LITERATURE lovers are in for a treat with the start of Durham’s 21st book festival today.
From politics, war and faith to gothic horror, poetry and history, there is something to suit everyone at this year’s popular event.
Highlights of the festival include former foreign secretary David Miliband – who is non-executive vice chairman of Sunderland AFC – talking about international development and the UK’s foreign policy and former chancellor Alistair Darling revealing the truth behind the credit crunch and the debt crisis.
Former Sunderland South MP Chris Mullin will be returning to the stage with Bob Marshall-Andrews to talk about life in Tony Blair’s government.
A series of events will also be hosted at Durham Light Infantry Museum exploring war and the lives of soldiers in both fact and fiction.
General Lord Richard Dannatt, former Chief of the General Staff, and Sir Rodric Braithwaite will be talking about the unwinnable wars in Afghanistan.
North East-based playwright Carina Rodney will be presenting her first reading of powerful new play Wounded.
And Hannah Jane Walker, who impressed audiences at this year’s Edinburgh Festival, will be bringing two of her theatrical poetry events to the city.
Comedian Marcus Brigstocke will reflect on the issues of faith, Jon Ronson will be questioning what it is to be normal and QI writer John Mitchinson will test his audience on their general ignorance.
As Festival Laureate for 2011, poet Don Paterson will be in Durham throughout the festival and will feature in a number of top events.
In a festival first, Don has been commissioned to write a new anthem for Evensong at Durham Cathedral, which will be performed by the choir on Friday.
In a bid to get the whole of County Durham reading, festival bosses have also launched a Durham Reads project.
A total of 1,000 copies of The Possessions of Doctor Forrest, a new gothic horror novel by Richard T Kelly have been dished out for free through libraries and civic and cultural venues.
Festival organiser Claire Malcolm said: “There are lots of exciting events taking place this year and it promises to be bigger and better than previous years.
“It is always a popular event and we work hard all year round to improve it year on year.”
For event details, visit www.durhambookfestival.com