2022

This year’s lineup includes Jordan Stephens of hip hop duo Rizzle Kicks; bestselling author and screenwriter Juno Dawsonpodcaster Viv Groskop; screenwriter and author Abi Morgan (The Iron Lady, Suffragette, The Split); social media influencers Alex Light and Natalie Lee aka StyleMeSundaysuperstar musician La Roux; multiple-award winning writer and Primadonna Kit de Waal; TV presenter and writer June Sarpong; Sunday Times bestselling-author Cathy Rentzenbrink; top crime writer Erin Kelly… and many more famous names and emerging talent from the world of books, entertainment and music. Plus walkabout Alice in Wonderland, late-night disco sessions, pop-up dance classes, nature walks, stand-up and loads of things for kids to do. And if you’re a writer (or want to be) Primadonna offers you the chance to rub shoulders with agents, authors and publishers or take our ‘MA’. And loads more still to announce!

Abi Morgan & Cathy Rentzenbrink

These two hugely successful writers at the top of their game have at least one thing in common: they have written both fiction and memoir. Here they will be discussing the life experiences that they felt they had to write down, the limits of authorial honesty and the responsibility that comes with writing about family, love and real life.  Abi Morgan, who wrote Suffragette, The Iron Lady and BBC 1’s The Split among other smash hits, has moved from fiction to memoir with the publication of her new book This Is Not A Pity Memoir, out this spring to rave reviews, while Sunday Times bestselling-author Cathy Rentzenbrink wrote one of the most powerful memoirs of the past decade, The Last Act of Love, which chronicled a terrible accident in her family before moving into fiction with Everyone Is Still Alive which was published to great acclaim last year.

Kit de Waal and the Candid Book Club

It’s time to celebrate the book club and this one in particular – established in 2016 by five unique reading women of colour who lend their candid voices to books new, old and borrowed with the aim of getting as many people reading along as possible. Here they are turning their gaze onto national treasure Kit de Waal (surely she is by now!) whose bestselling debut novel My Name is Leon has been the “must watch” TV event of this year. Kit’s new memoir, Without Warning & Only Sometimes: Scenes from an Unpredictable Childhood is the story of growing up in a household of opposites and extremes. This wide ranging conversation will cover Kit’s impeccable writing career, the joy of the book club and the glory of being a Midlander born and bred. Don’t miss it!

La Roux: Been there, done that

International Superstar musician La Roux (Elly Jackson) won her first trio of awards before she was 20. A year later, she was collaborating with Kanye, and a year after that picked up a Grammy. In this wide-ranging chat with her friend, writer and activist Catherine Mayer, she’ll talk about the perils of life in the music industry, the pressures, press intrusions and social media madness and, of course, the misogyny. She will also discuss the thing that keeps her going: music – writing it, creating it, performing it.

Crown / Prosecution

As the Queen celebrated her Platinum Jubilee, the family and friends of Bibaa Henry and Nicole Smallman charted a sombre milestone: the second anniversary of the sisters’ murders by a stranger and subsequent dishonouring by police who ignored pleas to look for them and, when their bodies were found, circulated selfies. This is part of a wider picture of systemic failures by the police to protect women, especially women of colour, and of violence by officers including in 2021 the kidnap and slaughter of Sarah Everard by a serving policeman. Patsy Stevenson, rugby-tackled to the ground by officers during the vigil for Sarah, joins Shola Mos-Shogbamimu, lawyer and author of This Is Why I Resist, to discuss a wider picture still, how these events relate the culture and structures of a state headed for the last 70 years by a woman but also enmeshed in a history of colonialism and inequality. Chair Catherine Mayer, co-founder of the Women’s Equality Party and author of a biography of Prince Charles, will help Patsy and Shola examine the role of the Crown in the (in)justice system, the reasons for Meghan’s departure, the fallout from Prince Andrew, why the republican movement has made so little headway and whether that might soon change.

Jordan Stephens: how men can help

Winnie Li’s new novel Complicit explores the relationship between money and power and the culture of complicity, following a former film producer, forced to quit the industry because of a traumatic secret she has tried to keep buried over ten years. Here, she sits down to talk with Sophie Gallagher, author of How Men Can Help, and feminist ally Jordan Stephens, known for his brilliant music with Rizzle Kicks, to talk about #MeToo, male allyship and what needs to change in the battle to end misogyny and sexism. 

It’s been hard to avoid conversations about toxic relationships, with HeardvsDepp being live-streamed as infotainment and the Wagatha Christie trial showing vividly the breakdown of friendship into something far more seedy and #FreeBritney shining a spotlight on family exploitation. But away from the media circus, what are the signs and the solutions to toxicity in our own lives? How often should we ‘check in’ with someone to make sure we’re really ok? And is it possible to break a cycle, and get out of a bad situation before the shit hits the fan (or the duvet)? How to Leave Your Psychopath is a candid account of the complex, subtle nature of coercive control and abusive relationships from comedian Maddy Anholt, who – until her eyes were opened – had spent her entire dating life trapped in them. Here, Maddy talks about repeating destructive patterns and trying to heal with Laura Kay, whose new book Tell Me Everything plays out a therapist's own dysfunctional personal relationships and looks at how one might begin to take control of their own happiness.

Raceless

Journalist Georgina Lawton grew up believing she was white until the truth of her heritage came out after her father’s death. In her book Raceless, Georgina discusses what she terms a ‘fluid’ racial identity and explores the impact of growing up feeling isolated and trying to forge her own space in the world. She is joined by award-winning YA and children’s author Patrice Lawrence, who was born in Brighton and brought up in an Italian-Trinidadian household in Mid Sussex and whose first book for young adults, Orangeboy, was shortlisted for the Costa Children’s Book Award; and Sabrina Pace-Humphreys whose parents separated when she was two, after which Sabrina, her mother and her white-presenting younger sister moved to a small market town where no-one looked like her – an experience she explores in her new book Black Sheep. Together, they explore the experience of being brought up somewhere where no one looks like you, and the struggle to find an identity that fits.

Unwell women

From the idea of ‘wandering wombs’ in ancient Greece to new anxieties around Long Covid, what does it mean to be an unwell woman in a society that stigmatises disability and weights women under disproportionate societal pressures? Kuwaiti Palestinian author 

Shahd Alshammari discusses her book Head Above Water about her journey with MS and is joined by Elinor Cleghorn, author of Unwell Women who traces the history of women’s health from the witch trials to modern day medicine. In the chair is scholar and avid reader Sofia Rehman who specialises in research into the study of Islam, in particular as it relates to women.

Virtual Insanity

The influencer economy is huge and a top career choice for many. But beyond the big bucks, is influencer life as perfect as it appears on the screen? Is it really a route to fame and fortune? And are filters and curated timelines making us all hanker after unreality? Broadcaster Symeon Brown, author of Get Rich or Lie Trying, Ambition and Deceit in the New Influencer Economy, an investigation which is both portrait and critique of the influencer industry, is joined by Alice Sherwood whose new book Authenticity: Reclaiming Reality in a Counterfeit Culture looks at the forces that have opened up a world of inauthenticity, from Russia’s troll factories to ‘Tinder swindlers’, and teaches us how to fight back; and content creator and journalist Sophia Smith Galer, whose use of TikTok has won her 90 million views, a spot on this year's Forbes Under 30 list and another on TikTok's list of the top UK creators two years in a row for an entertaining and enlightening discussion on influencer culture. Chaired by Kieran Yates, a London-based journalist, broadcaster and editor who has been writing about culture, technology and politics for over 10 years. 

Let's Talk About Sex

In this candid conversation about sex, we sit down with three writers to talk openly about shame, sexuality and self. In a culture that is obsessed with telling us what to do, who to do it with and how often, is there room for authentic sexual expression? How dangerous are the messages we send to young people about sex? And how do we push back against stereotypes to create our own happy, healthy sex lives? With Lucy Ann Holmes, author of Women on Top of the World: What Women Think about When They're Having Sex, Natalie Lee, author of Feeling Myself: How I Shed My Shame to find Sexual Freedom and You Can Too, and Sophia Smith Galer, whose first book Losing It, published this spring, debunks sex misinformation.

Beauty (double) standards

What would ‘beauty’ look like if we lived in an equal world? Who gets to judge what beautiful is, does and will be? What difference does it make to have Black skin, carry more (or less) weight, be hairy or be in some way ‘other’ to the uniform images of the bodily ideal we see all around us, every day? In this wide-reaching discussion of all aspects of the beauty industry, we hear from body confidence influencer Alex Light; fashion blogger and influencer Natalie Lee (aka StyleMeSunday); and Anchal Seda who started out as a YouTuber posting makeup and beauty content and is now one of the few successful South Asian beauty influencers in the UK. In the chair is Primadonna Lisa Milton. 

Happily Ever After

What constitutes a “happy ending” in life?  Is it marriage, kids and a big house, or as Villanelle once said is that ‘BOOOORING!’? We ask three brilliant women, who’ve written – or written about – very different kinds of happy endings, what they’ve found out about what women really want. Are there alternative ever-afters that can prove just as satisfying? With author and Features Director of Red magazine Natasha Lunn whose new book is called Conversations on Love; debut novelist Karen Angelico, whose book Everything We Are explores the darker side of marriage and the possibility of redemption post-breakup; and Poorna Bell, author of In Case Of Emergency which tells the story of a South Asian woman questioning what she wants from life following a near-fatal accident.

Beyond the binary

Travis Alabanza is an award-winning writer, performer and theatre-maker whose work examines gender, trans identity and race. Their debut show Burgerz toured internationally and won the Edinburgh Fringe Total Theatre award in 2019, while their new book None of the Above: Reflections on Life Beyond the Binary is described as an ‘electric memoir about what it means to live outside the gender boundaries’. Catherine Riley is the director of the Primadonna festival and author of Is This Love?, her debut novel which chronicles the breakdown of a toxic relationship and is told from two perspectives: the narrator, whose gender is never revealed, and their wife, whose story is relayed through diary entries and letters. Here, Travis and Catherine sit down for a wide-reaching conversation about love, gender, truth and everything in between.

The Gentleman Jack Effect

A new BBC One documentary Gentleman Jack Changed My Life follows British women of all ages who’ve taken inspiration from Anne Lister, the 19th century, real-life lesbian at the centre of the story – with dramatic results, including coming out to themselves, to their children, their parents and grandparents. We sit down with the documentary producer Al Johnstone and director Sara Hardy to consider the impact of the TV series on (especially) the LGBTQ+ community, the role of Anne Lister's various biographers/cryptoanalysts in bringing her story to a contemporary audience, and the appetite that exists for happy endings in queer love stories. 

How to consume less

We live in a culture of mad consumption, with excess and value for money trumping sustainability and ethical shopping habits. But with cheap goods just a click away, how can we teach ourselves to consume less and buy better? We hear from Sian Conway-Wood, founder of Ethical Hour and author of Buy Better, Consume Less which sets out practical tips on how to stop consuming, advice on how to see through corporations' greenwashing, and steps to hold them accountable; and Helen Coffey whose new book Zero Altitude is part climate-change investigation, part travel memoir, documenting Helen as she journeys as far as she can in the course of her job as a top travel journalist – all without getting on a single flight. 

Partition walls

‘I’ve always said the reason why the Irish and Asians get on is that they’ve been oppressed by the English all their lives’– Ameet Chana (Bend it Like Beckham). With Northern Irish politics in the news thanks to both Brexit and Derry Girls, we take a look at the meanings and impacts of partition on a national culture, comparing Indian and Irish histories and politics. Author Neil Hegarty will lead this conversation with writer and filmmaker Susan Mackay, who has documented many aspects of Northern Irish history, and author and programmer (and Primadonna) Sabeena Akhtar, who is writing her first novel about a woman’s experience of the Partition of India and its ongoing impact.

The way we work

Covid has dramatically changed the way we work as well as changing how we want to work. Life’s just too short. Whether you’re working from home, in a low wage ‘essential’ job or are a key worker getting recompensed in claps do you have the right to be happy in your work? Is society prepared to permanently change the way we work for the better? Or are we doomed to be stuck in jobs we don't enjoy and with little time for  leisure? This lively panel examines how we got where we are and what we can do to radically change the way we work, with expert insight from Julia Hobsbawm, author of The Nowhere Office (and podcast host of a series with the same name).

