Literature festival returns to Southwold after pandemic hiatus

Southwold literary festival

Ways With Words will feature a varied line up including comedian Robin Ince and local author Robert Jellicoe - Credit: Archant/Google Mpas

Ways With Words was a regular feature of the Suffolk calendar until 2020 when, like so many organisations, it was unable to welcome festival-goers due to the pandemic.

But now the literary festival is returning to the Southwold Arts Centre, bringing a glittering selection of speakers with it, including novelists, biographers, historians, political commentators, journalists and comedians.

British novelists Deborah Moggach, Alison Weir, Esther Freud and Salley Vickers all star in the line-up discussing their latest novels.

Former journalist and now writer of fiction and non-fiction Gavin Esler will discuss the future of Britain.

Guardian journalist Luke Harding joins the festival to discuss the on-going struggle the West faces with Russia, and Rory Cellan-Jones, former technology correspondent for the BBC, will talk about the political and cultural impact of the smartphone. 

Comedian Natalie Haynes, known for Stand Up for the Classics on Radio 4, explores the women of Greek myths and Robin Ince, comedian and host of The Infinite Monkey Cage, argues why we should all be falling in love with science. 

And there are homegrown literary stars too: Robert Jellicoe shares the lost voices of Southwold culture, while Tessa Newcomb explores her longstanding relationship with Suffolk.

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“We are here to celebrate books, literature, culture and ideas, and it feels wonderful to be returning to Southwold” said Leah Varnell, the director of the festival. “It was devastating to cancel the festival last year. The impact on the arts generally has been profound.”

Leah confides that Ways With Words isn’t out of the woods yet. ”There is a very real question mark hanging over our future. We need our Southwold festival to be well supported to give the festival the best chance of survival in these challenging times.”

Ways With Words at Southwold Arts Centre will run from November 4 to 8. Tickets are available for all the events in the festival programme.

Catch-up streamed tickets are also available which will enable audience members to access talks 24 hours after the event for four weeks.

Visit for the full line-up and to book tickets.

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