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Monday 14 October – Monday 21 October 2019

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Festival news

First guests announced

The first four names on our line-up have been revealed.

Our eight-day festival in October will feature internationally acclaimed poet Simon Armitage CBE, television presenter and triathlete Louise Minchin, actress, author and presenter Baroness Floella Benjamin OBE and women’s rights activist Dr Helen Pankhurst.

Simon Armitage CBE will make a welcome return, after performing a sold-out show at the first Rochdale Literature & Ideas Festival back in 2013. The BAFTA award winner will be reading extracts from his most recent poems – ‘The Unaccompanied’ documents a world on the brink, full of his dead-pan wit you can expect an insightful and bold new piece of work from one of the UK’ greatest living poets. He’ll also be reading some of his words from ‘The Flit’ and talking about his writing for radio, film, television and the stage. Simon has also been awarded an Ivor Novello Award for song-writing, the prestigious Keats-Shelley Prize for Poetry, and a CBE for services to poetry.

Simon Armitage.

Credit: Wolfgang Webster

Louise Minchin will be talking about her life and new book Dare to Tri – the story of her journey from the BBC Breakfast sofa to representing Great Britain at the World Triathlon Championships. It promises to be an entertaining and inspiring evening in the company of one of the UK’s best known broadcasters.

Credit: Tony Blake.

Multi-talented Baroness Floella Benjamin OBE is known to millions for appearing in the BBC television series Play School and Play Away. She’s also a successful businesswoman, writer and award winning producer. Her successful book ‘Coming to England’ charts her challenging experiences in Britain. A former Chancellor of the University of Exeter she was elevated to the peerage in 2010 and her mission is to make the world a better place for children, recently winning a battle in the House of Lords to enable OFCOM to force much greater investment in UK-made children’s programmes.

Baroness Floella Benjamin.

In the centenary of one of the most significant steps forward for women which saw those with property gain the vote for the first time Dr Helen Pankurst will look at how women’s lives have changed over the last century and offer a new way forward. Combining historical insight with inspiring argument, her book ‘Deeds not Words’ reveals how far women have come, how far they have to go and how they might get there. Great granddaughter of Suffragette leader Emmeline Pankurst, Helen is a women’s rights activist and senior advisor to CARE International, based in the UK and Ethiopia.

Helen Pankhurst. Photo credit: Virginie Naudillon.

Credit: Virginie Naudillon.

Councillor Janet Emsley, Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods, Community and Culture at Rochdale Borough Council, said:

“We are pleased to announce some of the first amazing writers, thinkers and well known personalities who will be coming to join us in Rochdale this October. The team have been working hard to put together another inspiring programme and together with our sponsor we will be delivering another fabulous festival.”

Further details of the programme will be announced soon. Tickets go on sale from 10am on 13 August.