland Libraries, begin today while the festival proper begins on October 16 and runs right through until November 4.

For those who like their soaps, there's a session with local blogger Glenda Young who has been running the Coronation Street Blog fan Website since 2007 and has been commissioned to write the first ever soap opera for the People's Friend Magazine.

And, fittingly, on October 31, Sunderland University-based Spectral Visions Press is holding a book launch for two new books from its specialist Gothic publishing house: "Tyne and Wear'd" and "A Bestiary of Monsters".

Other highlights of the festival include:

:: Crime writer Alan Parkinson talking about his three novels ' Leg It', 'Idle Threat' and ' Life in the Balance'

The Peacock

The Peacock

:: Internationally published author Ben Irvine presenting an interactive nuts and bolts guide to improving your writing and your approach to writing

:: "Forget Carter" - author and media historian Chris Phipps' guide to the filming of many television programmes and films in the North East

:: Ancestry taster sessions

:: A heritage walk around the East End of Sunderland looking at the characters, events and buildings that tell the story of Sunderland's past

:: "How to write a best seller" with Sunderland University lecturer Colin Younger

:: Time for Rhyme sessions and craft activities for children

:: The History Wardrobe - Dress historian Lucy Adlington looks at the world of fashion, fabrics, hats and home sewing in the 1940s to celebrate the publication of her new novel the Red Ribbon inspired by the dressmakers of Auschwitz

:: Scott Joplin - the Triumph of the Tragedy of his Opera - a lecture looking at the ragtime composer's life accompanied by the performance of some of his works

:: Words and Pictures - Sunderland Past and Present - a creative writing session taking its inspiration from photos of Sunderland's local studies library archive and photos they bring along themselves.

Visit: for a programme and more information on the festival.