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Willy Russell confirmed as literature festival guest

Press release   •   Sep 04, 2014 10:46 BST

Legendary dramatist, lyricist and composer Willy Russell will be amongst a host of big names at next month’s Rochdale Literature and Ideas Festival.

The much loved playwright, best known for Shirley Valentine, Educating Rita and smash hit West End musical, Blood Brothers, will be talking about his life during an ‘audience with’ show on the first evening of the 3 day festival – Friday 24 October.

Over the years his acclaimed work has attracted huge and appreciative audiences worldwide. A multiple award-winner, Willy Russell received BAFTA and Oscar nominations for Best Adapted Screenplay for both Educating Rita and Shirley Valentine.

In 2000 he published his first novel, The Wrong Boy, based on the character of Raymond Marks, a 19-year old from Manchester, writing to his hero Morrissey.

Rochdale Literature and Ideas Festival runs from Friday 24 to Sunday 26 October, with a feast of events covering drama, comedy, dance, music, theatre, films, visual arts and children’s shows. 

Willy Russell joins the line up alongside the previously announced singer/songwriter Lucy Spraggan, comedian Dave Spikey, television presenter Bill Turnbull, actress Jane Danson, DJ Liz Kershaw, author Chrissie Manby, poet Ian McMillan, writer Jackie Kay and performance poet Longfella. 

Tickets are available from or in person at the festival box office at Rochdale Central Library, Number One Riverside.

Councillor Neil Emmott, Cabinet Member for Corporate Services and Neighbourhoods said the festival is shaping up to be a fantastic event:

“To welcome Willy Russell, one of the most renowned playwrights to our second festival is a massive boost and I am sure he will be a very popular draw on the opening day.”

The festival will include guest speakers, authors, writers and local arts organisations and is aimed at encouraging more people to engage in reading and philosophy. It will include events at venues in Rochdale town centre and boroughwide, aimed at all ages.

The festival is due to the generosity of Annie and Frank Maskew, a Rochdale couple who shared a passion for reading and thinking, who originally met in Rochdale Library. They left a sum of money to be used on resources and events related to literature and philosophy to ensure classic works are available for future generations.

For festival updates on Twitter connect with @RochdaleLitFest

The festival is organised by Rochdale Borough Council, funded by the Maskew Bequest.

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