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Authors flock to Stoke-on-Trent for city Literary Festival

RENOWNED authors and literature lovers will descend on the Potteries for the city’s second dedicated literary showcase.

This year’s Hot Air Stoke-on-Trent Literary Festival will boast Monty Python legend Michael Palin along with one-time political aide and broadcaster Alastair Campbell.

The much anticipated event – which will run at Hanley’s Emma Bridgewater factory on June 12 and 13 – will also provide a platform to a number of the area’s talented local writers.

Tristram Hunt, chairman of the festival, said: “For the second year running, the Stoke-on-Trent Literary Festival is bringing together an incredible cast of high-calibre authors to the city.”

The festival, which counts The Sentinel among its partners, will get going on June 12 with its patron and celebrated author Andy McNab opening the programme before appearances by Alastair Campbell, Michael Palin and former Home Secretary Alan Johnson.

Organisers have also unveiled an eclectic mix for Saturday’s offering which includes author and biographer Dame Margaret Drabble; political biographer Charles Moore; broadcaster William Dalrymple; and award-winning writer Sathnam Sanghera.

This year’s instalment will also see The Sentinel’s Too Write competition return where aspiring authors from across the area are invited to showcase their skills.

The Sentinel will also roll out its Our Big Read programme – an initiative to improve literacy levels among children.

Mr Hunt added: “Our work with local schools and reading groups, libraries and local authors means the literary festival is really playing its part in turning Stoke-on-Trent into a reading city.”

There will also be a celebration of the city’s creativity with academic Catherine Burgass and local documentary maker Ray Johnson set to showcase the talent of Potteries poet Arthur Berry.

There will also be a screening of Marvellous and a discussion with Neil Baldwin and its writer Peter Bowker.

Dr Burgass said: “Arthur Berry clearly has a significant fanbase, and it’s good to promote him to a broader audience.”

Mr Johnson added: “It’s a chance to show how the locality has produced great writers, artists and creatives.”

Last year’s debut of the festival was also held at Emma Bridgewater.

Matthew Rice, festival trustee and managing director of Emma Bridgewater, said: “The festival team has put together an astonishing programme.

“I am so looking forward to welcoming what I can only imagine will be a huge audience to the Emma Bridgewater factory.”

Tickets, which are priced at £6 per event, are available from 9am tomorrow. For more details visit http://www.stokeliteraryfestival.org/.

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