BBE 2013

For the Big Bookend team, 2013 has flown by in a whirl of literary related events and encounters. Here are some of the highlights:

Tony Harrison
Tony Harrison headlining 2013’s Leeds Big Bookend festival. Photo by Steve Evans.

In May we teamed up with the Leeds Bookcrossers and staged a mass book release in the centre of Leeds. Were you one of the lucky ones who found a book, read it and released it back into the wild to continue on its journey? We searched for 20 of the best writers under the age of 40 in Leeds, wanting a snapshot of the writers at work in 2013. We found them and published our LS13 anthology. Our winner, Richard Smyth, won a book deal with Dead Ink and he returns to the Big Bookend 2014 to launch his new book, Wild Ink. We have toured LS13 around Yorkshire and continue to work with our top 20 writers.

Beccy Cherriman at Avast!
Beccy Cherriman at Avast!

In the week before the festival, we had Avast! Our friends at Fictions of Every Kind, helped us to plash a creaking boat through a miscellany of stories, songs and poems of the sea.


Big Bookend Leeds 2013
Simon Jenkins @ Big Bookend Leeds 2013

We followed this with a literary themed beer tasting from beer writer, Simon Jenkins. Bad King John from Ridgeway Brewery was our top literary tipple. Our festival weekend of the 8th and 9th June was filled with stories, poetry, performance, music and adventure. Kate Pankhurst, Tell Me Another Storytellers and Daniel Ingram-Brown entertained our younger audiences with illustrations, an adventure workshop and glorious storytelling.


Anne O'Brien
Anne O’Brien

Our older audiences delighted in historical fiction from Anne O’Brien; How Leeds writers changed the world with Anthony Clavane and Wes Brown; Boff Whalley played, sang and read for us ably assisted by his daughter; Amy Keen gave us paranormal fiction and Frances Brody turned to crime. Festival partner , Leeds Church Institute, provided space for reflection. The author of Journey Home, Jennifer Kavanagh, helped us reflect on what exactly home is and how we should respond to those without it. We hosted an evening of writers and performers from different faith traditions, demonstrating unity that can be found in among the artists of Leeds. And we made space for stories that are difficult to tell in Stories with No Voice. We had the great privilege of premiering Red Ladder Theatre and Boff Whalley’s latest play, Wrong ‘Un, A Suffragette’s Story which played to a sell out audience and is back this January at The City Varieties. To top all of that if it were possible, sublime poet Tony Harrison returned to his native Leeds as our headliner for an evening event at the West Yorkshire Playhouse where he enthralled the 200 strong audience with his performance, poetry and anecdotes. We were delighted to have Leeds Young Authors showcasing some of their poetry during the evening as well.

And so to the Big Bookend 2014. You might think that once the 2013 festival was over we would have put our feet up and had a few months off with a well deserved rest but that’s not been the case at all. We continue to meet fortnightly and have been busy planning for 2014. We regularly pop up at literary events all over Leeds trying to keep the city talking about all things literary. Over the last couple of years, we have made new friends, forged new partnerships and strengthened existing ones, worked together to make something unique and great for the city of Leeds and celebrated Leeds’s wonderful literary heritage and future talent. We extend a massive thank you to everybody who has contributed to the Big Bookend so far, often giving their services for free. Plans are well under way for another exciting festival in the week leading up to and over the weekend of 7-8th June. Join us if you can and if you think you can help our band of volunteers in any way, please get in contact with us, we’d love to hear from you.


For an overview of all the activities – please download our 2013 Programme

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