Derby Book Festival 2017

9 - 17 June 2017

The third Derby Book Festival will return 9 - 17 June 2017.

Derby is putting itself on the literary map with a thriving and successful Book Festival.  The third Festival will be held from 9 – 17 June 2017 with over 70 exciting book related events celebrating the joy of books and reading for all ages and interests.  The Festival welcomes internationally renowned writers and poets as well as celebrating local writing talent.  There’s something for everyone with topics ranging from climbing to cricket, and birding to buttons, fashion to football and mindfulness to music.

The Festival’s Opening Event will feature internationally renowned author Sebastian Faulks, whose latest book, Where My Heart Used to Beat, returns to what has become a recurring theme in his novels: war and love. It is a tender portrait of a man and a century. Probably his best-loved novel, Birdsong, vividly depicted a British soldier’s experience on the frontline during the First World War. 

After the event, follow the Fire Trail to The Silk Mill to view the Tower of London Poppies: Weeping Windows exhibition.

This year's programme also includes Alan Johnson MP with Matthew Parris, Reverend Richard Coles, Jenny Eclair, historian Alison Weir, Dame Jenni Murray, Sarah Perry (The Essex Serpent), architectural historian Dan Cruickshank, performance poet John Hegley, comic Shappi Khorsandi, Tim Dowling,  Louise Doughty (Apple Tree Yard) Stephen Booth and local ‘Derbyshire Noir’ crime writers and Salley Vickers (Miss Garnet's Angel). 

The Festival also has a great children and families programme including a special Bringing Books to Life event in Derby’s Market Place on Saturday 10 June with street theatre, storytelling, craft activities and a Children’s Book Trail in local shops. 

For the full Festival programme of author talks, discussions, writers’ workshops as well as children’s activities, theatre shows, competitions and films, visit the Festival website: or pick up a copy of the programme from arts venues, libraries, tourist offices and bookshops across the county.  Tickets are now on sale for all events from or from the Festival box office at QUAD and  other venues hosting events. 

Why not make the most of it and stay over in Derby with a fantastic Derby Book Festival Hotel Offer

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Children’s & Family Programme - 26 May - 18 June


The Derby Book Festival has a jam-packed programme for children & family.

Opening Event with Sebastian Faulks - 9 June

Opening Event with Sebastian Faulks - 9 June

Don't Miss, Festivals, Talks

Internationally renowned author Sebastian Faulks’ latest book Where My Heart Used to Beat returns to what have become recurring themes in his novels: war and love.

Fire Trail - 9 June

Fire Trail - 9 June

Don't Miss, Festivals

Cathedral Quarter, Derby

An evening Fire Trail will light a pathway from the Cathedral to the Silk Mill, creating a unique and reflective way for the public to interact with the Poppies: Weeping Window installation.

Min Kym - 9 June

Min Kym - 9 June


Min Kym was a child prodigy, studying at the Purcell School of Music then going onto international competitive success and making debut recordings.

Where the Poppies now Grow: Tots Make & Do - 9 June

Find out more about Hilary Robinson and Martin Impey’s beautiful picture book about friendship and war.

Joseph Knox: Sirens - 10 June

With a career as Waterstones’ crime buyer, Joseph Knox has now penned his own Manchester noir debut novel Sirens to great critical acclaim, following a highly competitive 10-way auction by publishers.

Book Launch: Joseph Wright of Derby by Lucy Bamford and Jonathan Wallis - 10 June

Join Lucy and Jonathan for a discussion on Joseph Wright of Derby and the paintings displayed in the museum and to find out more about their new book celebrating the city’s most famous son.

Mary Queen of Scots, The Captive Queen in England David Templeman - 10 June

David will reveal a story not found in any history book, conveying intrigue, passion, plots and escape attempts.

Louise Doughty - 10 June

Louise Doughty - 10 June

Festivals, Talks

If you are one of the millions of people gripped by the recent BBC dramatisation of Apple Tree Yard, the Derby Book Festival hope you will be excited about their latest news: author, Louise Doughty will be joining them on Saturday 10 June at QUAD.

