About Us

Manchester Literature Festival offers unique experiences for audiences to interact with some of the finest writers and thinkers from across the globe.

It’s a welcoming place where people come together to share their passion for language, to be entertained, to learn and reflect on their connections with place, politics and people.

Manchester Literature Festival began trading in 2006 and was built on the legacy of its successful predecessor, Manchester Poetry Festival.

Manchester Literature Festival is a two-week festival taking place each October in a variety of prestigious and atmospheric venues across the city and complemented by a programme of digital activities.

As well as our annual Festival and Spring programme of events, Manchester Literature Festival also delivers a year-round Creative Learning programme, nurturing the next generation of readers, writers and creative practitioners. We provide safe spaces for children and young people to develop confidence in their own identity and respect for each other, learn to express themselves, and experiment and take risks with their own creative development.

Company Information

Company Registration No. 4369668.

Charity Registration No. 1121276.

Contact Us

Our postal address is: Manchester Literature Festival, The Department Store, 5 Oak Street, Manchester M4 5JD.

If you would like to receive monthly e-newsletters and be the first to hear about programme announcements please sign up to our mailing list by following this link.

Our Mission and Values

Manchester Literature Festival is a celebration of imagination, ideas, stories, and voices from around the world. It is part of Manchester’s rich cultural tapestry and is committed to bringing together the most exciting storytellers, poets, and thinkers for everyone to enjoy.

Our vision is for everyone to discover a love of literature in all its forms. To provide a welcoming and inclusive space where people can connect with each other; experience events that entertain, surprise and move them; and be inspired to become the writers, readers and activists of the future.

Our main objectives are:

  • to showcase the very best in contemporary writing from across the world

  • to commission innovative literature from established and emerging writers

  • to promote Manchester as a hub for international cultural exchange

  • to provide inspirational opportunities for children and young people to engage in creative learning activities.

We put our audiences and communities at the heart of everything we do. We listen to feedback from our customers and participants and continually strive to improve audience experience.

We ensure that our programme of work listens to and reflects the creativity and diversity of our audiences, artists, practitioners, stakeholders, communities, and partners so that we matter more to people.

We are proactive in finding sustainable environmental solutions to our operational needs, and engage with staff, stakeholders, and audiences to enable an understanding of what can be achieved in recognition of the climate emergency.

Our Team

Festival Personnel

Cathy Bolton

Festival Co-Director

(Business Development Lead)

Cathy has been with MLF since the first Festival in 2006 and oversaw its expansion from a niche poetry festival. She previously worked as a Writing Development officer for Commonword Writing Development Agency and Community Publisher and has a background in community arts and welfare rights. She has an MA in Writing from Sheffield Hallam University, and her poetry and short fiction has appeared a variety of journals. She loves being in nature and volunteers for the Levenshulme Bee Sanctuary.

Cathy has been with MLF since the first Festival in 2006 and oversaw its expansion from a niche poet...

Sarah-Jane Roberts

Festival Co-Director

Artistic Programme and Production

Sarah-Jane is an Artistic Director with extensive experience of curating, programming and producing events and commissions. She became Co-Director at the Festival in 2015. Her previous roles include Artistic Director at Budleigh Salterton Literary Festival, Books and Debates Programmer at Brighton Festival and Literature Programmer and Artistic Associate at the Women’s Arts International Festival. Her programming for the latter included events with Patti Smith, Marianne Faithful and Bat for Lashes. She is passionate about the role stories, music and culture play in bringing people together. She began her career as an arts journalist and her career highlights include interviewing Bjork in Reykjavik, David Holmes in Belfast, Gail Ann Dorsey in Woodstock and Gossip, Le Tigre and Nick Cave in Brighton.

Sarah-Jane is an Artistic Director with extensive experience of curating, programming and producing ...

Miriam Wild

Children and Young People’s Programme Producer

Miriam is an accomplished producer with extensive experience in project management and inclusive arts. She has worked with Manchester Literature Festival since 2015 initially as a freelance storyteller. She delivers high- quality, inclusive programmes, managing events, partnership projects, people, time, and resources. Miriam has project managed and delivered more freelance creative projects than she can remember so understands what works and brings this to the development of projects at the festival. When not reading or working she can be found collaborating and connecting through singing, dancing and nature.

Miriam is an accomplished producer with extensive experience in project management and inclusive art...

