News Details

Festival Speakers sent to Prison

Monday 25th March 2013

Stratford-upon-Avon Literary Festival is sending two Sunday Times best-seller list crime writers to prison during the 2013 Festival. Mark Billingham and John Connolly will be talking about their writing and their new novels at a festival event on Wednesday 24th April, following which they will visit the inmates at HM Prison Long Lartin.

The visit is a World Book Night project and will bring the Festival to the inmates at the Worcestershire prison, and give them the opportunity to hear the two writers read from their work and receive complimentary books.

World Book Night, which actually takes place on 23rd April, is an annual event which aims to introduce books and reading to people who don’t often read, or don’t have regular access to books. 400,000 copies of 20 specially chosen books will be handed out by 20,000 volunteers across the country, to people in the hardest to reach communities. Another 100,000 will be distributed centrally to homeless shelters, prisons, hospitals and care-homes.

‘Almost half of the UK prison population struggle with literacy and being able to inspire them with great books and access to amazing writers is one of the things we're most proud of at World Book Night,' says Julia Kingsford, CEO World Book Night.  'We're thrilled to be working with Stratford Literary Festival to take Mark, one of our 2012 WBN authors, and John into HMP Long Lartin to talk to the prisoners - bringing the Festival directly to them.’

'I’m very much looking forward to going into Long Lartin prison in support of World Book Night on behalf of the Festival,' says Mark Billingham, whose latest book The Dying Hours is published in May. 'Readers are everywhere and it’s every bit as interesting and important to talk to those in prison as it is to meet the ones who come along to a nice comfy bookshop. On previous prison visits I have been lucky enough to meet some hugely enthusiastic readers and I’m sure it will be the same at Long Lartin.'

John Connolly adds: 'I've done a lot of prison events in Ireland, but this will be the first such visit that I've done in the UK. What I've found in the past is that prisoners are among the most appreciative of audiences.  At the very least, writers provide them with a bit of a break from the monotony of day-to-day life behind bars, but many of them are also avid and perceptive readers. It's appropriate that, on World Book Night, they shouldn't be forgotten, so I'm grateful to the Stratford Literary Festival for giving us the opportunity to talk with them.'

Annie Ashworth, Festival Director, is thrilled by this collaboration with World Book Night. 'Like our education and community projects, this is another strand to the Festival, which is a hugely valuable addition to our normal events, and we are very pleased to be working with Mark, John and the WBN team on this.'

The Mark Billingham and John Connolly will be held at 6.30pm on Wednesday 24th April 2013 at the Shakespeare Centre, Stratford-upon-Avon. Tickets cost £12 and are available by calling 01789 207100 or booking on line at

For more information on World Book Night visit

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