Is it ok to have fun?

We don’t want to dwell on the negatives, but hasn’t it been a long time since we cut loose and had some fun? And what does ‘fun’ even look like post-pandemic, when we’re all a bit scared of getting off the sofa? Even more so when the places we used to know have shut down, the money we used to have for ‘spends’ has vanished, and we’re all feeling a bit worn down by what’s going on in the world. We ask some excellent people in the know what’s happened to the party scene, where all the best nights out have gone, and why it’s important to carve out time for dancing and (maybe a bit of) debauchery. With Rosie Hewitson, events editor TimeOut London, Debbie Smith, who ran the Sunday night Nitty Gritty club and had a queer club night named after her; Nikki Spencer who set up Haven’t Stopped Dancing Yet for those who still love to party past 40. Expect new ideas for your social calendar and top tips for growing up disgracefully. 

I'll put a spell on you

We challenge you to go a day without hearing accusations of ‘witch hunts’ in mainstream media (we won’t name names about who is being hunted). But have you ever stopped to think about what the phrase means and where it comes from… and why it still has such currency today? In this fascinating session, we explore why a phenomenon that took place hundreds of years ago is still so important to the collective public memory, and why the legacy and charge of ‘witch’ lingers today. With Zoe Howe, host of Soho Radio’s Rock’n Roll Witch show, whose new book Witchful Thinking: The Wise Woman’s Handbook for Creating A Charmed Life is not just witchy but also patriarchy-smashing; Juno Dawson, author of Wonderland and now Her Majesty's Royal Coven, the first in a supernatural new series following a top secret government department of witches; and AK Blakemore, author of The Manningtree Witches which brings to life the residents of a small English town in the grip of the seventeenth-century witch trials, and won the Desmond Elliott prize for best debut in 2021. Unmissable!

The rise of the queenager

Not moody, sullen or spotty, the Queenager finds herself in mid-life, free from the responsibilities of childcare, perhaps with a little disposable income and certainly with time she never had in her younger years. So what now? Join Eleanor Mills, who set up Noon to create a community for midlife women, and Jane Dyball who co-founded Primadonna after a long career in the music industry, as they talk us through the challenges, opportunities and excitement of finding your mojo in later life with Salima Saxton Pizzie who went from actor to author when she moved from London back to her childhood home of Suffolk, and Victoria Whitford, whose transformation was from diplomat to doctor

Baby Queen + support @ JPC

Primadonna presents the sounds of 2022! With Baby Queen who, barely two years into her career, has already carved her name deep into pop culture as its new anti-hero. Since her first release in 2020 ‘Internet Religion’, a takedown of how social media warps her generation, she has dropped a steady slew of singles that placed her at the forefront of a musical movement. Her music is all over Netflix’s hit coming of age drama Heartstopper and she’s been tipped by everyone from NME and Radio 1 to Courtney Love, Jodie Comer, Pale Waves, and Olivia Rodrigo. With support from Queer-Core London punks The Oozes, who have already made huge waves with their phenomenal success across TikTok and Spotify with their singles “Blah Blah Blah” and “Bitch Boy” – which have each been streamed millions of times. And Esme Emerson, Chinese-British siblings who are one of the best brand new new acts to come out of East Anglia. Check our their brand of dreamy bedroom pop, and in years to come you can tell your friends you saw them when they were just starting out.

Free with weekend wristband.

How to Own the Room

Viv Groskop is a writer, critic, broadcaster and stand-up comedian. She is the author of How to Own the Room: Women and the Art of Brilliant Speaking, also a Top 10 iTunes podcast, now in its 16th series, featuring guests like Hillary Clinton, Margaret Atwood, Nigella Lawson, Julie Andrews, Sarah Hurwitz (Michelle Obama’s speechwriter). Join her for this special edition of the podcast where she will be in interview with author Catherine Mayer, co-founder of the Women’s Equality Party and Primadonna festival. 

Dear Kit and Paul...

Need help? Why not join our literary agony Aunt and Uncle, Kit de Waal and Paul McVeigh as they offer advice and solutions to all of your writerly (and other) problems. You may know Kit as the best selling author of books such as My Name is Leon and A Trick To Time, but to us she’s a sweary genius with a lot of opinions to share! Kit is joined by agony Uncle Paul McVeigh, whose debut novel The Good Son won The Polari First Novel Prize and The McCrea Literary Award, and was shortlisted for many others including The Prix du Roman Cezam. Satisfaction guaranteed.

Haven't Stopped Dancing Yet

Haven’t Stopped Dancing Yet put on fun, feelgood 70s & 80s soul, funk and disco nights for people who “remember the tunes first time round and still want to party.” HSDY has brought the boogie to ballrooms across London and the south east, as well as everywhere from St Pancras International and Boxpark Wembley to Epson Downs Racecourse.
While everyone is partying at Haven’t Stopped Dancing Yet, they are also raising money for Cancer Research UK. Nikki donates 10% of profits from HSDY nights to CRUK and she has taken part in treks in Nepal and Peru to raise funds for the charity.

Rhyme and shine

Welcome back to Primadonna’s Sunday special: our poetry slam where you get to showcase your own writing live on stage at Primadonna festival. Poets from yesterday's open mic session get the chance to perform alongside our headliners Karishma Sangtani, a poet whose work appears in anthologies such as SLAM! (Pan Macmillan, 2020), Into the Wilds (Fox and Windmill, 2022) as well as magazines such as Ink Sweat and Tears, JADEN and The Selkie and d’bi.young anitafrika, an African-Jamaican-Tkarontonian, London-based dubpoet, theatre interventionist, decolonial scholar and Black-queer-feminist playwright who is committed to embodying liberatory art practice that ritualises acts-of-emancipation from oppressions inflicted upon the people & the planet.

live music on the main stage

Join us in the heart of the festival for the biggest sounds of the weekend on the main stage, all afternoon and late into the night!... 

Full lineup soon TBC.

influential woman podcast

Join Nikki Bannerman as she interviews some of our amazing artists for a special episode of her Influential Women podcast: achingly human conversations on the work, lives, passions, mantras and success of incredible women, delving into the ways authors, broadcasters, campaigners and influencers have survived and thrived - and overcome challenges, to uplift your day.

The power of stories

Join Ellisha Soanes and Elma Glasgow in this special session which explains how the costumes from the Marvel Studios’ Black Panther film found their way to Suffolk. The outfits of T’Challa, Shuri and Okoye, featured in the ground-breaking film, are now being displayed at the Food Museum. Come along and view these incredible costumes and hear more about their journey.

 

Relive the assizes

Join us in the Chapel for a retelling of one of Suffolk’s most dramatic stories: the remarkable tale of Suzannah Holmes and Henry Kable. Sit back for an hour of pure theatre as we reimagine two unlikely lovers and a determined prison warden in this dramatic and true story from 18th century Suffolk. 

Meenal's World

Live podcast recording with Dr Meenal Viz and author Winnie Li.

Meenal was six-and-a-half months pregnant when she held a one-woman protest to campaign for the protection of healthcare workers. Throughout the first lockdown, she took the government to court after healthcare workers were not receiving adequate protection to deal with the pandemic. Her landmark case changed the law on the guidance to protect healthcare workers, especially those from ethnic minority groups. After challenging the government, Dr Viz has been working with the United Nations to help get the world vaccinated. She also hosts a podcast, Meenal's World where she speaks to the greatest thinkers of our generation. Through these conversations, she hopes to blaze the trail for future change-makers and activists.

Introducing... music on the Glade Stage

We're bringing you the best new sounds from Suffolk and beyond on our new Glade Stage, on Saturday and Sunday. 

Full lineup shortly TBC.

Make some noise

Loula Yorke is a composer and live artist who uses electronics, video and participation to create sonic artworks. Her trademark improvised hardware-only live sets see her building abstract sonic collages into powerful beat workouts backed by kaleidoscopes of interlocking and repeating algorithmic melodies. And at Primadonna, you can follow her lead to make your own aural soundscape 

 

disco time machine

Calling all foot-tappers, dad dancers, disco divas, jumping jivers, old school ravers & shake-your-money-makers. Glass House Dance invite you to join them on a clubbing journey through the ages. Join the party and step back in time with the Sisters of Stylus as they take you on a journey through dance and time to find their Groove. Time Machine Disco is a participatory performance where audiences release their inner rebel, become the performers and take over their street. It’s disco to save the future of dance!

mike Fenton's time capsule

A podcast that asks guests for five things which they’d like to put in a Time Capsule. They can choose anything from an item, to a memory, a film or even a country. Four of them are things they want to preserve but one has to be something they’re happy to lock away and never have to think about again. Hosted by Michael Fenton Stevens. @fentonstevens @MyTCpod

Instant choir

Give us an hour, and we’ll turn you into a choir! An all-ages session for all standards of singers, this heart-and-throat-warming session will be led by tenor and conductor Ben Vonberg-Clark who has run ‘come and sing’ events for many years at Britten-Pears. 

 

Reborn with the primadonnas

In need of reinvention? Looking for something to kick start a new you? Want to become the best (or worst) version of yourself? Then join us in the Chapel for a rebirthing ceremony that will leave you invigorated and inspired (probably), and definitely amused. Our Most Excellent Reverential Minister Ada Campe will oversee the ceremony, and asks that you come ready to shed the habits, opinions and hosiery that are holding you back, and get ready to walk out into a new light. Hallelujah! 

Poetry open mic drop-in

Come along to our open-to-all session where Justine de Mierre (aka ‘Lady J’) will host a very special hour for all-comers, Justine has been hosting super-friendly open mics across Suffolk for the last nine years and will be bringing that community vibe to Primadonna. Try out your ideas or work on new material in this inclusive space for poets of all kinds – Justine will even read your work for you if you’d prefer. You can also put yourself forward to be considered to perform on the main stage as part of Sunday’s Rhyme and Shine event.

Double D disco

Late night shenanigans from two of the best Debbies we know: raising the roof (and the temperature) in the Medieval (Disco) Barn until the wee small hours. Debbie Smith started DJ'ing in the late 1990s in various clubs and bars mostly in the Camden area of London and in the early 2000s they started the much loved club night ‘The Nitty Gritty’ with DJ Jaybyrd Slim, and their style celebrated a dance floor friendly blend of 1950s & 60s sounds – ska & rocksteady, girl groups, US Garage punk, funk, rhythm & blues, Northern Soul and UK mod grooves. Deb Googe is a musician best known as the bassist for the band My Bloody Valentine. She is also the bass player for various projects fronted by the ex Sonic Youth singer/guitarist Thurston Moore and is currently touring as part of Brix Smith’s live band and working on an abstract noise project, Sleazy Tiger, with ex Snowpony singer Kath Gifford.

Yoga as resistance

Yoga is more than postures. Your flexibility or your ability to balance on your hands do not define how “good” you are. Come along to this interactive workshop to explore the wisdom tradition of Yoga and how it connects to our present-day social issues. The session will include some gentle movement and mindfulness practice. Dr Stacie CC Graham is the author of Yoga as Resistance: Equity and Inclusion On and Off the Mat. She is co-founder of the 300-hour advanced yoga teacher training, Radical Darshan, an E-RYT 500 and certified mindfulness teacher. 

cabaret showcase

Join Barbara Brownskirt, anorak wearing and unlucky-in-love, as she hosts a special hour of cabaret for Saturday night culture vultures. Barbara is highly prolific, yet hugely unsuccessful, obsessed with Judi Dench, and somewhat deluded about the quality of her poetry. But she won’t let any of that get in the way of a cracking lineup, starring Primadonna’s cabaret artiste Ada Campe, back with her magical mix of tall tales and trickery, and comedian, actress, writer and producer Alice Frick. 

Walkabout Alice in Wonderland

Join Magic Floor Theatre Productions as Alice leads you through the festival grounds, meeting up with some very familiar characters. Lewis Carroll’s classic book is brought to life in a crazy, fun way to delight children and adults alike.

Look for a book

Join Sarah Maidment from the National Literacy Trust / Museum staff as they take you on a tour of the grounds in search of some top reading materials. Keep your eyes peeled for the pages as you take in the orchard, river walk and check around the animals to see which tall tales have been left out for you to find.   

