SHEILA Hancock, Kate Adie and Dennis Skinner will be among the big names appearing at the North-East’s biggest book festival this autumn, it was announced tonight (Tuesday, August 12).

The actress, journalist and veteran MP will all appear at the Durham Book Festival, which runs from October 6 to 18 at venues across the county.

Journalist Kirsty Wark, Wild Swans author Jung Chang, How I Live Now writer Meg Rosoff and performance poet Kate Tempest will also visit, along with broadcaster Stuart Maconie, who was at Durham Castle to launch the event and unveil the full programme tonight (Tuesday, August 12).

Loading article content

Also on hand was Richard Benson, who discussed his novel The Valley, recounting his ancestors’ lives in a Yorkshire mining town over a century.

Anna Disley, acting chief executive of New Writing North and Durham Book Festival, said: “We are delighted to be working in partnership with Durham County Council to bring the country’s top writers, artists and thinkers to County Durham.

“We hope there is something for everyone whatever their age or interest and we look forward to welcoming a range of audiences to enjoy our packed programme.”

During October’s festival, former MP Chris Mullin will host a tribute to Tony Benn, new drama War Correspondents will be premiered and the winner of the Gordon Burn Prize will be announced.

Journalist Anne McElvoy will assess the impact of the Miners’ Strike 30 years on and Michael Chaplin, son of the late writer Sid Chaplin, will consider the North-East’s past and future.

Paul Farley is the festival laureate and will pen a new poem to be premiered at the event.

For children, there will be a new musical theatre adaptation of the picture book The Worst Princess and 1,000 copies of The Wind in the Willows will be given away free.

Last year’s Durham Book Festival was the biggest ever, reaching 8,000 people, and 99 per cent of festival-goers said their experience was either excellent or good.

The full programme and tickets for this year’s festival will be available online at from 10am tomorrow (Wednesday, August 13).

The Gordon Burn Prize shortlist, announced tonight, is: The Valley by Richard Benson, The Kills by Richard House, The Wake by Paul Kingsnorth, The Trip to Echo Spring by Olivia Laing, American Interior by Gruff Rhys and The Free by Willy Vlautin.