Matt Sewell - 10 June

Is that a bellowing of bullfinches or a mural of snow buntings? Come and learn the best and weirdest collective nouns for our feathered friends with best-selling author Matt Sewell.

Alex Wheatle - 10 June

Alex won the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize in 2016 for his hard-hitting young adult novel, Crongton Knights. The third book in the trilogy, Straight Outta Crongton, has just been published.

Salley Vickers - 10 June

Salley Vickers has been a favourite among book clubs and reading groups since her first novel, Miss Garnet’s Angel, was published in 2000. It became an international word-of-mouth bestseller and was followed by the equally successful Mr. Golightly's Holiday, The Other Side of You and The Cleaner of Chartres.

Slow Travel in the Peak District with Helen Moat - 10 June

Slow Travel embraces the idea of getting under the skin of a place, finding hidden gems, and going where your interests take you rather than to the top tourist sites.

Jenny Eclair - 10 June

One of the UK's most popular writer/performers, Jenny Eclair was the first woman to win the prestigious Perrier Award and has many TV and radio credits to her name and four critically acclaimed novels.

Derbyshire Noir: Crime Writing - 10 June

From the 'mean streets' of Derby to the wild moors of the Peak District, Derbyshire's atmospheric locations have exercised a powerful appeal for crime novelists. Meet four successful writers who have been establishing their own genre of 'Derbyshire Noir'.

Derby Book Festival Quiz - 10 June

After the resounding success and fiercely fought competition last year, the Festival Book Quiz returns! If you know your Brontë from your Blyton … your Rowling from your Roth, you’ll be in with a chance of winning the coveted Winner’s Trophy!

Bringing Books to Life Event - 10 June

Join us for a fun-packed, spellbinding day of stories, creativity, music, magic and nonsense – and it’s all about Friendship!

The Derby Book Fair - 10 June

The Derby Book Fair - 10 June

Festivals, Markets & Fairs

Visit our first Book Fair in the wonderful setting of The Silk Mill. Stalls will include publishers, charities, comics, book shops and authors.

Dahl Delights: Museum Sleepover - 10 - 11 June

After the success of our first ever family sleepover event last year, we are delighted to once again invite you to spend a night at the Museum.

The Essex Serpent - 11 June

The Essex Serpent - 11 June

Festivals, Talks

Sarah Perry will join the third Derby Book Festival to talk about her best selling novel, The Essex Serpent, which won the Waterstones Book of the Year 2016 and was also shortlisted for the Costa Novel of the Year.

Dan Cruickshank - 11 June

Dan Cruickshank - 11 June

Festivals, Talks

A history of architecture in 100 buildings.

Spymaster - Martin Pearce - 11 June

How did a Derbyshire farmer’s son rise to the highest rank in MI6, despite harbouring a secret that would have seen his career ended before it started?

Matthew Parris - 11 June

“He’s 100% political herpes. Back in six months whatever you do. Or three days, like last time.” Camilla Long on Nigel Farage

Mad Hatters Tea Party - 11 June

Join us for a very important date in Wonderland this Derby Book Festival. Spend an afternoon at Derby Museums, and enjoy storytelling, craft and cake all inspired by Lewis Carroll’s classic story.

Tim Dowling - 11 June

If your Saturdays aren’t complete until you’ve read Tim Dowling’s take on life in Guardian Weekend, here’s a chance to hear from the man himself, one of our best-loved journalists.

Virago Press - 11 June

Virago Publisher, Lennie Goodings, returns to the Festival to talk about the publishing house and its history and will be joined by one of its authors, Rachel Seiffert, author of the Booker-shortlisted The Dark Room.

Jon McGregor - Reservoir 13 - 11 June

Derbyshire, midwinter. A teenage girl goes missing. The villagers are called up to join the search, fanning out across the moors. Meanwhile, there is work that must still be done: cows milked, fences repaired, pints poured. Life goes on, as it must.

