East Yorkshire Local History Society

Harrogate History Festival

Thursday, 9th October 2014

Harrogate History Festival |23 – 26 October 2014 |Old Swan Hotel, Harrogate

Don’t miss out on this stellar line-up of authors and panels
The 2014 Harrogate History Festival will take place from 23-26 October 2014 at the Old Swan Hotel. We’re inviting you to spend an action packed weekend in the beautiful town of Harrogate, steeped in its own history. Join us for this fantastic opportunity to explore and grapple with leading literary minds on some of the most gripping conflicts, personalities and epic tales in human history.
The 2014 programme includes Special Guests Peter Snow, Bernard Cornwell, Elizabeth Chadwick, James Naughtie interviewed by Robert Wilton, Charlotte Higgins with Richard Hobbs, Alison Weir with Sarah Gristwood, Sarah Dunant In Conversation with SJ Parris, Elizabeth Fremantle In Conversation with Suzannah Dunn, Prof Irving Finkel, Sandi Toksvig and Conn Iggulden; panels focusing on social history, the Road to Rome, debunking myths and legends, an exploration of Vikings in an age of blood and poetry plus an author dinner and glitzy award ceremony where the winner of the HWA Debut Crown for Historical Fiction Award will be announced!


Special Guest: Bernard Cornwell

Friday 24th October | Old Swan Hotel | 9am

Look sharp! Tickets will go fast for this veritable giant of the genre.

Bernard Cornwell is the most successful and prolific historical novelist writing today, and is the author of over 50 novels. A consummate researcher, his books are loved by millions for their blend of gripping action and meticulous attention to historical detail, and have sold over 20 million copies worldwide. Cornwell’s current series The Warrior Chronicles, with the latest instalment, The Empty Throne, is published this autumn as well as his first non-fiction book, Waterloo.


They Die In The End

Friday 24th October | Old Swan Hotel | 12pm

There are times when writers embrace the challenges of writing men and women whose fates are bywords and warnings; we think we know the truth, but always there is a twist, something new, that makes sense of things in ways we could never expect. Still, if we know they’re going to die in the end, what is it that keeps us reading right to the last page? Four exceptional authors of books nobody could ever put down bring us their individual approaches. How do these authors write of such iconic executions and deaths, often gloriously bloody, yet give them the power to be utterly unexpected when they happen? James Aitcheson, Toby Clements, Michael Ridpath and Robert Wilton will disclose how they give their characters the power to enthrall us entirely, with chair Robert Goddard.


Special Guests: Elizabeth Fremantle in conversation with Suzannah Dunn

Friday 24th October | Old Swan Hotel | 5pm
The Tudors – the romping TV series put the drama in ‘dramatic’ and made history hot. Elizabeth Fremantle knows a thing or two about trends. Before penning her Tudor trilogy with her debut novel Queen’s Gambit, she was a fashion editor with a stint in Paris with French Vogue. She has a fascination around women and power, particular when the first Queens ruled Britain. The result? Queen’s Gambit, and Sisters of Treason have been hailed as books Hilary Mantel fans will devour. The third in the trilogy is due in 2015.
Suzannah Dunn also reclaims the subtleties of women’s lives in the male dominated Tudor times. The Telegraph hailed her as a remarkable ‘lyricist’ of ordinary people. She published her first historical novel, The Queen of Subtleties, in 2004. As sharp on historical detail as the workings of the human heart, her following three novels The Sixth Wife, The Queen’s Sorrow and The Confession of Katherine Howard were all bestsellers. Her new book, The May Bride, follows Jane Seymour’s destiny to marry the King in a heady, gripping tale.

Special Guest: Sandi Toksvig in conversation with Manda Scott

Friday 24th October | Old Swan Hotel | 8:30pm

It’s time to take an entertaining side-ways look at history. Parents have admonished children for generations about etiquette. Where did it all begin? History has shaped how mannered (eh-hem) we are as a nation, and there’s nobody more equipped than the entertainingly erudite Sandi Toksvig to explore how.

The books that mark the highs and lows of our lives are as important as the music so come and join us for this unforgettable evening, as Sandi Toksvig, the star of QI, Mock the Week, Whose Line is it Anyway? Excess Baggage, – and author of seven novels, including the moving, passionate, Hitler’s Canary - reveals her choice of Desert Island Books to Manda Scott, Chair of the Historical Writers’ Association, author and passionate advocator for the genre that allows us to ‘live a thousand lives’.


Special Guest: Peter Snow

Saturday 25th October| Old Swan Hotel | 9am

Peter Snow CBE is used to reporting world events that become history, now he’s writing it. Famed for his enthusiastic use of the BBC swingometer on election nights, he brings the same zeal and excitement to Harrogate to talk about his latest book, When Britain Burned the White House. It’s the extraordinary tale when 200 years ago- just 31 years after the War of Independence – British troops burned the White House. Americans were humiliated in their own capital and their president, James Madison, was forced to flee for his life. Despite his decades as a journalist, broadcaster and author, this book, he insists, is one of the most extraordinary stories he’s ever had to tackle.


Special Guest: Conn Iggulden

Saturday 25th October| Old Swan Hotel | 8:30pm

Conn Iggulden has made history as well as writing it; he was the first author to ever achieve a simultaneous no 1 across fiction and non-fiction charts, thanks to his handbook for sons and dads the world over, Dangerous Book for Boys. A former adventurer, and English teacher, Conn knows how to conquer the two seductions of fine words and daring action. It’s not surprising then he grew up to become one of the most successful authors of historical fiction writing today. Trinity is the second instalment in his Wars of the Roses series, following on from the top ten bestselling Stormbird.


If Walls Could Talk…

Sunday 26th October | Old Swan Hotel | 10am

Join four brilliant historians for an event that will change and challenge the way we look at society. Lucy Lethbridge looks at the social history through the eyes of those who serve, from the maids of 1900 to the au pairs who took their place seventy years later. Tessa Boase explores the most prestigious (and toughest) job a nineteenth/early twentieth century woman could want, telling the extraordinary stories of five women who ran some of Britain’s most prominent households. Dr Pamela Cox focuses on the perils of being a Victorian shopgirl, women she believes should be heroines, as celebrated as steelworkers in the Industrial Revolution. Antonia Hodgson chairs, exploring the ‘invisible women’ who lived and shaped these under documented worlds.


Don’t miss out on our full programme of inspirational writers and events including:

Friday 24th October Elizabeth Chadwick, New Blood, Special Guests: Alison Weir and Sarah Gristwood
Saturday 25th October Special Guest: James Naughtie and Robert Wilton, Black Cats and Broomsticks, Special Guest: Charlotte Higgins and Richard Hobbs, Special Guest: Irving Finkel, The Road to Rome
Sunday 26th October Training The Dragon, Simon Scarrow and Harry Sidebottom, 50 Shades of Grail

For full details of the events visit
Box Office: 01423 562 303