Scroll down for the 2014 programme

Monday 10 March  Surviving the Future     Partnership Event

Satellite image of w:ship tracks, clouds created by the exhaust of ship smokestacks. Image from Wikipedia Commons

Headingley Café Scientifique presents: 
Dr Tim Foxon: Pathways to a sustainable energy system

Climate change represents an existential threat to our current way of life and global civilisation. Access to affordable energy services of light, heat, power and mobility has helped to drive economic development, but the fossil fuels that have provided these services need to be rapidly substituted by renewable and low carbon sources to prevent catastrophic climate change. This will require a transition to efficient and low carbon energy systems for the UK to take its fair share of global carbon emissions reductions. This talk will look at alternative pathways to a sustainable energy system in the UK, and examine the challenge of reducing carbon emissions whilst maintaining security of energy supply and affordability of energy services.

Dr Tim Foxon is a Reader in Sustainability and Innovation at the University of Leeds, and a member of the ESRC Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy. He has published over 50 academic journal papers and book chapters on low carbon innovation, energy policy and ecological economics, a co-edited book, and been lead or co-author on a number of reports for UK and international policy-makers. 

7.30pm  New Headingley Club, 56 St Michael's Road

Tuesday 11 March  Caesar Must Die

Many of the actors were lifers
Winner of 12 awards, including the Golden Bear at the 2012 Berlin festival, this remarkable and moving film from the Taviani brothers focuses on freedom and incarceration, as long-term prisoners at Rebibbia Prison near Rome - many lifers in the high security wing - prepare for and perform William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar

Wednesday 12 March  The Return of the Soldier

The Return of the Soldier:  Rebecca West, Literary Modernism and the First World War

Dr Richard Brown (with a grad student from the School of English, University of Leeds)
As part of this year’s Surviving theme and building on successful sessions in previous festivals about pioneering University-of-Leeds-educated woman writer Storm Jameson and experimental language in modern fiction, this is a discussion of early twentieth-century literary Modernism and its complex and controversial relation to the First World War. 
Inspired in part by Tom Stoppard’s much-quoted lines about James Joyce’s Ulysses  ("What did you do in the Great War Mr Joyce?" "I wrote Ulysses. What did you do?") but focussing mainly on Rebecca West’s psychological novel The Return of the Soldier  (published in 1918 and the subject of a 1982 film version starring Alan Bates and Glenda Jackson). We’ll be asking broad questions about the relationship of literary Modernist experimentation and the war-time experience (including the non-combatant experience and post-traumatic war experiences) and inviting discussion about the impact of war-time on writing from Woolf, Joyce and Lawrence to Richard Aldington and Henry Read.  
Richard Brown is Reader in Modern Literature in the School of English at the University of Leeds.

7pm  Headingley Library, North Lane


Thursday 13 March  The Unfortunate Case of Patrick Bourke

Partnership Event

Illustrated talk: The Famine Irish in Leeds: the Unfortunate Case of Patrick Bourke

Between 1841 and 1861 the Irish population of the township of Leeds tripled, from 5,027 to 14,905. The bulk of this community lived in the east end of the town in an area characterised by destitution, poor sanitation, disease and crime.

In 1862, Patrick Bourke, a native of Co. Mayo, being ill and destitute, applied for relief to Leeds Union Workhouse. On the 31st December of that year, despite having spent more than four decades living in England, Bourke was removed as a pauper, in accordance Poor Law regulations, and sent to Westport Union workhouse on the west coast of Ireland. The arduous journey in the depths of winter proved detrimental and Bourke died within a few days of arrival. The case was brought before the House of Commons and was subject to an extensive enquiry. Bourke’s tragic story illustrates the precarious existence of the Irish poor in Victorian Britain.

Brendan McGowan was born in Leeds and grew up in Killala, Co. Mayo, in the west of Ireland. His grandparents, Martin and Nellie Ferguson (RIP), owned the renowned traditional Irish music venue The Regent Hotel in Leeds for many years until the late 1970s. 

