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3 Festivals for 2024


News & Features

DBF is going digital!

By - 30 April 2020 - 11:29am

We are launching our DBF at home series this week. The first video will be published on YouTube on Friday 1 May.

Here is an introduction to the series from our Festival Chair, Liz Fothergill. Our first video is an interview with the winner of our Derby Children's Picture Book Award. Subscribe to our YouTube channel to make sure you don't miss it! Here's a link to our YouTube channel.

Our nearly 2020 Festival programme

We hope you’ve had chance to take a look at our new website - we sent you the link on Friday in our eshot about the Flash Fiction launch?

We wanted to draw your attention, in particular, to our Festival programme ... which so very nearly went to print! We don’t like to blow our own trumpet, but it has been hard to contain ourselves in the last few weeks as the ‘Nearly 2020 Festival Programme’ has slipped away from our grasp.

We work on programming a Festival almost from the moment that the last seat is raised in QUAD at the end of the previous Festival. And we can’t help but share with you a ‘few’ of the authors (‘our authors’) who are hitting the news and feel topical and celebrated ... and edgy.

  • Mark O’Connell’s Notes from the Apocalypse is getting rave reviews and feels entirely prescient
  • Maggie O’Farrell and Bernadine Evaristo have both made it onto the Women’s Prize shortlist
  • journalistic heavyweights John Humphrys and Sir Max Hastings have (rightly or wrongly) expressed their views on aging, illness and generational payback.

We are bitterly disappointed that we won’t be able to welcome you to the 105 events next month, but we would love to hear from you about which events particularly excited you. We are still planning to try to reschedule events for the autumn.

We are committed to bringing the joy of books and reading to the city of Derby and we can’t wait to get on and do that when it is safe for us all to do so.

Big Book Weekend – further news
The organisers have now announced the programme for the Big Book Weekend, from 8 – 10 May. It’s certainly going to be an interesting programme with some excellent authors and events planned.

As well as our Debut Author event with Louise Hare and Beth Morrey (which was recorded last week with Sue Wall interviewing them both), there are a few more of 'our authors' we had programmed to join us at this year’s Festival:

  • Luke Jennings, author of the Villanelle novels, on which TV series Killing Eve is based
  • Maggie O’Farrell, author of the Women’s Prize shortlisted novel, Hamnet
  • Bernadine Evaristo, winner of the 2019 Booker Prize and also shortlisted for the Women’s Prize for Girl, Woman, Other

In order to see the interviews, you will need to register on so you are ready to watch!

Shared Reading Postcard Project
Our Shared Reading co-ordinators and volunteers are still working hard to maintain contact with group members. Whilst we can’t physically meet, we are sending the participants postcards with poems on to keep in touch with them.

We are also collaborating with Age UK Derby and Derbyshire to support their Coronavirus Letter Friends project, sending poems and making contact with those unable to see friends and family at this time. So far we have sent almost 100 postcards out.

For more information, or to get involved, email

Flash Fiction Writing Competition
The entries are already flooding in for our 2020 Flash Fiction competition on the theme of Home.

If you are looking for some inspiration, here is last year’s over 18 winning story on the theme of Our World by Stella Truby:

Hope In A Moment
Aware of others being present, his confidence started to ebb away. Seconds felt like hours as he searched her face for signs of a positive response. He had tried so hard to get this right.

Then - two longed for words he wished for arrived....
She smiled! He nodded.

Derby Children’s Picture Book Award winner
We’ll be announcing the winner of this year’s Derby Children’s Picture Book Award on Friday 1 May and posting an interview with the author and illustrator online.

We were so pleased that we were able to progress this year’s Award with the schools before they closed. Eight Derby schools took part and read the four shortlisted picture books with their Years 2 & 3 children. They were able to vote for their favourite just before the schools closed. A further 16 schools ‘shadowed’ the Award and received a set of the books to read with their pupils. In total, 270 books were shared across the schools.

Look out for the announcement of the winner on social media (and in next week’s e-shot).

Richard & Judy new Channel 4 book programme
Presenting duo Richard Madeley and Judy Finnigan are bringing a teatime book show to Channel 4 featuring virtual appearances by authors and celebrity guests during the lockdown.

The duo's new programme “Richard & Judy: Keep Reading and Carry On” starts on 4th May at 5.30pm.

Produced by Label1, it will be a “fast turnaround” five-part series, airing over one week.

Poem of the Week
English Heritage commissioned Brian Patten to write this poem for St. George’s Day in 2008.

The True Dragon – Brian Patten
St George was out walking
He met a dragon on a hill,
It was wise and wonderful
Too glorious to kill

It slept amongst the wild thyme
Where the oxlips and violets grow
Its skin was a luminous fire
That made the English landscape glow

Its tears were England’s crystal rivers
Its breath the mist on England’s moors
Its larder was England’s orchards,
Its house was without doors

St George was in awe of it
It was a thing apart
He hid the sleeping dragon
Inside every English heart

So on this day let’s celebrate
England’s valleys full of light,
The green fire of the landscape
Lakes shivering with delight

Let’s celebrate St George’s Day,
The dragon in repose;
The brilliant lark ascending,
The yew, the oak, the rose

Book of the Week
The Pursuit of Love
Nancy Mitford

Laura Thompson, in the magnificent essay which begins her book Take Six Girls - The Lives of the Mitford Sisters, suggests that Nancy Mitford’s writing ‘fascinates’ women today due to “a kind of confidence that, for all their greater freedom, today’s women do not find it easy to possess”.

The Pursuit of Love established the ‘myth of the Mitfords’ in 1945 and was an instant bestseller on publication.

Charming, hilarious, firmly of its time, outrageous, playful and ironically snobbish, the extremely thinly disguised Mitford family become 'The Radletts' of Alconleigh. Slight, entertaining and highly readable, The Pursuit of Love will transport you to a landscape of tragedy, heartache, breath-taking vivacity and enormous wit.

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