Festival of the girl workshop

Join us for a special session run by the Festival of The Girl team, a not-for-profit initiative that aims to inspire and engage girls aged 7 – 11 years, and support adults to raise girls in a less stereotyped way. Festival of the Girl exists because they want to change what it means to be a girl: to remove the limitations gender stereotypes place on girls. They start this conversation with primary school aged kids and their grown-ups – which is exactly what will be happening in this session! A safe environment for girls to have fun, try something new, and most importantly; leave with a boost of self-confidence.  And although aimed at girls everyone is welcome. Expect plenty of girl power and a lot of positive role modelling in this fun and interactive session for girls. 

Parents get lost

Drop in to the Mortlock building (the one with all the steam engines!) throughout the day for a range of crafty, creative and clever activities, including charcoal making/drawing; lino cutting workshops; beeswax wrap making; mini beast walks; and the chance to make your own macrame plant hangers. But not if you’re a grown-up. This is an adult-free zone.

Splinters of Sunshine

Join the multi-award-winning author of Orangeboy for this special YA session on friendships tested by fate and circumstance.  Splinters of Sunshine is a road-trip mystery in which fifteen-year-old Spey wakes up on Christmas morning to find the ex-prisoner father he's never met asleep on the sofa. Then he receives a mysterious package in the post… and there's only one person Spey can think of who might be able to help…

Feed the animals

Join staff from the Museum as they feed the animals on site: from the pigs to the peacocks, there's plenty of fur, feather and fun to be had!

Woogie Big pants

Jenna Whyman is an independent children's author, and the creator of Woogie Big Pants's Universe – a series of children's story books that use art therapy, creative techniques and life hacks to encourage children to open up and engage in the difficult conversations we sometimes have to have. Join her and Woogie Big Pants for a creative storytelling workshop, exploring all the feels with plenty of arts and crafts thrown in.

Starfell

Join Dominique Valente, author of the bestselling Starfell series and lover of grumpy monsters, for this special session featuring quirky dragons, misbehaving magic, gardens that whisper, and houses that breathe. Born in South Africa with one arm, Starfell is in many ways a love-letter to anyone who has ever felt different or that they didn’t fit in.

Twintastic Cally and Jimmy

Cally has a twin brother Jimmy and he is always getting into some kind of mischief – which usually means double trouble. Thankfully their Yiayia is on hand to help – or add to the mayhem! Bring your 6 – 11-year-olds to meet the author, Zoe Antoniades, listen to her read a funny story and ask her some questions.

Flash! Ah-aaaah!

For kids big and small, this special session led by Amie Taylor will teach you what a flash-mob is, how they can be used for positive change, and how to give the best performance as part of a team. And best of all: you’ll be part of our very own Primadonna Festival flash mob performance!

The Nightsilver Promise

Join middle-grade author Annaliese Avery for a kids’ writing workshop as well as a reading from The Nightsilver Promise, the first book in her thrilling new fantasy trilogy: 13-year-old Paisley Fitzwilliam discovers that her fate is to die before her fourteenth year. But when her mother goes missing and is presumed dead; there is nobody left to protect her Dragon Touched brother Dax. So begins a breath-taking adventure through Floating Boroughs, Dragon Walkers, and the dark sewers of lower London. To save her brother, Paisley must unlock an ancient secret that will not only defy her stars, but will change the course of history forever... 

Hula with Abby

For big kids as well as little, experience the benefits of bringing Hula Hooping into your life (they far outweigh the initial frustrations you may find when you first pick up – and drop! – the hoop). With qualified HulaFit instructor Abby Close.

The Right to Write

By its very definition, fiction is imagined literature. To insist that writers do not depict characters unlike themselves is absurd. But to what degree do we allow imagination to go unchallenged when it comes at the expense of marginalised voices – voices that are silenced when it comes to telling their own stories? Who has the right to write what? And what role does the sensitivity reader have to play in this challenge to cultural appropriation? With authentiicy reader Hamza Jahanzeb, a campaigner and activist who seeks to change hiring practices to be more inclusive; translator Sawad Hussain Sawad Hussain whose work has been recognised by English

PEN, the Anglo-Omani Society, and the Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize for Arabic Literary Translation, among others; and in the chair Sarah Shaffi, a writer, editor and journalist whose work has appeared in Vogue Australia, the Guardian, the New Arab and more.

Speed Date An Agent

Ever wondered what it’s like to be an agent? Or how to find the right one for you? Book in time with the very best agents working today as they discuss tips and tricks of the trade, and offer advice on what aspiring writers can do to get noticed. Bring a two-minute pitch or a burning question to discuss, and you’ll get to move between some of the top talent in the agent world, no strings attached.

Pretentious? Moi?

The publishing industry is slowly opening its doors to a wider range of writers, but an old ideal still prevails: the Great Man of Letters. No novel is deemed more important, no work of nonfiction weightier or richer in Big Ideas than those written by these titans of the industry. The thing is, whisper it, we’re not sure they’re always as good as they’re cracked up to be. Join a light-hearted discussion about egos, literary emperors and true greatness, with Joanne Harris, author of more than 20 novels plus novellas, short stories, game scripts, the libretti for two short operas, several screenplays, a stage musical and three cookbooks; brilliant journalist, editor and interviewer Sarah Shaffi, a former judge for the Jhalak Prize, the Costa Novel Award and the Orwell Prize for Political Fiction; and event chair Paul McVeigh, whose debut novel The Good Son won The Polari First Novel Prize and The McCrea Literary Award, and who has programmed a number of international festivals and encountered some spectacular egos himself. A panel that definitely won’t tolerate any ostentation, grandiloquence or bombast.

June Sarpong's Creative Inclusion Lab

June Sarpong and our own Primadonna Lisa Milton have teamed up to launch HQ Creative Inclusion Lab, a new imprint within HarperCollins aimed at promoting and celebrating the work of underrepresented authors without agents. Its mission is to give a voice to those with disabilities, those from minority ethnic backgrounds and those from working-class backgrounds.

In this special event for Primadonna, Lisa and June talk about what drives them, their hopes for the project, and their future plans – together and separately. 

 

Future Looks

Speculative fiction – distinct from sci fi and encompassing both real worlds and imagined possibilities – has many well-known names attached to it, from Margaret Atwood to HG Wells to Ursula Le Guin. But there is a new batch of Black writers taking the genre by storm, and we’re delighted to have some of the best of them in this session looking at the power and potential of spec fic, and the new futures it allows us to imagine. With award-winning author Leone Ross imagines new worlds with us, presenting her anthology Glimpse: An Anthology of Black British Speculative Fiction. She is joined by Nigerian British author, Irenosen Okojie, whose debut novel Butterfly Fish and short story collections Speak Gigantular and Nudibranch have won and been shortlisted for multiple awards; and performance poet, writer and educator Ioney Smallhorne, winner of the Writing East Midlands/Serendipity Black Ink Writing Competition 2021 and shortlisted for the Sky Arts/Royal Society of Literature fiction award 2021 and for the Caribbean Small-Axe prize 2016.

How to Write a Killer Novel!

If you’ve got an idea for a murderous tale, but find the process torturous, don’t fear!

Join Sunday Times’ million copy bestseller Erin Kelly, author of eight thrillers (the ninth is on the way) for a masterclass on how to write a killer novel. Guiding the conversation, and putting your questions to Erin for her expert input, is Louise Mumford who was ‘discovered’ at the first Primadonna festival and is now the published author of two thrillers under the HQ Stories imprint.

Spillin’ the publici-tea!

You thought the hard part was writing the book but now that bit’s over, the real fun begins – selling it! In this special session, we’ll hear from Shona Abhyankar, an award-winning book publicist (and Primadonna) who is associate director at ed public relations, a boutique PR agency who specialise in fiction and non-fiction book campaigns, as well as publishing awards and events; Sofia Rehman, an academic researcher specialising in the study of Islam and an avid reader and Bookstagrammer as well as the founder and co-ordinator of Leeds Lit Book Club; and Seni Glaister, novelist, founder and former CEO of The Book People, one of the UK’s favourite booksellers. Together, they’ll share industry insights into what it takes to get your books in the hands of readers and offer some top tips to help you become a publicity pro!

The Art Of The Short Story

What does it take to condense plot, narrative, character and timing into a short story? Is it harder or easier to write fewer words? And once they’re on the page, is it harder to sell them for publication, or is the market for short stories not as limited as we’re told? We ask some of the best short story writers around what draws them to the artform, including Gemma Seltzer, author of Ways of Living, a collection of short stories published by Influx Press and a Foyles bestseller; Huma Qureshi whose short story collection Things We Do Not Tell The People We Love was long listed for The Jhalak Prize; and Sofia Rehman, an avid reader and Bookstagrammer, as well as the founder and co-ordinator of Leeds Lit Book Club.

Doing It Your Way

In a world of powerful conglomerates, does corporate money really dominate the publishing world, or does room remain for independent publishers? How do you start on a journey from indie dream to established imprint? And as a writer, what is the benefit of going it alone with a self-published title? Listen in to this fascinating conversation between Caroline Sanderson, Associate Editor, The Bookseller, who is crowdfunding her memoir Listen with Father, and Habiba Desai from Fox and Windmill, the UK's first indie publisher for British South Asian writers, as they talk about the benefits – and challenges – of going your own way.  

Debut novelists

Ever dreamed of what happens when your book finally goes out into the world? We ask two debut novelists – Elissa Soave, winner of the first ever Primadonna Prize for unsigned writers, and Tice Cin, whose first book Keeping the House has just been shortlisted for the Desmond Elliot Prize – to discuss the experience of bringing their first books to publication, the highs and lows of becoming ‘proper’ writers, as well as the shared exploration of female friendship in their books and other overlapping themes.

Writing for laughs

Writer Lissa Evans switched a career in medicine for one in entertainment, producing TV series including ‘Room 101’ and ‘Father Ted’ before turning to writing. Now with ten book titles under her belt (four for kids, six for adults), she sits down with her friend and former comedy commissioner for BBC Radio 4 Sioned Wiliam for this special session on writing comedy, with actor, writer and comedian Kay Stonham and Alice Frick, stand-up comedian and author of The Anti Self Help Book. Together, they will explore why books that are funny are regarded as inherently less ‘serious’, and explore the idea that comedy trivialises literature. Is it possible that a funny book will ever win a mainstream literary award? Expect plenty of laughs as they explore the serious business of writing wit well.

Creative Writing 'MA'

Get yourself a 'Masters' for free with our Creative Writing syllabus: featuring a Kit de Waal masterclass, Mark Forsyth on Etymology, and modules on writing middle grade fiction, life writing, nature writing and self publishing. Everything you'll need to know to get your creative writing going. 

The Drover's Wife

The Drover's Wife: The Legend of Molly Johnson

In 1893, heavily pregnant Molly Johnson (Leah Purcell) and her children struggle to survive the harsh Australian landscape after her husband leaves to drove sheep in the high country. One day, she finds escaped Indigenous Australian convict (Rob Collins) wounded on her property and an unlikely bond begins to form between them. Meanwhile, new town lawman Nate Clintoff realises that Molly's husband is missing and sends his constable to investigate. A thrilling tale that explores racism and misogyny under colonial rule, and a labour of love for Purcell, who has also adapted Henry Lawson’s short story into a play and a novel.

Gentleman Jack Changed my Life

Narrated by Miriam Margolyes, this uplifting documentary follows British women of all ages who’ve taken inspiration from Anne Lister, the 19th century, real-life lesbian at the centre of the drama, with dramatic results. That includes coming out to themselves, to their children, their parents and grandparents. Anne’s courage to love a woman, and live openly with her, is inspiring women all over the world to embark on their own journeys of self-discovery. Fan groups and forums have sprung up to celebrate Yorkshire landowner Anne Lister and the drama series Gentleman Jack, and this film documents the series’ impact, and includes behind-the-scenes footage of the second series of Gentlemen Jack and insights from the drama’s stars, Suranne Jones and Sophie Rundle, and writer Sally Wainwright.

Tensions rise between restless teenager Julija and her oppressive father Ante when an old family friend arrives at their Croatian island home. As Ante attempts to broker a life-changing deal, their tranquil yet isolated existence leaves Julija wanting more from this influential visitor, who provides a taste of liberation over a weekend laid bare to desire and violence.