Brendan holds MA degrees from both Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology, Galway, and the University of Ulster. His 2009 publication 'Taking the Boat: The Irish in Leeds, 1931-81' is based on his MA thesis. He also contributed to the project 'Untold Stories: The Leeds Irish Community'             

Brendan currently works as at the Education & Outreach Officer at Galway City Museum.
8.00pm  Claremont Room, HEART, Bennett Road
Free  (In partneship with Irish Arts Foundation)

Friday 14 March Words on Tap Open Mic

One of Leeds's most successful monthly literary events will take part in this year's LitFest. Following appearances from national poets such as Michael Symmons Roberts and Helen Mort, not-for-profit Words on Tap will invite emerging local wordsmiths from the city to take part in an open-mic showcase. To book a slot, email:

The Chemic Tavern is one Leeds's most celebrated public houses, providing the ideal setting for an informal evening of verse and drink. Always a warm response from the audience and decent pint in the glass, this is a perfect opportunity for any poets wanting to try out new material or take their first steps onto the spoken word stage.

The Words on Tap ethos is very simple: to promote the region's poets and support local pubs, while introducing and promoting free poetry events to audiences that both would and would not ordinarily be interested. We may bend our own rules from time to time depending on the opportunities that should come our way, but these are our main aims - free art in an environment that nurtures it!

7.30pm Chemic Tavern, Johnston Street, Woodhouse


Saturday 15 March  Words on Tap Survival Kit  Partnership Event

Matthew Hedley Stoppard

Local poet and Words on Tap host Matthew Hedley Stoppard will lead a workshop focusing on some essentials to perpetuate your poetry. The afternoon will incorporate the importance of 'voice' using vinyl recordings of poets, technique and figures of speech, with close attention to zeugma, and poetry games. Any profits from this event will be donated to Help for Heroes. Contact:

Following on from the Words on Tap workshops held at All Hallows Church in Hyde Park in spring last year, this session will encourage the beginnings of poems rather than force finished articles by the end of the three hours. The workshop leader also aims to prompt discussion amongst attendees and examine the reader's perceptions of poetry.

Matthew Hedley Stoppard was born in Derbyshire and lives in East Leeds with his wife and children. His debut collection A Family Behind Glass was included in The Guardian's Readers' Books of the Year 2013 and his poems and stories appear in various magazines and anthologies, both in print and online, and green vinyl disc. He is also a competition winner and founder/organiser/host of monthly not-for-profit literary event Words on Tap.


Saturday 15 March  Now sleeps the crimson petal
Trio Literati (Maggie Mash, Richard Rastall, Jane Oakshott)                Photo copyright Lloyd Spencer

A rich garland selected from the works of Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Tennyson, still one of our most popular and frequently quoted poets, also holds the record as England's longest serving Poet Laureate (1850 - 1892). Desribed by TS Eliot as "the great master of metric as well as melancholia", Tennyson struggled against shyness and frequent depression to produce a hugely varied body of work.

His genius encompassed the crisp six-line Eagle and the ballad-like Lady of Shalott, the martial energy of The Charge of the Light Brigade, and the rich grandeur of his longer pieces - The Lotos Eaters, Ulysses, In Memoriam and the Arthurian re-telling The Idylls of the King.

Just like Shakespeare, many of Tennyson's phrases are an integral part of our language - "so near and yet so far", "'tis better to have loved and lost", "to strive, to seek, to find and not to yield" and many more. Many of his poems were set to music, perhaps the most famous being Come into the Garden, Maud.

Against the dark background of Tennyson's life Trio Literati offer a colourful and stylish bouquet - old favourites and surprising finds such as his verse play The Falcon.

7.30pm  New Headingley Club, St Michael's Road

Monday 17 March  Dinner with Dante    Partnership Event

Listen to La Divina Commedia - well, not exactly all of it - by Italy's greatest poet, Dante Alighieri together with extracts from some of the stories in Giovanni Bocaccio's Decamerone - yes, including the ones you might have in mind. The readings will be in Italian and English, and there will be a light supper. You'll be in Paradiso!

