Todmorden is a small market town in the Upper Calder Valley in West Yorkshire. Todmorden Book Festival, which runs over nine days each year, was established in 2018 by a group of volunteers and celebrates the written word, with events that inspire and challenge audiences. The programme focuses on the work of new and established writers from across the region and the UK, as well as the work of international authors, with fiction, non-fiction and poetry events for adults and children, reflecting the rich industrial and cultural heritage of the region and exploring individual and collective stories.
I’m writing this introduction from the study where I’ve been lucky enough to mostly be able to work from over the last 18 months. The dog, ever a companion through the difficult times, is asleep at my feet. Outside the air is sweltering. I’ve just been sent the draft programme which, hopefully without too much disruption and change, you’re now holding. As I scroll through the various events that the team have brought together for another excellent year of Todmorden Book Festival, I’m struck by that phrase ‘in conversation’. We have the sublime Monique Roffey ‘in conversation’ with the brilliant Courttia Newland. There is the magnificent Horatio Clare ‘in conversation’ with the vital and powerful poet Clare Shaw.
These past couple of years have seen us redevelop and rehone our conversational skills; reliant on facial expressions rather than body language over zoom, reading someone’s eyes above their mask, searching for things to discuss beyond the obvious that was all around us. In addition to these conversations, we have authors of books that narrate the journeys of other great lives, like Jackie Kay in her astonishing book about Bessie Smith, and storytellers like Jan Blake going into local primary schools.
Conversation. Narrative. Storytelling. That’s how we make sense of the things we’ve lived through, how we imagine ways of moving forward. I’m writing this missive to you from the past into a future autumn that we can’t yet imagine. I hope you’re safe. I hope you’re well. Keep having those conversations and telling those stories of what it’s been like for you over the past couple of years; add your anecdotes into history. And help us plot a future course into a fairer, more equal, and more creative future.
Please book your tickets online by registering for events on our What’s On page. You can make a donation when you book or donate now using the link below. Festival tickets usually cost between £5 and £10, but any donation you can make to support the future of the Festival would be welcome.
Thank you for your support!
Which events have you enjoyed over the past three years?
What would you like to see included in future Festival programmes?
Do you think you will feel comfortable attending events in person when restrictions are lifted?
Todmorden Book Festival would like to thank everyone for their continued support of the Festival. We don’t know how the pandemic will affect us over the coming months, but we will keep you informed of any developments about the Festival in 2021.
Todmorden Book Festival 2020’s digital programme was a small triumph. The online events were a departure from our annual programme of live events, which gave us the opportunity to reach new audiences around the world. We hope to bring you an exciting programme of events again in November 2021. In the meantime, please keep checking our website and social media for any updates.
We are delighted to report that online library membership has increased by 600% across parts of the UK since the first lockdown began, and we would urge all our friends and supporters to continue to support their local libraries by accessing digital library resources and visiting your local library when it reopens. You can buy and order books for home delivery from the Festival’s official bookseller The Book Case bookcasehebden.wordpress.com.
We look forward to seeing you in 2021!
The Todmorden Book Festival Team