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Write on and read up with the Havering Literary Festival

Published: Wednesday, 31 October 2018

With just under one week to go until the Havering Literary Festival, the borough is getting set to celebrate reading, writing and creativity.

Launching the Havering Literary Festival
L-R West Ham Utd legend Tony Cottee, Children's author Ross Baker, Cllr Viddy Persaud, Cabinet Member for Culture and writer Vernal Scott, ready for the Havering Literary Festival

The festival, which runs from 5-24 November will feature a host of internationally-acclaimed authors and TV personalities, plus workshops, children’s events, poetry and everything from poetry to sport.

Kicking off the first week of the festival next week, will be Jeffrey Archer, Alison Weir, Erin Kelly and Mark Billingham, Great British Bake Off winner Candice Brown and Ross Baker to name but a few.

Events such as Ensonglopedia – a show about songs, science and the unexpected will be among the entertainment, as well as a WW1 Tea Dance.

There will also be a talk on diversity in communities today from writer Vernal Scott, who is also Havering Council’s Corporate Diversity Officer.

The following weeks will see talks by different authors from Kimberley Chambers to Stephen Booth plus events including an evening of prose and poetry with The Harlequins and much more.

All events will be taking place across the borough’s ten libraries and other local venues such as Rainham Hall. Tickets are still on sale. Purchase tickets in person or via telephone from your local library.

For a look at the full programme of authors and events, visit

Councillor Viddy Persaud, Cabinet Member for Culture, said:

“The Festival is nearly here and we are very excited.

“We are looking forward to hosting lots of opportunities for residents and visitors of all ages, to see these fantastic authors up close, to further the enjoyment of reading and writing and come together as a community to experience a range of different events.

“We have had a fantastic response already, with over 1,100 tickets going fast – so to avoid missing out make sure to book your place at the festival now.”

Word up: Authors are looking forward to the Havering Literary Festival, here’s what some of them are saying:

Alison Weir, the UK’s best-selling female historian and author of books including her most recent: Six Tudor Queens: The Wives of Henry VIII:

“Festivals like this give the opportunity to experience together an interest in a subject and discuss different points of views and discover something you might not have known before.

“I am very much looking forward to visiting Havering for the first time. A writer’s life is often solitary, so these festivals give us a platform to share with many people a love of what we are writing about and get valued reactions.”

Erin Kelly, a former Havering resident, best-selling author of He Said, She Said and writer of the novelisation of the Bafta-winning TV series Broadchurch:

“I am very much looking forward to the festival. I grew up in the borough and spent a lot of my childhood reading, especially Agatha Christie and my love of reading and books blossomed here. Through the talk and workshop, I hope that we can replicate a love of reading and writing with everyone.”

Ross Baker, Children’s author whose picture books including the popular The Magical Rainbow Bus of Fun:

“I am looking to bring the enjoyment I have from the stories and poems to children and their families at the festival. To be at such an event in my home borough is fantastic and I hope that everyone who visits enjoys and comes away having had a magical experience.”

Tony Cottee, former West Ham, Everton and Leicester City striker:

“Together with Tony Gale, Former West Ham team-mate, we will be recounting stories from the world of football over the years, and being part of stories from the audience as well. They are always lively events and we’re looking forward to bringing this to Rainham.”

Helen Pankhurst, granddaughter of Sylvia Pankhurst and great-granddaughter of Emmeline Pankhurst and an international development and women’s rights activist:

“We are very excited to be in Havering to talk about the 100th anniversary since women gained the right to vote and discuss how we think the history of women throughout the centuries resonates with life today.”

Vernal Scott, writer, author of God’s Other Children: A London Memoir:

“It’s an exciting opportunity to bring many different areas of the community together. I am looking forward to meeting lots of people from different backgrounds, including LGBT communities and to enjoy a great evening of discussion on diversity and books.”