Moon, 66 questions

Jacqueline Lentzou’s highly anticipated debut feature is a considerate and touching portrayal of familial dynamics between Paris (Lazaros Georgakopoulos) and his teenage daughter, Artemis (Sofia Kokkali), as she returns home to Athens to care for him. The pair have struggled to communicate with each other for much of Artemis’s life and now, as her father deteriorates, she must face this lacking relationship head-on. Her seclusion at her father’s home is the backdrop of her discovery of his well-kept secrets. As she delves into this newfound information, she begins to see him in a new light and love him as the father she never knew.

Feminist invoicing

What would you reclaim from the patriarchy if you could? What do we lose thanks to unequal power dynamics and how can we both heal and feel empowered through the process? Feminist Invoicing is a creative project exploring those questions by submitting creative ‘invoices’ to the patriarchy in the form of poetry or other writing. Join us for performances and a creative writing workshop led by award-winning poet, Monika Radojevic, with an open invitation to submit your own ‘invoice’ and reclaim your story. The interactive session will open with free-writing exercises exploring themes of power and oppression, before guiding participants through the act of 'invoicing' the patriarchy, and will culminate in poetry performances open to all. Come ready to write, share and reflect on the power of poetry to shape political and personal change. 

Brand new you

Want to learn how to market yourself with video online? Join Remi Morrison as she takes you through a workshop with tips on how to use video to increase your brand awareness. Discover how to use expertise, emotion and engagement to build an audience and guess what is within you already. We'll discuss types of video to share, content strategy, equipment,  what to say and more.

Bibliotherapy

Ever wondered what to read next, when faced with all the myriad books in the world to read? Book a half hour bibliotherapy session with Ella Berthoud, when you will talk about the books you love, the books you hate, where, how and what you read, and what's going on in your life at the moment. Ella will then prescribe to you the perfect books for you to read at this time, a tailor-made book prescription - she will give you a beautifully designed card with your reading prescription on it. Ella has been working as a bibliotherapist for the past 15 years at The School of Life, and she has taken bibliotherapy around the world, teaching Police in Sharjah, refugees in the Emirates and spreading the word from Jaipur to Johannesburg.

Maternal Journal

Maternal Journal is an award-winning movement that supports people to process their mothering and caring experiences through creative journaling. We are anchored in journaling as a radical feminist practice, highlighting the history and collective power of women’s writing, diaries and ‘making circles’. At this workshop we will journal together, using one of our easy to follow step by step guides, which have been created by writers, artists and birth workers such as Hollie McNish, Laura Dockrill, Tolu Agbelusi and Athena Stevens. Taking part in a Maternal Journal workshop brings you together with others in order to capture meaningful thoughts and experiences and a sense of connection through shared maternal and caring experiences. Parenthood can be isolating and with the added impact of a global pandemic Maternal Journal can be a positive factor in addressing maternal mental health and wellbeing. No previous experience needed and all materials are provided.

Skin deep or deeply profound?

Art Curator Devi Singh and her expert panel of wonderful women come together to open up  dialogues and share knowledge around how we can recognise the strength of culturally diverse  art in rural areas and communities and see if there is an appetite for it. This will be an open, free-range discussion from the panel and audience around what this could  look like and what sensitive methods of preserving the voices from the community and marrying  artistic intentions should we consider.

Therapeutic tarot

Join Sophie Bickerstaff, a Tarot reader who started Oil the Hinges in 2020 in response to the first lockdown. In this workshop, Sophie explores Tarot’s characters, symbols and images which prompt focused reflections, helping us to form a language around how we feel, empowering us to step out of the centre of the story and remember we are writing it. She will combine psychology with the mystical world of Tarot through archetypal storytelling, free association, self-awareness exercises and conversation. We will be curiously exploring our inner worlds alongside the rich visual stimulus of the cards. No previous experience with Tarot is necessary. Sophie’s practice is very accessible, grounded in psychology and aims to empower you within your own decision making.

DONNA: Dance and movement

Our physical bodies store memory and knowledge within them, but we often don't see the repercussions of our actions on our body and mind. This workshop gives you an opportunity to listen and tune in. You will not learn choreography or steps, but will be guided through movement patterns that will allow you to move however you feel, need and want to. In this way you can create your own choreography of emotions.​ A chance for you to really let go, and celebrate life and who you are through dance!

Change your internal narrative

‘Being in relationship with our peers can be instrumental in helping us navigate our way and coaching can give us the space to draw on our own intuition and support a positive mindset at the edge of change’. In this relaxed workshop you’ll get an opportunity to get creative with the stories you tell yourself. Chat with others and turn some of that negative internal rhetoric on its head. We’ll use some coaching tools to test new narratives, which you can turn into simple self-hypnosis or affirmation scripts. You can also stay and boost your ego with a group relaxation and hypnosis session at the end.

Start the day with 5k

Get your festival off to the best possible start with an early morning run round the grounds with ultrarunner, environmentalist and writer Sabrina Pace Humphreys (but don’t worry, she’ll go easy on you – the middle name is just a coincidence!).

Write and shine

Gemma Seltzer will guide you through a range of bright, inspiring exercises to prompt new poems, stories and life writing. Write & Shine workshops take place in the morning, because we think it’s the best time to think, dream and imagine! In our sessions, you won’t be expected to share your writing, which offers great freedom and encourages all kinds of unexpected ideas to emerge. Come along to find out if that’s true!

Wellness in the bee garden

Need some time to relax, repair, restore?  Sarah, Millie and Clare will be in the bee garden offering a wide range of holistic treatments including Reflexology, Full Body Massage, Reiki, Bowen and Head and Neck Massages.  To pre-book your treatment or check availability call 07715213392 or DM Sarah via IG at @sarahwoodhousetherapy.

nature walks

Join the team from the Food Museum as they take you on a guided walk around the 70 acres of bucolic land that makes up our beautiful venue.

Abi Morgan

Abi Morgan is a BAFTA and Emmy-award winning playwright and screenwriter, whose credits include The Iron Lady, Suffragette, The Hour and Brick Lane. She is the creator and writer of the hit BBC drama, The Split.  Her incredible debut, This is Not a Pity Memoir, was called 'a gift' by  Meryl Streep. Carey Mulligan said ‘I could not have loved it more’ and David Nicholls thought it was ‘ gripping, funny and always honest’. It’s about meeting your person. It’s about the things you wished you’d said to the person you love. It’s about the silence of being lost in space and the importance of family, and parties, and noise. It’s a reminder that even in the worst times, there is light ahead. It is a love story.

Abby Close

Get ready to bring your core to the floor for a seriously good fun hula hooping class for all ages, shapes and sizes! We combine tried and tested fitness techniques with hip shakin’ hula. With cheesy songs and dance challenges, you'll be spinning like a pro in no time!

Ada Campe

Ada Campe is a variety artiste who delights audiences across the UK with her unique blend of cabaret, comedy, variety and magic. In 2018 she came Top of the Bill at the Hackney Empire New Act of the Year Show (NATYS) and won the Leicester Square Theatre Old Comedian of the Year competition. In 2019 she won the Stand's Good Egg Award, and was nominated for Best Variety Act in the Chortle Awards.

Alex Light

Alex Light is a body confidence and anti-diet culture advocate who speaks out on self-esteem, mental health and social media.

Alice Frick

Alice Frick is a comedian, actress, writer and producer, originally from Austria, based in London. Alice started stand-up in Austria and Germany, where she won a couple of awards and has been featured on a few TV shows in Germany (WDR, Comedy Central). In 2010 Frick moved to London where she has set up her own comedy night, with an all-female line-up, called: “Laughing Labia” to redress the gender balance on stage and support female comedians. This show turned into a sell-out show and is still running in the West End in London. In 2022 Alice published her first book, called “The Anti Self-Help Book”.

Alice Johnstone

Al Johnstone is a producer and filmmaker who works on both observational and retrospective documentaries, often about sensitive subject matters for BBC, C4, SVODs and other major broadcasters. Previous credits include 25 Siblings and Me (BBC) and Why Dad Killed Mum: My Family’s Secret (BBC). Recently she has been working on a series about female ex-cult members for a US streamer, and a film about addiction and mental health. Al also directs short films which have previously screened at several BAFTA-qualifying festivals.

Amie Taylor

Amie is a writer, theatre maker and facilitator. She has written two books: The Big Book of LGBTQ+ Activities and The Monster Book of Feelings.

Annaliese Avery

Annaliese Avery has spent most of her life surrounded by stories, both at work as a library manager and at home writing them. She holds an MA in Creative Writing. In January 2020, Annaliese was shortlisted for the SCBWI Undiscovered Voices anthology. The Nightsilver Promise, her debut middle-grade novel, and the first in a thrilling, new fantasy trilogy, has been published in the UK, US and across Europe.

Athena Stevens

Athena Stevens is an Olivier nominated actor and playwright. She is an associate artist at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre as well as a playwright on attachment at Finborough Theatre. Currently she is writing the book for a new musical as well as being under commission for BBC Radio 3 and National Youth Theatre. She was the first actor in a wheelchair nominated for an Offie for her performance in Schism, as well as appearing at the Barbican as Juliet last year. Stevens is also a spokesperson for the UK’s Women’s Equality Party. See her website here or find her on Twitter @athenastevens

Baby Queen

Barely two years into her career, 23-year-old South Africa-born, London-based artist Baby Queen (real name Bella Latham) has already carved her name deep into pop culture as its new anti-hero. Since her first release in 2020 'Internet Religion', a takedown of how social media warps her generation, she has dropped a steady slew of singles that placed her at the forefront of a musical movement. Her music is all over Netflix’s hit coming of age drama Heartstopper. Tipped by everyone from NME and Radio 1 to Courtney Love, Jodie Comer, Pale Waves, and Olivia Rodrigo, Baby Queen is ready to reign supreme.

Candid Book Club

Connected through friendship, faith, and family, The Candid Book Club was established in 2016 with an aim to get as many people reading along with us as possible.
We are five unique reading women of colour who lend their candid voices to books new, books old and books borrowed! Six years later, our global platform has attracted thousands of bookworms, far and wide, to sell out virtual and in-person events. With our candour and wit, we give you the most honest reviews on social media and our strong bond and camaraderie bring a fun, accessible, and relaxed vibe to the best bookish events and occasions. We are currently hosting events at London's Waterstones Piccadilly and we are on the judging panel for the 2022 Headline Modern Stories Prize Initiative.

Caroline Sanderson

Caroline Sanderson is a writer and books journalist, and Associate Editor of The Bookseller magazine for which she has compiled a monthly preview of forthcoming non-fiction since 2000. She is Chair of Judges for the 2022 Baillie Gifford Prize.

Caroline is an Associate Fellow of the Royal Literary Fund, and the host of Authors’ Matters, the podcast of the Authors’ Licensing & Collecting Society.

She is also the author of five non-fiction books, including biographies of Jane Austen and the singer, Adele. Her memoir, "Listen With Father: How I Learned to Love Classical Music" is currently crowdfunding with Unbound - unbound.com/books/listen-with-father

Catherine Mayer

Catherine Mayer is a bestselling author, journalist and activist. She is the co-founder and President of the Women’s Equality Party and co-founder of Primadonna. Her books include Amortality: The Pleasures and Perils of Living Agelessly; Charles: The Heart of a King, and Attack of the Fifty Foot Women: How Gender Equality Can Save the World! Her most recent book, the memoir Good Grief: Embracing Life at a Time of Death, contains letters written by her mother after both women were widowed at the start of the pandemic. After the February 2020 death of her husband, the musician Andy Gill, she took on his unfinished projects, releasing two EPs by his band Gang of Four, and acting as executive producer for a tribute album, The Problem of Leisure: A celebration of Andy Gill and Gang of Four featuring globally famous musicians which was released in June 2021. See her website here or find her on Twitter @catherine_mayer

Catherine Riley

 

Catherine Riley is a writer, and the director of Primadonna Festival.  Catherine has published two books on contemporary feminist publishing in the UK and contributed chapters and articles to edited collections on this topic, as well as teaching at universities in London and the north of England. Catherine’s debut novel, Is This Love?, will be published by Serpent's Tail in August 2022.