Alan Johnson with Matthew Parris - 12 June

A "fully paid-up member of the human race" is a description of a politician which is rare - but certainly an entirely accurate description of Alan Johnson MP. His first two highly successful, award-winning biographies have featured his upbringing in the East End of the 1950s and his early working life as a postman

Morning Coffee: Buttons & Biscuits - 12 June

“I used to love the rattle and whoosh of my grandma’s buttons as they scattered from their Quality Street tin.” A wooden box holds the buttons of three generations of women in Lynn Knight's family: a scarlet ladybird from her own childhood, chunky turquoise buttons that fastened her mother's sixties-era suit, a sky-blue buckle from a dress her grandmother wore. Each button has its own tale to tell .

Gardens of the British Working Class - 12 June


Spanning more than four centuries, from the earliest records of the labouring classes to today, Margaret Willes' people’s history unearths cherished gardens nurtured outside modest workers' cottages, fruitful allotments, and horticultural miracles performed in blackened yards.

Festival Lunch with Dame Jenni Murray - 13 June

Journalist and broadcaster Dame Jenni Murray’s latest book, A History of Britain in 21 Women,features the lives of influential women from Boudicca to Elizabeth I and from Mary Seacole to Ethel Smyth, shedding new light on our history and revealing some fascinating stories.

Helen Mort & Dan Richards - 13 June

“Because they’re there?” Is this the answer to the eternal question: why do people climb mountains?

John McAvoy - 13 June

University of Derby, Kedleston Road, Derby

If you are a Marketing Derby Bondholder, please book through Lindsey Hatfield. Other bookings though the Festival Box Office at QUAD.

Handling History: 50 Best Finds - 13 June

Join Alastair Willis as he discusses his latest book 50 Finds from Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire, which details local treasures that have been discovered in the region.

Tony Garnett - 13 June

Tony Garnett’s 60 year career has encompassed theatre, TV and film as both an actor and producer. He has worked with some of the leading directors of the past half century, including Ken Loach, Mike Leigh and Roland Joffe as the producer of ground-breaking programmes such as Cathy Come Home and Up the Junction. His critically acclaimed autobiography The Day The Music Died was published in 2016 and provides a fascinating memoir of post-war British television as well as providing a vivid social history.

George Drury Talk - 14 June

George Drury Talk - 14 June

Festivals, Talks

Royal Crown Derby are pleased to be hosting an event as part of the Derby Book Festival (9-17 June 2017). George Drury, author of Quaker Pegg, will give a talk on the fascinating life of this Derby china painter.

Hanson's Valuation Days - 14 June

Do you have old documents lying around that you just can’t throw out as they may be of value?

Stuart Webb - Clough, Maxwell & Me - 14 June

For over 30 years the names of Stuart Webb and Derby County were inseparable. Now In Clough, Maxwell & Me Stuart tells his remarkable story. Here is the football man who shared in the Rams’ greatest days of the 1970s, when first Brian Clough and then Dave Mackay steered the club to become champions of England; the man who fought a lone High Court battle to keep the Rams in business in their centenary year of 1984 and saw them prosper again.

Joanna Cannon & Emma Henderson - 14 June

To receive critical acclaim and be garlanded with awards for your first novel is something most novelists dream about, but for Derbyshire based Joanna and Emma, this dream became a reality. Joanna’s The Trouble with Goats and Sheep continues to ride high in the best-seller lists over a year since publication and Emma had a similar experience with Grace Williams Says it Loud in 2010.

Reverend Richard Coles - 14 June

Presenter of BBC Radio 4’s Saturday Live and TV show The Big Painting Challenge is just one of the many faces of the Reverend Richard Coles. Ordained by the Bishop of Derby in 2005, he now has his own parish in Northamptonshire. He is also the only vicar in Britain to have had a number-one hit single (when he was a member of ‘90s pop group The Communards).

An Evening with John Hegley - 15 June

Edinburgh Festival regular, writer and performer ; John Hegley is noted for his exploration of such diverse topics as dog hair, potatoes, handkerchiefs and the misery of human existence.

