Read all about success of festival in Morpeth

The first ever Morpeth Book Festival proved a real hit with lovers of the written word.

By Andrew Coulson
Monday, 11th April 2022, 3:51 pm
Author Ann Cleeves, who had a capacity audience, talks about her work during the 'In Conversation with Ann Cleeves' session at the Morpeth Book Festival.

Ann Cleeves was among the well-known authors who attended the event, which took place on Saturday and Sunday.

She is best known for her televised novels such as Vera, Shetland and The Long Call, which comes from the Two Rivers series of books.

Audiences also enjoyed Mari Hannah – a former probation officer turned crime writer and the creator of DCI Kate Daniels, based on her partner who is a former Northumbria Police detective – and Chuck Hogan, an American novelist, screenwriter and television producer who joined the festival via a Zoom link and is best known for writing The Strain series, The Killing Moon and The Devil in Exile.

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Author Ann Cleeves.

Local authors included Miles Hewitt, who penned two fascinating books about his travels across the world, and Ashington vicar’s daughter Barbara Fox.

‘Murder and Mayhem’ took centre stage in a session with crime writers Trevor Wood, whose debut novel The Man on the Street won a Crime Writers’ Association Dagger; Robert Scragg, winner of the 2021 Lindisfarne Prize for Crime Writing; Fiona Veitch Smith, who wrote about the exploits of Morpeth-born Poppy Denby; and Fiona Erskine, who penned the Jacqueline Silver books.

The festival was organised by Northumberland County Council Library Service in partnership with Greater Morpeth Development Trust, and most sessions were held at the new Pleased To Meet You suites in Morpeth.

Coun Jeff Watson, Cabinet Member responsible for libraries, said: “It was fantastic to see people out and about and enjoying real world events again.

“The two-day festival was such a success that plans are already underway to make it an annual event.”

For lovers of historical novels, Lorna Windham, best known for her novel The Jacobite’s Daughter, and biographer Greg Christie were on hand.

In addition, Chuck Hogan, along with local authors, columnists and playwrights Amy Lord, Mark Iveson and Sarah Elliott, led a session on dystopian fiction.

Poetry figured strongly during the event with input from Catherine Ayres, Eileen Beers, Roy Heath, Barbara Pringle, Ellen Phethean, Catherine Graham, Elaine Cusack, David Roe, Harry Gallagher, Jan Clark, Pippa Little, Gene Groves, Jean Laurie and Verna Gorman.

The festival also included story time and workshops for children at Morpeth Library.