Gladstone’s Library’s Writers in Residence 2017 Shortlist Announced. #chesterculture

Gladstone’s Library has revealed the names of the 10 writers shortlisted for its prestigious Writers in Residence award for 2017.

This year’s submissions were drawn from a pool of entries from around the world.
To qualify for consideration, all applicants had to submit a book published in the last three years as well as a short piece of writing on liberal values.

Now into its sixth year, the Writers in Residence programme, established in association with Damian Barr (saloniere and author of Maggie and Me), was set up to explore and define liberal values in the twenty-first century.

The shortlist is made up of novels, poetry and creative non-fiction that, in the eyes of the panel of judges of authors, industry experts and members of the Gladstone’s Library team, best represent some of the most creative contemporary writing.

The ten shortlisted titles for 2017 are:

  • William Atkins, The Moor: A Journey into the English Wilderness (Faber & Faber, 2014)
  • Elaine Beckett, ‘Faber New Poets 13’ (Faber & Faber, 2016)
  • Penny Boxall, ‘Ship of the Line’ (Eyewear Publishing, 2014)
  • Caroline Brothers, The Memory Stones (Bloomsbury Circus, 2016)
  • Rowan Hisayo Buchanan, Harmless Like You (Sceptre, 2016)
  • Nancy Campbell, Disko Bay (Enitharmon Press, 2015)
  • Lauren Elkin, Flâneuse: Women Write the City (Chatto & Windus, 2016)
  • Pippa Goldschmitt, The Need for Better Regulation of Outer Space (Freight Books, 2015)
  • Antonia Honeywell, The Ship (Weidenfeld & Nicholson, 2015)
  • Mab Jones, Take Your Experience and Peel it (Indigo Dreams, 2016)
  • Jacqueline Saphra, If I Lay on my Back I Saw Nothing but Naked Women (The Emma Press, 2016)
  • Ruth Scurr, John Aubrey: My Own Life (Vintage, 2015)

Four of these authors will now be awarded a month’s residency at the Library in Hawarden.

“The Gladstone’s Library Writer in Residence programme continues to go from strength to strength,” said Warden of Gladstone’s Library, Peter Francis. “This is thanks, in part, to the support and generosity of our sponsors, in particular that of Joanna Munro, but also to the continual high standard of applicants. We are hugely proud that the programme continues to attract the very best in contemporary creative writing and are looking forward to revealing our four winners in October.”

This year’s judging panel consists of Senior Strategy Director at FutureBrand and Trustee of Gladstone’s Library, Freddie Baveystock; writer and journalist Peter Moore; author and journalist Melissa Harrison; poet Judy Brown; Peter Francis, Warden of Gladstone’s Library and Director of Collections and Research at Gladstone’s Library, Louisa Yates.

Judging takes place on Friday August 5th and the winners will be announced on Monday October 3rd at the National Liberal Club in London when the four winning authors will read from their work.

Tickets for this Writers in Residence 2017 launch event are priced at £10, to register your interest, call 01244 532350 or email

#chesterculture – A Little Bit of This, A Little Bit of That – Friday 1st July to Sunday 3rd July 2016

Ever wondered about the true scope of what they do at Gladstone’s Library, Hawarden?

Join them for ‘A little Bit of This, A Little Bit of That’, a weekend long event held from Friday 1st July to Sunday 3rd July 2016.

During this weekend you’ll experience a typical slice of discussion at Gladstone’s Library.

A wonderful compendium of thoughts starting with bestselling novelist Salley Vickers whose works include the international word-of-mouth bestseller Miss Garnet’s Angel which became a favourite among book clubs and reading groups.

Salley will introduce and read from her eagerly-anticipated new novel,Cousins, which follows three generations of the Tye family as they are forced to come to terms with the true nature of inheritance – both genetic and behavioural.

John McEllhenney and Susan Fogarty explore the doubting-belief of the great Welsh poet R.S. Thomas, an Anglican vicar who wrestled ceaselessly with problems of faith and doubt in his poetry.

It is not too much of a leap from R.S. Thomas to Peter Francis’ talk about Honest Faith – claiming that no supernatural beliefs are true and presenting Christianity as a rational philosophy of life.

william_ewart_gladstone_-_project_gutenberg_etext_13103There is a significant Victorian slant to the weekend as well with Chair of Gladstone’s Library Michael Wheeler presenting Florence Nightingale as a great reformer, the founder of modern nursing and a noted liberal Christian.

