Celebrate brilliant books, fabulous authors and support Derby’s literary scene!

As a voracious reader, keen writer and self-confessed bibliophile, this announcement fills me with excitement. 

Tickets are now on sale for the extravaganza that is the Derby Book Festival. Events will be hosted at Derby Theatre in the newly christened Derbion. The Festival, funded by Arts Council England and the University of Derby, runs from 27 May to 5 June with over 60 events for all ages and interests with something for everyone. 


This year’s Festival has an exciting programme which includes in-person events at venues across the city, as well as live streamed, recorded and outdoor events. Venues include Déda, Derby College, Derby Theatre, Derby Museums, Darley Abbey Village Hall and five local parks. Tickets for around 50 more events in these venues go on sale from 29 April. 


The Festival is likely to be one of the first in the UK to hold in-person events since lockdown ended if all goes to plan and venues re-open from 17 May.


Liz Fothergill CBE, Chair of Derby Book Festival, said: “We look forward to welcoming our audiences back following the disappointment of the cancellation of last year’s Festival. We are feeling optimistic that our venues will reopen in time to host our Festival and will provide safe environments for our audiences to return, whilst also offering them live streaming and recorded events. We are very grateful to Derby Theatre for their generosity and support in enabling to use their wonderful venue throughout the week, enabling us to welcome some high-profile authors and poets to socially distanced audiences.”


The Festival will be book-ended with events featuring two of the most celebrated political commentators of recent times giving their take on US politics: BBC North America Editor Jon Sopel on the Trump campaign and, in a separate event, BBC Special Correspondent James Naughtie, on his experience of covering US elections from Nixon to Biden. Both events are sponsored by Peveril Homes.


Poetry lovers can enjoy two events with Hollie McNish and with Brian Bilston, whilst fans of Victoria Wood can hear her authorised biographer, Jasper Rees talking about Let’s Do It, his biography of this national treasure at an event sponsored by Smith Partnership. 


There will be a special event, sponsored by Flint Bishop, with members of the brilliantly talented Kanneh-Mason family when their mother, Kadiatu, talks to BBC East Midlands Today presenter Navtej Johal about House of Music, her memoir of raising seven musically-gifted children, with performances by Aminata and Konya Kanneh-Mason on violin and piano.


Costa Award 2020 winner, Monique Roffey will talk about her novel, The Mermaid of Black Conch, and, for fans of something more scary, the Gothic Panel event features Costa-winning novelist Stuart Turton (The Devil and the Dark Water and The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle), Catriona Ward (the acclaimed The Last House on Needless Street) will be in conversation with Sarah Ward (aka Rhiannon Ward: The Quickening). 


Football fans will no doubt remember Robert Maxwell’s time at the helm of Derby County FC and John Preston (A Very British Scandal and The Dig) will talk about his acclaimed biography, Fall: The Mystery of Robert Maxwell, a recent BBC Radio 4 Book of the Week.And finally author and former nurse, Christie Watson will discuss her latest book, The Courage to Care:  A Call for Compassion. 


Professor Kathryn Mitchell DL, Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive of the University of Derby, said: “I am delighted that the University of Derby continues to support Derby Book Festival in 2021.


“The Festival plays a significant part in the cultural vibrancy of the city, so we are extremely excited to play our part in this and cannot wait to see the breadth of inspirational activities planned for this year.”


Festival events will be organised following government guidance and the venues’ strict health and safety measures, including socially distanced seating, one-way systems, hand sanitiser and mask wearing. 


Tickets can be booked online for all events (in person and live streamed options) at Derby Book Festival 2021 where you can find full details of each event. See you there!