Penzance Literary Festival 2023

8th June 2023 in Events, Local News, Penzance

The Penzance Literary Festival will take place 5-8 July 2023

Penzance Literary Festival logo
Grant funded by Penzance Council

Tickets are selling fast for the 12th Penzance Literary Festival, taking place from 5 to 8 July. The hugely popular and very affordable festival – known to local audiences as ‘the LitFest’ – has never looked better, with an exciting line-up of nationally acclaimed writers and local talent.

Among the nationally acclaimed authors arriving this year is Kate Mosse, who appears in the week her new novel, The Ghost Ship, is published. It’s a gender-swapping story of love and adventure at sea. Kate is joined by a host of other leading literary lights, among them Jane Corry, Tim Hannigan, Rachel Joyce, Kim Sherwood, Wyl Menmuir, Julie Myerson, Nina Stibbe and Raynor Winn.

Festival Patron and best-selling novelist Patrick Gale sums up this year’s theme of arrival and discovery: “Penzance LitFest is a bright beacon for readers and writers alike in the far west. For a region which very few book tours reach, it guarantees an annual programme that mixes the nationally acclaimed with the excitingly new, balances workshops with talks and offers visiting writers the chance to discover a beautiful and vibrant place.”

This year’s line-up again highlights the LitFest’s commitment to fostering local writing talent. Cornwall-born Ronnie Turner met her publisher Karen Sullivan of Orenda Books at the LitFest when she was just 16. Now in her 20s, Ronnie is attending the LitFest as an author herself to discuss her novel So Pretty, a chillingly hypnotic Gothic thriller.

Local travel writer Tim Hannigan has appeared at the LitFest throughout his writing career. He returns to discuss his latest book, The Granite Kingdom, a fascinating, lyrical account of a zigzagging east-west walk across Cornwall in search of its landscapes, histories, communities and sense of identity.

Journalist and music lover Simon Parker was a teenager when Penzance became a music mecca. In his book PZ77: A Town A Time A Tribe, Simon and a host of current and former residents remember 1977, a golden year that saw bands like The Ramones and The Sex Pistols playing at local venues.

Also drawing on music history is Leslie Cavendish – hairdresser to The Beatles. Leslie was part of their inner circle from 1966, attending recording sessions and joining the band on their Magical Mystery Tour from London to Teignmouth, Bodmin, Liskeard and Plymouth. His book, The Cutting Edge, entertains with tales of the Fab Four and ‘60s London.

Penzance and its surrounding area are steeped in literary history: the writer DH Lawrence’s First World War stay at nearby Zennor has been captured in the film Zennor Spirit of Place, by St Ives author Bobby Osborne and award-winning filmmaker Diana Taylor. It’s screening at The Exchange as part of the LitFest’s first Cinema Saturday. Also on the bill is sci-fi short KESTAV (Contact), by Marie MacNeil and Christopher Morris, which features a Cornish-speaking alien! Other cinematic delights include a series of short films marking the 400th birthday of Shakespeare’s First Folio.

Revealing insights into the visual arts are guaranteed when St Ives art historian and author Michael Bird discusses his latest book, This is Tomorrow: 20th-century Britain and its Artists, and a new edition of his landmark study The St Ives Artists: a Biography of Place and Time.

Meanwhile, LitFest workshops will be buzzing with talented instructors like editor Scott Pack and author Jane Corry, happy to share their knowledge and experience with up-and-coming writers in a collaborative and constructive environment.

LitFest chair, Rachel Viney, is thrilled with the line-up this year: “Once again the Penzance LitFest shows that you don’t have to leave west Cornwall to enjoy sparkling book chat or learn the craft of writing from some of the finest practitioners going. It’s a privilege to host so many fantastic national and local writers and performers, and we can’t wait to welcome authors and festivalgoers to this year’s event.”

Details of all the events at the LitFest together with booking information are available on the festival website at The free printed programme is available from libraries, bookshops, tourist information centres and other venues throughout Cornwall, as well as the Penzance Council offices in Penlee Park.

Grant funded by Penzance Council (logo)

Penzance Literary Festival receives grant funding from Penzance Council. This year they successfully applied for a grant of £1,000.

Grant Funding for community groups

We provide grants for local events and to local community groups and charities who are working to benefit our residents and our Parish environment – find out more about our grants and how to apply.

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