Ilkley Literature Festival

Ilkley Literature Festival

Ilkley Literature Festival

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The Ilkley Literature Festival is the north of England's oldest and largest literature festival.


The Ilkley Literature Festival is an annual event in the spa town of Ilkley and has become one of the UK's top arts festivals. Attracting many important international literary figures, its two-week programme, starting at the end of September, now features more than one hundred and eighty events which take place in a variety of venues in Ilkley and surrounding towns and villages. The festival includes events for children and young people and a festival fringe.

Festival director Rachel Feldberg has described the festival as 'bringing the best and most exciting literature from across the world to Yorkshire.'


The festival was the brainchild of Michael Dawson, director of the Yorkshire Arts Association. During the postal strike of 1971 (led by union leader and future festival chairman Tom Jackson), Dawson, because of the lack of mail, browsed the brochures of other arts festivals in England. Realising there was nothing of its kind in the north, he began work to establish a literature festival in his home town of Ilkley. The festival began in 1973 and was opened by English poet W. H. Auden during the last year of his life. Since 1988 it has occurred annually. 1988 also saw the appointment of the first full-time professional Director, Steve Dearden, he was followed by Jonathan Davidson, David and Alice Porter, Dominic Gregory and the current Director, Rachel...
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