First authors announced for sixth Derby Book Festival

The first authors are revealed today (27 November) for the sixth Derby Book Festival, which will be held from 29 May – 6 June 2020 in venues across the city.  The Festival is now a well-established part of the city’s cultural calendar and celebrates the joy of books and reading.  It has just held its first successful Autumn Edition in October and will return next Spring with over 90 events across nine days with some of the very best writers in the country.

Authors already signed up for 2020 include journalist and broadcaster John Humphrys, who recently retired after 32 years as BBC Radio 4 ‘Today’ presenter; Val McDermid, arguably the leading crime writer in the UK today, who will open the Festival at a special event in Derby Theatre when she will be interviewed - and then sing with - the Fun Lovin’ Crime Writers (fellow crime writers Stuart Neville, Mark Billingham, Chris Brookmyre, Doug Johnstone and Luca Veste).

The Festival will include its usual wide variety of events for all ages and interests, including poet and ‘The Bard of Barnsley’, Ian Macmillan; biographer Andrew Lownie on The Mountbattens; Lennie Goodings on her career with the iconic Virago Press and naturalist Mark Cocker. 

Local history is always popular at the Festival and the 2020 Festival will welcome historian Patricia Fara on Erasmus Darwin at Derby Museum & Art Gallery where his portrait by Joseph Wright of Derby hangs. 

The Festival is always keen to celebrate local writing talent and debut authors.  In 2020 one of the debuts is Russ Thomas, who has had strong links with the Festival since its start, when he worked at Waterstones Derby.  Now based in Sheffield, Russ’ first novel, Firewatching, is launched in February. 

The Festival is chaired by Liz Fothergill, who is also Chairman of Pennine Healthcare.  Liz said: “The Festival continues to grow and grow.  We know people have a real appetite for more book related events and we are now offering two Festivals each year. Derby Book Festival is putting Derby firmly on the literary map and attracting world class authors each year.  We believe it is the largest and most successful literary festival in the East Midlands and something Derby can be proud of.”

Other Festival authors will be announced in the coming months and tickets for all events will go on sale on 7 April 2020, when the programme is officially launched at a special Derby Reads event in QUAD. Tickets will be available online from the Festival website: or in person from the Festival Box Office at QUAD and other venues. 

To find out more, visit the Festival website and sign up for more information.  You can also follow the Festival on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Back to news