7.15pm  Salvo's Salumeria, Otley Road

£15  To book, ring 0113 275 5017

Monday 17 March  Leeds Writers Read

Woodhouse Moor - photo by Terry Buchan

Leeds Writers read their own material: thin slices of prose, poetry and drama. Contributors include Linda Caspar, Linda Fulton, Marg Greenwood, Steve Hobbs, Iby Knill, Linda Lewis, Vince Mihill, Emma Parkin and Peter Richardson.

Open mic at the end (5 mins max) - sign up at the door - enquiries Terry Buchan

7.00 pm  Headingley Library, North Lane


Tuesday 18 March  Writing for Surviving                                Partnership Event

The Workers' Educational Association presents:
A collection of poetry, short stories and plays based around the LitFest theme of surviving. The event will feature the work of two of the WEA's weekly classes (creative writing and dramatic writing) both of which meet in HEART, Headingley, together with the work of writers from the Osmondthorpe Resource Centre. Expect to be moved, surprised and entertained as the writers share their experiences and interpretations of this year's theme. 

11.00am  Shire Oak Room, HEART Centre, Bennett Road
Free       Tea and cakes

Tuesday 18 March  Wounded - From Battlefield to Blighty

Emily Mayhew will introduce the first comprehensive account of medical care at the Western Front:

Wounded traces the journey made by a casualty from the battlefield to a hospital in Britain. It is a story told through the testimony of those who cared for him - stretcher bearers and medical officers, surgeons and chaplains, orderlies and nurses - from the aid post in the trenches to the casualty clearing station and the ambulance train back to Blighty. We feel the calloused hands of the stretcher-bearers; we see the bloody dressings and bandages; we smell the nauseating gangrene and, at London's stations, the gas clinging to the uniforms of the men arriving home. There are the unspeakable injuries: the officer with a hole in his torso so big the doctor can see the sky beyond him; a man with no legs holding a hymnbook for a man with no arms. Together, the experiences in Wounded encapsulate what it was to fight, live and die for four long years at the Western Front. 

In Wounded, Emily Mayhew eschews what she calls the “conventional” approach, researching the records of the Royal Army Medical Service or hospital archives. If enough of these records had survived, such an approach might have resulted in a useful, if perhaps dry, study, but we must be thankful that instead she wrote this powerful book, which does justice to the experience of the wounded and the dedication of the doctors, nurses, orderlies, stretcher bearers and volunteers who cared for them, by weaving together the testimonies of individuals into a moving history. (A.W.Purdue  THES)

7pm  Headingley Library, North Lane


Wednesday 19 March  Lily Appleyard in Paris

Meet Leeds-based crime writer Alison Taft as she talks about her latest novel, Shallow Be Thy Grave which was published in late 2013. Alison is the author of the Lily Appleyard series - her first novel, Our Father, Who Art Out There...Somewhere was set in Headingley and followed Lily's search for her birth father, a man she'd never met. The sequel, Shallow Be Thy Grave, sees Lily having to navigate Paris against the backdrop of the fall of communism, while learning to deal with the consequences of her hugely dysfunctional family. 

Alison is now putting the finishing touches to the third, My Time Has Come, which sees Lily deciding to use her experiences by setting up a missing persons agency. Maybe reuniting other people's families will help her grieve the loss of her own.

Alison will be talking about creating dramatic pace, sustaining tension and how to commit the perfect murder - and get away with it.

7pm  Headingley Library, North Lane


Wednesday 19 March   Helen Burke    Partnership Event

Helen Burke is a writer, performance poet , visual artist and fabric designer. Her work has been set to music both here and in America. She has read in London, Paris, New York, and Rhode Island in the U.S. with the Poet Laureate. She regularly hosts a radio show for East Leeds FM Radio. Her work has been translated into French and Romanian – and shortly into Dutch, and Italian. She is to read later this year in Rome, where she will judge the Keats/Shelley Prize for young people. She holds an M. A. in Literature and likes to make her poetry accessible, fun, thought provoking and entertaining for the listener.  

£4.00/£2.50 members and concessions. Pay on the door.

