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Cream tea with Alexander McCall Smith

Last weekend we were lucky enough to welcome Alexander McCall Smith when he joined us at The Piece Hall for Cream Tea and conversation. A full house and a wonderful atmosphere as our audience enjoyed a beautiful home-made cream tea served by our friends at The Deli, while listening to a mix of poetry, readings and anecdotes, covering his life and work as  he celebrates 20 years of the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency.

Director of the Huddersfield Literature Festival Michelle Hodgson was interviewing, and together they  discussed Alexander’s new books including the stand alone novel The Good Pilot Peter Woodhouse, his poetry anthology A Gathering, and the latest in the No. 1 Ladies’ series. He also talked about his children’s books and there was a special moment when Alexander bought and signed a copy of this latest children’s book for a young fan.

He finished the afternoon with a browse in the shop, and left us with a wonderful quote…

“what a pleasure to go into a bookshop like this! Temptation upon temptation! And what a pleasure to yield…” Alexander McCall Smith,  The Book Corner 2018

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Festival of Words

We are pleased to announce that there will be a second Halifax Festival of Words on the 4th-6th October. For the full programme, please visit the Halifax Festival of Words website.

The Book Corner and  The Grayston Unity wish to thank everyone who supported the very first Halifax Festival of Words. It was a buzzing weekend filled with poetry, music, books, impromptu dancing and great chat. It was a pleasure and a privilege to share it with so many brilliant locals in this fine old town.

The Book Corner (Piece Hall) and The Grayston Unity have joined together to organise & curate the first ever Halifax Festival of Words. It will take place in the town between the 11th & 14th October. It’s a festival that celebrates the use of language through books, music, spoken word and illustration.

Downloadable Programme

Thursday 11th October

7.30pm and 8.45pm: David Glover Talk – Branwell Bronte and his Halifax Connections. The Grayston Unity. £3

In 1817, Branwell Bronte was born a few miles from Halifax. His sisters were to achieve worldwide fame, but Branwell had poems published in Halifax long before they went into print. By no means as successful as his sisters in the literary field, he showed great talent; but what went wrong? David takes a look at this talented but flawed young man, and invites you to discover his acquaintances in the Halifax area. Tickets from The Grayston Unity

Friday 12th October 

7:00pm – 8:00pm: How to Get Published Without an Agent or Travelling Down to London. The Book Corner. £3

Mr and Mrs Moose (1)Join us for an evening of publishing advice from multi-award winning independent publishers Kevin and Hetha Duffy from Bluemoose Books.


7.30pm: Elizabeth Alker (BBC 6 Music) in Conversation with Hookworms. The Grayston Unity. £5

Limited capacity. Tickets £5 (all monies going to a charity of Hookworm’s choice) available from The Grayston Unity. One of the stars of BBC 6 Music in conversation with Hookworms, a band flying high after the release of their latest album Microshift. Tickets from The Grayston Unity

8:00pm: Happy Heads. The Grayston Unity. Free

Happy Heads DJ set with a leftfield selection of indie, funk, reggae & soul, all on vinyl records, in our back room.

Saturday 13th October

11:00 – 11:30am: Harry Heape Book Reading and Signing. The Book Corner. Free

Harry Heape

Bookworms! Join us for a reading and signing from Harry Heape, author of the Shiny Pippin series. ‘Pippin’s just an ordinary little girl who lives with her ordinary little granny in the ordinary little town of Funsprings. Or so she thinks.

Harry Heape is an artist, a visionary and a very successful none of your businessman. When he was a little boy, Harry dreamed of being a writer, and a Police dog. A shy and quiet man, Harry lives and writes in deepest, darkest Hahahahalifax.’

12:30pm til late: A Day Out at Market. Albany Arcade, Borough Market. Free

A day and evening of talks, poetry, q&a’s and live music in the Albany Arcade within Halifax’s Victorian Borough Market. There will be a pop up can/spirit bar and street food & pop up book shops. The line up…

12.30pm Festival Opening… The Landlubbers – we may be 70 miles from the sea but expect shanties Halifax style.

