Thursday, 7 February 2013

The Bristol Women's Literature Festival - nearly here!

Some of the literary scene’s brightest stars will be arriving in Bristol this spring to join a unique festival that celebrates women’s writing. 

The Bristol Women’s Literature Festival aims to celebrate the work of women writers working today and throughout history. It brings together the diverse and exciting talent of women writers, academics and activists to showcase our fantastic literary heritage. 

The fascinating and varied programme features Orange prize winning novelist Helen Dunmore, Stonewall Writer of the Year Stella Duffy, celebrated academic Professor Helen Taylor, screenwriter Emilia di Girolamo, feminist writer Kristin Aune and many, many more. These women are, without doubt, some of the most influential and vibrant writers working today. 

The festival takes place across the weekend of 16th and 17th March at famous Bristol arts venue, the Watershed. Organised by feminist writer Siân Norris and chaired by writer, broadcaster and journalist Bidisha, the event aims to celebrate the work of women writers in a literary scene that is all too often dominated by male voices. 

The programme

The festival opens with a talk from TV screenwriter Emilia di Girolamo (Law and Order UK, The Poison Tree). She will be talking to Bidisha about how she has brought feminist discussions such as violence against women and girls to a mainstream TV audience – challenging perceptions of the issue in an accessible way. Her talk will include a screening of her work. 

In the afternoon Bidisha will be joined in conversation by Helen Dunmore, Stella Duffy, Selma Dabbagh and Beatrice Hitchman. The women will be reading from their work, before discussing their own careers and the issues facing women writing today. 

Sunday opens with a talk from some of the UK’s leading literature and history academics. Professor Helen Hackett, Professor Helen Taylor, Professor Joan Adim-Addo, Dr Marie Mulvey-Roberts, Dr Charlotte Crofts and celebrated historian Kate Williams will talk about the role of women writers and patrons throughout history, and women’s place in the literary canon. 

The festival closes with a discussion with some of the most exciting and influential feminist writers working today, Kristin Aune, Debi Withers and Josephine Tsui. They will talk about how they are bringing feminism out of the ivory tower of academia, and how new media such as blogging is bringing feminism to a new and wider audience. 

Why do we need a women’s literature festival?

Although women have always written and always read, the UK literature scene continues to be very male dominated. Research conducted by UK Feminista in 2010 found that only 38% of the writers nominated for the Booker were women, and, despite women’s success in the prize this year, by 2010, 70% of the winners of the Costa Novel of the Year have been men.  A survey by For Books’ Sake revealed that at Manchester Literature festival, only 20 out of 74 speakers were women, whilst at the Latitude Literary Area, women made up 15 of 53 performers.

The festival’s founder, Siân Norris, explains:

I decided it wasn’t enough to be frustrated at the continued marginalisation of women writers in our cultural scene. I needed to do something about it. The response I have had has been phenomenal. Everyone wants to be part of this festival. This is a real and vital opportunity to talk about women’s writing and women’s role in shaping and influencing our culture – both historically and in the present. It really is one of the most exciting projects I have been involved in and I am so proud to be part of it and delighted that Watershed will be hosting it.’

The festival is supported by Watershed, Foyles and The Bristol Festival of Ideas. 

Vital info
When? Saturday 16th – Sunday 17th March 2013
Where? Watershed, Bristol
How much? Individual events are priced at £7 (£6 concession) with a weekend ticket available for £25 (£20 concession. Please note there are a limited number of weekend tickets). Tickets are on sale at the Watershed Box Office and website.

If you want to support the Bristol Women's Literature Festival AND you like bags, then you are in luck! Designed by Rob Griggs and printed by Daniel Le Guilcher, these limited edition, original screen print, totally gorgeous bags are perfect for carrying your books to and from the festival.

At just £5, you can buy these bags at the festival, at fundraiser events and online for just £5 (70p postage). 

And don't forget, you can buy your tickets from Watershed or by calling the box office on 0117 927 5100

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