About Us

A true celebration of outstanding writing and brilliant books; the UK’s only “festival in a factory” the Stoke-on-Trent Literary Festival takes place every June in the creative surroundings of the Emma Bridgewater Factory, a Victorian pot bank that has manufactured Emma Bridgewater’s iconic handmade and hand decorated pottery for more than twenty years.

For three days in June author talks, panel discussionshands-on workshops and live performances take place all around the canal-side factory in surprising spaces from the old pottery warehouse to the cobbled courtyard. From history to poetry, award winning fiction, memoirs and biographies to politics and food, environmentalism to heritage, plus great events for young readers too; the Festival is an eclectic and inspiring celebration of the written and spoken word in the heart of this most creative of cities.

The Festival is curated by trustees designer and pottery manufacturer Emma Bridgewater, designer and Emma Bridgewater Chairman Matthew Rice and the Director of the Victoria & Albert Museum and former Stoke Central MP Tristram Hunt.


Festival founder and trustee Emma Bridgewater says:

“From our first festival in 2014 our aim has been to bring the very best writers, commentators and thinkers to Stoke-on-Trent where there has always been a great appetite for debate, but also with the hope that we might inspire young people to explore ideas, provide stimulating encounters with award winning authors, poets and playwrights and foster the joy of books and reading.

“Stoke-on-Trent is rediscovering and celebrating its cultural roots and we are absolutely delighted to be backing the bid to become UK City of Culture 2021. From a small conversation Tristram Hunt and I had four years ago we now have a truly established, very warmly received and joyful festival, busy with book lovers of all ages that attracts friends old and new to Stoke-on-Trent. We look forward to welcoming you to best weekend of the summer!”

2017 highlights included Eden Project founder Tim Smit, TV dramatist and adaptor of Poldark Debbie Horsfieldheritage champion Loyd Grossman, comedian and Bake Off host Sue PerkinsDirector  of the V&A and festival trustee Tristram Hunt, former Chancellor and Strictly star Ed Balls in conversation with journalist and broadcaster Anne Robinson, Pointless host, comedian and presenter Alexander Armstrong, Channel 4 News political editor Michael Crick, Thomas Telford biographer Julian Glover, Shakespeare scholar Jonathan Bate, Jane Austen biographer Paula Byrne, Emma Bridgewater in conversation with Rowan Pelling, celebrations marking the 50th anniversary of the birth of Stoke’s greatest literary son Arnold Bennett, food writer Bee Wilson, former voice of Radio 4 broadcaster Charlotte Greenfun events for young readers including Horrid Henry, Just Soph Stories, Scoop Magazine making workshop and children’s author Susan Moore, plus Staffordshire poetry and guest poets Liz Berry and Mark Huband, maverick gardener designers Isabel & Julian Bannerman and architect and social historian John Grindrod discussing the modern mystery of our green belts.

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enjoying the festivalSince 2014 we’ve welcomed some of Britain’s finest novelists including Nick Hornby, Joanna Trollope, Dame Margaret Drabble, Sathnam Sanghera, Cressida Cowell and Juliet Nicolson, acclaimed historians Mary Beard, Dr David Starkey, Charlotte Higgins, Orlando Figes,William Dalrymple and Tristram Hunt, leading writers and broadcasters Melvyn Bragg, Alan JohnsonMichael Palin, Alastair Campbell and Matthew Parris and well known personalities from the arts and entertainment including ceramicist and poet Edmund de Waal, craft champion Kirstie Allsopp, gardener and cook Sarah Raven and designer and writer Emma Bridgewater herself.

The poetry panel considering the impact and contributions of Staffordshire poets and poetry

The poetry panel considering the impact and contributions of Staffordshire poets and poetry

The Stoke-on-Trent Literary Festival is all about championing a love of books and reading and the festival is proud to work closely with local schools, colleges and universities to host special “meet the author” events for young people with leading authors and academics. The Festival also celebrates local writing talent as well as exploring the city’s literary and artistic heritage. Since 2014:

  • 8,000 visitors of all ages
  • 60 author talks, panels, family events and skills sessions
  • 80% of our audiences from Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire
  • literature, arts, music, poetry, screen writing and performance events
  • free tickets and author talks for local young people
  • box office partner – New Vic Theatre