Cathryn Summerhayes

Cathryn is a literary agent at Curtis Brown. Having started her literary agency career there as an intern in 2004, she moved to WME where she established an eclectic list of clients over 10 years before returning to Curtis Brown in 2016. She has worked at a number of other British literary agencies and at Colman Getty PR – where she worked on a number of high profile book events including The Booker Prize. She was named The British Book Awards’ Literary Agent of the Year in 2019. Her clients include Adam Kay, Lucy Foley, Sandi Toksvig, Chris Whitaker, Anita Rani, Shappi Khorsandi, Ashley ‘Dotty’ Charles, Nicky Campbell, Mark Watson, Naomi Wood, Kirsty Logan, Susan Fletcher, Johanna Basford, Grace Dent, Sir Ranulph Fiennes, Deliciously Ella, Polpo’s Russell Norman, Catherine Mayer, Konnie Huq and Dr Shola Mos-Shogbamimu.

Cathy Rentzenbrink

Cathy Rentzenbrink is an acclaimed memoirist whose books include The Last Act of Love and Dear Reader. In 2021 she published her first novel Everyone is Still Alive. Her book about how to write a memoir is called Write It All Down and is out now. Cathy regularly chairs literary events, interviews authors, reviews books, runs creative writing courses and speaks and writes on life, death, love, and literature. Despite being shortlisted for various prizes, the only thing Cathy has ever won is the Snaith and District Ladies’ Darts Championship when she was 17. She is now sadly out of practice.

Debbie Smith

Debbie started DJ'ing in the late 1990s in various clubs and bars mostly in the Camden area of London, playing a mixture of 1980s – 1900s indie and alternative, Big Beat, Jungle, 1970s classics and a bit of disco. This was challenging to some audiences, and confusing for Debbie. In the early 2000s they started the much loved club night ‘The Nitty Gritty’ with DJ Jaybyrd Slim, and happily their style settled down to a much more straightforward and dance floor friendly blend of 1950s & 60s sounds – ska & rocksteady, girl groups, US Garage punk, funk, rhythm & blues, Northern Soul and UK mod grooves.

Dominique Valente

Dominique Valente is the author of the bestselling Starfell series. She is a lover of grumpy monsters, quirky dragons, misbehaving magic, gardens that whisper, and houses that breathe. She has one arm which is sometimes useful for getting out of doing the dishes, but only if it’s with strangers, as her family just don’t fall for it. Her disability, and her experience growing up with a difference, partly inspired the world of Starfell, and its unlikely heroine Willow Moss and Willow’s journey echoes Dominique’s own towards self-love and acceptance.

Ella Berthoud

Ella Berthoud is an artist and bibliotherapist, who lives her twin passions by listening to audio books while painting, and sometimes painting while having a bibliotherapy session. Ella's been working for The School of Life as a bibliotherapist for 15 years, giving hundreds of happy customers new ways of looking at the world through fiction. Ella is currently working on a project painting portraits of the authors she loves, which she's exhibiting at festivals while doing bibliotherapy sessions too.

Elinor Cleghorn

Elinor Cleghorn is a feminist cultural historian and the author of Unwell Women: A Journey Through Medicine and Myth in a Man-Made World (W&N, 2021).

Elissa Soave

Elissa Soave is a Scottish writer. She won the inaugural Primadonna Prize in 2019 and her first novel, 'Ginger and Me' is published by HQ in July 2022.

Emma Shercliff

Emma Shercliff is a literary agent with over 20 years of experience in the publishing industry. In 2020, she founded Laxfield Literary Associates as a response to the lack of literary agents outside London. She provides representation for authors in Suffolk and Norfolk, and writers from under-represented backgrounds. Her clients include Artem Chapeye, Kalaf Epalanga, Victoria Panton Bacon, Heather Parry, Olumide Popoola, Tom Shakespeare and Luke Wright.

Erin Kelly

Erin Kelly is the Sunday Times Bestselling author of nine acclaimed psychological thrillers, including He Said / She Said, The Poison Tree and Watch Her Fall. She lives in London.

Esme Emerson

Chinese-British siblings Esme Emerson are one of the best brand new new acts to come out of East Anglia.  They’ve just released their debut EP but are already getting noticed by Radio 1. Check our their brand of dreamy bedroom pop, and in years to come you can tell your friends you saw them when they were just starting out.

Gemma Seltzer

Gemma Seltzer is the author of 'Ways of Living', a collection of short stories published by Influx Press and a Foyles bestseller. She enjoys experimenting beyond the page and wrote 'Songbird', an award-winning virtual reality film for the Guardian; developed the script for a creative documentary for BBC Radio 3 which won a Whicker award; and performed her work at the Venice Biennale, the international cultural exhibition. She’s an early riser and founded Write & Shine, a creative writing organisation that encourages people to find inspiration in mornings, modern life and the natural world. Gemma is a Churchill Fellow for her work with elders and lives in London. gemmaseltzer.com

Georgina Lawton

Georgina Lawton is a journalist, travel writer and author of Raceless, a 'Best Book of 2021' for the Evening Standard, Cosmopolitan, Guardian, Sunday Times, Foyles and the Mirror, as well as Black Girls Take World, a travel guide. A Guardian writer and host of the Audible podcast, The Secrets In Us, Georgina's writing has also been in Travel + Leisure, VICE, Time Out London and more.

Habiba Desai

Habiba Desai is the co-founder of Fox & Windmill. She has a BA in English Literature and Creative Writing from the University of Huddersfield. Habiba has worked in various sectors of the literary industry from the Bradford Literature Festival, Waterstones and Penguin Random House. She currently sits on the Northern Advisory Board for First Story. In her spare time, Habiba collects books, watched Korean Dramas and enjoys walks in Ilkley Moors.

Hamza Jahanzeb

Hamza Jahanzeb is an Authenticity Reader and works in the UK Publishing industry. Hailing from Lancashire in North West England, and as a Queer British-Pakistani Muslim he is passionate for equality in the Publishing industry and commissioned Remember Me? by Shobna Gulati (dinnerladies, Coronation Street, The Rise and Fall of Little Voice) whilst at Hachette UK. A staunch advocate for #BookJobTransparency and member of Pride in Publishing, he is a campaigner and activist who seeks to change hiring practices to be more inclusive. He was The Bookseller Rising Star in 2020. You can find him on Twitter at @hamzajahanzeb and visit his website: hamzajahanzeb.co.uk

Helen Coffey

Helen is the travel editor of The Independent and author of flight-free memoir and climate change investigation Zero Altitude, out now with Flint Books. She regularly appears as an expert contributor on travel-related stories for the BBC News channel, BBC Breakfast, BBC Radio 4 and LBC, among others. She lives in London and tweets @LenniCoffey.

Huma Qureshi

Huma Qureshi is an experienced journalist and the author of How We Met, a memoir on grief and love, and growing up. Her story The Jam Maker won the Short Story award at the Harper’s Bazaar Literary Prize 2020.

Ioney Smallhorne

Ioney is a performance poet, writer and educator. She was shortlisted for the Sky Arts/Royal Society of Literature fiction award 2021, and is the winner of the Writing East Midlands/Serendipity Black Ink Writing Competition 2021. As a Spoken Word Educator she works across the East Midlands encouraging people to harness the power of poetry to realise their own greatness. 

Jane Dyball

Jane Dyball was one of the first CEO-level women executives in the music industry, running 3 collection societies (MCPS, PMLL and IMPEL) and the trade association which owned them, the Music Publishers Association. In November 2018 she won the Outstanding Contribution award at the Music Week Women in Music Awards, and in October 2019 she was recognised for her contribution to the songwriting community at the Ivors Academy Gold Badge Awards. Prior to MCPS she was SVP International Legal & Business Affairs at Warner/Chappell Music Ltd, which included responsibility for collection society relationships, digital licensing strategy, developing markets, public policy, mergers and acquisitions and working very closely with Radiohead on their In Rainbows project.

After leaving MCPS in 2019 Jane set up her own consulting business, Laffittes Ltd and has worked on a diverse range of projects such as TV shows, song catalogue valuations, equity investments, motivational talks and interviews across TV, radio and broadsheets internationally. Jane sits on the Board of Primadonna Festival CIC and is Co-Chair of charity Attitude is Everything, a Trustee of Suffolk Artlink as well as a mentor for numerous incubators & accelerators including Abbey Road Red (a digital music escalator based at the famous Abbey Road studios). Jane hosted the very first Primadonna festival at her home in Suffolk.

Joanne Harris

Joanne Harris (MBE) was born in Barnsley in 1964, of a French mother and an English father. She studied Modern and Mediaeval Languages at Cambridge and was a teacher for fifteen years, during which time she published three novels, including Chocolat (1999), which was made into an Oscar-nominated film starring Juliette Binoche.  Since then, she has written 19 more novels, plus novellas, short stories, game scripts, the libretti for two short operas, several screenplays, a stage musical (with Howard Goodall) and three cookbooks. Her books are now published in over 50 countries and have won a number of British and international awards.

 

She is a passionate advocate for authors’ rights, and is currently the Chair of the Society of Authors (SOA), and member of the Board of the Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society (ALCS). She works from a shed in her garden, plays in the band she first joined when she was 16, and lives with her husband in a little wood in Yorkshire.

Johanna Basford

Johanna Basford is an illustrator and ink evangelist who prefers pens and pencils to pixels. She draws pictures and makes colouring books, having sold over 21 million of them around the world. She's on a mission to inspire creativity and spread a little happy!

Jordan Stephens

Jordan Stephens is an English singer and rapper, and a member of hip hop duo Rizzle Kicks. Whilst also releasing music as part of Rizzle Kicks, as of 2015, Stephens has begun releasing music under the stage names Wildhood and AI, the Native.

Jude Kelly

Jude Kelly CBE is CEO and Founder of The WOW Foundation. She founded WOW to celebrate the achievements of women and girls and confront global gender injustice. Starting as a three-day festival at London’s Southbank Centre in 2010, where Jude was Artistic Director for 12 years, the festival now takes place in 30 locations across six continents. In 2018 Jude established The WOW Foundation, an independent charity dedicated to building the WOW movement as a force for change. Jude has directed over 200 theatre and opera productions, is the recipient of two Olivier Awards, a BASCA Gold Badge Award for contribution to music, a Southbank Award for opera, an RPO award for her festival The Rest is Noise, Women’s Hour’s one of the 100 most powerful women in the UK in 2013, Red Magazine’s 2014 Creative Woman of the Year, CBIs 2016 First Woman Award for Tourism and Leisure and in 2017 the inaugural Veuve Clicquot Woman of the Year Social Purpose Award. In 1997, she was awarded an OBE for her services to theatre and in 2015 she was made a CBE for services to the Arts.

Julia Hobsbawm

Author and podcaster: The Nowhere Office and founder of Editorial Intelligence.

June Sarpong

June has enjoyed a 20-year career, in which she has become one of the most recognisable  faces of British television. June began her career at Kiss 100 and later became a presenter for MTV UK & Ireland. It was when she started on Channel 4’s T4 that she became a household name. June hosted 2005’s Make Poverty History event and presented at the UK leg of Live Earth in 2007. In 2008 she hosted Nelson Mandela’s 90th birthday celebrations in front of 30,000 people in London’s Hyde Park. She has worked extensively with HRH Prince Charles as an ambassador for the Prince’s Trust, whilst campaigning for The One and Produce (RED). June was awarded an MBE in 2007 for her services to broadcasting and charity, making her one of the youngest people ever to receive an MBE. June was awarded an OBE in the 2020 New Years’ Honours List.  June is the co-founder of the WIE Network (Women: Inspiration & Enterprise). She is also the author of two award winning books; ‘Diversify: Six Degrees of Integration’ and The Power of Women. June is currently the Director of Creative Diversity at the BBC, having been appointed in the role in 2019. Acting as the broadcasting giants’ first ever Diversity Director, June will work to increase representation throughout the company and ensure that the BBC’s content reflects the public they serve.

Juno Dawson

Bestselling author, screenwriter and podcaster.

Justine de Mierre

Justine is a passionate, energetic and inventive performer who delights in connecting playfully with audiences, whether through her storytelling, her improvisation or her music. Her multi-faceted storytelling practice So… what’s the story?, ranges from story play sessions for under 5s to adults-only pub nights to story projects with prisoners – even recently playing a storytelling Aphra Behn at the National Horse Racing museum in Newmarket! 

