2019 tickets are now on sale

In a changing world, the theme we’ve chosen for our 2019 festival – our tenth edition – is Borderlines

We are delighted to launch our 2019 programme with an eclectic and fascinating collection of wonderful talks, events and workshops taking place in Penzance from July 3-6.

Printed programmes are now available from many places in Penzance (and further afield). If you can’t wait to get hold of a printed copy, you can download the 2019 programme for viewing on your device. This year, we also have an ‘at a glance’ guide available too.

You can even follow this link to subscribe to LitFest events in your calendar on your device. This will add all our events to your calendar so you won’t miss out!

We look forward to four days of fun in Penzance and hope to see you there.

The Penzance LitFest team

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Featured events

You Will Be Safe Here: Damian Barr in conversation with Patrick Gale

You Will Be Safe Here is the powerful debut novel by Damian Barr, which The Guardian, Observer and Financial Times have included in their Books to Watch 2019. Set in South Africa, it uncovers the hidden history of the British concentration camps of the Boer War and links it to a present-day secret. Damian talks […]

Some kids I taught and what they taught me, Kate Clanchy in conversation with Patrick Gale

An award-winning writer in several genres, a teacher and a journalist, Kate joins Patrick Gale to discuss England: Poems from a School – an anthology of poems by her students at Oxford Spires Academy – and her new book, Some Kids I Taught and What They Taught Me, praised by Philip Pullman as “The best […]

Rebellion Adrian Rodda, An Gof and Special Guests

When does a protest movement become a rebellion? How does it feel to leave your home for unknown territory? What happens when you have to rely on the kindness of strangers? This performance, featuring aptly-named musicians ‘An Gof ’ (the term used to describe a Cornish patriot), tells in verse the story of the Cornish people’s march to London in 1497, to present […]

The Bad Bugs Bookclub: using fiction to engage with science, with Joanna Verran

Don’t be put off by the fact that Joanna Verran is Emeritus Professor of Microbiology at Manchester Metropolitan University. She has a passion for using arts and the humanities to help audiences engage with science. The Bad Bugs Bookclub gets scientists and non-scientists reading fiction that features infection and contagion – and that means vampires […]

Have you always dreamed of writing a bestseller? Jane Corry reveals her top tips

Jane Corry tells the story behind her gripping new thriller, I Looked Away. The Sunday Times bestselling author of My Husband’s Wife and The Dead Ex will also give her ten top tips to help you succeed with writing your own bestselling novel. Jane’s experience as writer in residence for a high-security male prison helped […]

Everything you can think of is true, with Petrus Ursem

The border between children’s and grownups’ literature is fluid. A good story works for all readers – children have as much need to explore themes of life and the meaning of the world as older readers. Petrus Ursem reveals how the Cornish landscape released his love of writing, weaving past mysteries into heart-beating new adventures, […]

Why I live in a shed, with Catrina Davies

Faced with a personal housing crisis – part of a country-wide system of inequality – Catrina Davies took the radical decision to make a dilapidated shed into a home of her own, as told in her latest book, Homesick: Why I Live in a Shed. She talks – and sings – about how simplicity can […]

Alan Hollinghurst in conversation

The distinguished novelist Alan Hollinghurst discusses his life and work with the LitFest’s Rachel Viney. Alan is the recipient of numerous awards, among them the Somerset Maugham Award (The Swimming-Pool Library), the James Tait Black Memorial Prize (The Folding Star) and the Man Booker Prize (The Line of Beauty). His most recent novel, The Sparsholt Affair, […]

Body and Soul: Cornwall detective Frank Elder’s last case, with John Harvey

For many years, award-winning crime writer John Harvey lived in Zennor and remains a frequent visitor to the Cornish coast. In Body and Soul – the final novel of his career and the last case for his Cornwall detective Frank Elder – John explores the beautifully drawn borderlines between father and daughter, city and country […]

King of dust: adventures in forgotten sculpture, with Alex Woodcock

In King of Dust, Alex Woodcock explores the Romanesque sculpture of the south-west that inspired him to become a cathedral stonemason. Weaving together his own story of learning to work stone with the potency of the stone carvings and stories of their medieval carvers, his book is a meditation on craft, the importance of the […]

The Redeemed, with Tim Pears

The acclaimed novelist Tim Pears makes a welcome return to talk to discuss The Redeemed, the final instalment in his spellbinding West Country trilogy chronicling love, exile and belonging. Leo Sercombe’s journey began in The Horseman in 1911 and continued in The Wanderer. It is now 1916. In a world torn asunder by war, how can […]

A fascination with frontiers, Horatio Clare in conversation with Philip Marsden

“I have a love-hate relationship with borders: the romance of them, the fear, the triumph of getting through, and the obscenity of the prevention of the free movement of most people.” The prolific travel and nature writer, memoirist and children’s author, Horatio Clare, discusses his work and his enduring fascination with ‘the edges of things’ […]

From the blog…

Cornish National Anthem

In the recent film ‘Fisherman’s Friends’ there is a scene where the group were asked to sing the National Anthem live on a morning TV programme. However, the anthem they sung was not the one what was expected but the Cornish anthem Trelawny. And shall Trelawny live? Or shall Trelawny die? Here’s twenty thousand Cornishmen will […]

Borders I’ve known

With cold beer in my hand, I watched the sun setting over southern Angola just across the Kavango River flowing at the bottom of the Guest House garden. Behind me lights were coming on, the town market buzzing with activity, optimism returning now SWAPO had freed Namibia of South African rule. But across that border […]

Wordsmiths of West Cornwall

We all have our favourite local authors –  Patrick Gale perhaps, or Liz Fenwick, or another of the host of other contemporary writers  who know and represent West Cornwall. New voices are coming in all the time – during the 2018 Festival we were delighted to introduce (amongst others) Raynor Winn, Noel O’Reilly, and Ken […]