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The 2024 Hexham Book Festival Has Something For Everyone
What's on
April 2024
Reading time 4 Minutes

Since 2006, authors and audiences have been descending on Hexham for the town's annual celebration of all things literary

With a cracking lineup of authors, stories and ideas waiting to be discovered. Living North (who are delighted to be the media partner for the event) find out what you can expect at Hexham Book Festival 2024.

As you might expect of the founder of a book festival, Susie Troop is a committed member of her local book club. In 2005 they embarked on a group trip across the border to the Wigtown Book Festival and it was seeing the success of this festival in a small Scottish town that sparked an idea. Her mind turned homeward to Hexham, and in particular to Queen’s Hall Arts Centre, and the seeds of Hexham Book Festival were sown.

The festival launched in 2006, and since then it has grown and grown. Visitors travel from across the region – and frequently further afield – to enjoy a first-hand audience with some of the biggest, brightest and most fascinating names in the book world. This year’s festival promises to be no different, and will primarily be taking place at the Queen’s Hall Arts Centre over the two months from April to May.

It might seem intuitive for regular attendees of book festivals, but it’s important to say that you don’t need to have done any reading to go to an event (attendees of the ‘Proof Party’ will leave with three books that haven’t even made it to shelves yet). Susie tells me that people attend the festival because they’ve enjoyed an author’s work previously and want to find out about their new book (and secure a signed copy). ‘But often it’s just an opportunity to discover new writers and discuss ideas,’ she says. Every event has a Q & A built in, presenting the perfect opportunity to ask authors about their process or quiz an expert on the topics that fascinate you. ‘Politics and history are very popular,’ Susie adds by way of example.

From journalists and academics to novelists and poets, and political history to gardening, Susie explains that the programme is designed ensure there’s something to pique everyone’s interest. There are some big names in this year’s schedule including Alastair Campbell, Clare Balding and Cathy Newman, as well as internationally-acclaimed novelists like Sarah Perry. At the same time, there are plenty of events showcasing local authors (including Ben Creed, Joe Hone and Rob Rutherford) and writing workshops for those with their own literary ambitions.

Most of the festival’s events will happen in the spring, but it’s also worth keeping an eye out for one-off events in partnership with the Queen’s Hall throughout the year and – of course – their monthly book group at Forum Cinema. While they frequently collaborate with businesses in the local community, their outreach programme also takes the book festival beyond the borders of Hexham to run events at schools and libraries across the region. Their work with young people includes a dedicated family day: taking place on 29th June, Storyland kicks off a week-long Schools Festival which aims to encourage the next generation of festival-goers.

It would be impossible to summarise the diverse range of themes and topics waiting to be discussed at the festival, but they are connected by one thing: the written word. With this in mind, we thought it appropriate to seek the insight of local author (and professional pursuer of obscure words) Paul Anthony Jones, who will be appearing at the festival. If you haven’t read his books, you might recognise Paul from his incredibly popular twitter account, @HaggardHawks, on which he posts obscure words and etymological anecdotes as part of his mission to spread the joy of linguistics, which he studied at Newcastle University.

At this year’s festival Paul will be promoting his latest book, Why is This a Question?. The book poses and then answers 20 intriguing questions from ‘what is a word?’ to ‘why do we use our hands when we talk?’ and ‘how do we read?’ (if you’ve ever known the pain of uncovering a rogue ‘the the’ in an important document, this chapter might be some comfort), and promises to prompt some fascinating discussions.

This isn’t Paul’s first time at the Hexham Book Festival, and he’s excited to be returning. ‘I’ve done a few festivals now and they can sometimes be a little bit stuffy, but at Hexham, I don’t know whether it’s a Northern thing or what, but everyone’s just so open and friendly and happy to be there. It’s just great and it’s really nice to be on home turf,’ he says.

As well as giving audiences the chance to see the face behind their favourite reads, Paul explains that book festivals are a unique opportunity for writers to connect with their readers too. ‘You spend half your life sat at a desk reading one sentence over and over again and worrying about whether it needs a comma in it or not,’ he laughs, ‘Taking part in a festival is the literary equivalent of being at a coal face.

‘You spend so much time on your own and then suddenly the people who are actually buying it and who are interested in it and are reading it get the chance to see it, and you get the chance to see them. It’s a lovely thing to do.’

David Nicholls, the author behind novel and Netflix-smash One Day, feels similarly. He will be promoting his new book You Are Here at an an event on 1st May and compares talking to crowds at book festivals as almost akin to doing stand-up, a sharp contrast from the relatively solitary experience of writing. ‘It’s really strange, but I do love it,’ David says. ‘I love discovering what people make of the book and it’s great to meet readers.’

For the full festival programme and to book tickets head to

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