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Portsmouth Bookfest returns for 2020, with a host of events taking place across the city - featuring interactive events, workshops and appearances from top names in the literary world.

Events include everything from Harry Potter parties to writing workshops and talks from such luminaries as Adele Parks and Professor Jim Al-Khalili. There will also be a whole programme of MysteryFest events, celebrating the dark and mysterious side of Portsmouth.

Wednesday 4 March, 3pm-5.15pm

Mad Hatter’s Typewriter Party
Southsea Coffee, 63 Osborne Rd, PO5 3LS

Come to Typewriter Tales #6 to discover dormice typing in your teapots and March hares hatching plot twists.

Do I need to know anything?

No. Just write your own revolution at this drop-in workshop, brought to you by T’Articulation and William Sutton. 

Do I need to be an experienced writer?

No, no! We’ll help, with prompts or suggestions, or by just giving you a bit of space.

Create a postcard sized story, poem or drawing.


FREE event – no ticket required

Wednesday 4 March, 7pm

Portsmouth Event: (Re)discovering lost voices of the past
Third Floor Portsmouth Central Library

How does creating lost voices challenge and expand our understanding of historical events?

In A Small Dark Quiet, Miranda Gold takes us into the world of post-war London and a family overshadowed by personal and epic trauma. In Mary Ann Sate, Imbecile, Alice Jolly transports us to the life of a mill worker in the 1830s and explores both the personal and political turmoil in this period of seismic change.  

In this event on Unheard Voices, Miranda and Alice will discuss how illuminating lost corners of history and allowing the unseen – those on the periphery of our history - to speak encourages us to question the mainstream historical narrative. Who bears witness to these life-changing moments for those voices so often unheard, if not the reader themselves?   

Miranda Gold is a writer. Hailed as a ‘Great Jewish Book’ by Jewish Book Week, A Small Dark Quiet is a story of loss, migration and the search for belonging. Her second novel, the TLS called it “a bold attempt to portray the greyness of growing up without roots or identity”. Miranda is a creative writing tutor at Skylight, Crisis. She is currently collaborating with New River Press on an anthology of work by poets who have experienced homelessness.  

Alice Jolly is a novelist and playwright.  She has won the Pen Ackerley Prize for memoir and also the V.S.Pritchett Prize awarded by the Royal Society of Literature.  She teaches creative writing on the Masters Degree at Oxford University.  Her fourth novel Mary Ann Sate, Imbecile was a Walter Scott Prize recommended novel for 2109, was on the longlist for the Ondaatje Prize 2019 and was runner up for the Rathbones Folio Prize 2019.



Book your tickets online

Thursday 5 March, 2pm-4pm

Writing the Past: A Poetry Workshop with Georgia Hilton
Third Floor Portsmouth Central Library

Do you have a passion for local history that you would like to put into words? Georgia Hilton is a Hampshire-based poet and fiction writer who will take you on a creative journey inspired by the past! Georgia has written a collection of poems based on the events of the nineteenth century Swing Riots and in this interactive workshop she will help you to create your own local history poems. A supportive and inclusive event, this workshop is suitable for writers of all ages and abilities, from beginners to more experienced poets.



Thursday 5 March, 5pm-9pm

Traipsing with Travel Writers – creating a unique view on the world. A three part experience in collaboration with Star & Crescent, T’Articulation and the University of Portsmouth.
University of Portsmouth Eldon Building, Winston Churchill Avenue, PO1 2DJ

An eclectic backpack of well-travelled writers will discuss the different forms of writing they produce from those adventures – and how you can use your own experiences to create original pieces of work.

  • 5pm-5.45pm: An interview with two of our celebrated travel writers.
  • 6pm-7.15pm: Themed readings from the collected writers and discussions about the various techniques used.
  • 7.30pm-9pm: Hands-on workshop.

    Ben Aitken is the author of A Chip Shop in Poznan: My Unlikely Year in Poland, which recounts a year spent in Poland working, travelling and integrating. Paul Ross called it ‘the funniest book of the year.’ Ben also wrote Dear Bill Bryson: Footnotes from a Small Island, which was featured in The Guardian, The Times and on BBC Radio.