Louisa Yates talks reading, journeying through Gladstone’s Literary Life by imagining his typical week. She addresses how such a busy man could possibly have read the 22,000 books he noted in his diaries.

The weekend concludes with a discussion about ‘liberal values’ in which Michael Wheeler and Peter Francis ask whether the word ‘liberal’ still has any meaning in the contemporary world.

Residential prices start from £202, non-residential from £150. Discount rates for clergy and students apply.

For further information visit , call 01244 532350 or email

#chesterculture – Gladfest – Gladstone’s Library – Friday 2nd, Saturday 3rd and Sunday 4th September 2016.

The UK’s friendliest literary festival returns Gladfest returns with another programme of the best and brightest writing talents, from old friends returning with their latest books to new-to-Gladfest stars.

The three day literary celebration, held at the UK’s only Prime Ministerial Library in Hawarden, will be welcoming high profile and internationally renowned writers, novelists, poets and academics for its annual festival Gladfest from Friday 2nd September to Sunday 4th September 2016.  Now into its fourth year, Gladfest is back and it’s better than ever.

loyd-grossman_239116kHighlights include Val McDermid (Splinter the Silence) discussing what compels us to consume crime fiction; Scarlett Thomas (The Seed Collectors) who explores her complex relationship with realism and fantasy; Loyd Grossman (Benjamin West and the Struggle to be Modern) on the Georgian craze for history as expressed in books, prints and paintings; Guy Cuthbertson’s perspective on Wilfred Owen and the WWI poets and Richard Holloway (A Little History of Religion) who muses on religious experiences and expressions.


Michel Faber and Sarah Perry will make a welcome return with their latest books, Undying and The Essex Serpent after sell-out slots at last year’s festival.

Further highlights include Sir Anthony Seldon (Cameron at 10: The Inside Story) on contemporary politics and education; Rachel Holmes who delves into the radical lives of Eleanor Marx and Sylvia Pankhurst; Andrew Tate exploring the ruined futures of dystopian fiction; Ian Parks who considers the poetry of C.P. Cavafy and Peter Blair charting the meteoric rise of contemporary flash fiction.


If you’re a little more hands-on, there will be workshops throughout the weekend sharpening manuscripts with Francesca Haig (The Fire Sermon), prioritising workload with Michael Nobbs (Drawing Your Life), using the imagination as a literary device with Peter Moore (The Weather Experiment) and creating comics with Simon Grennan (Dispossession).

fantastic20mr20fox201_1For younger Gladfesters, there’s an expanded programme of Young People’s Events and a series of interactive activities inspired by the books of Roald Dahl who would have celebrated his 100th birthday this year. Young people can explore the poetry of Revolting Rhymes, the characters of Fantastic Mr Fox, the language of The BFG and create prints to take home inspired by Dahl’s marvellous animals and creature creations.

Plus there’s the all-new Gladfest market place filled with the best local designers and contemporary crafts, the Gladbooks bookstall stocking reads from festival speakers (plus the opportunity to get them signed), the Food for Thought servery open throughout the day for delicious homemade hot and cold food, and the Gladbar ready and waiting to serve up festival tipples.

As one of the UK’s only festivals with no green room and no backstage area, you never know who you’ll bump into. Mingle with like-minded festival-goers, share a fireside drink with the authors and really make the most of Gladfest 2016.

For the full lineup click here,
Click here to view the official Gladfest 2016 programme

Friday 2nd September to Sunday 4th September 2016. gladfest20201620speakers
Weekend Tickets: £55
Day Tickets: £30 and Workshop Day Tickets: £40.
Individual event tickets are priced from £7.
For more information call Gladstone’s Reception on 01244 532350 or email

General release opens at 9am on Wednesday 18th May.

Friends priority booking opens at 9am on Wednesday 4th May.
Friends may book tickets for themselves and up to two guests.

Sign up as a Friend for pre-release tickets, exclusive Gladfest accommodation and a host of other benefits.


#chesterculture – Chester Library: Inspired by Gothic – Thursday 21st and 28th April 2016

To link with the Grosvenor Museum’s exhibition “Inspired by Gothic: Ruins, Romance, Revival” Chester Library has created a series of events this April.