1:45pm We Are Willow – A Different Light film – spoken word – music UK art collective We Are Willow has teamed up with mental health charity Manchester Mind to contribute to continued awareness of male mental health issues, with proceeds from the project going to the charity. The work features four film commissions and a new 12 track album release of songs, spoken word and remixes officially launched on World Mental Health Day October 10th 2018. Halifax Festival Of Words showcases the four film commissions featuring tracks from the album along with a live performance by two of the spoken word artists Ben Mellor and Jackie Hagan.

2:45pm Embrace in conversation with Merlin Kalanovic.

Approaching the 20th anniversary of their classsic debut album, members of Embrace will be in conversation with Merlin, local resident and tour manager for The Charlatans, Klaxons, Divine Comedy & Embrace.

3:45pm Singer Songwriters Born of the Valley – the area’s best singer songwriters brought together on one stage to take turns in performing their own material. Gareth Scott, Jess Thristan, Craig Fee & Dave Gaunt

4.45pm Rook & The Ravens Music. From the Derbyshire hills, this great band know a tune or two with the lyrics to go with them too. They’ve just finished recording their third album and have toured the UK & the USA extensively over the past 10 years. Expect Neil Youngesque vocal harmonies & searing keyboards and guitars.

6.15pm James Endeacott in Conversation. James Endeacott in conversation with Chris Dyson. Talk. James is something of a legend within the music industry. He worked for Rough Trade A&R The Strokes, discovered The Libertines and owns 1965 Records. A regular on 6 Music, expect stories galore from his time spent in the industry. His Rough Trade pamphlet has just come out too

7:15pm Keiron Higgins. Kieron Higgins is a poet/ranter from Halifax, West Yorkshire. Over the years which seen him build up a prolific CV of been a musician, DJ and artist he became a poet in 2012 after seeing the likes of Hebden Bridge based Punk Poet Cayn White. His work in which he supported former Crass frontman Steve Ignorant, New York based Anti-Folk musician Jeffery Lewis and Punk poet Attila The Stockbroker he has published two volumes of poetry since 2016-2017. His style is sometimes political, funny and poignant with references to the likes of Seething Wells and John Cooper Clarke.

8:00pm James Endeacott DJ set. A dj? In the Borough Market. Why not? Expect some right tunes. Finishes 10pm back to the Grayston for drinks.

1:00 – 1:30pm & 3:00 – 3:30pm: We Are Willow. Film Screenings. The Grayston Unity. Free

A DIFFERENT LIGHT film will be shown in the back room of The Grayston Unity prior to the performance at The Albany Arcade in Borough Market. Limited capacity. First come first seated (free).

1:30pm: The Story of Barmcake Magazine. The Grayston Unity. Free

Taking place in the back room of The Grayston Unity. Free entry. Get there to get a seat.

Barmcake Magazine is magazine which aims to provide ‘entertainment for the middle aged’. It’s all very much the idea of founder, editor, writer and publisher Dave Griffiths. Come along to hear the story of this great little magazine.

3:00 – 4:00pm Dragon Daughter Egg Trail. The Book Corner. Free

Dragon Daughter

Bookworms! Can you find the precious dragon eggs that are being kept safe within The Piece Hall? Come to The Book Corner and we’ll send you on a special mission…

4.00 – 5.00pm: Liz Flanagan – Dragon Daughter Book Launch and Signing. The Book Corner. Free

Liz Flanagan cr Sarah Mason

Bookworms! On the island of Arcosi, dragons and their riders used to rule the skies. But now they are only legends, found in bedtime stories, on beautiful murals and ancient jewellery. Then servant girl Milla witnesses a murder and finds herself caring for the last four dragon eggs.

Liz Flanagan writes for children and young adults. She teaches creative writing and lives in Hebden Bridge with her family.

