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Ely Events and Reading Groups

In this atmospheric medieval city, just over an hour from London by train, author events range from reading groups and intimate events in the bookshop to the drama of performances under the world-renowned Octagon of Ely Cathedral. We hold events all year round, but in the autumn there is a special focus on the Ely Literary Festival.

Emma Soames

Tuesday 28th September, 7.30pm

‘I am not a great or important personage, but this will be the diary of an ordinary person’s life in war time. Though I may never live to read it again, perhaps it may not prove altogether uninteresting as a record of my life’ In 1939 seventeen-year-old Mary found herself in an extraordinary position at […] See more »

Harry Sidebottom

Thursday 30th September, 7.30pm

 AD265 – In the shadow of Mount Etna, slaves are rising up. As the rebel leader declares Sicily the new land of the free, men and women are slaughtered, and cities across the island are sacked and burned. When a ship is wrecked off the island’s west coast, all but two survivors are cut down […] See more »

An Evening with Tristram Hunt

Friday 1st October, 7.30pm

A spectacular new biography of the great designer, entrepreneur, abolitionist and beacon of the Industrial Revolution, from acclaimed historian and Director of the Victoria and Albert Museum, Tristram Hunt Josiah Wedgwood, perhaps the greatest English potter who ever lived, epitomized the best of his age. From his kilns and workshops in Stoke-on-Trent, he revolutionized the […] See more »

Rescheduled: Tim Parks on The Hero’s Way

Wednesday 6th October, 7.30pm

Bestselling author Tim Parks follows the hair-raising journey of Italian revolutionary Giuseppe Garibaldi, 250-miles on foot from Rome to Ravenna, to explore Italy’s past and present. In the summer of 1849, Giuseppe Garibaldi, Italy’s legendary revolutionary hero, was finally forced to abandon his defence of Rome. He and his men had held the besieged city […] See more »

Pam Ayres on Animals

Thursday 7th October, 7.30pm

‘Oh WHY must you bark at the postman? Why must you batter my ears? I know it seems rum But the postman has come Every morning for TWENTY-FIVE YEARS.’ From her very first encounter with a friendly golden Labrador at just three years old, Pam Ayres has been enchanted by animals. Now, for the first […] See more »

Stevie Van Zandt

Friday 8th October, 7.30pm

Stevie van Zandt comes under the heading of Rock Royalty. He’s best known as a member of Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band, playing guitar and mandolin. An accomplished actor, he starred in all seven seasons of The Sopranos and all three seasons of Lilyhammer. Unrequited Infatuations chronicles the twists and turns of Stevie Van Zandt’s […] See more »

Gyles Brandreth

Monday 11th October, 7.30pm

‘I am what my childhood made me.’ But what is that exactly, Gyles? Who are you? And why? In Odd Boy Out Gyles Brandreth provides an extraordinarily revealing account of growing up and coming of age in an apparently well-to-do but always strapped-for-cash middle-class English family. It is a story about the ordinary things – family life, […] See more »

Reading Group: Staying On by Paul Scott & The English Teacher by R.K. Narayan

Tuesday 12th October, 7.30pm

From their different viewpoints, both Scott and Narayan offer richly detailed, warmly sympathetic pictures of Indian provincial life, as the British Raj began to give way to the energies of a new nation. See more »

Reading Group: Mr Wilder & Me by Jonathan Coe

Tuesday 12th October, 7.30pm

Coe’s latest novel is a comfortingly nostalgic coming off age, or rather coming-of-old-age novel probing the twilight years of a Hollywood Great.  Billy Wilder is predominantly famous for Oscar winning comedies and noirs including Sunset Boulevard and Some Like It Hot.  Here though, we meet him in the 1970’s through the eyes of the young […] See more »

Martin Latham and The Bookseller’s Tale

Wednesday 13th October, 7.30pm

A SPECTATOR AND EVENING STANDARD BOOK OF THE YEAR 2020 ‘A joy. Each chapter instantly became my favourite’ David Mitchell, author of Cloud Atlas This is the story of our love affair with books, whether we arrange them on our shelves, inhale their smell, scrawl in their margins or just curl up with them in bed. Taking us on a […] See more »

An Evening with Natalie Starkey

Friday 15th October, 7.30pm

The volcano – among the most familiar and perhaps the most terrifying of all geological phenomena. However, Earth isn’t the only planet to harbour them. Join us for an expert exploration of the Solar System’s volcanoes by Natalie Starkey, from the highest peaks of Mars to the intensely inhospitable surface of Venus and the red-hot […] See more »

Michael Morpurgo

Thursday 21st October, 7.30pm

The UK’s favourite storyteller is back in Ely! The wonderful Michael Morpurgo joins us for an evening of live music, poetry and storytelling. To celebrate the publication of The Carnival of the Animals we’ll be welcoming the country’s most celebrated author together with musicians for the most magical evening of our Autumn Literary Festival. A […] See more »

Frankie Dettori

Tuesday 26th October, 7.30pm

Legendary jockey, Frankie Dettori, shares his remarkable life story in this astonishingly intimate autobiography. When Lanfranco ‘Frankie’ Dettori arrived on British shores in 1985, aged just 14, he couldn’t speak a word of English. Having left school just a year earlier and following in the footsteps of his father, he was eager to become a […] See more »

