Writers share childhood snaps for Manchester Lit Festival’s 10th birthday

Writers including Margaret Atwood and Anthony Horowitz are sharing pictures of themselves aged ten to celebrate Manchester Literature Festival’s tenth anniversary.

The festival is a city-wide celebration of the written and spoken word and its organisers are celebrating its tenth year by inviting their line-up of authors to share photographs of themselves as ten-year-olds, which will be published in a brochure by Manchester-based design company MARK.

The brochure will feature writers including children’s poet Michael Rosen, broadcaster and journalist Bidisha and Shameless screenwriter Danny Brocklehurst, all of whom are appearing at the festival.

The brochure’s four collectable front covers will show childhood photographs of Margaret Atwood, Anthony Horowitz, Joanne Harris and Yasmeen Ismail.

Festival co-director Cathy Bolton said: “Standard author publicity shots tend to be plain head and shoulder shots so we thought photographs of writers at the age of ten might prove more dynamic and intriguing, not to mention cute!

“Readers are naturally curious to see what their favourite authors looked like as children.”

MARK has also created ten postcards sharing lists of the authors’ ten favourite words: some, like those by Margaret Atwood and Joanne Harris, are playful, while others tie into the authors’ books, such as Bidisha’s Asylum and Exile: The Hidden Voices of London and Rachel Holmes’ Eleanor Marx: A Life.

Audience members are invited to share their own pictures and lists of words using the hashtags #10words and #10yearsyoung.

Ms Bolton said that Manchester Literature Festival’s annual audience has increased three-fold in the past ten years, and they hope to expand further in the next ten, including developing more new commissions and links to other festivals.

“It’s important that Manchester has its own Literature Festival with a unique programme that reflects the diverse cultural composition of the city and provides local people with the opportunity to encounter world renowned writers and thinkers on their doorstep,” she said.

“We hope that by the time we are twenty years young many of the rising stars we have showcased at the Festival will be household names.”

Anthony Horowitz will speak at the festival to unveil his new James Bond novel, Trigger Mortis.

The author of over 40 books, including the popular children’s series about teenage spy Alex Rider and the Sherlock Holmes novel The House of Silk, caused controversy last week by commenting that actor Idris Elba was “too street” to play Bond – he has since apologised for his ‘poor choice of word’.

Margaret Atwood is the Canadian author of acclaimed novels including feminist dystopian classic The Handmaid’s Tale and the Booker prize-winning The Blind Assassin.

Her latest novel, The Heart Goes Last, is described as ‘an immensely funny and disturbing satire set in a near future where the lawful are locked up and the lawless roam free’.

Joanne Harris, the author of novels including Chocolat, Peaches for Monsieur le Curé and The Gospel of Loki, will present a manifesto, Why I Write, as part of the festival’s range of newly commissioned works, which will also include the Gaeia Manchester Sermon, delivered at Manchester Cathedral by Elif Shafak, and An Ape’s Progress, a collaboration with Manchester Jazz Festival to mark their own 20th anniversary.

Animator and illustrator Yasmeen Ismail will be reading from and talking about her new children’s books I’m a Girl! at the festival’s Family Reading Day.

Children are invited to come dressed as their favourite fictional characters for an event also featuring children’s authors Lydia Monks, Kristina Stephenson and Jonny Duddle, and theatre company Artful Playground will present their interactive musical story, The Toothy Adventure of Davy Denture.

Other themes in the festival include walking tours exploring Manchester’s literary heritage and talks on the theme of Literature and Landscape, featuring poet Simon Armitage, novelist Sarah Hall and journalist George Monbiot.

Manchester Literature Festival runs from Monday October 12 to Sunday October 25 2015. It is sponsored by HSBC and supported by Arts Council England and Manchester City Council.

To find out more and book tickets, visit www.manchesterliteraturefestival.co.uk or call 0843 208 0500.

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