Morning Coffee with Wendy Holden - 15 June

Number-one-bestselling author Wendy Holden has ten consecutive Sunday Times Top Ten bestselling novels to her name. She grew up in Yorkshire, went to Cambridge University and became a journalist in London working on Harper’s Bazaar, Tatler, The Mail on Sunday and the Sunday Times, where she was deputy editor of the Style section and ghost-wrote a column for the late Tara Palmer-Tomkinson.

Marked for Death: Rolls-Royce - 15 June

Rolls-Royce Learning & Career Development Centre, Wilmore Road, Derby, DE24 9BD

Marked For Death is a homage to the famous aircraft of the First World War, as well as to the 50,000 young pilots who died flying them. James Hamilton-Paterson explains how the war produced profound changes both in the aircraft themselves and in military attitudes and strategy.

Alison Weir - Anne Boleyn - 15 June

Following her sell-out event in 2016, Alison Weir returns to the Festival to recount one of the most sensational episodes in English history. Anne Boleyn, the second of Henry VIII’s queens, was an extraordinary young woman, born into an ambitious family and destined to be the focus of scandal and calumny.

Afternoon Tea with Paula Byrne: The Kennedys and Chatsworth - 15 June

In Kick, Paula Byrne uses recently released documents to tell, for the first time, this cinematic story of the meeting of American and British aristocracy: the Kennedys, the Devonshires, their friends such as the Churchills, Astors and Mitfords and the social whirl of pre-war life.

Laura Beers - Red Ellen - 16 June


Born in 1908, Ellen Wilkinson came from a working class family in Manchester and is best remembered as the leader of the Jarrow March.

Stephen Westaby - Fragile Lives - 16 June

A slip of the hand and life ebbs away. The balance between life and death is so delicate, and the heart surgeon walks that tightrope between the two.

Afternoon Tea with Katie Fforde - 16 June

Following the success of her previous novels, including A Vintage Wedding, Recipe for Love, and A French Affair, Katie Fforde’s latest romantic novel, A Secret Garden, instantly became a Top 5 Sunday Times bestseller.

Day of Writing - 17 June

Our annual Day of Writing - tailor-made for any aspiring authors! With a range of lively workshops plus an insightful author panel, this is the ideal event for writers looking to learn more about the craft and build their careers in the field.

Shappi Khorsandi - Oh My Country! - 17 June

Shappi is celebrating the fortieth anniversary of her arrival in Britain.

Mistress and Muse - 17 June


Janet Tennant will talk about her biography of Ursula, the second wife of composer Ralph Vaughan Williams. A difficult child and young woman, she was desperate to find a role in the literary world as a poet.

Jane Austen: the Secret Radical - 17 June

Almost everything we think we know about Jane Austen is wrong. Her novels don’t confine themselves to grand houses and they were not written just for readers’ enjoyment. She writes about serious subjects and her books are deeply subversive. We just don’t read her properly - we haven’t been reading her properly for 200 years. Jane Austen, The Secret Radical puts that right.

Blunderbus Theatre Company: Dogs Don't Do Ballet - 17 June

Biff is not like other dogs. He doesn’t do dog stuff like weeing on lampposts, or scratching his fleas, or drinking out of the toilet. No, Biff likes moonlight and music and walking on his tiptoes. You see, Biff doesn’t think he’s a dog. He thinks he’s a ballerina!

Debut Author - Sarah Day - 17 June

Set in Italy in 1938, Sarah Day’s debut novel Mussolini’s Island tells the true story of a group of gay men who were imprisoned as political ‘deviants’ on the island of San Domino.

Closing Event: Dave McKean: Black Dog - The Dreams of Paul Nash - 17 June

Illustrator, comic artist, filmmaker and musician Dave McKean has worked with many authors on over 70 books, including Neil Gaiman, Heston Blumenthal, Richard Dawkins, David Almond, Ray Bradbury, Stephen King and John Cale. He has written and directed three feature films; MirrorMask (with Gaiman), The Gospel of Us (with actor Michael Sheen, winner of 2 BAFTA Cymru awards) and Luna (winner of Raindance Best British Feature, BIFA awards).

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Derby Book Festival Programme

The Derby Book Festival Programme has over 70 events celebrating the joy of books and reading for all ages and interests.