Thursday 20 March   Gillian Clarke and John Wedgwood-Clark

John Wedgwood-Clark

Rich in minerals, marine life and the cries of people and gulls, John Wedgwood Clarke's debut collection, Ghost Pot, charts the ever-changing terrain and history of the North Yorkshire Coast between Flamborough and Saltburn.  Described as 'a masterpiece that rewards continual rereading' by Bernard O'Donoghue, his poems are 'as many-layered as the names of the places they investigate'. (Carol Rumens)

John recently completed a Leverhulme Artists' Residency with the Centre for Environmental and Marine Science at the University of Hull, and is now a lecturer in creative writing at the University of Hull. He regularly collaborates with curators on public art projects, and, in 2011, co0founded Sea Swim, a Cultural Olympiad organisation that explores the relationship between creativity and swimming. At present, he is completing an Arts Council funded writing project about landfill sites, middens and our relationship with waste.

John Wedgwood Clarke was born in St.Ives, Cornwall and now lives in Scarborough. He founded and ran the Beverley Literature Festival and Bridlington Poetry Festival until 2012.

7.30pm  HEART Café, Bennett Road

Friday 21 March  Stories from the War Hospital

This evening, the  LitFest’s year-long research project based on the military hospital which was at Beckett Park, Headingley,  during the First World War, comes to a climax. The  illustrated book  - called  Stories from the War Hospital -   will be officially launched and a dramatic performance based on some of its contents will take place.

The City of Leeds Training College had been built not long before hostilities started, and in 1914 it was established as the 2nd Northern General Hospital. Wounded soldiers replaced trainee teachers, and the Red Cross flag was hoisted above what is today the James Graham Building, part of Leeds Metropolitan University.

Some of the stories are simply extraordinary. To give half a dozen examples:

Private Robert Bass  joined up in 1914, was wounded on the first day of the Battle of the Somme  (1 July 1916), patched up in England, then sent back to the Front to have his upper lip and most of his teeth shot away  during the Arras offensive in 1917. His mouth was slowly reconstructed over the period of a year at Beckett Park and it was there that he met the woman he was to marry, Ada Porley, who was  working on uniforms in Leeds.

Dorothy Wilkinson lived in Boston Spa with her  musician father and German mother. A musician herself, she was an active suffragette, and in 1914 became the fiancée of  Captain Pickles, an RAMC medic who was sent to work in a Casualty Clearing Station near Ypres. He  was brought back with severe  shell shock. She married him, but he died of influenza months later. Dorothy became a VAD  (Voluntary  Aid Detachment) or ‘Vedette’ and joined the staff at Beckett Park.

Nurse Margaret Newbould  was a cook in Headingley when she decided to train as a nurse.  At Beckett Park, she was admired for her  dedication, and in 1915  became the  assistant matron of the hospital ship Formosa, which helped evacuate the huge numbers of wounded  during the disastrous Gallipoli Campaign on the Turkish coast. She later worked near the Front in France, and was awarded the Royal Red Cross Medal, First Class.

Masseuse Roslyn Rutherford from New South Wales  wanted to do her bit for King and Country, so she trained in Sydney in massage and electrical treatment, which today comes under  'Physiotherapy'.  When she arrived in England, she joined the Almeric Paget Military Massage Corps, worked at Beckett Park, and lived in Grimthorpe Terrace. She became disillusioned with the Corps, however, and joined a women-only group running a hospital near  Paris..

Lieutenant Leonard Rooke was first wounded at Arras  in 1916. His left forearm was hit by grenade fragments. After he recovered, he was seconded to the Royal Flying Corps, but while under instruction in a biplane taking off from Doncaster aerodrome, the engine failed and the machine crashed. Both of his legs were badly broken in several places. Whilst a patient at Beckett Park, he met Nurse Violet Trafford-Towers and fell in love. They married in 1923, after Violet had worked in the British Military Hospital in Basra, Iraq.

Corporal Robert Leyden of the Northumberland Fusiliers  was struck by a shrapnel bullet in 1915 at Ypres, which ended up embedded in a heart muscle. It was discovered during an X-Ray at Beckett Park, but it was thought to be much too risky to remove it, so he was discharged. A year later, while working as  a linotype operator in Otley, the bullet moved, so he was readmitted.  He agreed to an operation by the  great surgeon Sir Berkeley Moynihan, which was successful. For the newspapers, it was remarkable, and a big talking point for a long time afterwards at  the hospital.

