Lincoln Book Festival publishes full line-up for September’s Victorian themed literary festival

An audience at Lincoln Book Festival 2018

Lincoln Book Festival has published its full programme for this September’s week-long literary celebration, with an array of guest authors confirmed to delve into numerous aspects of Victorian Britain, from the true crime scandals that rocked polite society to the ambitions of empire that reshaped our nation’s place in the world.

This year’s festival honours the bicentenary of the birth of Queen Victoria, with the great monarch’s life and legacy inspiring an eclectic series of guest talks by acclaimed novelists and historians. Topics range from Jack the Ripper and the Victorian obsession with the macabre to the lighter side of 19th Century British culture, like the boom of art, leisure and entertainment, the emergence of some of the English language’s literary greats and the enigmatic life of Queen Victoria herself.

The line-up features numerous prize-winning authors and a variety of critically acclaimed new works of history writing and historical fiction. Among the literary celebrations of Victoria and the Victorians, highlights include:

Lee Jackson – Palaces of Pleasure – ‪Tuesday 24th September – The Collection – charts how the Victorians invented mass entertainment, from the seaside to the music hall, the gin palace to football – ‘…wonderfully comprehensive and engagingly readable.’ – The Spectator.

Ambrose Parry – The Way of All Flesh – ‪Wednesday 25th September- The Collection. A gripping historical crime thriller set in 1847 Edinburgh. Longlisted for the McIlvanney Prize 2019 and the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year.

Claire Harman – Murder by the Book – Wednesday 25th September – The Collection. The shocking true story of the murder of Lord William Russell that scandalised 19th Century London. ‘A fascinating portrait of Victorian London.’ – The Observer 

David Gilmour – The British in India – ‪Thursday 26th September – The Collection – spanning 350 years, this book tells the story of the many Britons who travelled to India and built an empire. ‘An exceptional book.’ – The Times.

Miranda Seymour – In Byron’s Wake – ‪Friday 27th September- The Collection – a portrait of the brilliant, rebellious mathematician Ada Lovelace, daughter of the poet Byron and Annabella Milbanke. A Sunday Times Book of the Year.

Alongside the range of author events there are workshops, school events, film screenings, food and drink, a showcase of creative writing in local schools and the announcement of winners of two short story competitions.

Lincoln Book Festival 2019 opens at Lincoln Drill Hall ‪on Monday 23rd September with the free festival launch party with special guest author Melvin Burgess, the Carnegie Medal winning writer regarded as ‘the godfather’ of young adult fiction in Britain. He has published more than 20 books for children and young adults since his debut almost 30 years ago and will be discussing his creative career as well as his latest novel, The Lost Witch (2018) ‘a powerful, thrilling fantasy for young adults about magic, myth and following your instincts’. Literacy charity First Story showcases its work in schools and winners will be revealed from Lincoln Book Festival’s 2019 Flash Fiction Competition and the Aurora Prize for Writing 2019, in association with Writing East Midlands and the Society of Authors. The launch event is preceded by a workshop for schools.

Writers will have pens at the ready as Mansions of the Future hosts a hands-on workshop on the Victorian art of letter writing ‪on Thursday afternoon.

Greats of Victorian literature fall into focus in a ‪Friday afternoon event at The Collection which explores the career of Alfred Tennyson and his relationship to Victoria through a guided exploration of letters and images from the unique collections of the Tennyson Research Centre. New research reveals the true story of the publisher who ‘discovered’ the brilliance of Charlotte Brontë after receiving the manuscript for Jane Eyre and his devotion to championing the writer’s talents.

Earlier in the day Lincoln’s Cheese Society puts on a spread for an exploration of Italian cuisine as chef Michael Waterfield reflects on the Tuscan cookbook of Janet Ross, first published in 1899 and still in print, which began a transformation of British attitudes to eating vegetables.

The festival closes ‪on Saturday 28th September at Lincoln Drill Hall with a two-part author event featuring grand houses, gothic mystery, and a great heroine of British history. Lincolnshire’s Baroness Hogg discusses her new book Katherine’s House, a novel based around the fascinating history of her house at Kettlethorpe, best known as the home of Katherine Swynford, one of the most romantic figures of medieval times. Multi-award-winning fiction writer Susan Fletcher returns to Lincoln Book Festival with her latest novel, House of Glass. A gothic mystery reminiscent of Daphne du Maurier, it is ‘a ghost story that’s also a love story’ set in 1914 Britain haunted by memories of empire.

Lincoln Book Festival chair Phil Hamlyn Williams said: “We can’t wait for this year’s Lincoln Book Festival to begin and our theme offers a wonderful chance to explore Lincolnshire’s rich Victorian heritage. We have some fantastic guest authors on the bill and through their books we expect to find plenty of humour, horror and historical insight into how Britain changed in the 19th Century.

“We are also paying homage to great authors of the age like Tennyson and the Brontës. As is traditional now, we open proceedings with our free launch party where we are joined by the brilliant Melvin Burgess in a real celebration of creative writing from local young people.”

Most Lincoln Book Festival events take place at The Collection museum and art gallery on Danes Terrace or the Lincoln Drill Hall theatre on Freeschool Lane in the city’s cultural quarter. Tickets for author talks are usually £10 although some activities are free to attend. Tickets for all festival events are available now through Lincoln Drill Hall Box Office in person, by telephone on ‪01522 873894 or online at

For more details on the full programme for Lincoln Book Festival 2019,