Book festival attracts more than 3,000 visitors

Milly Johnson and Michelle RawlinsMilly Johnson and Michelle Rawlins
Milly Johnson and Michelle Rawlins
BARNSLEY Libraries’ first Book Festival attracted more than 3,000 visitors to the borough with a host of authors, poets, writers, artists and speakers.

Taking place over a month-and-a-half, the Barnsley Book Festival saw locals enjoy a packed schedule including 49 library and six partner events and 42 authors and artists.

The diverse line-up involved internationally known authors and poets from Barnsley, such as Ian McMillan, Andrew McMillan and Milly Johnson, plus Wakefield poet Matt Abbott, Sheffield novelist Michelle Rawlins, Essex-born award-winning writer and performer Maria Ferguson and the country’s leading military historian, Richard Van Emden, as well as other storytellers, artists and speakers.

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Milly Johnson – who held her book launch at Barnsley Town Hall as part of the festival – said: “In an area rich with writers and poets it was only natural Barnsley should have its own book festival and the inaugural one has been a triumph.

Andrew McMillan in conversation at Library @ the LightboxAndrew McMillan in conversation at Library @ the Lightbox
Andrew McMillan in conversation at Library @ the Lightbox

“The organisers worked tirelessly to bring together a rich, diverse, entertaining spectrum of people passionate about books and literature and held the events in the many beautiful buildings we have in the area, including our new multi-million-pound library.

“Barnsley really pulled it off. ”

Andrew McMillan said: “It’s been a dream to have such an inclusive and dynamic book festival in Barnsley – from local heroes like (Wombwell poet) Geoff Hattersley to new commissions exploring the queer legacy of the town.

“It’s great that this is the first of many such festivals to come – putting Barnsley at the very centre of literary culture, as we’ve always known it to be!”

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Anna Hartley, executive director for public health and communities, said: “Cultural events have such a positive impact in our communities and help shape our identity as a town.

“That’s why, despite the national economic challenges, we continue to invest in culture and work to ensure it remains near the top of the agenda.

“The massive success of this year’s festival shows that this approach is the right one.

“It’s a no-brainer that the festival will return next year.

“We’re in the early stages of planning now, but we can’t wait to tell you more at the end of summer.”

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