London Literature Festival 2019 line-up announced

Tuesday, July 23, 2019 - 09:15

Thirteen. Unlucky for some? Perhaps. But not if you’re a literature fan. On 17 October the thirteenth London Literature Festival gets underway, as once again we welcome a wealth of global literary greats, iconic artists, emerging talents and leading thinkers to Southbank Centre.

Held over eleven days (17 - 27 October), the London Literature Festival will feature a packed programme of exclusive appearances, live readings, newly commissioned performances, talks, debates, poetry, visual displays, workshops, award ceremonies, book launches and much more.


tickets for all London Literature Festival events detailed below go on sale to Southbank Centre Members on Wednesday 24 July, and on general sale on Thursday 25 July.


The theme Once Upon Our Times runs throughout the festival, with a series of events looking at contemporary retellings of folk and fairy tales, spanning from Harry Potter and Game of Thrones to The Handmaid’s Tale and Angela Carter’s The Bloody Chamber.  The series explores and celebrates the global and democratic nature of this storytelling tradition through live readings, new commissions and discussions. The latter strand includes Sharlene Teo, Daisy Johnson and Rebecca Tamas on the contemporary relevance an democratic value of fairytales, and nordic authors Linda Bostrom Knausgard, Vigdis Hjorth and Mazen Maarouf discussing the thin line between fiction and reality.


Author Sharlene Teo


Opening London Literature Festival is Poetry International, our longest running festival having been founded by Ted Hughes in 1967. Taking place across five days (17-21 October) Poetry International this year explores the theme ‘poetry as disruption’, as it brings together exciting poets from across the world including Nikki Giovanni, Lemn Sissay, Jay Bernard, Adonis, Khaled Mattawa, Patricia Smith, Chen Chen, Raymond Antrobus and Ilya Kaminsky. 

The biannual poetry celebration also sees the launch of The National Poetry Library's anthology Poems from the Edge of Extinction, which celebrates poetry written in endangered languages from around the world. And Poetry International concludes on 21 October with the 28th Forward Prizes for Poetry ceremony, showcasing the 15 poets shortlisted for this years prizes.

more on Poetry International


Poet and Forward Prize nominee, Raymond Antrobus


Beyond poetry our stages will also play host to a number of award-winning writers and artists from across the globe, joining us for special in conversation events. In Royal Festival Hall bestselling author Heather Morris discusses her writing journey, whilst to Queen Elizabeth Hall come the much-loved author Armistead Maupin and the international bestseller Jung Chang. Renowned writers Elif Shafak and Louise Doughty share a stage to discuss their respective new novels, and we also welcome Israeli novelist Ayelet Gundar-Goshen and Pakistani writer Fatima Bhutto.

The 2019 festival also includes London exclusive appearances from iconic artists, who join us to launch their new memoirs, including Star Wars actor Anthony Daniels and Suede frontman Brett Anderson. And broadcaster and novelist Elizabeth Day presents her latest book How To Fail, inspired by her hugely popular podcast.


Elizabeth Day: How to Fail
Broadcaster and novelist Elizabeth Day


As ever London Literature Festival will feature a number of talks and panel discussions that help you to go beyond the page. Among this year’s highlights are Nikesh Shukla and Chimene Suleyman on their experience of editing and contributing essays to groundbreaking collections The Good Immigrant. And we also hear from journalists Roula Khalaf, Hind Hassan and Heba Shibani as they discuss their careers as Arab and Middle Eastern female journalists reporting from the Arab world with the Zahra Hankir, editor of the new collection Our Women on the Ground

On Saturday 26 October, London Literature Festival presents its inaugural Writers’ Day. Established in partnership with Creative Future the day sees a number of writers, authors, editors and publishers giving free short talks on their experiences, as well as special 1:1 Agent Advice sessions and a day-long writers’ exhibition space.

more on Writers’ Day


YA Lit Day
Young adult fiction writer, Louise O'Neill


And, as London Literature Festival coincides with half-term week, the festival concludes with Young Adult Literature Day. Now in its fifth year, YA Literature Day, brings the best writers in young adult fiction here to Southbank Centre, including Louise O’Neill, discussing her contemporary retelling of the Little Mermaid, Kiran Millwood Hargrave writer of Dracula: The Deathless Girls, Muhammad Khan, the critically acclaimed author of I Am Thunder and Laura Bates, founder of the Everyday Sexism Project and author of young adult novel The Burning.

more on Young Adult Literature Day




These are just some of the hundreds of events taking place across the thirteenth London Literature Festival, here at Southbank Centre, 17 - 27 October 2019.

find out more


Tickets for all London Literature Festival events detailed above go on sale to Southbank Centre Members on Wednesday 24 July, and on general sale on Thursday 25 July

become a member