Preview: Stoke Newington’s 10th Literary Festival

PUBLISHED: 15:37 29 May 2019 | UPDATED: 15:42 29 May 2019

Three women at last year's Festival. Picture: Liz Vater.

Three women at last year's Festival. Picture: Liz Vater.


The Stoke Newington Literary Festival is about bringing bright minds and interesting stories to the community – and keeping tickets cheap all the while.

Nigella Lawson is at this year's Literary Festival. Picture: Liz Seabrook.Nigella Lawson is at this year's Literary Festival. Picture: Liz Seabrook.

"If you want to see Nigella (Lawson) outside the festival," says director Liz Vater, "it'll set you back between £25 and £45. We've put her on for a tenner."

Lawson is one of a number of high-profile figures due in Stokey for the event, which runs between June 7 and 9. The celebrity chef comes to the Town Hall next Saturday (June 8), where she'll speak of "food, life and everything in between" with fellow food writer Debora Robertson.

"Though we say so ourselves, we think it's an absolute zinger this year that will hopefully fill your weekend with brainfood," writes Vater in her programme notes.

"We keep prices as low as possible to ensure it's accessible to everyone, and to encourage you to try something you might not have tried before.

Abney Hall is one of 20 venues that will be taking part. Picture: Liz Vater.Abney Hall is one of 20 venues that will be taking part. Picture: Liz Vater.

"Pop out of your comfort zone and find some new ideas, different perspectives and authors you might not have heard of before."

The first festival was held in 2009. It sought to raise money for literary initiatives in Hackney, and has worked with schools, the library service, community arts organisations and refugee groups to promote the widespread benefits of reading ever since.

This year's event - the 10th of its kind - is once again run by volunteers and aims to strengthen its legacy by putting profits to the creation and support of further local literacy projects.

Vater is pleased with this year's line-up. "It's very diverse," she says, "and has lots of accessible, interesting stuff going on."

Taking place across 20 local venues, the Stokey Literary Festival will welcome Ed Miliband to the Town Hall on June 9, as the former Labour leader explains why the UK needs to be on a 'war-footing' about climate change.

Hackney-born actress Zawe Ashton - probably best known for her role in Channel 4's Fresh Meat - will be talking about her new book, Character Breakdown, and former VICE writer Joel Golby discusses issues of mental health and modern madness at Abney Hall on June 8.

Tickets are typically priced between £4 and £10 - although a number of events are free - and the festival has a dedicated children's section.

This year's special guest is Elmer the Elephant, who will be meeting younger readers at Stokey's Library on Saturday morning - it's Elmer's 30th birthday so there's talk of cake being involved.

The festival will also see a programme of Hackney Shorts screened at Dalston's Rio Cinema, and a seriously diverse mix of live bands playing a few tunes over the weekend at the Budvar Tent outside the Town Hall.

The Festival runs around Stoke Newington between June 7 and 9. For more information, click here.

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