The Tablet Literary Festival

David Lodge • Antonia Fraser • David Almond • Carlene Bauer • Eamon Duffy • Steve Ely • Roy Foster • Maureen Freely • Cathy Galvin • Paula Gooder • Mark Lawson • Alison MacLeod • Melanie McDonagh • Alex Macqueen • Catherine O’Flynn • Piers Paul Read • Michael Symmons Roberts • Michèle Roberts • Martin Stannard • Adrian Chiles • Christopher Howse • Daisy Coulam


Friday 19 June

Opening Event

David Lodge

“Is There a Catholic Imagination in Literature?"

The  novelist, critic and Emeritus Professor at Birmingham University considers this question mainly with reference to English literature of the past two centuries and the novel as a form.  He has said recently: “I am no longer a practising member of the Catholic Church, but it shaped my character and writings and I continue to take a keen interest in its fortunes."

Friday 6 - 7pm, Birmingham Repertory Theatre,
Studio Theatre. £12 (concs £10)
Book tickets

Writers’ Workshop: Michèle Roberts
Writing the Sacred

In a workshop based on short writing exercises in a friendly environment, the acclaimed novelist, poet, memoirist and short-story writer will explore ideas of the numinous and the sacred: Can bodies be holy? How do we describe mystical experience? Can we write new sacred texts? Hosted by Word Factory director Cathy Galvin. Suitable for writers over the age of 18.

Friday 10am – 1pm, The Library of Birmingham,
Conference Centre. £40 (concs £30)  
Note: Numbers are limited to 15.
Book tickets

Writers’ Workshop: David Almond
Writing the mythical

The author of Skellig will use inspirational writing exercises and open discussion to help you to create your own personal mythology that supports you and in your writing. Hosted by Word Factory director Cathy Galvin. Suitable for anyone over the age of 16 who enjoys writing.

Friday 2 - 5pm, The Library of Birmingham Conference Centre. £40 (general concs £30; concs for 16-21-year-olds £20)
Note: Numbers limited to 40. 
Book tickets

Saturday 20 June

Roy Foster
Hagiography and the Irish Revolution

In the lead-up to the centenary of the Easter Rising in Dublin in 1916, historian and biographer Roy Foster suggests that the Irish revolution is still shaping literature and rewriting history.

Saturday 10.30 - 11.30am Birmingham Repertory Theatre REP Suite £10 (concs £8)
Book tickets

Michael Symmons Roberts, Steve Ely and Michael Hulse. Chaired by Nicholas Murray
Mysticism, Radicalism and Poetry

Four distinguished poets with differing experiences of their faith discuss how Catholicism has shaped the imagery, power and mystery in their work. 

Saturday 10.30 - 11.30am  The Library of Birmingham
Meeting Room 104 £9 (concs £7)
Book tickets


Adrian Chiles, Christopher Howse, Carlene Bauer and Melanie McDonagh
The book that changed my life

Television and radio presenter Adrian Chiles invites a panel of writers to share the books and writers that have made them see the world afresh.

The audience will be invited to suggest their own favourite books and writers.

Saturday 12.00 - 1.00 pm Birmingham Repertory Theatre REP Suite £10 (concs £8)
Book tickets



Cathy Galvin and Jacob Ross Chaired by Jonathan Taylor
The Spirit and the Story

Poet, novelist and short story writer Jacob Ross and writer, poet and journalist Cathy Galvin look at the work of some key short story writers and read some of their own work.

Chaired by poet and novelist Jonathan Taylor

Saturday 12.00 - 1.00 pm Library of Birmingham, Meeting Room 104 £9.00 (concs £7)
Book tickets



Maureen Freely, Michèle Roberts, Catherine O’Flynn
Embracing and escaping the Catholic voice

Three leading writers, each in one way or another a “lapsed Catholic”, discuss the enduring influence of the faith of their childhood on their work with poet and writer Cathy Galvin.

