The Big Book Weekend: What is The Big Book Weekend? All about online literary festival

The Big Book Weekend has been announced in the hope of bringing together some of the greatest literary talents. The three-day festival will see those festivals cancelled due to coronavirus be celebrated and brought together. The new initiative will be entirely virtual, and here is everything there is to know about The Big Book Weekend.

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When is The Big Book Weekend?

The Big Book Weekend takes place from May 8 to 10, and is available to stream online.

The event is being hosted by, an online book festival site, where it will be hosted for those planning to be part of it.

It has been co-founded by the authors Kit de Waal and Molly Flatt, is supported by the BBC and Arts Council England.

Who is taking part in The Big Book Weekend?

On May 8, the event will be kicked off by an “in conversation” event where journalist Damian Barr speaks with British author Maggie O’Farrell.

Later in the day is a conversation with children’s author Michael Morpurgo, Peep Show’s Robert Webb and Terry Waite CBE, who worked as the Archbishop of Canterbury’s special envoy in the 1980s.

May 9 sees science fiction writer Neil Gaiman in conversation, as well as Villanelle writer Luke Jennings, whose work has been adapted into the famous TV series Killing Eve.

As well as this, Marian Keyes and Catherine Mayer will speak in a panel conversation about women in literature.

The final day of the festival, May 10, begins with an interview with lyricist Sir Tim Rice, and a performance of a children’s book by Will Mallard.

Juno Dawson and Patrick Ness are then in conversation with YA writer Katherine Webber, before Booker Prize winner Bernadine Evaristo is interviewed to bring the festival to a close.

Here is the full programme:

May 8

10am – Maggie O’Farrell and Damian Barr – in conversation

11am – Alexander McCall Smith – performance

12pm – Sue Stuart-Smith with Marian Boswall – interview

1pm – Laura Lam and Temi Oh with Nicole Brandon – panel

2pm – Jill Calder – interactive


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3pm – Michael Morpurgo with Clare Mulley – interview

4pm – Robert Webb with Alex Clark – in conversation

5pm – Kate Williams with Jenni Calder – interview

6pm – Terry Waite CBE with Tony Gallienne – interview

7pm – Rick Stroud – performance

May 9

10am – Adam Kucharski with Tim Hubbard – interview

11am – Paul Muldoon, Lucy Caldwell and Glenn Patterson with Marie-Louise Muir – panel

12pm – Neil Gaiman with Sam Weller – in conversation


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1pm – Hafsah Aneela Bashir – performance

2pm – Samantha Miles and Rachel Falber – interactive

3pm – Louise Hare and Beth Morrey with Sue Wall – panel

4pm – Phil Cartwright with Fran Richards – interview

5pm – Luke Jennings with Sarah Hilary – interview

6pm – Marian Keyes and Catherine Mayer – interview

May 10

10am – Sir Tim Rice and Daniel Hahn – interview

11am – Bidisha, Luan Goldie and Zoe Lambert with Joelle Taylor – panel

12pm – AL Kennedy with Ailsa Cox – interview

1pm – Kia Abdullah and Abir Mukherjee – in conversation

2pm – Will Millard – performance

3pm – Jane Casey, Liz Nugent, Gary Donnelly and Alan Judd with Paul Waters – panel

4pm – Juno Dawson and Patrick Ness with Katherine Webber – in conversation

5pm – Jackie Kay, Adjoa Andoh and Isabel Greenberg with Cathy Newman – panel

6pm – Bernardine Evaristo with Mairi Kidd – in conversation

The festivals which have joined up with The Big Book Weekend include Cymera: Scotland’s Festival of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Writing, Guernsey Literary Festival and the Primadonna Festival, as well as special programming from the Big Book Weekend festival itself.

The Big Book Weekend comes online on May 8-10

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