Karen Angelico

Karen Angelico is the author of Everything We Are, a seductive and unflinching novel about love, secrecy and desire, which asks how well we can ever truly know those closest to us. Karen has an MA in prose fiction from the University of East Anglia and lives in Suffolk with her four sons. She works as a digital content writer. Everything We Are is her debut.

Karen Lucia

Karen works as a Health & Movement Coach and EFT Practitioner, and comes from a creative background as a professional dancer. With a passion for movement and fascination with the power of the human body, she worked as a strength and conditioning trainer and studied clinical nutrition to be able to help people achieve a healthier body. This translates into her work with clients as a style that combines education and coaching which allows them to apply what they learn and find solutions that fit into their lives, and improve their physical and mental health, forever.

Karen McLeod

Karen McLeod is a published author, writer and performer. Her debut novel In Search of the Missing Eyelash was published by Jonathan Cape, won the Betty Trask Award and was shortlisted for the Best First Novel Award. Since then she’s been published in milieus of fiction and non-fiction. Jon McGregor commissioned her to write for The Letters Page and her letter to Alan Bennett was published in their first anthology. Karen writes and performs comedy as the character Barbara Brownskirt. Writer-in-Residence at the Bookseller Crow on the Hill, over the past ten years she has developed a series of popular Creative Writing courses which she runs at the bookshop and tours nationwide.


Karishma Sangtani

Karishma Sangtani is a poet based in London. Her work appears in anthologies such as SLAM! (Pan Macmillan, 2020), Into the Wilds (Fox and Windmill, 2022) as well as magazines such as Ink Sweat and Tears, JADEN and The Selkie. She is also a member of The Writing Squad and an Editorial Assistant at Cambridge University Press.

Kit De Waal

Kit de Waal is an award-winning writer whose novels place ordinary people at the centre of the story. Her debut novel, My Name is Leon (2016), was the winner of the Kerry Group Irish Novel of the Year 2017 and shortlisted for the Desmond Elliot Prize, among others. Kit’s second novel, The Trick to Time, was published in March 2018 and longlisted for The Women’s Prize.  Her first YA novel, Becoming Dinah will be be published in July 2019 for Hachette.  She has also crowdfunded Common People an anthology of working class memoir by new and established writers published in May 2019. See her website here or find her on Twitter @KitdeWaal

La Roux

Elly Jackson formed the band La Roux in 2006, and became a global superstar three years later, aged 21, with the release of La Roux’s self-titled, multi-platinum debut album, which included the singles In For The Kill and Bulletproof. In the UK, Bulletproof went straight to the top of the singles charts, and also made the top ten of the Billboard Hot 100 in the US, with the album going on to sell over 6 million copies worldwide. It also won the Grammy for Best Electronic/Dance Album. In 2012, Ben Langmaid left the group leaving Elly performing solo as La Roux. She released a second album in 2014, and her third in 2020 on her own label Supercolour Records. More recently, La Roux’s cover of the Gang of Four classic Damaged Goods was featured on the multi-artist compilation album The Problem of Leisure: A Celebration of Andy Gill and Gang of Four.

Laura Godfrey-Isaacs

Laura Godfrey-Isaacs is an artist, midwife, author, creative producer and birth activist. She also creates interdisciplinary projects and campaigns, such as Maternal Journal which supports mental health and well-being through creative journaling and Birth Cafe, an inclusive space to talk about the significance of birth for all.

Laura Kay

Laura Kay is an author and journalist living in East London. She has an MA in American History from the University of Sheffield where she won the Sir Ian Kershaw dissertation prize. In 2018 Laura was selected as one of the ten PRH WriteNow mentees and in 2021 her debut novel The Split was published by Quercus. Tell Me Everything, her second novel, will be published in May 2022.

Lauren Forsythe

By day, Lauren Forsythe is a content marketing manager, finding ways to get writing into people’s eagerly waiting eye-holes, and by night…well it’s the same thing, but with more wine. Lauren writes books about strong women, men with pretty eyelashes and friends that save your life. Having written various in genres and run writing workshops for the last decade, she's decided love and laughter in romantic comedies is the way to go.Her forthcoming book, The Fixer Upper, about emotional labour in relationships, is out in August.

Leone Ross

Leone Ross is a fiction writer, editor and creative writing teacher. Her first novel, All the Blood Is Red, was longlisted for the 1997 Women’s Prize, and her second novel, Orange Laughter, was chosen as a BBC Radio 4 Women’s Hour Watershed Fiction favourite. Her short fiction has been widely anthologised and her first short-story collection, the 2017 Come Let Us Sing Anyway was nominated for the Edge Hill Short Story Prize, the Jhalak Prize, the Saboteur Awards and the OCM BOCAS Prize. Ross has taught creative writing for thirty years, at University College Dublin, Cardiff University and Roehampton University in London. She is editor of Glimpse, the first Black British anthology of speculative fiction, published by Peepal Tree Press. Prior to writing fiction, Ross worked as a journalist. Her  2021 novel This One Sky Day was shortlisted for the Goldsmiths Prize and longlisted for the Women's Prize for Fiction.

Lisa Milton

Lisa Milton is Executive Publisher HQ Stories as well as sitting on the Exec Committee of HarperCollinsUK. She joined HarperCollins in 2015 after a decade as Managing Director of Orion Publishing where she was responsible for Orion, Orion Children’s, Gollancz and Weidenfeld & Nicolson, which was awarded Imprint of the Year at the 2015 Bookseller Industry Awards. Whilst there she published major bestsellers and award winning authors including Maeve Binchy, Ian Rankin, Gillian Flynn and Malala Yousafzai. Previously Lisa was Editorial Director at BCA, the UK’s biggest book club, and prior to this she had a successful career at Waterstones, where one of her most notable achievements was opening the flagship store in Piccadilly and winning the Bookshop of the Year Industry Award in 2000. Find her on Twitter @MsLisaMilton

Lucy-Anne Holmes

Lucy is a writer and activist. She is currently working on her 3rd book about sex, her previous books Women on Top of The World, interviews with 51 women from all over the world about what they think of when they have sex. And Don’t Hold My Head Down, a frank and funny sex memoir. She is also the author of 4 rom com novels, the last of which Just A Girl Standing in Front of a Boy, which won the RNA Rom Com of the Year 2015. She also founded the (now successful) No More Page 3 campaign. She lives in a community here in Suffolk with her partner, son, about 50 other people and a lot of animals.

Maddy Anholt

Maddy Anholt is a comedian, actor, writer and Ambassador for Women’s Aid. Her debut book, How to Leave Your Psychopath is published by Bluebird, Pan Macmillan.

Maddy has appeared in sitcoms for BBC Three, BBC One, ITV and Channel 4. She’s had four sell-out solo comedies at Underbelly, Gilded Balloon, Latitude Festival Main Stage, and the Soho Theatre. Maddy also wrote and starred in her own comedy for BBC Radio 4.

Maddy has also been a speaker for over a decade, she is a regular panellist for The Guardian, Facebook and AllBright and is a passionate campaigner for women's rights. She tweets @maddy_anholt.

Mark Forsyth

Mark Forsyth is the bestselling author of The Etymologicon, The Elements of Eloquence and A Short History of Drunkenness.

Monika Radojevic

Born in London, Monika Radojevic is a half-Brazilian, half-Montenegrin poet, writer and creative. She currently works for The Women's Equality Party in policy and communications. In 2019, Monika was the inaugural winner of the Merky Books New Writers’ Prize for her poetry on identity and belonging. She has since released a debut poetry collection, ‘teeth in the back of my neck’ which explores womanhood, personal experiences and global feminist issues. Monika is currently writing her second book and recently launched Feminist Invoincing, an interactive project and writing prompt that encourages participants to reclaim something from systems of power and oppression.

Natasha Lunn

Natasha is a journalist at Red magazine and the founder of Conversations on Love, an email newsletter investigating love one interview at a time. Through conversations with authors and experts, she hopes to invite readers to think more deeply about all the different forms of love in their lives. Natasha’s her first book, also called Conversations on Love, asks three big questions: How do we find love? How do we sustain it? And how do we survive when we lose it? She explores these questions through intimate conversations and also through her own personal stories and observations, which tie together lessons she’s learnt from writing her newsletter, from studying an introduction to couples therapy, and from life itself.

Natalie Lee

Natalie Lee began her career as a midwife before starting her blog, Style Me Sunday, in July 2012. Over nearly a decade, she has grown her platform from a blog to a brand, and now reaches women across various different mediums. She has more than 100k followers on Instagram (@stylemesunday). Throughout this time, she has run events, co-hosted a podcast (The Everything Project), been a panellist more times than she can count, taken part in a television project about women's quests for better orgasms where she had an orgasm on TV, and worked with a variety of household-name brands. Feeling Myself is her first book.

Neil Hegarty

Neil Hegarty grew up in Derry. His novels include The Jewel, published in 2019; and Inch Levels, which was shortlisted for the Irish Novel of the Year award in 2017. Other titles include Frost: That Was the Life That Was, a biography of television journalist David Frost; and The Story of Ireland, which accompanies the landmark BBC-RTE television history of Ireland. He is a regular literary reviewer for the Irish Times and Dublin Review of Books; and is co-editor with Nora Hickey M’Sichili of Impermanence, an essay collection produced with the Centre Culturel Irlandais, Paris. Neil lives in Dublin.

Nikki Spencer

Nikki Spencer is the founder of Haven’t Stopped Dancing Yet who put on fun, feelgood 70s & 80s soul, funk and disco nights for people who “remember the tunes first time round and still want to party.” She started the nights as she was unable to find somewhere to go out dancing with her friends when she was in her late 40s.

Nikki is a journalist and former TV producer and reporter who has worked on everything from Weekend World to The Big Breakfast. For many years she was a regular contributor to The Independent and The Guardian.

The Oozes

A fireball of energy, Queer-Core London punks, the Oozes, have already made huge waves with their phenomenal success across TikTok and Spotify with their singles “Blah Blah Blah” and “Bitch Boy” -  which have each been streamed millions of times.  Lead singer Tom Gilbert’s writing is inspired by his experiences as a queer, trans man growing up under a Tory government.  They will change your life!

Paul McVeigh

Paul's debut novel, The Good Son, won The Polari First Novel Prize and The McCrea Literary Award, and was shortlisted for many others including The Prix du Roman Cezam.
Paul began his writing career as a playwright and comedy writer. His short stories have been in numerous anthologies, journals and newspapers, as well as, on BBC Radio 3, 4 & 5, and Sky Arts. His writing has been translated in to seven languages.
He co-founded the London Short Story Festival as is associate director of Word Factory, London. He co-edited 'Belfast Stories' and edited the 'Queer Love' anthology and 'The 32: An Anthology of Irish Working Class Voices'. He reviews for the TLS and The Irish Times.

Poorna Bell

Poorna Bell is an award-winning journalist and author of 18 years, former Executive Editor and Global Lifestyle Head for HuffPost. She won Stylist's Rising Star award for 2019, and was named as Marie Claire's top 30 women, and is one of Balance magazine's top 100 Wellness personalities. Her published books are the acclaimed Chase The Rainbow, her award-winning, second book In Search of Silence and Stronger, a book that redefines physical and mental strength for women. Her debut fiction In Case of Emergency is being published by Penguin Random House.

Sabeena Akhtar

Sabeena Akhtar is a Writer/Editor and an Arts and Culture programmer working across a variety of literary festivals. She is the Festival Coordinator of Bare Lit, the UK’s principal festival celebrating remarkable writers in the diaspora, a co-founder of the Primadonna Festival which spotlights the work of women writers including through the Primadonna Prize for writing, and also co-founder of Bare Lit Kids, the UK’s first children’s festival showcasing the work of writers of colour. She is also Senior Programmer at the WOW Foundation, working on its London festival at the Southbank Centre and across its global programmes. A keen advocate for Partition commemoration, in 2017 she partook in the BBC’s coverage of the 70th anniversary of Indian independence and alongside her daughter, filmed a programme on the Partition of India for children. She has since been invited to discuss the subject on various media outlets. She has published a wide variety of work including editing Cut From The Same Cloth? an anthology by visibly Muslim women in Britain, Talking About Islamophobia published by Hachette, and is currently working on a novel. You can find Sabeena tweeting at @pocobookreader

Sabrina Pace Humphreys

Sabrina Pace-Humphreys is a 44-year-old mother of four and grandmother of three,
an award-winning businesswoman, an ultra runner, a social justice activist and a recovering alcoholic. When she was two, her parents separated and soon after Sabrina, her mother and her white-presenting sister moved to a small market town where no one looked like her. In Black Sheep, Sabrina reveals how she got from there to here: about her struggle to understand and find her identity; about her lived experience of rural racism; about becoming a teenage mother and her determination to break that stereotype; about her battle with alcoholism and her mental health; about how running saved her life; and ultimately about how someone can not only survive but thrive in spite of their past.