Rubia Dar is an award-winning freelance producer/director, specialising in documentaries, factual programmes, current affairs and news. She has worked for all the main UK TV channels, Al Jazeera English, as well as American Networks including National Geographic and Discovery Channel.

Amanda Garrie is in the final stages of a PhD in creative writing, where she is writing a novel, at The University of Portsmouth. She was Portsmouth City Library and Archives Service Poet in Residence for 2019 and is a founder member of T’Articulation spoken word troupe. Much of her poetry and prose-fiction reflects the cultural curiosities discovered on her travels in Spain, Eastern Europe and India.

Mike Manson’s new novel, Down in Demerara, concerns an Englishman who is plucked from his humdrum job and dispatched to the forbidden rainforest of Guyana on a mysterious assignment. Fay Weldon calls the book ‘a fast-moving and wonderfully funny (I laughed aloud a lot) vigorous and intelligent tale of an innocent abroad.’

Richard Peirce, a co-founder of T’Articulation, is well-known on the local spoken-word circuit. His poetry, often connecting emotionally with the people, landscapes and situations, of his travels in the Philippines, Russia and Africa, has been published in a number of anthologies.

Tom Sykes is the author of The Realm of the Punisher: Travels in Duterte’s Philippines which garnered positive reviews in the Times Literary Supplement and the London Magazine. Tom is also the author of Ivory Coast: The Bradt Guide and his travel journalism has appeared in The Telegraph, Private Eye, New Statesman, New African, The Scotsman and many other titles.


FREE: Come to any part, or all. Please book in advance via Eventbrite

Thursday 5 March, 7pm

The Romance genre; is it all fluff and kittens? Panel with Charlie Cochrane, Sue Fortin, Janet Hancock Louisa Heaton Poppy Alexander and Carol Thomas.
Third Floor Portsmouth Central Library

Join a panel of romance novelists who will be looking at whether romance is regarded as the poor relation – the Cinderella genre – exploring hidden gems on the romance shelves and giving aspiring novelists their best writing tips.

  • Charlie Cochrane writes both romance and mysteries, often combining the two. 
  • Sue Fortin, USA Today and UK Kindle #1 bestselling author of romance, mystery and suspense. 
  • Dorset author Janet Hancock’s novel Beyond the Samovar is an engaging tale of escape, love and loss in little-known parts of Russia, and England, 1919-20.
  • Louisa Heaton writes romances for Harlequin Mills and Boon. 
  • Poppy Alexander writes as Rosie Howard & Sarah Waights. Her latest Poppy Alexander novel, “25 Days in December”, has been optioned for TV and published in several countries including the US and Germany. 
  • Published by Ruby Fiction, Carol Thomas writes heartwarming romantic comedy, set in and around the Littlehampton area.



Book your tickets online

Friday 6 March, 7pm

Ideal Homes: The past, present and future of housing
University of Portsmouth Eldon Building, Winston Churchill Avenue, PO1 2DJ

Sponsored by the Cluster for Resilient Communities, Faculty of Creative and Cultural Industries, University of Portsmouth

Join authors John Boughton and Professor Deborah Sugg Ryan, together with Stephen Morgan MP for a discussion of the past, present and future of housing. Topics will include social housing and home ownership.

John Boughton is a social historian whose book Municipal Dreams: the Rise and Fall of Council Housing, charting the chequered history of public housing from the late nineteenth century to the present, was published by Verso in April 2018 and recommended as an Observer Book of the Year.  His popular blog, also called Municipal Dreams, on the same subject has had over 1.2 million views. He has published in the Historian and Labor History and gives talks on housing to a range of audiences. He is involved in a number of housing campaigns and lives in London.  

Stephen Morgan was elected MP for Portsmouth South in 2017. Originally from Fratton, he is a long time community activist with an interest in housing and communities and has worked in local government and as councillor for Charles Dickens, a central ward in Portsmouth City Council. He has been chair of Portsmouth Cultural Consortium, a resident-led group committed to improving the city through cultural regeneration. In July 2019, he joined the Shadow Communities and Local Government team as a Shadow Minister. The brief includes policy areas such as adult social care, children’s services, faith and community cohesion, welfare reform and debt services to community pubs.