Saturday 2 - 3pm Birmingham Repertory
Theatre REP Suite £10 (concs £8)
Book tickets

Michael Symmons Roberts, Carlene Bauer and Paula Gooder
Writing the sacred: scripture as inspiration?

Poet and librettist Michael Symmons Roberts, American novelist Carlene Bauer and writer and Anglican theologian Paula Gooder will discuss Scripture and the Catholic imagination in literature.

Saturday 2 - 3pm   The Library of Birmingham
Meeting Room 104. £9 (concs £7).
Book tickets

David Almond
From the Venerable Bede to Skellig

Almond’s novels have a deeply redemptive quality rooted in his upbringing. He discusses how they merge Catholic influences with northern language and
landscape, family history and stories.

Saturday 3.30 - 4.30pm  Birmingham Repertory
Theatre REP Suite. £12 (concs £10)
Book tickets

Eamon Duffy
The Catholic imagination of Seamus Heaney

The historian Eamon Duffy suggests that the poetry of the Irish Nobel laureate is suffused with the imagery and sensibility of his Catholic childhood. Talk with readings of Heaney’s poetry.

Saturday 3.30 - 4.30 pm. The Library of Birmingham,
Meeting Room 104 £9 (concs £7)
Book tickets

Mark Lawson, Daisy Coulam and Alex Macqueen
The renaissance of Catholic imagery in contemporary film

Critic Mark Lawson,
scriptwritter Daisy Coulam and actor Alex Macqueen discuss the surprising revival of spiritual themes in films such as Ida and Calvary.

Chaired by Catherine Wheatley, lecturer in Film Studies at Kings College, London

Saturday 5 - 6pm. Birmingham Repertory
Theatre, REP Suite. £10 (concs £8)
Book tickets

Martin Stannard, Melanie McDonagh, Piers Paul Read and Robin Baird-Smith
Remembering Muriel Spark

Her biographer Martin Stannard, the critic Melanie McDonagh, the novelist Piers Paul Read and Spark’s publisher Robin Baird-Smith discuss the life and the work of the author of A Far Cry From Kensington and The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie

Saturday 5 - 6pm. The Library of Birmingham,  
Meeting Room 104. £9 (concs £7)
Book tickets

Closing Event

Antonia Fraser with Mark Lawson
My Catholic History

“Catholicism has been an integral part of my life, from my conversion at the age of 14, followed by a convent education. And religion has been an essential ingredient in so many of my works from Mary Queen of Scots to My History: a memoir of growing up.” Antonia Fraser talks to Mark Lawson about the part faith has played in her life.

Saturday 6.30 - 7.30pm. Birmingham Repertory
Theatre, Studio Theatre. £12 (concs £10)
Book tickets

All events will take place in The Library of Birmingham and the adjacent Birmingham Rep Theatre.

Centenary Square, Broad Street, Birmingham B1 2ND

Events will last approximately one hour and will be followed by the opportunity to purchase books for signing by the authors.

How to book
For writers’ workshops

For the main BOX OFFICE
By telephone: 0121 236 4455,  Monday to Saturday 10am – 7pm                                                                                                                                                                                                    
In person:  Monday to Saturday 10am – 8pm or 10am – 5:30pm when there is no evening event.

Prices are as stated in the programme. Concessions: £2 off ticket prices for students, under 18s, over 60, unwaged (job seekers), and disabled.

Book tickets for 5 or more events and receive a 20% discount.

Disabled access: please check with the Box Office for each event and find general information

Accommodation in Birmingham
Hyatt Regency 
0121 643 1234
Special rate applies on Friday 19 June: £110 double b&b and £100 single occupancy. Quote Ref: G-68TB.

The Tablet 1840 - 2015
The Literary Festival is one of a series of events taking place throughout 2015 to celebrate the 175th anniversary of
The Tablet,  the international Catholic weekly newspaper.
For information click here, or register for email updates

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The Tablet, 1 King Street Cloisters, Clifton Walk,
London W6 0GY.  Tel.: 020 8748 8484