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First names announced for Rochdale’s literature festival

30 July 2019

Olivia Lomenech Gill.

The first 5 names on the line-up for the 2019 Rochdale Literature and Ideas Festival have been revealed.

Our 8-day festival in October will feature bestselling feel-good fiction writer Milly Johnson, blogger, author and activist Erin Ekins, popular children's authors Harry Heape and Hannah Lee, as well as award winning illustrator Olivia Lomenech Gill (pictured).

Author, columnist and poet Milly Johnson will host afternoon tea at Rochdale Town Hall, sharing some of the sparkling wit and humour that's earned her the title 'Queen of Feel-Good Fiction'. She's already sold over 2 million books worldwide and her latest novel, The Magnificent Mrs Mayhew, made the top 5 of the Sunday Times bestseller list. A regular on television and radio, Milly is also a popular after dinner motivational speaker and a professional joke writer.

'Another superb line-up'

Erin Ekins was part of the Channel 4 documentary Are you Autistic?. Her blog Queerly Autistic focuses on autism, invisible disability and LGBTQIA+ issues from the experience of an autistic adult. She's been engaging audiences up and down the country raising awareness of equality, intersectionality, attitudes towards autistic people, and the importance of holding to account authorities who fail those who are autistic, disabled and LGBTQIA+ people.

Harry Heape's Shiny Pippin books have proved a big hit with children of all ages and he's promising a fun and very interactive family event to celebrate the popular series. Hannah Lee will be discussing her vibrant new children's book about one little girl's search for the best party hair. Her session will include crafts and laughs as children listen to the story and then design their own unique hairstyles.

Olivia Lomenech Gill, award-winning illustrator of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, is also the acclaimed illustrator of Michael Morpurgo's Where My Wellies Take Me, shortlisted for the Kate Greenway Medal. She'll be talking about the processes she uses to bring JK Rowling's magical creations to colourful life.

This year's festival runs from Monday, 14 to Monday, 21 October 2019 with organisers promising exciting arts for all ages.

Events will cover drama, comedy, poetry, spoken word, visual arts and children's shows. For young people aged 14 to 25, there will be another 'Generation Z' programme.

Councillor Janet Emsley, our Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods, Community and Culture said:

"We have another superb line-up this year and I am looking forward to discovering what else we have in store, with more exciting announcements very soon. Amazing writers, thinkers, artists and much loved personalities will be coming to join us in Rochdale this October. Our new festival director Fiona Brown has been working hard to bring together a diverse and varied programme. Together with our sponsors we will be delivering another fabulous festival."

The festival is aimed at celebrating and promoting the Maskew Collection of classic literature and philosophy at Rochdale Central Library, encouraging people to engage with books and ideas. Annie and Frank Maskew, a Rochdale couple who shared a passion for reading and thinking, met in Rochdale Library in the 1950s and left a sum of money to be used on resources and events related to literature and philosophy to ensure classic works are available for future generations.

Further details of the programme will be announced next week and tickets go on sale from 10am on Monday, 5 August 2019 on the festival's website.

The festival is organised by us, supported by the Maskew Bequest and sponsored by creative digital media company - JGM Agency, The Royal Toby and Rochdale Sixth Form College.