Sawad Hussain

Sawad Hussain is a translator from the Arabic whose work has been recognised by English PEN, the Anglo-Omani Society, and the Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize for Arabic Literary Translation, among others. She is a judge for the Palestine Books Awards. Her recent
translations include Passage to the Plaza by Sahar Khalifeh and A Bed for the King’s
Daughter by Shahla Ujayli. She tweets
@sawadhussain.

Sarah Shaffi

Sarah Shaffi is a writer, editor and journalist. Her work has appeared in Vogue Australia, the Guardian, the New Arab and more. She has been a judge for the Jhalak Prize, the Costa Novel Award and the Orwell Prize for Political Fiction.

Saskia Reynolds

Saskia is a writer and a poet, with a penchant for telling stories about the human spirit and the natural world. Being born with mild cerebral palsy, she has existed in the liminal space between ‘unable’ and ‘able’ her entire life, which is what ultimately led her to want to make writing feel like a safe space for everyone, through telling stories and holding workshops. She is a recent graduate of the English Literature and Creative Writing course at UEA, where she has also been published in three editions of UEA’s Undergraduate Creative Writing Anthology.

Selima Saxton Pizzie

Salima Saxton is an actress and writer. Her most recent work includes Triggerpoint (ITV) and This Sceptred Isle (Sky Atlantic), and is currently co-writing a tv pilot, Moneyville.

Shahd Alshammari

Shahd Alshammari is Assistant Professor of Literature and the author of Head Above Water: Reflections on Illness. She is interested in Disability Studies and women's narratives. Living with Multiple Sclerosis, her work has revolved around illness narratives with a mission to write Arab women's narratives into the literary canon. She served as a judge for many literary prizes. Her website is www.shahdalshammari.com and her first collection of stories is Notes on the Flesh (2017).

Shola Mos Shogbamimu

Dr Shola Mos-Shogbamimu is a New York Attorney and Solicitor of England & Wales with broad expertise in the financial  services industry, an author, public speaker and political commentator featured in mainstream and online media. A political & women’s rights activist, she also teaches intersectional feminism to female refugees and asylum seekers; scrutinizes government policies from a gender and diversity inclusion  perspective; and co-organises women's  marches and social campaigns. She founded the Women in Leadership publication as a platform to drive positive change on topical issues that impact women globally through inspiring personal leadership journeys; and established She@LawTalks to promote women & BAME leadership in the legal  profession through universities and  secondary schools. She is also the Co-Chair of the American Bar Association Africa committee. See her website here or find her on Twitter @SholaMos1

Shona Abhyankar

Shona Abhyankar is an award-winning book publicist and one of the Primadonna founding members. She is associate director at ed public relations, a boutique PR agency who specialise in fiction and non-fiction book campaigns, as well as publishing awards and events. Shona’s former roles include Head of Publicity at Penguin Random House and PR Lead for Amazon Publishing UK. She is a mentor for the Publishers Publicity Circle (PPC) and has won PPC awards for her work. Shona’s previous authors include Arianna Huffington, Abi Morgan and Sheryl Sandberg. Find her on Twitter @PublicityShona and on Instagram @shonaandotherstories.

Sioned Wiliam

Sioned Wiliam lives in London, and is very recognisable in the world of comedy television in Britain. She was born in Carmarthen and brought up in Barry. Her novel Dal i Fynd has been picked up by television company Working Title. She produced a variety of comedic programmes for the main networks. Between 1999 and 2006 she was ITV’s Head of Network Comedy, and commissioned many films and series’ including Harry Hill’s Sketch Show and Cold Feet. She has numerous ongoing projects with Working Title and has been developing a series for Sky with the crew from Horrible Histories. Find her on Twitter @sionedwiliam

Sofia Rehman

Dr Sofia Rehman is an independent scholar specialising in Islam and Gender, an author, and educator. She is also Acquisitions and Editorial Executive at Neem Tree Press. She is the founder and co-ordinator of Leeds Lit Book Club which is now in its 8th year. During the global pandemic she launched the Islam and Gender read alongs in which she facilitates readings of academic texts penned by Muslim female scholars in conversation with a global virtual audience and has recently been featured by Vogue Arabia, Refinery29 and The Independent. She is a contributor to Mapping Faith: Theologies of Migration edited by Lia Shimada, Cut From the Same Cloth? Edited by Sabeena Akhtar and the upcoming Tilted Axis Press anthology, Violent Phenomena: 21 Essays on Translation. She has publications of her own due out with Oxford University Press and Kube Publications. You can connect with her on her Instagram @Sofia_reading where she talks about all things related to books, faith and academia.

Sophia Smith Galer

Sophia Smith Galer is a multi-award-winning reporter, author and TikTok creator based in London making content for over 400,000 followers around the world. A Senior News Reporter for VICE World News, her TikToks have had over 75 million views on topics ranging from her own original journalism to sex education, gender equality and languages. This year, she has been named on the Forbes Under 30 list for her work in journalism as well as a 'Face to Watch' by the Evening Standard, and won Innovation of the Year for her TikTok reporting at the British Journalism Awards. Her first book, Losing It: Sex Education for the 21st Century, is out now.

Sophie Bickerstaff

Sophie is a Tarot practitioner and trainee psychotherapist who uses Tarot as a creative self-awareness tool. Combining psychology with the mystical world of Tarot to help people consider, reflect on and communicate their experiences.

Sophie Gallagher

Sophie Gallagher is a feature writer and editor for titles including i, BBC, Financial Times, Stylist, Grazia, The Independent, HuffPost UK, and Women’s Health. She was voted Lifestyle Journalist of the Year at the Words by Women Awards (2019).

At HuffPost UK, Sophie began an editorial campaign on cyber flashing; the unsolicited sending of sexual images. This work was discussed in Parliament and resulted in a review being launched by the Law Commission. How Men Can Help is her first book and explores male violence against women - the problem and the solution.

Stacie Graham

Dr Stacie CC Graham is the author of Yoga as Resistance: Equity and Inclusion On and Off the Mat. She is the founder of holistic wellness brand OYA: Body-Mind-Spirit Retreats, co-founder of the 300-hour Yoga Alliance accredited advanced yoga teacher training Radical Darshan, an E-RYT 500 and certified mindfulness teacher.

Susan Mackay

Symeon Brown

Symeon Brown is a BAFTA nominated correspondent on Channel 4 News and the author of Get Rich Or Lie Trying: Ambition and Deceit in the New Influencer Economy. SYMEON BROWN is a reporter and journalist at Channel 4 News. He was shortlisted for an Orwell Prize in 2019 and shortlisted at the 2018 British Journalism Awards.

Tice Cin

Tice Cin is an interdisciplinary artist from north London. A DJ and music producer, she is preparing to release an accompanying EP for Keeping the House with a host of talented features including those from the creative house she is part of, Fwrdmtn, such as Kareem Parkins-Brown and Latekid. Keeping the House has been named one of Guardian’s Best Books of 2021, and has been featured in The Scotsman, The New York Times and the Washington Post. She is a recent recipient of a Society of Authors Prize, and was shortlisted for Book of the Year at the British Book Awards. A filmmaker, she is currently writing and co-directing three short films.

Travis Alabanza

Travis Alabanza is an award winning writer, performer and theatre maker. Their book None of the Above is published by Canongate in August. Their writing has appeared in the BBC, Guardian, Vice, Gal-Dem and previously had a fortnightly column in the Metro. After being the youngest recipient of the artist in residency program at Tate Galleries, Alabanza's debut show Burgerz toured internationally to sold out shows in Southbank Centre, Sao Paulo Brazil, HAU Berlin & won the Edinburgh Fringe Total Theatre award in 2019. 

Viv Groskop

Viv Groskop is a writer, critic, broadcaster and stand-up comedian. She is the author of How to Own the Room: Women and the Art of Brilliant Speaking, also a Top 10 iTunes podcast, now in its 16th series, featuring guests like Hillary Clinton, Margaret Atwood, Nigella Lawson, Julie Andrews, Sarah Hurwitz (Michelle Obama’s speechwriter). Her latest book is Lift As You Climb: Women, Ambition and How to Change the Story. She has presented Front Row and Saturday Review on BBC Radio 4, is a regular on BBC1’s This Week and has hosted book tours for Graham Norton, Jo Brand and Jennifer Saunders.

Winnie Li

Winnie M Li is an author and activist. Her debut novel, DARK CHAPTER won The Guardian’s Not The Booker Prize, was nominated for an Edgar Award, and translated into ten languages. She is currently adapting it for the screen. Her second novel Complicit explores #MeToo in the film industry and prompted an intense bidding war for US rights. It will be published in Summer 2022. A Harvard graduate, Winnie previously wrote for travel guide books, produced independent films, and programmed for film festivals. She has received grants from the Royal Society of Literature and the Arts Councils of England and Northern Ireland. Winnie is also Founder of Clear Lines, the UK’s first-ever festival addressing sexual assault and consent through the arts and discussion. Her PhD research at the London School of Economics explores media engagement by rape survivors as a form of activism. She has appeared on the BBC, Sky News, Channel 4, The Guardian, The Times, The Mail on Sunday, BBC Woman’s Hour, and TEDx London. Winnie has an honorary doctorate from the National University of Ireland in recognition of her writing and activism. She lives somewhere between London and Somerset, with her partner and toddler.

Zoe Howe

Author, visual artist and rock 'n' roll witch Zoë Howe has produced acclaimed biographies of The Slits, Poly Styrene, the Jesus & Mary Chain, Wilko Johnson, Stevie Nicks, Florence + The Machine, Lee Brilleaux and others. Zoë was part of the team behind award-winning documentary Poly Styrene: I Am A Cliché, and she has made content for Absolute Radio, Resonance FM and she currently presents the Rock ’n’ Roll Witch show on Soho Radio. Musically, Zoë has worked with Viv Albertine, Helen McCookeryBook, Steve Beresford, Mick Jones & others. Zoë is a Royal Literary Fund Fellow at Newnham College and her debut novel Shine On, Marquee Moon was shortlisted for the Virginia Prize for Fiction in 2016. Her latest book Witchful Thinking (a handbook for the modern Wise Woman) was published by Llewellyn in 2022.

Friday afternoon action...

Live music on the main stage

We're bringing you the best new sounds from Suffolk and beyond as you load in and set up camp. Full lineup shortly TBC.

The Drover's Wife

The Drover's Wife: The Legend of Molly Johnson

In 1893, heavily pregnant Molly Johnson (Leah Purcell) and her children struggle to survive the harsh Australian landscape after her husband leaves to drove sheep in the high country. One day, she finds escaped Indigenous Australian convict (Rob Collins) wounded on her property and an unlikely bond begins to form between them. Meanwhile, new town lawman Nate Clintoff realises that Molly's husband is missing and sends his constable to investigate. A thrilling tale that explores racism and misogyny under colonial rule, and a labour of love for Purcell, who has also adapted Henry Lawson’s short story into a play and a novel.

The power of stories

Join Ellisha Soanes and Elma Glasgow in this special session which explains how the costumes from the Marvel Studios’ Black Panther film found their way to Suffolk. The outfits of T’Challa, Shuri and Okoye, featured in the ground-breaking film, are now being displayed at the Food Museum. Come along and view these incredible costumes and hear more about their journey.

 

Wellness in the bee garden

Need some time to relax, repair, restore?  Sarah, Millie and Clare will be in the bee garden offering a wide range of holistic treatments including Reflexology, Full Body Massage, Reiki, Bowen and Head and Neck Massages.  To pre-book your treatment or check availability call 07715213392 or DM Sarah via IG at @sarahwoodhousetherapy.

