Liverpool Literary Festival welcomes record numbers to the University of Liverpool

A liver bird made out of the page of a book on a blue background

The eighth Liverpool Literary Festival took place over the weekend (6-8 October), welcoming more people than ever before to our beautiful Victoria Gallery and Museum for a packed weekend with an eclectic range of performance, local authors, broadcasting legends and even a former footballer.

This year we were pleased to welcome students from the University’s English Society and the Book Society to review discussions with the different authors and produce content for our social media channels.

Highlights included a barnstorming discussion between BBC Radio 6 Music’s Stuart Maconie and the Department of English’s Dr Matthew Bradley. Stuart talked about his latest novel, Sunday Times best-seller The Full English.

Stuart Maconie on stage speaking to a packed audience

University of Liverpool alumna Professor Dame Averil Mansfield, who will this week receive a Pride of Britain Lifetime Achievement Award, even took the time out of her busy schedule to reminisce about her trailblazing career as the UK’s first ever female vascular surgeon.

With Professor Sally Sheard, Executive Dean at the University’s Institute for Population Health and surgeon Dr Nicola Eardley, Averil chatted about her resilience, early experience of dissections and love of music.

Averil Mansfield on stage at the Liverpool Literary Festival

Speaking about Averil’s event, Third Year Theoretical Physics student and Secretary of the Book Society, Daniel Williams said: “Two words come to mind when describing the Liverpool Literary Festival’s conversation with Professor Dame Averil Mansfield: warm and inspiring. Sat in the Leggate Lecture Theatre – a room named after Mansfield’s Dean during her time at the university, and the room she wrote her final papers in – it is hard not to feel a sense of intimacy and a step back in time with every word.”

Our Department of English played a big role in the Festival this year, hosting many of the events including a drop-in interactive workshop for primary school age children. English Department alumna and security expert Jenny Radcliffe had an entertaining discussion with her former lecturer Professor Jill Rudd about her career and latest novel People Hacker.

Jenny Radcliffe and Jill Rudd in Conversation

Writer, speaker and former TV presenter Melanie Sykes talked honestly and movingly about her memoir Illuminated: Autism and all the Things I’ve Left Unsaid. With book vlogger Simon Savidge she discussed how her autism diagnosis has shed new light on her life, and how she believes society needs to completely change its understanding of neurodivergent minds.

Speaking about Melanie Sykes’ event, Third Year English and Philosophy student Ashleigh Higney said: “There was the overwhelming sense that Sykes aims to be good and do good, and with references to her documentary-in-progress which will raise awareness of autistic life, this doesn’t seem likely to change. Overall, the talk was enlightening and gave all attendees access to Sykes’ unique position; all of which would not have been possible without the Liverpool Literary Festival.”

Melanie Sykes

The Festival was rounded off with a lively discussion between former Everton, Chelsea and Tranmere Footballer Pat Nevin, best-selling author Anthony Quinn and Professor Frank Shovlin from the Institute of Irish Studies. Comparisons between football and ballet and the future of football finances were just a couple of the range of topics covered.

Pat Nevin on stage at the Liverpool Literary Festival

Liverpool Literary Festival Director and Head of English, Professor Greg Lynall said: “It was fantastic to welcome so many people to campus for the annual Liverpool Literary Festival – it was my first as Director and I was really pleased to get involved, working with an amazing team from across the university to bring the festival to fruition.

“It was a weekend packed full of readings, great debate and insightful discussion, and I’d like to thank everyone who supported the Festival. We look forward to seeing you next year!”

Search #LivLitFest on twitter for more photographs and commentary around Liverpool Literary Festival.

Giant books on display in the Victoria Gallery and Museum

A book signing at the Literary Festival with Jonathan Coe and Anthony Quinn