Gladfest 2019 | Pathways

Gladfest Pathways

A bit befuddled by all that Gladfest has to offer? Perhaps this is your first time and you’re not certain what to do? The Gladfest team are here to help. We’ve put together a range of pathways to help you plan your weekend, see your favourites and most importantly, try something new!

All events are available as individual tickets or you can try our Weekend Ticket (10 talks) or Day Ticket (5 talks) options for great savings! If you're unsure of anything, just drop us an email to or pick up the phone on 01244 532350 and we'll talk you through it. It really couldn’t be easier to navigate and experience the UK’s friendliest literary festival!

Try these for inspiration...

1: Eye-catching Fiction

If you have a love of gripping fiction that you can’t put down, here’s a pathway that will add to your reading list! Suzette A. Hill, author of The Rosy Gilchrist Novels, is responsible for some of the wittiest crime novels out there. Suzette will be talking about how her writing is a tribute to the golden age of crime writing. Alix Nathan, discussing her most recent novel The Warlow Experiment, tells of a classic Enlightenment exercise gone mad. This is not for the faint hearted nor is it to be missed! Then how about Salley Vickers, whose most recent novel, The Librarian, is ‘a fascinating exploration of the often equivocal and always cryptic nature of family love’ according to the Guardian. Sunday starts off bright and early listening to Patrick Gale talking to Damian Barr about his latest novel Take Nothing With You, a story of fifty-something Eustace, a gay Londoner of leisure. In the same week that he falls hopelessly in love with a man he has yet to physically meet, he finds out he has cancer of the thyroid. Patrick has written 16 novels including this one, and will give a fascinating insight into the life of an author. Alternatively, to put all that you have been listening to into practice, join Oliver Emanuel’s masterclass on Sunday morning and learn about different aspects of playwriting, how to keep an audience enthralled and what it takes to keep people on the edge of their seats. Finally, to round off the weekend, how about Damian Barr, a journalist, writer and host of his own Literary Salon, plus trustee of Gladstone’s Library! Damian will discuss his debut novel You Will Be Safe Here with Sarah Perry. Graham Norton has described this book as ‘A gripping, heart-breaking tale of uncomfortable histories and the resilience of love,’ so be prepared to have your heartstrings pulled at.

Event 1: Suzette A. Hill - The Rosy Gilchrist Novels | Saturday, 7th September 10am – 11am

Event 2: Alix Nathan - The Warlow Experiment | Saturday, 7th September 4pm – 5pm

Event 3: Salley Vickers - The Librarian | Saturday, 7th September 5.30pm – 6.30pm

Event 4: Patrick Gale - Take Nothing With You | Sunday, 8th September 10am – 11am OR

Event 5: Oliver Emanuel – What is Said and What is Not Said | Sunday, 8th September 10am – 2pm

Event 6: Damian Barr - You Will Be Safe Here | Sunday, 8th September 4pm – 5pm

2: Famous Tales

Want to hear experts in their subject talking literary icons and well-known tales? Look no further than this Gladfest pathway - five talks from Charles Dickens to Agatha Christie, via Alan Rickman and Theseus and the Minotaur. This pathway starts bright and early on Saturday morning with cultural historian Joe Moran pondering the link between shyness, creativity and observation in his new book First You Write a Sentence, featuring notable British figures such as Agatha Christie and George Best. Next drop by the fascinating Neil Pearson discussing his time curating the late great Alan Rickman’s archive, which includes working scripts of some of Rickman’s most well known films including Die Hard and the Harry Potter series, as well as correspondence, private photographs, props and awards. Sunday starts off with Deborah Wynne exploring Charles Dickens’ fascination with turning old clothes into paper and how this is seen throughout his books. As a professor of nineteenth-century English Literature at Chester University Deborah promises an enlightened and intelligent talk. Next up Claire O’Callaghan brings her biography of with a twist: Emily Bronte Reappraised. Challenging the idea that Emily was misanthropic, enigmatic and awkward, Claire paints a new portrait of one of English Literatures best-known figure. Finally, to round out the weekend is Charlotte Higgins discussing the household tale of Theseus and the Minotaur and how labyrinths have appeared in literature ever since. Charlotte’s book, Red Thread: On Mazes and Labyrinths, is described by the Guardian: ‘any bookshelf would be graced by the presence of Red Thread...It asks readers to surrender to the unpredictable pleasures of getting lost…playful and gorgeously written.’