The Performance is by the Vedettes - Richard Wilcocks with three MA students from the Performance Department of Leeds Metropolitan University – Katharina Arnold, Charlotte Blackburn and Hannah Ferguson, who have developed the production in a series of workshops.  It is based on three of the stories in the book – those of Robert Bass, Dorothy Wilkinson and Nurse Newbould. ‘Vedettes’ was one of the nicknames for women in the VAD (Voluntary Aid Detachment). It also means ‘rising stars’ in modern French.

7.30pm Launch event 8.15pm Performance  New Headingley Club, St Michael's Road

Free  (Donations invited)  Book your place! Ring 0113 225 7397

Saturday 22 March  Ridiculous Witches

Ridiculous Witches… “Not Good. Not Wicked. Just Ridiculous”

Children’s Author Sarah Shafi will be reading her latest hilarious story “The Odd Legged Car Crashing Witch of Leeds” from her Ridiculous Witch series which is aimed at 6-10 year old boys and girls.

There’s a motoring maniac loose on the streets of Leeds. Always disappearing from the scene of a crime, this menace has become Inspector Pileup’s biggest nightmare.
But this menace has a BIG secret and seventeen year Tommy Carburetor is determined to find out. But will he?

Read out loud and laugh out loud. …Ridiculous Witches are a fun read for all the family.

11.00am  Headingley Library  


Saturday 22 March  Surviving the Publishers

Alison Taft       Photo copyright Richard Wilcocks
Published author Alison Taft will lead a two hour workshop on how to put together the perfect submission package in order to sell your work to agents, publishers (and the general public). 

We will look at how to write a gripping synopsis as well as how to craft the perfect biography before submitting your work. We will also examine self-publication options and there will be ample opportunity to ask questions.

3pm - 5pm  Bowery Arts centre, Headingley Lane

£5    Tickets available from The Bowery 


Saturday 22 March  Echoes of War

Two poets choose freely to abandon Blighty and head for the trenches. Why? Patriotism? Heroism? A death wish, maybe?  In Theatre of the Dales' script-in-hand production, Leeds playwrights Stuart Fortey and Peter Spafford explore the motives of Wilfred Owen and Edward Thomas. Neither man survived. What they wrote undoubtedly did.

Wilfred Owen
On Scarborough Front by Stuart Fortey is a short two-hander where Owen clashes with a retired colonel in a hotel being used a an officers' mess. As his own son is reported missing, the colonel is bitter and critical towards the young Owen who appears to have found a safe niche as Catering Secretary. But as the play develops, the men grow to a deeper understanding. The son survives, while Owen returns to the front, not for motives of patriotism, but to spur himself to write again. (The Clarence Gardens Hotel, now the Clifton, still stands on North Bay.)

The Edge of the Forest by Peter Spafford has two time scales. A brother and sister now own a house cluttered with war memorabilia - their father's legacy. She wants to sell up, he wants to cling to the past. In fact he has recently become agoraphobic after a mugging incident. The arrival of an estate agent with an eye for the sister pushes things to a climax. The boy is obsessed by Thomas. For long stretches he identifies with him in his mind, imagining his sister and the agent as Edward's wife Helen and  their friend the charming and persuasive Robert Frost. Edward, like him, is torn between staying where he is and venturing forth into action.

Sunday 23 March   War and Peace

Ruth Sillars

Maggi Stratford

Join Maggie Mash and her guests for a special house event. War and Peace is a heartening  and moving celebration of the strength of the human spirit, told through music, poetry, prose and performance.

Actress Ruth Sillers will be talking about and performing extracts from her own audiobook compilation, War Girls, recently favourably reviewed in the Daily Telegraph. It is a commemoration of the remarkable and largely unsung experiences of women in the First World War told in their own words. Some are the writings of well known poets and novelists but many more are the stories of ordinary women in extraordinary times. These are stories not just of hardship and suffering but joy and excitement at what the new peace might bring.

