Top authors gather for Harrogate History Festival

Harrogate History Festival.
Harrogate History Festival.

A who’s who of leading authors is lined up for this year’s Harrogate History Festival at the weekend.

Organisers Harrogate International Festivals is inviting audiences to delve into the characters, intrigues and stories that stood the test of time to become the stuff of history books.

The second Harrogate History Festival features an epic line-up of authors, cementing Harrogate’s profile as a leading destination for book lovers, hot on the heels of the success of the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival.

Running until Sunday, October 26 at the Old Swan Hotel in association with the Historical Writers’ Association, giants of the genre including Peter Snow, Sandi Toksvig and Bernard Cornwell will be attending in person to explore the crooks and crevices of historical writing.

Bernard Cornwell, author of the Sharpe series, adapted to TV with Sean Bean, is travelling from the United States for his UK appearance.

Other special suests include James Naughtie, Elizabeth Chadwick, Elizabeth Fremantle, broadcaster and former presenter of the Late Show Sarah Dunant, Guardian writer Charlotte Higgins, and the author and journalist Stephanie Merritt writing as S.J. Parris. Simon Scarrow will be in conversation with Harry Sidebottom.

Dr Irving Finkel, the Assistant Keeper of the Ancient Mesopotamian script at the British Museum, will discuss his quest to reveal a radical interpretation of the Noah’s Ark myth. Former adventurer and English teacher, Conn Iggulden, whose worldwide smash, Dangerous Book for Boys, was a publishing phenomenon also headlines with his War of the Roses series.

Sharon Canavar, CEO of Harrogate International Festivals, said: “History is in the throes of a cultural renaissance dominating our bookshelves and TV screens. Harrogate is a beautiful location and course steeped in its own history.

“It’s a fantastic opportunity to grapple with leading literary minds on some of the most gripping conflicts, personalities and epic tales in history.”

Panels include ‘New Blood’ showcasing the best new historical writers, the role of the supernatural, and an exploration of Vikings in an age of blood and poetry. Panel authors include Toby Clements, Robert Goddard and Michael Ridpath.

50 Shades of Grail debunks the myths and legends that dominate history, and for Downton fans there is a fascinating discussion on social history in If Walls Could Talk through the eyes of those who served, featuring Dr Pamela Cox, author and TV presenter of the BBC’s Shopgirls: The True Story of Life Behind the Counter.

The festival opens tonight, Thursday with the Historical Writers’ Association Crown for Debut Historical Fiction Awards, featuring a presentation for the Outstanding Contribution to Historical Fiction Award.

For tickets, call the box office on 01423 562303 or visit