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"Why haven't we had a literature festival before?" is what many local people have been saying recently.
Yes, why not? We've got enough connections, surely: Arthur Ransome was born in Headingley before becoming enamored of the Lake District and Trotsky's secretary, J R R Tolkien lived in Headingley (Holly Bank, Otley Road) when he was a Professor in the English department at Leeds University, Alan Bennett is the son of a butcher who had a shop across the road from the Three Horseshoes and Kay Mellor lives in Far Headingley up towards the Ring Road..
That's just four of the famous ones. A fair number of not-so-famous (not-yet-famous) writers and performers are living in Headingley right now.
That's just the writers and performers. We could add another fair number of audience members, readers, listeners, critics and people of all ages, student and non-student who appreciate and delight in literature of all kinds.
So let's have a LitFest. It's called that because it's an embryo which is sure to grow.
Write it into your diary now!
Wednesday 12 March at 7pm
NICOLETTE JONES comes to Headingley Library.
Illustrated Talk on The Plimsoll Sensation: The Great Campaign to save lives at sea. Nicolette Jones is the children's book reviewer for The Sunday Times. Her biography of the Victorian MP and social reformer Samuel Plimsoll was very well-reviewed when it appeared in 2006. His campaign to make all ships carry a load line got rid of most of the unseaworthy vessels of the time. FREE
Thursday 13 March 6pm at Lawnswood School - in the main hall.
Students present a grand POETRY SLAM under the guidance of local performance poet, Michelle Scally-Clarke. Michelle is a wonderful, charismatic performer herself, and she is sure to get the best out of the students. Music and dancing as well. Please note the earlier start time of 6pm. This is not just for parents and friends, so turn up for what is sure to be a terrific show. FREE
Friday 14 March 6.30-8.0 at Headingley Library
ABOLITIONISTS Local historian Janet Douglas and playwright Joe Williams get together to present a programme that features two tireless campaigners in the struggle against slavery. Janet Douglas talks about the Leeds Anti-Slavery Movement and the visit of Uncle Tomâ€™s Cabin author Harriet Beecher Stowe. Joe Williams performs in role as the extraordinary freed slave Olaudah Equiano, with plenty of opportunities for the audience to ask questions. Joe wrote Runaway Diamonds, a dance-drama based on the life of the great abolitionist Frederick Douglass, which was performed in the Courtyard Theatre of the West Yorkshire Playhouse last year and in 2005. Uncle Tom's Cabin was a bestseller in this country as well as the United States at the time of the Civil War.
Leeds has a tradition when it comes to campaigning against slavery and racism which goes back centuries: Equiano spoke to large meetings and congregations here (incidentally, he never met William Wilberforce, as shown in the film Amazing Grace) and a few years later Frederick Douglass gave dramatic, impassioned speeches against American slavery to capacity audiences in the Music Hall which once stood in Albion Street. Patrick BrontÃ« (himself an abolitionist) travelled from Haworth to hear him. Let's continue that tradition.
Families welcome. Tickets Â£3. Concessions Â£2 with glass of wine or juice*
Saturday 15 March 4-5.30 at the New Headingley Club, St Michaelâ€™s Road
TEA WITH THE BRONTÃ‹S
Bob Barnard, award winning local crime writer and past Chair of the BrontÃ« Society, gives a talk on People the BrontÃ«s Knew. He is the author of Emily BrontÃ« and, with Louise Barnard, A BrontÃ« Encyclopedia. Bob is a brilliantly entertaining speaker who will have his listeners eating out of his hand. Small plates will be provided, nevertheless. The magnificent Encyclopedia, which is aimed at libraries and people with Â£55 in their hands, is the result of years of work, and was shamefully under-promoted by the publisher (now Wiley-Blackwell) because of a takeover which took place at the time of its publication in 2007. It's a very significant work.
Â£3 includes tea and cake *
Saturday 15 March 7pm-9pm at CafÃ© Lento, North Lane
POETRY EVENING. If you like intimate atmospheres and a good latte, this is the place. If you are a poet, or hope to be one, contact Richard Lindley at the cafÃ© to check on the programme. FREE
Saturday 15 March and Sunday 16 March 8pm at the Yorkshire College of Music and Drama, Shire Oak Road
Theatre of the Dales presents DUFFERS - the life of Arthur Ransome, Headingley-born author of Swallows and Amazons, and I WAS A STRANGER - the story of the Abyssinian Prince of Hollin Lane.
Theatre of the Dales gives performances which are completely enthralling - you can find one in the links for the LitFest blog (www.headingleylitfest.blogspot.com). You might learn something new about Ransome, who was a national authority on angling and who interviewed both Lenin and Trotsky after the Bolshevik takeover in Russia.
Sunday 4-6 at Dare CafÃ©
POETRY CAFE with local poet, James Nash, and the best of local poets. This will be in Dare's cellar - intimate and atmospheric, with a little bar. If you want to read, it's best to speak to James before it starts - or email him at email@example.com FREE
* tickets for these events are available from Oxfam Books.
For all tickets ring 0113 2786948 and 0113 2756652
Headingley LitFest warmly thanks all performers, volunteers and Azendi, Councillors Martin Hamilton and David Morton, Hannah Stained Glass, Lawnswood School, Leeds Literary and Philosophical Society, Leeds City Council, North Star Publications (Headingley Directory) and Sarah Dunton.
updates and developments on the LitFest on this site