The first ever Derwent Valley Literary Festival will take place in and around Consett this summer. The festival aims to celebrate all things bookish and to showcase the talents of local authors, poets and playwrights.

The festival – which will be held from 16th to 23rd June – will feature historical novelists, life-writers, children’s authors, performance poets and playwrights, who will all be reading from and talking about their work.

Festivalgoers should also expect to be entertained by a couple of French-speaking puppets!

The festival will be taking place across the Derwent Valley from Consett to Blaydon. Events will be held indoors, outdoors, online and even in a pub. All events are free and everybody is welcome to attend.

Discounted books will be on sale – which the authors will be more than happy to sign – but festivalgoers shouldn’t feel under any obligation to buy anything. People are simply encouraged to come along, enjoy some great writing and have fun.

One event, with Helen Steadman on 16th June, is entitled Widdershins, Witches and Witchfinders. Helen will be taking about her novel Widdershins, which is inspired by the true events of the Newcastle Witch Trials of 1650. The trials led to 15 women and one man being hanged on the Town Moor for witchcraft.

Other writers appearing include Jarrow-born poet and playwright Tom Kelly – whose plays have been produced at the Customs House, South Shields – and the literary translator Helen Pryke Domi. Helen has translated a children’s book and a screenplay from Italian and the screenplay is now winning awards in America.

The Derwent Valley Literary Festival will also feature the entrepreneur, young mum and blogger Jennifer Gilmour, and Ingrid Hall, who writes about her experience of the disease Endometriosis.

In addition, there will be an audience with Neil Sullivan, who has created hundreds of amusing TV ads and written and illustrated children’s books and comic strips.

In another event, Andrew Greaves, the father of David Greaves, will speak about his late son. Diagnosed with motor neurone disease, David wrote his children’s books using Eye Gaze technology – meaning he was able to ‘type’ by using movements of his eyes.

The Derwent Valley Literary Festival is organised by Richard Graham Judd in collaboration with Leadgate Task Force. Richard developed his love of reading after his nan started taking him to a second-hand bookshop.

Richard described the bookshop as “like the shop in Mr Benn, a magical place, but one that was filled to the rafters with books.” After visiting the enchanted bookshop, Richard and his nan would read to each other and Richard claims the idea of the Derwent Valley Literary Festival can be found right there in his childhood.

The Derwent Valley Literary Festival: A Celebration of Books will take place between 16th and 23rd June 2018. All events are free, but places are limited so it is advisable to book.

To find out more about the festival and see a full programme of events, please visit

(Featured image courtesy of Pedro Ribeiro Simoes, from Flickr Creative Commons)

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David writes about local news, thought provoking stories, and yearns to capture the community spirit with a unique writing style.


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