Event 1: Joe Moran - First You Write A Sentence | Saturday, 7th September 10am – 11am

Event 2: Neil Pearson - A Life in Books | Saturday, 7th September 8.30pm – 9.30pm

Event 3: Deborah Wynne - Reading Victorian Rags | Sunday, 8th September 11.30am – 12.30pm

Event 4: Claire O’Callaghan - Emily Bronte Reappraised | Sunday, 8th September 1pm – 2pm

Event 5: Charlotte Higgins - Red Thread: On Mazes and Labyrinths | Sunday, 8th September 2.30pm – 3.30pm

3: Living History

Several of our speakers this year focus upon living history, and the way events, groups of people or professions are viewed in society. Diving in at the deep end, this pathway starts off with Danny Dorling discussing Peak Inequality, Brexit and Rule Britannia. Called ‘the must-read book about Brexit’ it suggests that whatever the outcome Britain must consider its past if ever it is to make sense of its future. Sunday is a day of four talks, starting early with Dan Richards’s Outpost and a look at some of the most remote areas in the world. Dan asks why humanity is drawn to such wilderness? Now more than ever, what can we do to protect these areas? And of course; what does the future hold for these remote outposts? Next is a history that is a little closer to home, with Charlie Gladstone and Tamara Harvey in conversation with Gladstone’s Library’s Warden Peter Francis. They will discuss the cultural history of the local area, and their plans for making future history. After a quick lunch, Padraig O Tuama and Zia Chaudhry are next on the list with a discussion of how to find common ground in a time of upheaval and division. Finally, Rachel Hewitt ends the pathway with her fascinating account of Lizzie Le Blond, the woman responsible for establishing the Ladies’ Alpine Club at the turn of the 20th Century, a time when mountaineering was a male-dominated sport. Her talk includes how the natural world is seen through women’s eyes both in the past, present and now how many female mountaineers are looking to the future.

Event 1: Danny Dorling - Peak Inequality, Brexit and Rule Britannia | Saturday, 7th September 2.30pm – 3.30pm

Event 2: Dan Richards – Outpost | Sunday, 8th September 10am – 11am

Event 3: Charlie Gladstone and Tamara Harvey - What Are We Doing Here? | Sunday, 8th September 11.30am – 12.30pm

Event 4: Pádraig Ó Tuama and Zia Chaudhry - Bridging the Divide | Sunday, 8th September 1pm – 2pm

Event 5: Rachel Hewitt - In Her Nature: Women in the Mountains | Sunday, 8th September 2.30pm – 3.30pm

4: Personal Memoirs

Personal memoirs and life accounts are currently a very popular literary genre. This Gladfest pathway highlights the authors whose topics fall under this enchanting spell Melanie Reid starts us off on Friday evening with The World I Fell Out Of, an account of the year after she fell of her horse and was paralysed from the chest down, including the people she met, her award winning ‘Spinal-Column’ and more. If you fancy trying your hand at a bit of writing then Michael Nobbs’s masterclass ‘The Art of the Tiny Adventure’ will be perfect. At Gladfest he shares the concept of ‘Tiny Adventures’ and how to make these mindful excursions for pleasure and inspiration a regular part of your life. Saturday starts with Kit De Waal in conversation with Gladstone’s Library’s Director of Collections and Research, Louisa Yates, discussing her current project, an anthology of working-class writing entitled Common People. Next is Padraig O Tuama talking to our Warden Peter Francis, relating the ideas of shelter and welcome to the journey of life, through poetry, story, biblical reflection and prose. Following this is Damian Le Bas tells his tale of growing up surrounded by Gypsy history, and his own childhood experiences of life on the road, as told in his memoir The Stopping Places. The Daily Telegraph describes it as ‘Beautifully written and deeply affecting…While this is a beautiful, important book about Gypsy culture, it’s also a moving exploration of what it means to belong,’ another one not to miss! There is only one talk on Sunday but it is well worth coming to, as Charlie Gladstone and Tamara Harvey are in conversation with Peter Francis about the cultural history of our local area and the their plans for the coming years. Tamara Harvey is Artistic Director at Theatre Clwyd and Charlie Gladstone runs Pedlars, The Glynne Arms and the Hawarden Farm Shop as well as being co-founder of The Good Life Experience festival. He is also the great-great grandson of William Ewart Gladstone.

Event 1: Melanie Reid - The World I Fell Out Of | Friday, 6th September 6pm – 7pm

Event 2: Michael Nobbs – The Art of The Tiny Adventure | Saturday, 7th September 10am – 2pm OR

Event 3: Kit De Waal - Knowing your Place? | Saturday, 7th September 1pm – 2pm

Event 4: Pádraig Ó Tuama- In the Shelter | Saturday, 7th September 4pm – 5pm

Event 5: Damian Le Bas - The Stopping Places| Saturday, 7th September 5.30pm – 6.30pm

Event 6: Charlie Gladstone and Tamara Harvey - What Are We Doing Here? Sunday, 8th September 11.30am – 12.30pm 

Gladfest Favourites

As always, the Gladfest site is FREE to enter, and there’s always something going on. Check out the Box Office for last-minute event availability, get your books signed at Gladbooks, or find someone to chat to in the Gladstone Room. This year our Gladfest Fringe is packed with music, poetry, choir performances, games and picnic blankets.

Some things are just too good to change, and this is certainly the case with Food for Thought, our beloved bistro. Our chefs will be cranking out the best food around, made from freshly-sourced local ingredients and cooked right here on site. Order in our bistro or beat the queues by grabbing a snack, picnic box, cake and hot and cold drinks from our pop-up Food for Thought stall in the Fringe.

There’s so much to see and do, and members of the friendly Gladfest team will be around to help with any questions. We really hope you have as much fun as we do. See you there!