Professor Deborah Sugg Ryan is a design historian, author and media presenter specializing in the history of the home and domestic technology. Her recent book Ideal Homes, 1918-39: Domestic Design and Suburban Modernism (Manchester University Press) on the interwar housebuilding boom was shortlisted for the Society of Architectural Historians Alice Davis Hitchcock Medallion 2018 for an outstanding contribution to architectural history and will be reissued as a trade book in 2020. Her media credits include BBC Two’s A House Through Time for which she is series consultant and a presenter.


FREE - please book via Eventbrite

Saturday 7 March, 10am-4.45pm

Mystery Fest
Third Floor Portsmouth Central Library

MysteryFest with Charlie Cochrane, Jeff Dowson, Mia Emilie, Donna Fletcher Crow, Dot Marshall Gent, Christine Hammacott, Becky Milne, Barbara Nadel, Jennifer Palmer, Linda Regan, Sally Spedding, Linda Stratmann, Peter Tickler, Len Tyler, Carol Westron and Debbie Young.

The Third Annual Mystery Fest Day Conference has sixteen speakers, including:

  • our Guest of Honour, award winning author L. C. Tyler in conversation with successful actress and author Linda Regan;
  • Professor Becky Milne talking about Police Interviewing – the Reality;
  • two exciting author panels discussing Belief and Superstition in Crime Fiction and how authors choose ‘The Right Place to Kill’,
  • three short talks on crime fiction topics.

    Hayling Island Books will be on hand to sell books by all the authors present. With a light lunch included, at £15 this day is incredible value in every way.

Charlie Cochrane’s mystery series include the Edwardian era Cambridge Fellows and the contemporary Lindenshaw Mysteries. Multi-published, she has titles with Carina, Riptide, Endeavour, and Bold Strokes, among others. A member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, Mystery People and International Thriller Writers Inc, Charlie appears with The Deadly Dames. 

Jeff Dowson is a screenwriter turned crime novelist. Credits include arts documentaries, drama series and TV films. His Bristol set crime thrillers feature private eye Jack Shepherd.  The 5th book in the series, titled Leading the Blind, will be published Spring 2020. Jeff is a member of BAFTA and the CWA.

Mia Emilie is an independent crime fiction author and lecturer. She was recently awarded her doctorate focussing on detective fiction, from University of Exeter. She is working on co-organising the sixth International Agatha Christie Conference to be held in 2020. Her historical crime novel, A Hidden Life, was published under her pen name Mia Emilie, in September 2019. A Hidden Life is the first in a trilogy and Mia is currently working on the second instalment, Unhistoric Acts, to be published in Summer 2020.

Donna Fletcher Crow, Novelist of British History, was born, raised, and still lives in the Boise Valley in Idaho, in the northwest corner of the States. She is a former English teacher and a lifelong Anglophile. She has authored some 50 books, primarily novels, dealing with various aspects of British history, especially Christian history. She and her husband of 56 years have 4 children and 15 grandchildren (including 6 who are English). She enjoys frequent research trips to the UK and tries never to write about a place she hasn’t visited.

Christine Hammacott writes psychological suspense. Any one of us can become the unwitting victim of a crime but how we cope with it is what is explored in Christine’s work, where characters are forced to confront situations they have no idea how to deal with. Her first novel The Taste of Ash is set in Portsmouth and she is currently working on a second set in the New Forest, which she frequently uses as an excuse to slink off for ‘writing’ weekends away from the family.

Dot Marshall-Gent worked in the emergency services for twenty years before teaching secondary English in London and Kent. She is a singer-songwriter, writes poetry and non-fiction, and enjoys reviewing books for Mystery People.

Becky Milne is a Professor of Forensic Psychology at the Institute of Criminal Justice Studies at the University of Portsmouth. The main focus of her work over the past twenty years concerns the examination of police interviewing and investigation. Jointly with practitioners, she has helped to develop procedures that improve the quality of interviews of witnesses, victims, intelligence sources, and suspects of crime across many countries. She is also the Director of the Centre of Forensic Interviewing. She was given the Tom Williamson award for her outstanding achievements in the field of investigative interviewing by NPCC in April 2009. 

