Raworth's Harrogate International Literature Festival 2022

October 28, 2022



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This year Raworth's Solicitors celebrated 10 years of sponsoring the Harrogate Literature Festival and what a festival it was! They had non-fiction authors who have written on everything from social media to covid. 

The festival was hosted at The Crown Hotel, situated in the centre of town. This location definitely helped bring people to the festival as all amenities were just a short walk.  That said the tea, coffee and other beverages were exceptional and not overpriced.  The festival was well attended, each of the sessions I attended were packed out. 

The Welcome to Harrogate volunteers were really welcoming and the layout of The Crown Hotel was easy to follow.  There was a relaxed atmosphere, and it was easy to find people to talk to. As someone attending on their own this was a great relief and put me at my ease. 

I was surprised but also delighted to bump into a some of my fellow locals.  It was nice meeting up with them and the general ambiance of the festival made it easy to stay on for a conversation over a cup of tea. 

I had a great time at the first two talks I attended. The first took place on Friday night and was a discussion with Otto English on his book “Fake History”. I found the book to be very insightful as it begs the question what is the purpose of history and is it being abused. 

As one who holds a BA in History and Archaeology I was fascinated by his stance and eager to hear what he had to say. I found Otto aka Andrew Scott to be an engaging speaker and even if I did not agree on every historical point he made I felt that he grasped the key point of history which is to question and not just take what you have been told at face value. Sadly few school children continue to a level where they are encouraged to do so. 

The second talk I attended was a Writing and Yoga workshop run by author Stella Duffy. I have tried yoga before and if this article is anything to go by, I think it is fair to say I do a fair amount of writing, so I was intrigued to find out how the two may come together. Stella Duffy was hilarious as she guided us through some basic Yoga and writing exercises. She made it worth attending just to see her in action. I walked away with a smile on my face and a new writing strategy. 

Later that same day I went to the talk on “Generation Covid-19: The Pandemic & Mental Health”. From the information on the website and the synopsis given I believed it would be an open discussion on the collective mental health of everyone effected by Covid. I was really looking forward to an open session. Instead, it all felt very specific to the panel and their experiences. There was no mention of the mental health of the general population or of people suffering from mental health problems during Covid or indeed the high suicide rate all of which you would expect to be addressed in a discussion like this. During questions those who wanted to express an alternate view or voice a different experience were shut down. I think it is fair to say that those of us in the audience felt closed off from the panel who by their own admission would happily have talked on without any “questions”! There was a general sense in the room that his session was disappointing and was a complete contrast to the other sessions in an event which had been well run, well thought through with excellent speakers and welcoming. 

Overall, an enjoyable and thought-provoking event. Others I have spoken to at the event had a great time and found the choice of speakers to be exceptional.  I will definitely come back next year.