Encore! Leeds based singer and actress Maggi Stratford and her accompanist Daniel Bowater, will be adding a French flavour to the afternoon with a programme of chansons. These are poetic songs of  yearning, passion and defiance, from Piaf to Brel, the sorts of songs that typify the spirit that kept the French going during the Occupation of France in the Second World War. There will also be stirring readings from local writers and performers to fit in with this theme of resistance and survival. Bring your berets!

House event

Free (Donations invited)  Book your place by ringing 0113 275 8378


Sunday 23 March  Mud, Blood and Endless Poetry

Dr Jessica Meyer

For many people, the First World War is indelibly associated with the poetry of Wilfred Owen, Siegfried Sassoon and Rupert Brooke.  Yet the poetic output of British, Dominion and American troops was far more extensive than the well-known works of the best known poets.  This event will explore some of the lesser-known poems and poetry, including works by A.E. Mackintosh and Alan Seegar, as well as poetry published in hospital fundraising magazines such as The Gazette of the Third London General Hospital. 

Dr Jessica Meyer will discuss how such poetry has informed her own work as a historian of the First World War and the continuing cultural impact of war poetry on British understandings of the war and its centenary commemoration. 

House Event
Free (Donations invited) Book your place by ringing  0113 225 7397

Monday 24 March  Flamenco Diez

This popular local flamenco group will celebrate the sounds and rhythms of Andalusia in its own inimitable style. Be prepared for exciting music, passionate songs and poetry which demonstrates the survival of Gypsy culture. The best Lebanese and South American food will be available too.

8.00pm  Mint Café  North Lane
£5 on the door or in advance from Mint   £5 buffet


Tuesday 25 March  The Dark Threads                      Partnership Event

Jean Davison will read from her memoir The Dark Threads and talk about her experiences as a patient at High Royds psychiatric hospital in the 1970s. Electric Shock Treatment and drugs reduced her to a zombie-like state for five years, before she managed to turn her life around. The talk will also include her experiences of writing the book and getting published. 

7.00pm Oxfam Bookshop, Otley Road, Headingley
Free. Donations invited


Wednesday 26 March  Poetry by Heart            Partnership Event

Poetry by Heart is one of Headingley's regular cultural events, which takes place on the last Wednesday of each month at 7:30 pm in the Cafe of the HEART Centre.  Six poets each have fifteen minutes to showcase their work.  Admission is free and the poets receive no fees or expenses, but they do have the opportunity to sell books. This special session for Headingley LitFest event features six popular Yorkshire poets: Jonathan Eyre, Geoff Hattersley, Mark Hinchcliffe, Sally Goldsmith, Cora Greenhill and River Wolton.

7.30pm  HEART Café, Bennett Road

Wednesday 26 March  Ice Cold in Alex  Partnership Event

During the Western Desert Campaign of the Second World War, a British unit is attacked by the German Afrika Korps in the coastal town of Tobruk. During the evacuation which folllows, Captain Anson (John Mills), a near-alcoholic transport pool officer, Sergeant-Major Tom Pugh (Harry Andrews) and two nurses - Diana Murdoch (Sylvia Sims) and Denise Norton (Diane Clare) team up to drive 'Katy', a military ambulance, across the desert with the intention of reaching British lines and safety.  Before they get going, they come across a Captain Van der Poel (Anthony Quayle) who claims he is an Afrikaner South African. He is carrying a mysterious back pack, which could very well contain more than the two bottles of gin which he produces. He persuades Anson to let him join them in the trek across the desert to 'Alex' - Alexandria.  Anson dreams of ordering an ice-cold lager when he finally gets there. 
The film is based on the novel by Christopher Landon, who wrote the screenplay. He know his subject well: he had been in the RAMC (Royal Army Medical Corps) and had driven ambulances in North Africa.
The film is showing at the Cottage Road Cinema (formerly Headingley Picture House), which began in 1912, and which was very popular during the First World War amongst wounded soldiers and staff at the nearby Beckett Park Hospital, which occupied buildings originally intended for trainee teachers and which is now part of Leeds Metropolitan University.
Cottage Road Cinema, Far Headingley
Information and tickets available from the cinema and online


Thursday 27 March   Extraordinary Survivors

Escaping from an overturned cruise liner off the Italian coast, or battling through the Antarctic wastes, or locking the door against a violent partner: the subjects for this evening of stories, poems and real-life accounts are as diverse as the readers and performers: Linda Marshall, Jane Oakeshott and Peter Spafford are three of them...

