WRITE Festival 2019

Our 3rd WRITE Festival has officially ended!

We’ve had two jam packed weeks of events and workshops for everyone to enjoy with some top names including authors Michael Rosen and Ann Cleeves, journalist Kevin Maguire and Geordie-favourite John Grundy to name a few!


Over the festival we had a range of performances from some fantastic people. On the opening day, we welcomed Gerald Dickens, the great great Grandson of Charles Dickens, who performed a play about his famous forebear to a sold out crowd. On the evening following we also welcomed back the fabulous History Wardrobe who showcased night time fashion in their hilarious and interesting ‘Goodnight Sweet Dreams’ show.

We also enjoyed even more comedy as improv group, The Suggestibles, came to The Word for the first time with their laugh-out-loud show, dictated by what the audience chose!

Murder At The Word

We also celebrated crime-fiction in a murderously good way by hosting Murder at The Word – a whole weekend dedicated to the popular noir genre! In attendance was the incredible Murder Squad – 6 of the bestselling crime writers from the North of England including Ann Cleeves, Martin Edwards, Kate Ellie, Margaret Murphy, Chris Simms and Cath Staincliffe. Alongside them, was forensic expert Helen Pepper who hosted her own ‘Forensic for beginners’ workshop where attendees learned how to lift finger prints and detect shoe prints!

On the first day, the authors were interviewed by Dr Noir herself, Dr Jacky Collins, and fans of their books were able to ask questions and meet the authors. This was all followed by an evening of murder mystery – an original by Kate Ellis.  The second day was a chance for aspiring crime writers to get first hand tips from the experts.

Workshops for Writers

Over the whole festival, we held a range of workshops for aspiring writers. Beginning with writing for TV with Mark Illis, to a full day of publishing advice with Inpress. There was also a memoir writing session as well as the full day of crime-writing sessions with the Murder Squad!

Author Talks

On top of everything else, we also hosted some fantastic author talks including one where journalist and South Shields local, Kevin Maguire, interviewed author, poet and broadcaster, Michael Rosen about his interesting life and memoir. It was certainly a night to remember!

We also welcomed authors including Adam Bushnell, who discussed local folk tales, Baroness Joyce Quin and Moira Kilkenny, who looked at ‘notable’ women from the North East, and the North East’s favourite TV Historian John Grundy who looked at the history of Newcastle.

Rowan McCabe – Poet in Residence

We also had a poet in residence in the run up to the festival. Rowan McCabe explored the idea of what South Shields really means to local people by visiting local landmarks and areas, speaking to the public and recording his own experiences.

He then wrote a selection of poems about these experiences and they are now on show in our Word Bank of Lost Dialects exhibition until 15 September 2019.

During the festival he also performed his Door-to-Door poetry show all about his adventures around the North East.

Find out more about Rowan McCabe’s residency.

Children’s Events

There was also something for children and families including a Silent Book Disco hosted by our friends Forum Books and also an interactive storytelling session author Adam Bushnell and Liz Million.

Upbeat Tales

Earlier in the year, we ran a short story competition in partnership with Sixth Element Publishing asking for uplifting short tales of up 3000 words in length. These were then shortlisted and published as our WRITE Festival Anthology.

To open the festival, we held an ‘Upbeat Tales’ event in our atrium where the winners of the competition were announced and  passages from the stories were read out for the public to enjoy.

The anthology is now on sale at Shop @ The Word for £5.

First Word, Last Word

We also commissioned The Writing Squad to work with young people (aged 16-21) to develop their skills in filming, recording and editing. The young people worked alongside professionals to report on the festival.

Take a look at their First Word, Last Word Reports.