Inspired by Gothic: ‘Wuthering Heights’ by Emily Bronte – Thursday 21st April 2016
Join a group reading of this classic Gothic novel of the thwarted love and passionate obsession of Cathy and Heathcliff.
The evocative descriptions of the lonely moorland setting and the poetic grandeur of vision combine to make this unique novel a masterpiece of English literature.
Come along to take part or just to listen

Inspired by Gothic: Gothic Literature Workshop – Thursday 28th April 2016
Gothic literature combines horror, mystery, romance, suspense and the supernatural in an atmospheric setting, triggering strong emotions in the reader. Explore the gothic style and the history of gothic literature with local writer Chris Mapp. There will also be the opportunity to create your own piece of writing.

Thursday 21 April 2016
Inspired by Gothic: ‘Wuthering Heights’ by Emily Bronte
Chester Library, Northgate Street
Free drop-in.

Thursday  28th April 2016
Inspired by Gothic: Gothic Literature Workshop
Chester Library, Northgate Street
£3 including refreshments, book at Chester Library 01244 977380

#chesterculture – Preview: Weaver Words Literature Festival – Wednesday 6th to Sunday 10th April 2016

Weaver Words, Frodsham’s Literature Festival, is back with five days of fantastic talks, events, outings and workshops for you to enjoy, many linked to the festival theme of ‘The Good Life – happiness and well-being’.

Tim Frith, Patron of Weaver Words said: “What better food for the soul than poetry? Our 2016 programme includes performances from Liverpool legend Roger McGough and former Canal Poet Laureate Jo Bell aboard a boat along the River Weaver.

TV historian Dan Cruickshank takes us on a world tour of beautiful buildings, Merseyside footballing giant Neville Southall promises to share his literary goals and actor Gerald Dickens makes a welcome return to present a Victorian evening inspired by his great great grandfather Charles Dickens.”

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The  full programme of events can be found here.

In addition to these events the festival also host a flash fiction competition and a Children’s writing competition, both of which are now closed.

Weaver Words Literature Festival
Wednesday 6th to Sunday 10th April 2016
Various venues in Frodsham
Events vary in price and can be booked here

#ChesterCulture – World Poetry Day 2016: Share your poetry.

Today is World Poetry Day and to celebrate we would like to invite you to share your poetry with us today.

Never written a poem before? Why not do so for the first time today? Published poet, unpublished poet; it doesn’t matter. 

We want you to share your writing with us.

Poetry reaffirms our common humanity by revealing to us that individuals, everywhere in the world, share the same questions and feelings.

Poetry is the mainstay of oral tradition and, over centuries, can communicate the innermost values of diverse cultures. 

One of the main objectives of World Day is to support linguistic diversity through poetic expression and to offer endangered languages the opportunity to be heard within their communities.

The observance of World Poetry Day is also meant to encourage a return to the oral tradition of poetry recitals; to promote the teaching of poetry, to restore a dialogue between poetry and the other arts such as theatre, dance, music and painting, and to support small publishers and create an attractive image of poetry in the media, so that the art of poetry will no longer be considered an outdated form of art but instead one which enables society as a whole to regain and assert its identity.   

In celebrating World Poetry Day we recognise the unique ability of poetry to capture the creative spirit of the human mind.

Email your work to us at, leave us a poem you’ve written on our Facebook page or tweet us a nice clear image of your handwritten pieces and we’ll share it with the world.


Coming up at The Chester Library and the Wayword Fest

Cheshire West and Chester Libraries are once again excited to be working with Chester Performs for this year’s Wayword Festival.

Between 13th -19th February 2016, Chester Town Hall and libraries across the region will be awash with activities and events as authors, illustrators, TV stars, scientists, coders and even a beatboxer come together to make up the festival’s most interactive line-up ever.  The festival’s theme is Adventure and is aimed at primary school children seeking to beat boredom during the week’s school holiday.

There is a strong ‘maker’ element to this year’s WayWord Festival, with eight Cheshire libraries also hosting the festival by offering free craft activities throughout the week. Northwich, Winsford, Ellesmere Port, Blacon, Upton, Frodsham, Neston and Chester Libraries will all have a resident artist offering free arts and craft activities. Library sessions run Monday- Friday 10am-12.30pm with Chester also hosting Space Invaders on Saturday 13th February. Whether you want to stay for two minutes or two hours, all you need is your imagination! You can release your inner witch or wizard or take a thrilling adventure into the Jurassic Jungle if you dare!