5:30 – 6:30pm: Jim Ghedi & Toby Hay (Duo). The Grayston Unity. Free

Jim Ghedi and Toby Hay both make music so deeply entrenched in a sense of place – such as their homes in Rhayader and Moss Valley – that the landscapes of those environments runs through their records like gushing rivers or rolling hill tops. But what happens when one is removed from such a sense of place? Plucked away from the dark skies, savage weather and isolation of a Welsh town or the community at the heart of a village on the border of South Yorkshire and North East Derbyshire, and onto an open road of hours spent in cars and dining in service stations, when life on tour brings about a new sense of place daily? The answer for the pair was to make a record about it.

In The Grayston Unity’s 18 capacity back room. Get there in good time to get a seat.

6.30 – 7.30pm: A Sense of Place: How the Calder Valley shaped our writing. Sarah Dunnakey & Linda Green in Conversation. The Book Corner. £3

Sarah Dunnakey and Linda Green have both written novels set in the Calder Valley. They will be discussing how the local landscape and its people have inspired and shaped their fiction.

Sarah Dunnakey writes and verifies questions for several  TV quiz shows including University Challenge, Mastermind, Fifteen to One and Pointless. Her work, especially researching the Specialist Subjects on Mastermind, has been a rich source of ideas for her writing. Her short story, ‘The Marzipan Husband’ was broadcast on BBC Radio 4. The Companion is Sarah’s first novel. It won a Northern Writer’s Award and was selected for Read Regional 2018. Originally from Teesside, she now lives in Hebden Bridge.

Linda Green is the bestselling author of eight novels. Her latest novel, After I’ve Gone, published by Quercus, is a top five Amazon kindle bestseller. Her previous novel, While My Eyes Were Closed, was the fourth bestselling novel on Amazon kindle in 2016, selling more than 450,000 copies across all editions. She lives in West Yorkshire with her husband and son.

To book your tickets, please click here.

Linda & Sarah

8:30 – 10:30pm: Turn The Page 8. The Book Corner. £1 – SOLD OUT

Turn the Page

Turn The Page is a Poetry and Spoken Word night in The Piece Hall, founded and hosted by Katie Atkinson. We are very excited to be celebrating the one year anniversary of Turn The Page, as part of the Halifax Festival of Words.

To book your tickets, please click here.

Sunday 14th October

10.30 – 11.00am Cathy Calvert – Ned, go to bed. The Book Corner. Free

Cathy Calvert and NedBookworms! Come along and hear local author Cathy Calvert read her story Ned go to bed. Ned is a very busy dog. He has fun every day. Will Mum ever get him to go to bed? VIP Ned will be making a special guest appearance.

11.30am: Rachel Cullen Running for my Life. The Book Corner. Free


Rachel is a runner and author from Halifax. A funny, heartfelt and inspirational story of one woman’s marathon journey through mental illness. Suffering from depression but desperate for ‘normality, she found herself in failing relationships, the wrong career and a reliance on alcohol and chocolate to get her through each day. Stuck in an endless cycle of mental misery, she put on a pair of old trainers.

For runners and non-runners alike, Rachel talks about issues relating to her own experiences.

Tickets are free. To register your interest, please click here.

3:00 – 4:00pm: Amit Dattani. The Grayston Unity. Free

Live in the back room (the UK’s smallest music venue). Free entry. Get there early to get a seat.

Having played guitar, banjo and lap slide guitar in a number of roots bands across the Midlands, Amit has recorded a solo album (garnering airplay on BBC Radio 6 and BBC Radio 2) – a collection of stripped back songs with just guitar and voice, and has shared the stage with the likes of Charlie Parr, John Smith, Blind Boy Paxton, Willy Vlautin, Kathryn Williams and Mark Morris.

“Echoes of John Fahey and Leo Kottke” – Roots and Branches

“A fantastic picker!” – Charlie Parr

3.30 – 4.30pm: Marilyn Gwizdak Greenwood The Whistler. The Book Corner. £3

WhistlerJoin local author Marilyn Gwizdak Greenwood as she discusses her harrowing true story, The Whistler.