8pm Café Lento, North Lane
£5 on the door 


Friday 28 March  Looking Up

Time to raise the gaze from the grey flags of winter! Peter Spafford and Richard Ormrod
play tunes and read words about finding hope in unexpected places, and present some 
fresh and hopeful guests.

7.30pm  Shire Oak Room, HEART Centre
£6 from Box Office


Saturday 29 March The Tolkien Trail                              Partnership Event

JRR Tolkien in the Great War
On this guided linear walk Tolkienist Claire Randall will discuss local landscape and linguistic features around Headingley that Professor JRR Tolkien will have known from his time in Leeds just after the Great War (1920-25), which provocatively suggest themselves as inspirations and influences on his creation of Middle Earth. We shall also visit several of the houses where he lived, contextualising his Leeds period and exploring aspects of his mythology, which was already well developed at this time. This walk is 4.5 miles and finishes at the West Park Café for optional refreshments. £1.00 to be collected on the walk.  Further information on Please book your place via the web-site in advance or contact the Walk Leader on 07708 230 333.

12.00pm  Meet at Hyde Park pub, Headingley Lane
£1 collected on the walk


Saturday 29 - Sunday 30 March to 6 April -   
Literary Scarecrow Festival                           Partnership Event

The Far Headingley Village Society andHeadingley LitFest Literary Scarecrow Festival:

Enter the festival. Follow the trail. Go to the scarecrow meet.

All scarecrows must have some sort of literary connection, however loose - e.g. a character
(human, animal or scarecrow) in a book, poem or play. Entries cost £2 each and prizes will
be awarded for the best ones. To enter pick up a leaflet from Heart, Headingley Library or a local shop - or email

There will be an end-of-trail ‘scarecrow meet’ at the community orchard near St Chad’s church on Sunday 6 April from 2pm onwards. Or for only £1 you can just follow the scarecrow trail from 29 to 30 March, see how many scarecrows you can find and help to judge the winning entries. Buy your scarecrow trail map from HEART, Headingley library or local shops or check the FHVS website for other sources. Keep up to date with all the latest scarecrow news at

Partnership event with the Far Headingley Village Society 


Sunday 30 March  A Pair of Sandles

Poems, stories and songs written and performed by Headingley residents Doug and Maria Sandle - and maybe a guest or two – survival, surviving and just living. Maria is a singer, song writer, Holistic massage therapist, craft maker and therapist. Doug is an independent researcher and consultant in art and culture, but also a sometimes published poet, writer and once upon a time a radio playwright.

House event

2pm   Book your place by ringing 0113 278 7295


Monday 31 March When the Wind Blows  Partnership Event

Beloved British writer and illustrator Raymond Briggs celebrates his eightieth birthday this year so the Picture House is proud to present in partnership with Headingley LitFest this beautiful adaptation of his classic 1986 work, which is based on the book by Raymond Briggs.

Jim and Hilda Bloggs are a typical, retired couple in rural England. They drink endless cups of tea and have an unwavering faith in the wisdom of their government. They understand that a Third World War is imminent between the US and the Soviets. However, they fail to grasp the concept that war will be fought by nuclear means, and what consequences this will have. This animated film, directed by Jimmy T Murakami, features the voices of Peggy Ashcroft, John Mills and Robin Houston. PG certificate.

