Big names headed for popular Carlisle literature festival


Top names from the world of books, broadcasting and performance will be appearing in Carlisle as a popular literary festival returns to the city.

The Borderlines Book Festival will be running for the fourth successive year this October and organisers have announced the first names scheduled to appear.

One of the new features for this year will be a focus on performance, and the festival will be opened by the Liverpool String Quartet who'll play a selection of Beatles songs to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the release of the iconic Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

The band will be introduced by prominent Cumbrian author Hunter Davies, who penned the only authorised biography of the Beatles.

A Borderlines spokeswoman said: "This promises to be an entertaining hour as he provides fascinating insights, in his own inimitable style, as to how the songs came to be written.

"Formed in 2010, the Liverpool String Quartet have performed extensively throughout the UK and abroad."

Performance will play an important part in the festival this year and as well as the quartet, there will be plays and music depicting the lives of Beatrix Potter; Lucy Barfield, the inspiration behind C S Lewis’s Narnia stories; and the poetry and life of Robert Louis Stevenson. There will also be a performance workshop by Carlisle’s own Dance Ahead company.

Mr Davies will take the stage a second time during the festival, this time with his daughter Caitlin, a writer herself, to talk about late wife and mother Margaret Foster.

In 'Memories of Margaret and Mum' they will talk about how the novelist influenced their writing careers and how she managed a writing career herself while bringing up a young family.

Legendary mountaineer Sir Chris Bonington will be in conversation with BBC broadcaster Eric Robson, also from Cumbria, and will talk about his life as a climber and will celebrate the publication of his new autobiography, Ascent.

There'll be a bit of political discussion as well, when John O'Farrell will talk about the recent history of the Labour Party while Andrew Liddle will talk about the rise of the Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson.

Other Cumbrian talks include Peter Brears on traditional Cumbrian food; Dr David Cross on Cumbrian monuments and sculpture; Steve Matthews on Carlisle in literature; Jen Ashworth and Andrew Hurley on Cumbrian landscape in their fiction; and journalist Alan Cleaver on folklore of Cumbria.

Themes as diverse as fell running with Steve Birkinshaw - who broke Joss Naylor’s 1987 record for tackling all of Alfred Wainwright’s 214 Lake District peaks - and a year in the life of the natural world with award-winning author and presenter Brett Westwood, will be explored.

The main festival takes place over the weekend of October 6 to 8, with pre-festival events taking place from September 30 at the Crown & Mitre Hotel, Carlisle Library, Tullie House, the cathedral and Cakes & Ale Café.

The festival is run by a group of volunteers, including staff from Cumbria County Council’s library service, Tullie House and Bookends Bookshop.

Each year the festival has grown with almost 3,000 tickets being sold and visitors coming from all over Cumbria and beyond.

By popular demand the programme of writer’s workshops will return.

* The full programme will be announced later this month when tickets will also go on sale. They can be bought from the Borderlines website or at Bookends, Carlisle.

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