Friday afternoon action...

What's in a word?

Ever wondered about the words we use and where they come from? Why do we put up with language that is outdated, without thinking about the impact it has on our relationships with words, and with each other? Whether you’ve driven up in your late 15th century Persian Karwan or ‘caravan’ or just want to listen in whilst you have a bready snack named after John Montagu the 4th Earl of Sandwich, this is the session for you. Mark Forsyth, the bestselling author of The Etymologicon, The Elements of Eloquence and A Short History of Drunkenness speaks to Amie Corry, creative editor, writer and co-founder of Primadonna Festival, about the hilarious and sometimes outright bizarre etymology of words in this fascinating session. Join in even if you haven't got a clew (an ancient Greek ball of yarn!). Part of our Creative Writing 'MA' programme.

I'll put a spell on you

We challenge you to go a day without hearing accusations of ‘witch hunts’ in mainstream media (we won’t name names about who is being hunted). But have you ever stopped to think about what the phrase means and where it comes from… and why it still has such currency today? In this fascinating session, we explore why a phenomenon that took place hundreds of years ago is still so important to the collective public memory, and why the legacy and charge of ‘witch’ lingers today. With Zoe Howe, host of Soho Radio’s Rock’n Roll Witch show, whose new book Witchful Thinking: The Wise Woman’s Handbook for Creating A Charmed Life is not just witchy but also patriarchy-smashing; Juno Dawson, author of Wonderland and now Her Majesty's Royal Coven, the first in a supernatural new series following a top secret government department of witches; and AK Blakemore, author of The Manningtree Witches which brings to life the residents of a small English town in the grip of the seventeenth-century witch trials, and won the Desmond Elliott prize for best debut in 2021. Unmissable!

Bibliotherapy

Ever wondered what to read next, when faced with all the myriad books in the world to read? Book a half hour bibliotherapy session with Ella Berthoud, when you will talk about the books you love, the books you hate, where, how and what you read, and what's going on in your life at the moment. Ella will then prescribe to you the perfect books for you to read at this time, a tailor-made book prescription - she will give you a beautifully designed card with your reading prescription on it. Ella has been working as a bibliotherapist for the past 15 years at The School of Life, and she has taken bibliotherapy around the world, teaching Police in Sharjah, refugees in the Emirates and spreading the word from Jaipur to Johannesburg.

Follow the story

Join Sarah Maidment from the National Literacy Trust / Museum staff as they take you on a tour of the grounds in search of some top reading materials. Keep your eyes peeled for the pages as you take in the orchard, river walk and check around the animals to see which tall tales have been left out for you to find.   

Friday afternoon action...

Invisible cafe writing salon

The invisible cafe is a space for people who have invisible illnesses or disability. Join this writing workshop led by Jo Robinson on writing for wellbeing – a mix of creative and self-reflective writing exercises. Draw, doodle or do a spoken word piece and express yourself however you feel most comfortable.

Pretentious? Moi?

The publishing industry is slowly opening its doors to a wider range of writers, but an old ideal still prevails: the Great Man of Letters. No novel is deemed more important, no work of nonfiction weightier or richer in Big Ideas than those written by these titans of the industry. The thing is, whisper it, we’re not sure they’re always as good as they’re cracked up to be. Join a light-hearted discussion about egos, literary emperors and true greatness, with Joanne Harris, author of more than 20 novels plus novellas, short stories, game scripts, the libretti for two short operas, several screenplays, a stage musical and three cookbooks; brilliant journalist, editor and interviewer Sarah Shaffi, a former judge for the Jhalak Prize, the Costa Novel Award and the Orwell Prize for Political Fiction; and event chair Paul McVeigh, whose debut novel The Good Son won The Polari First Novel Prize and The McCrea Literary Award, and who has programmed a number of international festivals and encountered some spectacular egos himself. A panel that definitely won’t tolerate any ostentation, grandiloquence or bombast.

Beyond the binary

Travis Alabanza is an award-winning writer, performer and theatre-maker whose work examines gender, trans identity and race. Their debut show Burgerz toured internationally and won the Edinburgh Fringe Total Theatre award in 2019, while their new book None of the Above: Reflections on Life Beyond the Binary is described as an ‘electric memoir about what it means to live outside the gender boundaries’. Catherine Riley is the director of the Primadonna festival and author of Is This Love?, her debut novel which chronicles the breakdown of a toxic relationship and is told from two perspectives: the narrator, whose gender is never revealed, and their wife, whose story is relayed through diary entries and letters. Here, Travis and Catherine sit down for a wide-reaching conversation about love, gender, truth and everything in between.

Instant choir

Give us an hour, and we’ll turn you into a choir! An all-ages session for all standards of singers, this heart-and-throat-warming session will be led by Patrick Barrett alongside accompanist Dan Moriyama who has run ‘come and sing’ events for many years at Britten-Pears. 

Friday evening action...

How to consume less

We live in a culture of mad consumption, with excess and value for money trumping sustainability and ethical shopping habits. But with cheap goods just a click away, how can we teach ourselves to consume less and buy better? We hear from Sian Conway-Wood, founder of Ethical Hour and author of Buy Better, Consume Less which sets out practical tips on how to stop consuming, advice on how to see through corporations' greenwashing, and steps to hold them accountable; and Helen Coffey whose new book Zero Altitude is part climate-change investigation, part travel memoir, documenting Helen as she journeys as far as she can in the course of her job as a top travel journalist – all without getting on a single flight. 

How to Write a Killer Novel!

If you’ve got an idea for a murderous tale, but find the process torturous, don’t fear!

Join Sunday Times’ million copy bestseller Erin Kelly, author of eight thrillers (the ninth is on the way) for a masterclass on how to write a killer novel. Guiding the conversation, and putting your questions to Erin for her expert input, is Louise Mumford who was ‘discovered’ at the first Primadonna festival and is now the published author of two thrillers under the HQ Stories imprint.

Starfell

Join Dominique Valente, author of the bestselling Starfell series and lover of grumpy monsters, for this special session featuring quirky dragons, misbehaving magic, gardens that whisper, and houses that breathe. Born in South Africa with one arm, Starfell is in many ways a love-letter to anyone who has ever felt different or that they didn’t fit in.

Friday evening action...

Beauty (double) standards

What would ‘beauty’ look like if we lived in an equal world? Who gets to judge what beautiful is, does and will be? What difference does it make to have Black skin, carry more (or less) weight, be hairy or be in some way ‘other’ to the uniform images of the bodily ideal we see all around us, every day? In this wide-reaching discussion of all aspects of the beauty industry, we hear from body confidence influencer Alex Light; fashion blogger and influencer Natalie Lee (aka StyleMeSunday); and Anchal Seda who started out as a YouTuber posting makeup and beauty content and is now one of the few successful South Asian beauty influencers in the UK. In the chair is Primadonna Lisa Milton. 

Writing for laughs

Writer Lissa Evans switched a career in medicine for one in entertainment, producing TV series including ‘Room 101’ and ‘Father Ted’ before turning to writing. Now with ten book titles under her belt (four for kids, six for adults), she sits down with her friend and former comedy commissioner for BBC Radio 4 Sioned Wiliam for this special session on writing comedy, with actor, writer and comedian Kay Stonham and Alice Frick, stand-up comedian and author of The Anti Self Help Book. Together, they will explore why books that are funny are regarded as inherently less ‘serious’, and explore the idea that comedy trivialises literature. Is it possible that a funny book will ever win a mainstream literary award? Expect plenty of laughs as they explore the serious business of writing wit well.

Baby Queen + support @ JPC

Primadonna presents the sounds of 2022! With Baby Queen who, barely two years into her career, has already carved her name deep into pop culture as its new anti-hero. Since her first release in 2020 ‘Internet Religion’, a takedown of how social media warps her generation, she has dropped a steady slew of singles that placed her at the forefront of a musical movement. Her music is all over Netflix’s hit coming of age drama Heartstopper and she’s been tipped by everyone from NME and Radio 1 to Courtney Love, Jodie Comer, Pale Waves, and Olivia Rodrigo. With support from Queer-Core London punks The Oozes, who have already made huge waves with their phenomenal success across TikTok and Spotify with their singles “Blah Blah Blah” and “Bitch Boy” – which have each been streamed millions of times. And Esme Emerson, Chinese-British siblings who are one of the best brand new new acts to come out of East Anglia. Check our their brand of dreamy bedroom pop, and in years to come you can tell your friends you saw them when they were just starting out.

Free with weekend wristband.

Friday evening action...

Baby Queen + support @ JPC

Primadonna presents the sounds of 2022! With Baby Queen who, barely two years into her career, has already carved her name deep into pop culture as its new anti-hero. Since her first release in 2020 ‘Internet Religion’, a takedown of how social media warps her generation, she has dropped a steady slew of singles that placed her at the forefront of a musical movement. Her music is all over Netflix’s hit coming of age drama Heartstopper and she’s been tipped by everyone from NME and Radio 1 to Courtney Love, Jodie Comer, Pale Waves, and Olivia Rodrigo. With support from Queer-Core London punks The Oozes, who have already made huge waves with their phenomenal success across TikTok and Spotify with their singles “Blah Blah Blah” and “Bitch Boy” – which have each been streamed millions of times. And Esme Emerson, Chinese-British siblings who are one of the best brand new new acts to come out of East Anglia. Check our their brand of dreamy bedroom pop, and in years to come you can tell your friends you saw them when they were just starting out.

Free with weekend wristband.

Ada Campe: Too Little, Too Soon

Come and see a preview of Ada's Edinburgh show, live in the marquee at Primadonna!

Friday evening action...

Baby Queen + support @ JPC

Primadonna presents the sounds of 2022! With Baby Queen who, barely two years into her career, has already carved her name deep into pop culture as its new anti-hero. Since her first release in 2020 ‘Internet Religion’, a takedown of how social media warps her generation, she has dropped a steady slew of singles that placed her at the forefront of a musical movement. Her music is all over Netflix’s hit coming of age drama Heartstopper and she’s been tipped by everyone from NME and Radio 1 to Courtney Love, Jodie Comer, Pale Waves, and Olivia Rodrigo. With support from Queer-Core London punks The Oozes, who have already made huge waves with their phenomenal success across TikTok and Spotify with their singles “Blah Blah Blah” and “Bitch Boy” – which have each been streamed millions of times. And Esme Emerson, Chinese-British siblings who are one of the best brand new new acts to come out of East Anglia. Check our their brand of dreamy bedroom pop, and in years to come you can tell your friends you saw them when they were just starting out.

Free with weekend wristband.

Double D disco

Late night shenanigans from two of the best Debbies we know: raising the roof (and the temperature) in the Medieval (Disco) Barn until the wee small hours. Debbie Smith started DJ'ing in the late 1990s in various clubs and bars mostly in the Camden area of London and in the early 2000s they started the much loved club night ‘The Nitty Gritty’ with DJ Jaybyrd Slim, and their style celebrated a dance floor friendly blend of 1950s & 60s sounds – ska & rocksteady, girl groups, US Garage punk, funk, rhythm & blues, Northern Soul and UK mod grooves. Deb Googe is a musician best known as the bassist for the band My Bloody Valentine. She is also the bass player for various projects fronted by the ex Sonic Youth singer/guitarist Thurston Moore and is currently touring as part of Brix Smith’s live band and working on an abstract noise project, Sleazy Tiger, with ex Snowpony singer Kath Gifford.

Friday evening action...

Double D disco

Late night shenanigans from two of the best Debbies we know: raising the roof (and the temperature) in the Medieval (Disco) Barn until the wee small hours. Debbie Smith started DJ'ing in the late 1990s in various clubs and bars mostly in the Camden area of London and in the early 2000s they started the much loved club night ‘The Nitty Gritty’ with DJ Jaybyrd Slim, and their style celebrated a dance floor friendly blend of 1950s & 60s sounds – ska & rocksteady, girl groups, US Garage punk, funk, rhythm & blues, Northern Soul and UK mod grooves. Deb Googe is a musician best known as the bassist for the band My Bloody Valentine. She is also the bass player for various projects fronted by the ex Sonic Youth singer/guitarist Thurston Moore and is currently touring as part of Brix Smith’s live band and working on an abstract noise project, Sleazy Tiger, with ex Snowpony singer Kath Gifford.