A FIXTURE in the North-East literary calendar will open in the surroundings of a reputedly haunted medieval hall this weekend.

Storyteller Cat Weatherill will present a show, based on her work Kissing the Wind, described as an enchanting, but elegantly bawdy medieval tale, at Crook Hall, Durham, on Sunday.

It will mark the start of the 16th month-long Durham Literature Festival.

This year's programme will feature 25 events at nine venues in the city.

Now established on the region's cultural scene, the event attracts national and internationally known literary figures, as well as offering a platform for aspiring local writers.

Among them are two members of the Vane Women writers' collective, based in Darlington, who are launching their first solo books at the festival.

Performing arts teacher Chris Powell, of Stanhope, County Dur-ham, will read extracts from her short story collection Burning the Blue Winged Boys.

Margaret Rule, from Darlington, will read from her mix of poems and short stories, The Right Amount of Vinegar.

They can be seen in The Studio at the Gala Theatre, on Friday, October 7, from 7.30pm.

Early events in the festival diary include writers Simon Fanshawe and Michael Bywater, at 7.30pm on Monday, plus Live in Durham, five short stories read by five North-East writers, being recorded for broadcast on BBC Radio 4, at 7pm on Tuesday.

Playwright Alan Plater will read from his work, while other readings will be from pieces by Sean O'Brien, Pat Barker, Paul Magrs and the late Julia Darling.

General Sir Peter de la Billiere will give a talk at the DLI Museum.

For a full festival programme, go to www.durhamliteraturefestival. org, or call 0191-301 8245.