Never knowing the fate of her Polish grandfather, the author received a copy of a death warrant bearing his name in the mid 90’s. She knew her family held many untold secrets of their past – something she felt should be revealed.  What she eventually discovered after much research was shocking and unbelievable – it is now referred to as “The Unknown Holocaust”.  This is not only the story of the fate of her family, but of a further 2 million Polish people.  It is a story shared by descendants of survivors who, as with the author’s family, are now dispersed throughout the world.

To book your tickets, please click here.

4:30 – 5:30pm: Anne-Marie Henderson. The Grayston Unity. Free

Playing our back room (the UK’s smallest music venue). Free. Get there early to get a seat.

Anne-Marie Sanderson’s voice is evocative of birds in flight – soaring, gliding, swooping – and it finds its home among the tall trees of her deft guitar work. Describing Anne-Marie’s distinctive indie-folk music in these terms is apt; she is an artist who casts a careful eye and an attentive ear to the natural world, alternating between wide-eyed wonder and wry observation.

With two EPs already released into the wild, Anne-Marie’s “Book Songs Vol. 1” EP, a collection of songs inspired by books, is due in April. Anne-Marie will be appearing in libraries, bookshops, music venues and festivals across the UK and Europe throughout 2018.

Recent performing highlights include being selected to open for Ralph McTell at the Cambridge Corn Exchange, and opening the Acoustic Stage at Manchester Pride 2017. After a decade spent living all over the map, Anne-Marie has recently returned to her native Cumbria, where she now lives in Kendal.

For fans of Nick Drake, Vashti Bunyan, Lisa Hannigan and books.

5.00 – 6.00pm: Jill Liddington – How women won the vote in Halifax. The Book Corner. £3

Jill Liddington cropped (44)In December 1918, women could for the very first time go to the polls to elect their MP. Votes for Women was won only after a long and bitter struggle. In Halifax, suffragettes had marched, endured prison, and boycotted the government’s 1911 census. Among them was Laura Willson, a working-class girl who became a weaver, and Lavena Saltonstall, a tailoress in a clothing factory. How did they help win the women the vote in Halifax – and what did they do afterwards?

Jill Liddington is a suffrage historian. Her books include One Hand Tied Behind Us (1978), Rebel Girls: their fight for the vote (2006) and Vanishing for the Vote: suffrage, citizenship and the battle for the census (2014).

To book your tickets, please click here.

6:00pm: Wonky Puss: The Grayston Unity. Free

Wonkypuss are a scrappy DIY duo from Sowerby Bridge. Singing shit songs about seagulls, Bonnie Tyler and jelly babies, you will be encouraged to sing along and join in.

7.00pm til late: Poetry Night. The Book Corner. £3

Come and listen to the words of talented local poets and celebrate the end of the festival with us. Featuring Sarah Corbett, Vicky Gatehouse, Gaia Holmes, Keith Hutson, Ross Kightly and Mark Pajak.

To book your tickets, please click here.

Poets 2

Rescheduled – Saturday 20th October – 6:30 – 8:00pm. Burning Brightly: Northern Voices in YA. The Book Corner. £3

Mark Illis in conversation with Melvin Burgess, Liz Flanagan and Danielle Jawando. Join them for a discussion on writing for young adults and themes in YA fiction.

Melvin Burgess knows how to write for teenagers – he was one of the first, and best, to write unashamedly and specifically for young adults. He blazed into national consciousness with his 1996 Carnegie Medal-winning novel Junk.

Liz Flanagan writes for children and young adults. She teaches creative writing and lives in Hebden Bridge with her family.

Danielle Jawando screenwriter and associate lecturer at Roehampton University. Danielle has previously worked as a storyline writer on Coronation Street. And The Stars Were Burning Brightly is her first YA novel, and will be published by Simon & Schuster in 2020.

Mark’s Young Adult novel The Impossible was published in 2017. The sequel, The Impossible on the Run, came out in July 2018. He writes for TV and radio, has written a prize-winning screenplay and has published five novels for adults.

To book your tickets, please click here.

