Ruth Wainwright joins us to tell us about the inaugral Brighton Book Festival taking place 24th - 26th June...

A weekend at the first Brighton Book Festival

When I first met Carolynn Bain, owner of Afrori Books in 2021, she had many grand plans. Having already launched a successful online bookshop during lockdown and opened a physical shop in a matter of months, she wasn’t intending to slow down. Instead, shocked that we don’t already have a regular book festival in Brighton, she wanted to bring it into being, and fast.

That’s where I came in. I had also recently started my business, The Feminist Bookshop, and after a rocky period in lockdown was beginning to get on my feet again. Thinking it was unlikely anything would come of it, I casually agreed to hop on board. However, I admit, I had fully underestimated Carolynn. I soon found myself being announced to a room full of people as ‘co-founder of Brighton Book Festival’. So there it was, no turning back.

What we’ve created in just a few short months still blows my mind. Having picked Independent Bookshop Week as the perfect time for two indie booksellers to launch a festival, we set about creating our line-up: fifteen events across the book festival weekend and three online events in the week leading up to it.

The speakers and performers coming to the festival are quite astounding. Determined to prove that book festivals are for and about everyone we have set about building a festival that is for kids and adults alike and that is representative of our community.

So, here’s what I’m looking forward to attending over the weekend:

Kicking off the Friday will be the star-studded Launch Party at Afrori Books, hosted by Writer in Residence Dorothy Koomson and the brilliant Juno Dawson. With live readings spoken word, DJ and open bar doubtless it will be a fun night for all involved.

Next, it’ll be the Family Festival at Afrori Books on Saturday with lots of crafting, creative writing workshops, readings, games and more. After, I’ll be heading to Sabba Khan’s Graphic Novels Workshop and then Ties That Bind and Feminist Futures talks at The Feminist Bookshop in the afternoon. Popping back to Afrori Books, I’ll be hoping to catch the Lyrics & Lines youth performance with Ciannon Smart and then the headline event, British Culture with Kit de Waal, Yvonne Bailey Smith and Tony Fairweather. I am so excited for this!

On the final day, I’ll be heading straight to the Bookish Brunch at 11, to grab some pastries and do a tour of the tables to find out what everyone is reading and recommending. Then, I really want to hear Emma Topping give some top tips on getting Beyond the Book and onto platforms like Netflix. For lunch, I’ve earmarked The View panel discussion on books to look out for this year, followed by a workshop on Pitching Your Novel before taking by brother to see the Masculinities talk with Guvna B. In the last few hours, it’ll be off to The Actors pub for a session on Brighton’s Queer Culture and on to the grand finale at The Feminist Bookshop on the Myth of the Mainstream

And then I will sleep. For a long, long time! It’s going to be a jam-packed weekend with so much for everyone to get involved in. I can’t wait to see you there.

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