Grace Dent has date marked in diary under ‘JOY’

Today (Tuesday 27 April) we announced that the festival will go ahead this Summer, returning to Suffolk and a brand new venue.

Primadonna 2021 promises the same unique mix of big names and emerging voices in fiction and non-fiction, as well as comedy, live music, food, performance and more – the same ingredients which made the festival such a smorgasbord of delight when launched.

‘This year will be really special,’ says author and activist, and festival co-founder, Catherine Mayer. ‘To the intense joy of the festival add the sheer delight of interacting with other people in real life and real time.’

‘We’re excited to put on an event that will help lift people after the collective hardship of the past year,’ Mayer continues. ‘There is a wonderful programme in progress and plenty of fantastic talent already confirmed to participate.’

The talent includes Grace Dent and Andi Oliver, queens of the TV top table, who will talk food, glorious food and plenty more in an intimate, irreverent conversation that they promise will satisfy all appetites.

Dent said: ‘Primadonna is one of the UK’s most exciting new cultural events. I cannot think of a better way to spend a Saturday afternoon in July than on stage with my friend Andi Oliver talking and laughing about life, food and the paths that led us here. It’s already in my diary under the heading JOY.’

Shola Mos-Shogbamimu (famously Piers Morgan’s nemesis and author of This is Why I Resist) will feature in ‘Piers Off’, a session looking at resistance and changing the narrative, taking down a target or two along the way. And journalist and author Bee Rowlatt, who led the campaign for a statue of Mary Wollstonecraft on Newington Green – which became one of the most contentious pieces of public art this century – will talk all things monumental with historian Alex von Tunzelmann and other experts in an event on the problematic issue of public statuary.

Additional names confirmed so far are Exciting Times author and Women’s Prize longlistee Naoise Dolan; Michele Roberts, author of 12 highly acclaimed novels and former Booker shortlistee; Adele Parks, author 20 bestselling novels in 20 years that have been translated into more than 30 different languages; anti-racism advocate and activist Sophie Williams, author of Anti Racist Ally and the upcoming Millennial Black; and writer and theatre-maker Stella Duffy, author of 16 novels, 65 short stories, and 14 plays. Catherine Mayer, who has written Good Grief, a memoir about her widowhood at the start of the pandemic, will urge a fresh approach to grief, all the more urgent at a time not only of widespread bereavement but other forms of loss.

Funny women will also feature, with Helen Lederer in conversation with publisher Lisa Milton (one of the festival co-founders) in a no-holds-barred confessional covering the highs and lows of these two indomitable women’s careers.

As before, Primadonna will be lining up top talent from across the book world – including agents, publishers, promoters and journalists – enabling attendees to directly pitch their work or ask industry figures for advice. Two aspiring writers who went to the first Primadonna came away with book deals, and one of the virtual festival’s participants now writes for Radio 4’s NewsJack under the mentorship of Sioned William, a Primadonna co-founder and BBC Radio 4 commissioning editor for comedy.

Opening up access to literature and the arts is one of the festival’s USPs. With this in mind, it will run its own Creative Writing ‘Masters’ programme, with teaching modules delivered by Kit de Waal, Shelley Silas, Christy Lefteri and other celebrated authors. With Creative Writing MAs now an established route to getting published, the Primadonna MA won’t require the financial and time commitment of an academic course, but it will not stint on the quality of its teaching. Or of its certificates.

‘We are putting together a weekend of big ideas and small wonders,’ says Festival Director Catherine Riley. ‘We see Primadonna as ‘the world as it should be, for one weekend’ (also the name of the Primadonna podcast) and we’re working hard to make it three days of creativity, joy and laughter that might change more lives. That’s pretty good for the price of a festival ticket.’

Early bird tickets are available now: click here to buy.