First names announced for two-week celebration of the written word this November

Chester Literature Festival returns to Storyhouse this autumn promising two weeks of fabulous and thought-provoking events, performances and conversations.

This year’s festival, which is one of the longest-running annual literature events in the country, takes place from 6-20 November with a packed programme of visiting poets, writers, broadcasters, wordsmiths and actors.

And the first names have now been announced for the 2021 event.

The festival opens on Saturday, 6 November when lexicographer and Countdown dictionary queen Susie Dent presents The Secret Life of Words.

Join her on a journey into the world of words and the curious, unexpected and sometimes surreal origins of those we use every day – along with the fate of some that have become lost in the mists of time.

Susie will also reveal some of her own favourite words from across the UK – and ask the audience theirs, as well as sharing memories from 25 years on Countdown and 8 Out of 10 Cats do Countdown.

New Art Club’s Tom Roden and Pete Shenton have emerged from lockdown with a new show which comes to Storyhouse on Wednesday, 10 November. Cupid’s Revenge is an irresistible 60-minute physical poem performed on stage alongside a giant Love Heart and which plants love under the microscope in the 21st Century.

Also on 10 November comedian Arthur Smith is joined by Britain’s Got Talent’s PC Dave Wardell (owner of Finn the German Shepherd) and the UK’s most famous Twitter cop Sgt Harry Tangye (author of Fire Arms and Fatals) for an evening talking cops and comedy. Hosted by actor Ian Puleston-Davies (Owen Armstrong, Coronation Street).

Meanwhile Austentatious returns to Storyhouse on Thursday, 11 November, as part of a tour marking the show’s 10th anniversary.

Expect a riotously funny evening of improvised comedy storytelling, inspired by Jane Austen and based on nothing more than a title randomly suggested by the audience.

Performance poet, rock star, presenter and cultural commentator Dr John Cooper Clarke joins the festival on Friday, 12 November with his I Wanna Be Yours Tour.

His latest live show, touring across the UK and beyond, is a mix of classic verse, extraordinary new material, hilarious ponderings on modern life, good honest gags, riffs and chat – and a chance to witness a living legend at the top of this game.

Poet, performer, publisher and broadcaster – and winner of the 2021 Saboteur Award for best spoken word performer – Luke Wright visits the festival on Sunday, 14 November with his new show Come! Come On! Meet Me!

On Tuesday 16 November Mersey beat poet Roger McGough will talk about his newest poetry collection Safety In Numbers.

And award-winning Radio 4 broadcasters Fi Glover and Jane Garvey, who together run the smash-hit podcast Fortunately, arrive at Storyhouse on Wednesday, 17 November to celebrate the publication of their new book Did I Say That Out Loud?

The pair guarantee an evening of behind-the-scenes revelations and inconsequential, but strangely compelling, chat about living some of their lives in front of and behind the microphone – and they will also be joined by a special guest on the night.

Superstar food writer and TV cook Nigella Lawson invites Chester audiences to an Evening With…. on Thursday, 18 November to coincide with the launch of her latest book Cook, Eat, Repeat, a combination of delicious recipes and essays about food.

Live in conversation, Nigella will explore how cooking is an intuitive, personal and connecting process and how one meal idea leads to another.

On Friday, 19 November, leading British singer-songwriter Polly Paulusma presents Invisible Music, her recrafting of a collection of folk songs which inspired the late novelist Angela Carter – the subject of Paulusma’s recently-completed PhD.

Then on Saturday, 20 November, the intimate Garret Theatre is the stage for an evening of pure escape with stories, jokes and poems courtesy of Henry Normal – The Escape Plan.

The BAFTA-winning writer, poet and TV and film producer has written seven poetry collections while his screen co-writing credits include The Royle Family, The Mrs Merton Show, Coogan’s Run and The Parole Officer.

And events will also include a series of panel discussions curated by members of the Chester community.

Chester Literature Festival was launched in 1989 by volunteer organisation Chester Arts 89 and city booksellers who programmed a week of literary activity including a reading by the niece of novelist D H Lawrence.

This is the tenth year that the festival has been programmed by Storyhouse, and along with visiting names, special artists-in-residence have included Lemn Sissay and Ted Hughes Prize-winner Hollie McNish. The 2019 festival artist-in-residence was British poet, artist and filmmaker Imtiaz Dharker, whose work is installed in Storyhouse until the end of October. 2021 artist-in-residence will be announced soon.





For more information, contact:

Nancy Davies

Marketing and PR Manager


07886 743531




Susie Dent presents The Secret Lives of Words

Saturday, 6 November 2021


Tickets £24


Cupid’s Revenge

Wednesday, 10 November 2021


Tickets £14.85



Thursday, 11 November 2021


Tickets £20/Members £18


Dr John Cooper Clarke: The I Wanna Be Yours Tour

Friday, 12 November 2021


Tickets from £24.50/Under 26s £21.50


Luke Wright: Come! Come On! Meet Me!

Sunday, 14 November 2021


Tickets from £13.05

Fi Glover and Jane Garvey: Did I Say That Out Loud?

Wednesday, 17 November 2021


Tickets £26.50-£30.50


An Evening With Nigella Lawson

Thursday, 18 November 2021


Tickets from £25


Polly Paulusma: Invisible Music

Friday, 19 November 2021


Tickets from £10.80

Henry Normal – The Escape Plan

Saturday, 20 November 2021


Tickets £12.50/Under 26s £10


About Storyhouse  

Storyhouse is one of the UK’s foremost cultural centres incorporating a library, theatres and a cinema. It is one of the country’s most successful arts buildings, with more than one million customer visits each year.

The pioneering new library within Storyhouse, where members of the community work alongside city librarians, boasts the longest opening hours of any UK public library and is open every day until 11pm. It runs over 2,000 sessions a year for marginalised communities

The company also runs a highly successful theatre company and the country’s most successful regional open-air theatre, in the city’s Grosvenor Park and Moonlight Flicks open air cinema.

Storyhouse currently holds the official title as the UK’s Most Welcoming Theatre and was the overall national winner in the 2018 Guardian Public Service Awards

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