6.30pm  Hyde Park Picture House

Friday 4 April  Tibet: An Accidental Pilgrimage

Ivan will be reading extracts from his book and will describe how his adventures in the remote grasslands of eastern Tibet gave him an entrée into ways of life and thought fundamentally different from our own and the challenges this entailed. Alone and isolated in a land where few foreigners have set foot he is forced to re-evaluate both who he is and the fixed certainties of the culture in which he grew up. Participation in a sky burial, the traditional form of Tibetan funeral – corpses are disembowelled by specialist monks before being fed to the vultures – shocks him into a profound affirmation of his own identity. After the reading Ivan will answer questions from the audience and share some photographs.
Ivan Cooper

Ivan Cooper was born in Cambridge in 1967. After a false start working as a lab technician, he spent several years kicking around in Asia, including long journeys through Pakistan, China and India. In the following years teaching jobs in Taiwan and Korea sparked an enduring, if love-hate, relationship with oriental languages. Growing fascinated with Tibet after visiting Buddhist regions of China and India, Ivan made his home for ten years in Dharamsala — the Indian headquarters of the Dalai Lama and his government-in-exile, where he studied Tibetan, Sanskrit and Buddhist Philosophy. Tibet: An Accidental Pilgrimage (Artemis) was published last year.


Sunday 6 April Literary Scarecrow Meet

End-of-trail meet is at the Community Orchard, near St Chad's, at 2pm


Monday 7 April  Aritha van Herk                      Partnership Event

The Yorkshire Network for Canadian Studies presents:

Aritha van Herk teaches Creative Writing and Literature at the University of Calgary. She is a prolific novelist, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, and is active in Canada's literary and cultural life, writing articles and reviews as well as creative work. She has served on many juries, including the Commonwealth Writers' Prize.
Often called a post-modern author, she is an experimental writer who always pushes the boundaries of genre and gender. Her first book, Judith, won a major first novel award (1978) and brought Van Herk international recognition when she was still 24 years old. The heroine, Judith, is a young woman who deals with identity and stereotyping issues by leaving her secretarial job in the city and becoming a pig farmer. Feminist questions come into conflict with sexual relations and mark a pattern that Van Herk visited in later novels. In her second novel, The Tent Peg, the young protagonist disguises herself as a man to be hired as a cook for a geological survey team working in the Far North. Van Herk returns again to the north in the next novel, No Fixed Address: an amorous journey (1986). Here the heroine, Arachne, is a travelling saleswoman who likes the freedom of escape and sexual relations with different men. With Restless (1998) the travel is in the form of memory and meditation as the heroine spends her last day with the man she has hired to kill her.

Aritha Ven Herk has experimented with non-fiction in Places far from Ellesmere: a geografictione: explorations on site (1990), a blend of travel book, autobiography, fiction and criticism. This hybrid genre continued with two collections of essays: In Visible Ink: Crypto-fictions (1991) and A Frozen Tongue (1992).
7.30pm  HEART Café, Bennett Road

Community Programme

LitFest is now working with an increasing number of local schools.  We engage professional writers/poets James Nash and Michelle Scally Clark to work with primary and secondary school groups to develop their confidence in writing and presentation through poetry and short stories. 

This year we are working with the following primary schools: Ireland Wood, Quarry Mount, Shire Oak, Spring Bank, St Chad’s and Weetwood.  We are also working again with local secondary schools.  We are also working once again with the disabled writers from Osmondthorpe Resource Centre, in partnership with the Headingley Writers from the WEA.

Tickets can be bought

1. via our box office partner:   
 HEART Centre, Bennett Road Leeds LS6 3HN, which is open Monday to Saturday 9am to 11pm 

They can be bought

·       On-line : from  transaction charge of 10% for online bookings)

·       In person: from  HEART Centre reception, Bennett Road Leeds LS6 3HN (no booking fee)

·       By phone: 0113 275 4548 – tickets bought in this way do not attract a booking fee but they must be picked up in person from HEART before the event. They will not be available ‘on the door’ of the event.


2. From our partners: for many of our events tickets should be bought from our partners — please see the event description for details

Any unsold tickets will be available on the door at each event.

For free events (apart from the launch which will be ticketed) just turn up.


Thanks are due to Arts@Leeds, Jimbo’s Fund, Leeds City Council, Leeds Community Foundation, Leeds Libraries, local councillors (Headingley: Martin Hamilton, Janette Walker, Neil Walshaw; Hyde Park & Woodhouse: Christine Towler; Weetwood:  Jonathan Bentley, Sue Bentley, Judith Chapman), North Leeds Life, Meerkat Publications and Design and West North West Management (LCC)