Barbara Nadel writes two crime fiction series – the Ikmen novels set in Istanbul and the Hakim and Arnold books set in East London. Both are contemporary. In 2005 Barbara won the CWA Silver Dagger for her Ikmen book ‘Deadly Web’. She lives in Essex with her husband and is entirely owned by cats. @BarbaraNadel

Dr. Jennifer S. Palmer has enjoyed crime fiction since discovering Enid Blyton’s Secret Seven in her childhood! As a retired historian she lectures on historical controversies, real crimes and crime fiction topics particularly Golden Age. She also reviews crime fiction for the Mystery People and Shots websites.

Linda Regan is a successful actress. She also hosts TV shows, and has been writing since she was a child. Fifteen years ago she decided to take an MA in creative writing. She chose Portsmouth as her husband grew up there and they both love the city. Since gaining her MA she has had eight police procedural crime novels published, all to high acclaim. Her latest is The Terror Within.

Sally Spedding: ‘Wringland’ (2001) set in the haunted fens, is the first of Sally’s fifteen crime thrillers. In a seven-book deal with Sharpe Books, ‘The Nighthawk is out now. Also, ‘Bloodlines, ‘Death Knell and ‘Downfall.’  A CWA, Mystery People and Crime Cymru member, she spends part of each year in the inspiring Eastern Pyrenees.

Linda Stratmann writes two Victorian crime fiction series with female sleuths, Frances Doughty who solves murders in Bayswater, and diminutive Mina Scarletti in Brighton who exposes fraudulent spirit mediums who extort money from the vulnerable bereaved. Linda also writes non-fiction and is currently Chair of the Crime Writers’ Association.

Peter Tickler has six published crime novels under his belt, all set in and around the city of Oxford. He has been praised both for the authenticity of the Oxford location (‘a wonderful gift of creating geographically factual settings for his fictional characters’ – Oxford Times) as well as the pace of his stories (‘deliciously thrilling and wildly unpredictable’ – Oxford Today). He has seen two of his scripts made into short films and most recently created and staged an extremely popular Murder Mystery Event. Twitter: @ptickler

L. C. Tyler writes two crime series: the Herring Mysteries and a historical series featuring seventeenth century lawyer and spy, John Grey. He is a former chair of the Crime Writers Association and has won the Goldsboro Last Laugh Award (twice) and the CWA Short Story Dagger.

Carol Westron writes two contemporary detective series and Victorian murder mysteries, all situated in the south of England. Her recent stand-alone novel is called This Game of Ghosts. She writes articles on The Golden Age and is a member of Mystery People, ALLi, SWWJ and the Deadly Dames. 

Debbie Young writes warm, witty cosy mystery novels set in the Cotswolds where she has lived for nearly 30 years. Her Sophie Sayers Village Mysteries series begins with Best Murder in Show, and her new Staffroom at St Bride’s series with Secrets at St Bride’s – A School Story for Grown-Ups.


£15 includes a light lunch of sandwiches and soft drinks

Book your tickets online

Saturday 7 March and 14 March, 10.30am-12.15pm

Write Your Novel Creative writing workshops with William Sutton: From idea to publication: poisoned pens, razor-sharp descriptions.
University of Portsmouth Eldon Building (First Floor), Winston Churchill Avenue, PO1 2DJ

Workshop series to develop your novel.

Sign up for these brilliant sessions run in a friendly, informal atmosphere by an internationally published author. Set realistic aims, explode myths – and write.

Will I have to read aloud?

No. You can discuss ideas, problems, even sentences, but you don’t have to.

Will I have to write?

Yes, you’ll be given prompts to get you going, but the pace and direction of the work is yours.

Gain a clearer idea of how to write your book, whether fiction, autobiography, or non-fiction. How will you tell your story? We’ll discuss planning, writer’s block, procrastination, and publishing options.

Four sessions, covering:

  • Beginnings, Ideas;
  • Plot;
  • Characters, Settings;
  • Edits, Selling.

Committed writers, all ages.


£30 for the 4 sessions (Concessions £10) – Maximum 25 places available so please book early to avoid disappointment.

Book your tickets online

For a full programme, check the Portsmouth Bookfest website.