YA Panel

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Seven Summer Picks – Bookworms

Here are seven brilliant books that we highly recommend for your summer reading. We are delighted to offer £1 off each of them.

Secrets of a Sun King by Emma Carroll.

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London, 1922. A discovery from ancient Egypt. A cursed package. The untold story of a young pharaoh. When Lilian Kaye finds a parcel on her grandad’s doorstep, she is shocked to see who sent it: a famous Egyptologist, found dead that very morning, according to every newspaper in England!The mysterious package holds the key to a story about a king whose tomb archaeologists are desperately hunting for. Lil and her friends must embark on an incredible journey – to return the package to its resting place, to protect those they love, and to break the deadly pharaoh’s curse .

Shiny Pippin and the Monkey Burglars by Harry Heape.

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Permit me lovely readers to take you back in time. The first thing that I want you to do is to close your eyes and breathe deeply. Okay, great, now open them again very slowly.

Are you ready? Good, then let us begin. Featuring Lady Eliot! A brand new detective agency with a terrible mystery to solve! An awful burglary! Mungo’s heroics! Lady Eliot falling in love. A dazzlingly beautiful song about eggs.

The Storm Keeper’s Island by Catherine Doyle.

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When Fionn Boyle sets foot on Arranmore Island, it begins to stir beneath his feet. Once in a generation, Arranmore Island chooses a new Storm Keeper to wield its power and keep its magic safe from enemies. The time has come for Fionn’s grandfather, a secretive and eccentric old man, to step down. Soon, a new Keeper will rise. But, deep underground, someone has been waiting for Fionn. As the battle to become the island’s next champion rages, a more sinister magic is waking up, intent on rekindling an ancient war.

The Hippo At The End Of The Hall by Helen Cooper.

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The invitation was delivered by bees. It wasn’t addressed to anyone at all, but Ben knew it was for him. It would lead him to an old, shambolic museum, full of strange and bewitching creatures. A peculiar world of hidden mysteries and curious family secrets

and some really dangerous magic. Filled with her own wonderful illustrations, The Hippo at the End of the Hall is Helen Cooper’s debut novel.

Rose Rivers by Jacqueline Wilson.

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Rose Rivers lives in a beautiful house with her artist father, her difficult, fragile mother and her many siblings. She has everything money can buy – but she’s not satisfied. Why can’t she be sent away to a good school like her twin brother? Why can’t she learn to become a famous artist like her father or his friend Paris Walker? Why is life so unfair for people who were not born rich?When a young girl, Clover Moon, joins the household as a nursemaid to Rose’s troubled sister Beth, Rose finds a true friend for the first time and she starts to learn more about the world outside. Will Rose finally achieve her dreams? And will she be able to help Clover find her own dream?

The Lost Witch by Melvin Burgess

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Bea has started to hear and see things that no one else can – creatures, voices, visions. Then strangers visit Bea and tell her she is different: she has the rare powers of a witch. They warn her she is being hunted. Her parents think she is hallucinating and needs help. All Bea wants to do is get on with her life, and to get closer to Lars, the mysterious young man she has met at the skate park. But her life is in danger, and she must break free. The question is – who can she trust? Melvin Burgess returns with a powerful, thrilling fantasy for young adults about magic, myth and following your instincts.

Moonrise by Sarah Crossan.

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They think I hurt someone. But I didn’t. You hear?Cos people are gonna be telling you all kinds of lies. I need you to know the truth. Joe hasn’t seen his brother for ten years, and it’s for the most brutal of reasons. Ed is on death row. But now Ed’s execution date has been set, and Joe is determined to spend those last weeks with him, no matter what other people think. What value do you place on life? What can you forgive? And just how do you say goodbye?

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Seven Summer Picks for August

Needing some help to decide what to read next? Wondering what books to pack in your suitcase? Having a staycation and giving yourself plenty of reading time? Here are the books we will be reading over the summer and we’re delighted to offer £1 off each of them.

Image for The Beginning of the World in the Middle of the Night : an enchanting collection of modern fairy tales

The Beginning of The World in the Middle of The Night by Jen Campbell.

The Beginning of the World in the Middle of the Night is a collection of twelve haunting stories; modern fairy tales brimming with magic, outsiders and lost souls. Spirits in jam jars, mini-apocalypses, animal hearts and side shows. Mermaids are on display in the local aquarium. A girl runs a coffin hotel on a remote island. And a couple are rewriting the history of the world in the middle of the night.

Image for The Ministry of Utmost Happiness : `The Literary Read of the Summer' - Time

The Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy.

We meet Anjum, who used to be Aftab, who runs a guesthouse in an Old Delhi graveyard and gathers around her the lost, the broken and the cast out. We meet Tilo, an architect, who, although she is loved by three men, lives in a ‘country of her own skin’. When Tilo claims an abandoned baby as her own, her destiny and that of Anjum become entangled as a tale that sweeps across the years and a teeming continent takes flight . . .

Image for Other People's HousesOther People’s Houses by Lore Segal.

Nine months after the Nazi occupation of Austria, 600 Jewish Children assembled at Vienna station to board the first of the Kindertransports bound for Britain. Among them was 10 year old Lore Segal. For the next seven years, she lived as a refugee in other people’s houses, moving from the Orthodox Levines in Liverpool, to the staunchly working class Hoopers in Kent, to the genteel Miss Douglas and her sister in Guildford. Segal evokes with deep compassion, clarity and calm the experience of a child uprooted from a loving home to become stranded among strangers.

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The Beautiful Summer by Cesare Pavese.

Under the spell of her new friends, Ginia soon falls in love with Guido, an enigmatic young painter. It’s the start of a desperate love affair, charged with false hope and overwhelming passion – destined to last no longer than the course of a summer. The Beautiful Summer is a gorgeous coming-of-age tale of lost innocence and first love, by one of Italy’s greatest writers


Raising Sparks by Ariel Kahn.

Malka Sabbatto is a young woman who flees the confines of her traditional family in Jerusalem, followed by Moshe, a Russian immigrant and her father’s top student. After falling in with a sinister cult in Safed she escapes to Jaffa, where she starts to build a new life under the wing of an Arab chef. When she feels she has finally found contentment, a family tragedy forces her to return to Jerusalem.

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The Book of Hidden Things by Francesco Dimitri.

Four friends have a pact: to meet up on the same day every year in their small hometown in southern Italy. Art, the charismatic leader of the group, has always been adamant about the pact. But this year, he doesn’t show up. Searching for him, the friends make a worrying discovery: Art has been farming marijuana, a very dangerous activity in mafia-controlled country. And then, amongst the chaos of his house, they find a curious manuscript written by Art called The Book of Hidden Things, which promises to reveal secrets enchanting as flames, and just as treacherous…

Image for A Legacy of Spies

A Legacy of Spies by John le Carre.

Peter Guillam, former disciple of George Smiley in the British Secret Service, has long retired to Brittany when a letter arrives, summoning him to London. The reason? Cold War ghosts have come back to haunt him. Intelligence operations that were once the toast of the Service are to be dissected by a generation with no memory of the Berlin Wall. Somebody must pay for innocent blood spilt in the name of the greater good .

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The Tiger Who Came To Tea

Tiger Tea Party

This much loved classic children’s book was first published in 1968 and is celebrating it’s 50th anniversary this year. Telling the story of Sophie and her hungry and thirsty tea time guest it is a perfect book to read aloud and also great for a child who has just learnt to read by themselves.



Along with the children’s book shop in Huddersfield we successfully bid for an opportunity to hold a tiger tea party and to have a visit from the tiger!

Reading TWCTT


Yesterday we held two well attended tea parties. We read the story, had drinks and buns (before the tiger could eat them), coloured in masks and did some puzzles and then had a visit from the tiger.


The children enjoyed meeting the tiger and having tiger cuddles and their photos taken.



Many thanks to everyone who came along and special thanks to the tiger for coming to visit us.