Colin Thubron

Wednesday 27th October, 7.30pm

In his 80th year, acclaimed travel writer and novelist Colin Thubron made a dramatic and ambitious journey along the almost unknown river that divides China and Russia. The tenth longest river in the world, rising in the Mongolian  mountains and flowing through Siberia to the Pacific, the Amur River forms the tense border between Russia […] See more »

Simon Armitage

Thursday 4th November, 7.30pm

“You’re beautiful because when you were born, undiscovered planets lined up to peep over the rim of your cradle and lay gifts of gravity and light at your miniature feet”   In March 2020 Simon Armitage launched a podcast, The Poet Laureate Has Gone To His Shed, also broadcast on BBC Radio 4. It’s been […] See more »

Max Hastings

Monday 8th November, 7.30pm

The gripping story of an epic battle at sea, from one of Britain’s most acclaimed historians of war. In August 1942, beleaguered Malta was within weeks of surrender to the Axis, because its 300,000 people could no longer be fed. Churchill made a personal decision that at all costs, the ‘island fortress’ must be saved. […] See more »

An Evening with Mary Beard

Tuesday 9th November, 7.30pm

From the bestselling author of SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome, the fascinating story of how images of Roman autocrats have influenced art, culture, and the representation of power for more than 2,000 years What does the face of power look like? Who gets commemorated in art and why? And how do we react to statues of […] See more »

An Evening with Dr Irving Finkel

Wednesday 10th November, 7.30pm

There are few things more in common across cultures than the belief in ghosts. Ghosts inhabit something of the very essence of what it is to be human. Whether we personally ‘believe’ or not, we are all aware of ghosts and the rich mythologies and rituals surrounding them. They have inspired, fascinated and frightened us […] See more »

Robin Ince

Thursday 11th November, 7.30pm

Comedian Robin Ince quickly abandoned science at school, bored by a fog of dull lessons and intimidated by the barrage of equations. But, twenty years later, he fell in love and he now presents one of the world’s most popular science podcasts. Every year he meets hundreds of the world’s greatest thinkers. In this latest […] See more »

Tracy Borman

Monday 15th November, 7.30pm

The British monarchy is the one of the most iconic and enduring institutions in the world. It has weathered the storms of rebellion, revolution and war that brought many of Europe’s royal families to an abrupt and bloody end. Its unique survival owes much to the fact that, for all its ancient traditions and protocol, […] See more »

Jane Ridley on George V

Tuesday 16th November, 7.30pm

The lasting reputation of George V is for dullness. He was a crack shot, and an outstanding stamp collector, but that’s about it. The flamboyance and hedonism of his father, Edward VII, defined an era whose influence and magnetism are still felt today. The contrast between the two could hardly be greater. But is that […] See more »

Jenny Uglow

Wednesday 17th November, 7.30pm

From one of our most admired writers, a beautifully illustrated story of a dynamic artistic partnership between the wars. In 1922, Cyril Power, a fifty-year old architect, left his family to work with the twenty-four year old Sybil Andrews. They would be together for twenty years. Both became famous for their dynamic, modernist linocuts, streamlined, […] See more »

Malcolm Gaskill

Thursday 18th November, 7.30pm

‘The best and most enjoyable kind of history writing … thought-provoking and absorbing’ Hilary Mantel In the frontier town of Springfield in 1651, peculiar things begin to happen. Precious food spoils, livestock ails and property vanishes. People suffer fits and are plagued by strange visions and dreams. Children sicken and die. As tensions rise, rumours […] See more »

An Evening with Matt Tebbutt & Olly Smith

Monday 22nd November, 7.30pm

Matt Tebbutt is used to spending his Saturdays cooking – as the host of BBC TV’s Saturday Kitchen and his new book Weekend includes a whole weekend’s worth of culinary inspiration. From casual Friday night supper to brunch with friends, light lunches and garden feasts, picnics and barbecues, to more lavish dinner parties and the classic Sunday lunch, Matt has all […] See more »

Sebastian Faulks on Snow Country

Tuesday 23rd November, 7.30pm

From the phenomenally successful author of Birdsong and Charlotte Gray comes this landmark novel of exquisite yearnings, dreams of youth and the sanctity of hope Snow Country. In elegant, shimmering prose, Sebastian Faulks has produced a work of timeless resonance. Set in Vienna during the First World War and in the looming shadow of the rise of Fascism, Faulks’ elegant, psychologically […] See more »

An Evening with Salley Vickers

Wednesday 1st December, 7.30pm

“Salley Vickers sees with a clear eye and writes with a light hand. She’s a presence worth cherishing” Philip Pullman. Salley Vickers’ The Gardener  is a charming new novel about two very different sisters who buy a ramshackle cottage together. When the sisters hire Murat, who has recently arrived in Hope Wenlock from Albania, to be their gardener, […] See more »

Dr Annie Gray

Friday 3rd December, 7.30pm

Join us for a Christmas evening with festive refreshments and live food preparation as we begin to celebrate everything that’s brilliant about our favourite time of the year. And right now, it’s what we all need!! For many people Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without a turkey and trimmings, pudding and brandy butter. But where do […] See more »

Simon Thurley and Palaces of Revolution

Thursday 9th December, 7.30pm

‘This is a landmark book. Nobody interested in Tudor England can afford not to own a copy of this gateway into a lost world … compulsively readable’ Country Life The story of the Stuart dynasty is a breathless soap opera played out in just a hundred years in an array of buildings that span Europe […] See more »

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