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11 amazing London Literature Festival events you can still buy tickets for

Ellie Walker-Arnott

Tom Hanks and Hillary actual Clinton are gracing the Southbank Centre this autumn as part of the London Literature Festival. The bad news? The talks are completely sold out and if you haven't already got your lucky hands on a ticket, you're outta luck. 

There is good news though; there are plenty of ace events taking place at Royal Festival Hall that you can still book. Here’s our pick: 

Poetry International 

The London Literature Festival kicks off this weekend (Oct 14-15) with Poetry International. This year sees the 50th anniversary of the festival, which Ted Hughes founded in 1967. It aims to celebrate the power of poetry and features readings and talks from poets from every corner of the globe. You'll know your iambic from your dactylic pentameter in no time. You can still get tickets to individual events, or purchase day passes. Oct 14-15.

Voices From Prisons

Hear poetry from people in prisons. Their words, work taken from the Koestler Trust’s anthology, will be brought to life in an evening hosted by writer and performer Femi Keeling, and featuring performances from a selection of award-winning entrants accompanied by established artists. Oct 16. 

Philip Pullman: La Belle Sauvage 

Fantasy nerds (us included) have been patiently waiting for this. Pullman will be taking to the stage to discuss his latest novel ‘The Book of Dust’ the day after it hits bookshelves. He’ll discuss his writing process and explain why he decided to return to Lyra Belacqua’s story more than two decades after the publication of ‘The Northern Lights’. Oct 20.

Philip Pullman by Michael Leckie


Nelson Mandela: The Presidential Years

Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Adjoa Andoh, Adrian Lester, Ben Okri and Lemn Sissay will read from the long-awaited sequel to Nelson Mandela’s ‘Long Walk to Freedom’, at the London launch of ‘Dare Not Linger: The Presidential Years’. The evening also includes a panel chaired by Jon Snow (the newsreader, not the ‘Game of Thrones’ character), featuring Mandela’s co-author, South African novelist and poet Mandla Langa. Oct 22.   

Goldie: All Things Remembered

Okay, so he’s not the first face that springs to mind when someone says ‘literature festival’, but Goldie has just released a new book candidly exploring his tumultuous life and career. He'll be at the London Literature Festival talking about ‘abuse, revenge, graffiti, gold teeth, sawn-off shotguns, car crashes, hot yoga, absent fatherhood, and redemption through reality TV,’ which sounds really rather amazing. Oct 22. 

Annie Leibovitz: Portraits 2005 - 2016

The famed photographer will present a selection of defining works from her newly published book Annie Leibovitz: Portraits 2005 – 2016. Her recognisable subjects include  Venus and Serena Williams, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Rihanna, Meryl Streep, Zaha Hadid, Leonard Cohen, Caitlyn Jenner, LeBron James, Barack Obama and Queen Elizabeth II. Oct 22. 

Goldie by Chelone Wolf

Karl Ove Knausgård: Autumn

The Norwegian writer is in conversation about his newly released book ‘Autumn’. Addressed to his unborn daughter, ‘Autumn’ is a meditation on the details of daily life and the world she will inherit. Knausgård will discuss the notion of leaving the world to the next generation, as well as the perils and pleasures of writing. Oct 23. 

Sea Migrations: British-Somali Women Poets

Hear from British-Somali women poets on themes of womanhood, nature, migration and refuge. The evening will feature readings from Asha Lul Mohamud Yusuf, Farah Gabdon, Aisha Afrah and Hanna Ali. Oct 24. 

Young Adult Literature Weekender 

Talks, events, mentoring and writing workshops make up the final weekend of the London Literature Festival. The two-day event features YA novelists, poets, bloggers, illustrators, and spoken word artists, from ‘Girl with a Pearl Earring’ author Tracy Chevalier to vlogger Hannah Witton who will be on stage to talk sex and self love. You can buy tickets to individual events or day passes. Oct 28-29. 

Somali-British Women Poets

Letters of Sylvia Plath: 1940 - 1956

Plath’s newly-published letters – most of which have never been seen before – will be centre stage at this live reading. These early letters from the first volume of her collected correspondence offer an extraordinary insight into her teenage years, education and relationship with Ted Hughes. Oct 29.

Rebecca Solnit: The Mother of All Questions

The woman who inspired the term ‘mansplaining’ (🙌 ) is reading from her new collection of essays ‘The Mother of All Questions’. She'll talk about ways feminism has shifted in recent years to reclaim jokes about sexual assault and discuss how we can reimagine feminism for the future. Oct 30. 

Find out more about Southbank Centre’s London Literature Festival and book tickets here

Are you a literature-loving Londoner? Check out our guide to events and things to do in London for book-lovers

Plus, our pick of London's best bookshops and loveliest libraries


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