Charlotte Platt

Festival Fundraiser

Angie Lee

Digital Engagement Coordinator

Liz Coupe

Volunteer Coordinator

Melanie McMinn

Admin Assistant

Festival Patrons

Rachel Cooke

Author and Observer critic

Carol Ann Duffy

Former UK Poet Laureate

Jackie Kay

Author, poet and former Scottish Makar

Portrait of Michael Schmidt

Michael Schmidt

Poet, founder and editorial director of Carcanet Press & PN Review

Portrait of Kamila Shamsie against white wall

Kamila Shamsie

Author and Women's Prize for Fiction winner

Portrait of Erica Wagner against church window

Erica Wagner

Author, editor and broadcaster

Board of Trustees

Karl Jackson

Karl is a lawyer specialising in real estate law. He is an acknowledged expert in urban and rural regeneration with active public and private sector clients. Karl was previously a Trustee at HOME and its predecessor Cornerhouse. He is passionate about the importance of arts and culture to civic wellbeing in Manchester and beyond.

Karl is a lawyer specialising in real estate law. He is an acknowledged expert in urban and rural re...

Chris Jeffries

Treasurer

Chris was the Director covering Education, Quality and Commissioning, for the NHS in the North West. He had previously been an NHS trust Finance Director. He was also Lay member for Finance and Governance for NHS Manchester and is a trustee for Manchester HOME and Stockport Plaza. He is a listening volunteer for Samaritans and engaged in suicide prevention training and activities. He is a climate activist with Extinction Rebellion and MP Watch.

Outside of his voluntary activities, Chris does lots of hill walking and tennis and has a wide range of interests including film, theatre, art, architecture and philosophy.

Chris was the Director covering Education, Quality and Commissioning, for the NHS in the North West....

Peter Mearns

Chair

Peter started his career with BBC TV Manchester and was Executive Director of the Northwest Development Agency between 1999-2010. He’s a marketing & communications professional specialising in economic development, physical and social regeneration, culture, sport, tourism, inward investment, media and brand management, public affairs and major events. Until recently he was Chair of Storyhouse in Chester, an award-winning performing arts centre and library. He is currently Chair of Bluecoat, Liverpool’s Contemporary Arts Centre, Co-Chair of Cheshire Dance and a trustee of Shakespeare North Playhouse and Open Eye Gallery, Liverpool. He’s also Deputy Chair of Marketing Cheshire, part of Enterprise Cheshire and a Director of Aura Leisure & Libraries, Wales.

Peter started his career with BBC TV Manchester and was Executive Director of the Northwest Develop...
Anne-Marie Nugnes

Anne-Marie Nugnes

Anne-Marie has managed Creative Manchester, a research platform at The University of Manchester, since its launch in 2018. With undergraduate and master’s degrees in International Business, she has over 25 years' marketing and business experience working in roles across both the private and public sectors. Anne-Marie became a Chartered Marketer in 2005. She has also served as a governor at Cheadle Catholic Infant School, Stockport, since 2015, and was appointed Chair of the Governing Body in 2022. Anne-Marie lives in Stockport with her husband and three children.

Anne-Marie has managed Creative Manchester, a research platform at The University of Manchester, sin...

Gwen Oakden

Gwen began her career at Arts & Business working on UK-wide high profile events and brokering business partnerships for NW arts organisations. Through her work at MHM she worked with clients such as the British Museum and National Portrait Gallery, and after that became a consultant for Queerupnorth and FutureEverything. Gwen then worked for Manchester Art Gallery and The Whitworth, working closely on The Whitworth’s opening programme following its £15m capital project in 2015. Gwen became Director of Development and then assumed the role of Deputy Chief Executive at The Lowry in 2021. She is a Board Director and Trustee of ‘We Invented the Weekend’ festival.

Gwen began her career at Arts & Business working on UK-wide high profile events and brokering busine...
Erinn Roocroft

Erinn Roocroft

After studying English Literature at Manchester University, Erinn joined Granada Television as a researcher. She's since worked in production and business management for both public service and commercial TV across multiple genres and broadcasters, including ITV, the BBC and Apple TV+. She's a fierce advocate for the transformative power of storytelling and a champion of the North-West's literary prowess.

After studying English Literature at Manchester University, Erinn joined Granada Television as a res...

Jo Somerset

Jo Somerset is a Manchester-based writer whose debut children’s novel Mission: Find Mum will be published in 2024 by Stairwell Books. She is a founder of Chorlton Writers’ Café. In 2020 she won the Leanne Bridgewater Award for Innovation and Experiment at Salford University, where she completed a MA in Creative Writing. She is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) and Out on the Page writers’ network.

Jo Somerset is a Manchester-based writer whose debut children’s novel Mission: Find Mum will be publ...

Ben Ward

Ben Ward is the Chief Executive of the University of Manchester Students' Union, one of the largest youth-led charities in the United Kingdom. His career has been focused in the non-profit sector, and he has held a range of senior roles in local and national charities focused on developing young people and their representation. He is the Vice Chair of Hopwood Hall College & University Centre. He was an undergraduate Loughborough University, a Postgraduate at Harvard Kennedy School, and is a Fellow of the Chartered Management Institute, a Fellow of the Royal Society of the Arts and A Fellow of St George’s House Windsor Castle.

Ben Ward is the Chief Executive of the University of Manchester Students' Union, one of the largest ...

Andrew Westle

Andrew is the National Programme Manager for The Agency at Battersea Arts Centre. Before this, he worked as Engagement Manager (co-creation) for Manchester International Festival. His work defies neat boundaries to include research, socially engaged arts practice, performance, evaluation, writing, and public health. Originating from Australia, Andrew has lived in the UK for 6 years and has worked with a diverse range of organisations including All The Queens Men, Australian Ballet, University of New South Wales & Manchester Craft and Design Centre. He created popular podcast and web-platform, Delving into Dance, with an international audience of 40,000+. Andrew is a current Clore Fellow.

Andrew is the National Programme Manager for The Agency at Battersea Arts Centre. Before this, he wo...

Becca Parkinson

Becca is Marketing Coordinator at Manchester University Press. Previously she was Engagement Manager at Comma Press and co-edited three books of translated fiction: The Book of Tbilisi and The Book of Riga. She has previously served as Secretary then Chair of the Society of Young Publishers North branch (2017-2019) and was shortlisted for the London Book Fair Trailblazer Award in 2019, 2020, 2022 and 2023. She took part in the first British Council International Publishing Fellowship (2019-2020) and was appointed a Trustee of Manchester Literature Festival in 2021.

Becca is Marketing Coordinator at Manchester University Press. Previously she was Engagement Manager...

Bonnie Turnbull

Bonnie is currently Director of Communications & Digital for the Hallé Orchestra.  Her career in the arts began at The Bridgewater Hall - Manchester's international concert venue - where she managed events and external partnerships for a range of high-profile clients. Following this, she led on marketing for the School of Arts & Media at University of Salford, before taking up the role of Head of Marketing at Royal Liverpool Philharmonic. She then became Director of Marketing & Communications for HOME in Manchester, leading the marketing, communications and customer service strategy.  Previously a Trustee for Proud and Loud Arts, Bonnie currently also sits on the Board for Kantos Chamber Choir.

Bonnie is currently Director of Communications & Digital for the Hallé Orchestra.  Her career in the...

Our Funders

Manchester Literature Festival is extremely grateful to our main public funders and our many project and event partners and sponsors.

Manchester Literature Festival receives regular National Portfolio funding from Arts Council England – the national development agency for arts in England, Manchester City Council as part of their Culture Partnerships portfolio, and Greater Manchester Combined Authority as part of the GMCA Culture Fund.

The University of Manchester is our official Higher Education Partner. We work closely with the Centre for New Writing programming joint events with leading international authors alongside more emerging talent and provide placement and volunteering opportunities for students.

Our current Festival Friends sponsors are law firm Weightmans and Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce.

The Edwardian Manchester, A Radisson Collection Hotel and The Midland Hotel are Manchester Literature Festival's official hotel partners.

Manchester Literature Festival is extremely grateful to our main public funders and our many project and event partners and sponsors.

Manchester Literature Festival receives regular National Portfolio funding from Arts Council England – the national development agency for arts in England, Manchester City Council as part of their Culture Partnerships portfolio, and Greater Manchester Combined Authority as part of the GMCA Culture Fund.

Press

For all press inquiries please contact
Lethal Communications:

Catharine Braithwaite
07947 644110
cat@we-r-lethal.com

Shelagh Bourke
07971 819016
she@we-r-lethal.com

Links to current press stories to follow:
Manchester Literature Festival 2024
Programme Announcement

Work With Us

You can find details of any new employment, freelance and trustee opportunities with MLF here when available. Click here for details of how to volunteer for the festival.

6 volunteers wearing Manchester Literature Festival T-shirts outside HOME