For more information on all the fantastic Wayword activities, on offer in our libraries or at Chester Town Hall, and to book tickets please visit:

Friends Of Chester Literature Festival hold their End Of Year Coffee Morning

“ Sip coffee with “Friends”…and their Special Guest Alex Clifton, Artistic Director of Chester’s new theatre.”


On Thursday November 26th, Friends Of Chester Literature Festival hold their End Of Year Coffee Morning at Bishops Lloyd’s Palace, 51/53 Watergate Street, Chester. It runs from 10am until 12 noon.

The Friends will welcome Alex, who will tell of plans for the new theatre and the Arts in Chester. Paul Lavin of Chester Performs will look back on C.P’s successful year and tell us something of what we can look forward to this coming year. Alex and Paul will also listen to your views and answer questions you may be longing to ask!

And the Friends themselves will impart their news, having had a year of varied events, including theatre trips, writing workshops, trips to Festivals (e.g. Hay and Buxton) and visits from writers and poets. See their new website:

You can reserve a place for the Coffee Morning by sending a cheque for £5

(payable to” Friends Of Chester Literature Festival”) to Marie Hughes, 59 Moorside Ave, Parkgate, Wirral, CH 64 6QS. NB: Please enclose your email address as confirmation of your place is by email.

More details if necessary from Marie on:

The Friends look forward to seeing you!

submitted by Jan Bengree

LitFest Review: Unbound with Rachael Kerr

In this world of hyper competitive publishing, online bookstores and self-made authors, Unbound offers a fantastic hybrid to bridge the gap between artistic freedom and the mainstream. On Friday October 23rd, Rachael Kerr represented the Unbound website and attached publishing house to a small but interested crowd, first explaining how the website works. Authors are able to pitch a book project online for any kind of book they’d like to write, then they must spread the word and encourage fans to purchase advance first editions and other great perks to support their project. Once a project reaches 100% support (around 500 people), Unbound will then produce a beautiful hardback and/or paperback of their work, supplying them to supporters as well as major book retailers under the Penguin publishing brand.

Present at the talk were Francis Pryor (of Time Team fame) and Josh Spero, who both worked tirelessly to fund their books through Unbound and were successful in making their publishing dreams reality. Josh’s unusual nonfiction book “Second Hand Stories” would have been unlikely to be produced by mainstream publishing if it weren’t for Unbound, and when Francis Pryor wanted to turn from serious archaeological writing to detective stories, he was able to produce “The Lifer’s Club” through this crowdfunding platform, and is now 85% supported on a sequel.

This is a truly revolutionary publishing tool that aspiring writers will not want to miss out on, and Rachael Kerr fielded plenty of questions on the subject that would set even the most skeptical minds at rest. Find out more about how Unbound works at

Find out more about the Chester Literature Festival at:

LitFest Review: Sir Ranulph Fiennes

In terms of grandeur of storytelling, wealth of experience and attention to detail, Sir Ranulph Fiennes was unbeatable speaking at the Chester Literature Festival. On Friday October 23rd, an audience of all ages and walks of life thronged to hear the great fundraiser and adventurer discuss “Heat”, his new memoir. This hefty tome recounts the treasured explorer’s numerous expeditions in climates with extremely high temperatures, including the time that he served in the Sultan’s private army in Oman, and his recent triumph as the oldest Briton to complete the Marathon Des Sables.

Dignified and charming as he sat beside his eager interviewer, Sir Ranulph was well prepared for his enthralling talk. He guided the audience through a series of photographs from “Heat”, discussing the history of adventurers such as Livingstone’s work in Africa, and how the works of these great men influenced his own experiences in the country. Sir Ranulph delighted fans with tidbits from his hovercraft journey thousands of miles up the River Nile, which was at a time when hovercraft technology was brand new and a beguiling thing for native Africans to witness. He also spoke very fondly of his first wife, Ginny, who accompanied him on all his expeditions at that time.

There were countless questions at the end, which Sir Ranulph answered with the same grace and wit that he displayed throughout the talk, and one fan went so far as to commend the adventurer for his love for the country of Oman and the Muslim religion and culture despite current prejudices in the wider world. Overall, his presentation was highly engaging and it was a genuine pleasure to be in the presence of a man who has done so much to aid Marie Curie Cancer Care through his incredible challenges. It certainly makes “Heat” a tempting future read.

Find out more about the Chester Literature Festival at: