I founded the Smithdown Litfest after moving to Liverpool. Being involved in and contributing to the local community is important to me, particularly because my family roots are in the Smithdown Road area, going back to the 1800s.
The Smithdown Litfest has author talks and readings for all ages, in community venues along the Smithdown Road corridor ‒ from Toxteth to Allerton. The aim of the Litfest is to present a programme of stimulating and enjoyable author events for local residents, and to encourage visitors from Liverpool and beyond to experience the culture and heritage in the area too. It is run by volunteers through a not-for-profit company, and all events are free to attend.
The first Smithdown Litfest was in 2017 and the guest speakers were Professor Phil Scraton, author of Hillsborough: The Truth and primary author of the Hillsborough Independent Panel report; Howard Gayle, the first black footballer in Liverpool FC’s 89-year history to play at first team level; acclaimed scriptwriter, playwright and author Jonathan Harvey; bestselling novelist Jane Costello; family saga author June Francis, children’s author Jon Mayhew; and the Litfest patron – award-winning crime writer Margaret Murphy (aka AD Garrett and Ashley Dyer).
The speakers for the 2018 Smithdown Litfest were crime fiction authors Luca Veste and David Jackson; Andy Grant, the world’s fastest single leg amputee; Doctors scriptwriter Linda Thompson; bestselling children’s author Cathy Cassidy; Peter Turner, author of Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool; children’s author and Harry Potter illustrator Jonny Duddle; and crime writer Ashley Dyer and forensics expert Helen Pepper.
The speakers for the 2019 Smithdown Litfest were crime fiction authors Ann Cleeves and Ashley Dyer; award-winning actor John McArdle; journalist Simon Hughes in conversation with Peter Hooton of The Farm; children’s author and Harry Potter illustrator Jonny Duddle; international cricketer Tatenda Taibu; crime thriller author Caz Finlay; and poets from the Quality of Mersey anthology.
The speakers for the 2021 Smithdown Litfest were bestselling saga writer Sheila Riley and acclaimed scriptwriter Jimmy McGovern.
The speakers for the 2022 Smithdown Litfest were “Voice of Anfield” George Sephton; historian Ken Pye; popular cast members of Brookside for a special 40th anniversary reunion; bestselling crime author C L Taylor; celebrated Liverpool Echo journalist Paddy Shennan; Olympic medalist Anyika Onuora; and children’s authors Jude Lennon and Susan Brownrigg.
The speakers for the 2023 Smithdown Litfest were legendary broadcaster Chris Tarrant; TV scriptwriter and producer Tony Schumacher (The Responder); writer Lucinda Hawksley; actor George Christopher (Grange Hill, Brookside); TV producer, historian and biographer Tony Nicholson; artist and curator Fran Disley; and children’s authors Jude Lennon and Susan Brownrigg.
The 2024 Smithdown Litfest will be 25th to 28th September 2024. More details will be announced in late spring/early summer.