UEA 25th Spring Literary Festival line-up announced!

 For 25 years the Spring Literary Festival has welcomed the world’s finest writers and thinkers to Norwich and this spring will be no exception.  National treasure Stephen Fry, UEA creative writing graduates Christie Watson and Emma Healey, and the great Margaret Drabble are all part of this year’s Festival, which will run from 14 February to 16 May.

Director of the Spring Literary Festival, Dr Philip Langeskov said: “I am enormously excited by the writers we have lined up for our 25th Spring Literary Festival, from Stephen Fry, to the remarkable Jesmyn Ward, a two-time winner of the National Book Award, and Christie Watson, whose personal account of her experience as a nurse, The Language of Kindness, is set to be one of the most talked about books of the year. Get in early for your tickets!”

To celebrate 25 years of the Literary Festival, the British Archive for Contemporary Writing (BACW) at UEA has digitised and remastered 25 recordings from across the Festival’s history including interviews with: Margaret Atwood, Toni Morrison, Julian Barnes, Jonathan Franzen, Alan Hollinghurst, Kazuo Ishiguro, Ian McEwan, Harold Pinter, Ted Hughes, Salman Rushdie, Ali Smith, Iris Murdoch and Doris Lessing, whose archive of personal correspondence is held at BACW. The 25 interviews, along with the entire collection of 300 recordings, are available to watch in the Archive Reading Room by prior appointment: archives@uea.ac.uk

The full literary festival line up is:-

Stephen Fry – Wed 14 Feb

Sarah Hall – Wed 21 Feb

Caryl Phillips and Margaret Drabble – Wed 28 Feb

Jon McGregor – Wed 7 Mar

Jesmyn Ward – Wed 25 Apr

Madeline Miller – Wed 2 May

Christie Watson – Wed 9 May

Emma Healey – Wed 16 May


Stephen Fry is an actor, screenwriter, author, playwright, journalist, poet, comedian, television presenter, film director and all round national treasure.  He has had a successful acting career in television and film, including unforgettable roles in Blackadder and the Hobbit trilogy.  He has presented several documentary series and has written four novels and three volumes of autobiography.  His latest book, Mythos, is a unique retelling of the Greek myths. 

Sarah Hall is the prize-winning author of five novels – Haweswater, The Electric Michelangelo, The Carhullan Army, How to Paint a Dead Man and The Wolf Border – as well as The Beautiful Indifference, a collection of short stories, which won the Portico Prize and the Edge Hill Short Story Prize. Twice nominated for the Man Booker Prize, she won the BBC National Short Story Award in 2013 for ‘Mrs Fox’, the opening story in her latest collection, Madame Zero.

Caryl Phillips, born in St Kitts and raised in England, is the author of numerous books of non-fiction and fiction, including Dancing in the Dark, A Distant Shore and Crossing the River, which was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize.  He has written for the stage, television and film, and is currently UNESCO’s City of Literature Visiting Professor at the University of East Anglia.  His most recent novel is The Lost Child.

Margaret Drabble is the author of nineteen novels including A Summer Bird-Cage, The Millstone, The Peppered Moth, The Red Queen, The Sea Lady, The Pure Gold Baby and The Dark Flood Rises. She has also written biographies, screenplays and was the editor of the Oxford Companion to English Literature. She has been awarded the Golden PEN Award for a Lifetime’s Distinguished Service to Literature and is a Dame of the British Empire.

Jon McGregor is the author of four novels and a story collection. He is the winner of the IMPAC Dublin Literature Prize, Betty Trask Prize, and Somerset Maugham Award, and has twice been longlisted for the Man Booker Prize, including for his most recent novel, Reservoir 13, which was also shortlisted for the Goldsmiths Prize and the Costa Prize. He was born in Bermuda in 1976 and grew up in Norfolk.

Jesmyn Ward is the author of the novels Where the Line Bleeds, Salvage the Bones, and Sing, Unburied, Sing. Twice awarded the National Book Award (2011 & 2017) she is also the editor of the anthology The Fire This Time and author of the memoir Men We Reaped – a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award.  In 2017 she was awarded a MacArthur ‘Genius’ grant. She lives in Mississippi with her family.

 Madeline Miller is the author of The Song of Achilles, which won the Orange Prize for Fiction 2012, was an instant New York Times bestseller, and was translated into twenty-five languages. Madeline holds an MA in Classics from Brown University, and she taught Latin, Greek and Shakespeare to high school students for over a decade. Her latest novel is the much-anticipated Circe.

Christie Watson, a graduate of the Creative Writing MA at UEA, was a registered nurse for twenty years before writing full time. Her first novel, Tiny Sunbirds Far Away, won the Costa First Novel Award and her second novel, Where Women Are Kings, was published to international critical acclaim.  Her latest, The Language of Kindness, about her life as a nurse, is one of the most anticipated books of 2018.

Emma Healey moved to Norwich in 2010 to study for the MA in Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia. Her first novel, Elizabeth is Missing, won the Costa First Novel Award 2014 and was shortlisted for the National Book Awards Popular Fiction Book of the Year, going onto sell over a million copies worldwide. Her second novel, Whistle in the Dark, a gripping mystery about a mother and daughter, is published in May 2018.

The events takes place in UEA’s Lecture Theatre 1 at 7pm and all profits are used to fund scholarships for writing students. A season ticket for all eight events costs £56 (concessions £48) and individual tickets are £9 (students £5). For more information or to book go to www.uea.ac.uk/litfest/tickets.