Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Sprinkling a Bit of Magic on Book Festival; Figures from Literature, Politics, Television, Journalism, Sport and Academia Will Be Descending on Durham in the Coming Days. DAVID WHETSTONE Looks at Durham Book Festival Which Starts with Homage to a Trainee Wizard

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Sprinkling a Bit of Magic on Book Festival; Figures from Literature, Politics, Television, Journalism, Sport and Academia Will Be Descending on Durham in the Coming Days. DAVID WHETSTONE Looks at Durham Book Festival Which Starts with Homage to a Trainee Wizard

Article excerpt

Byline: DAVID WHETSTONE

AWIZARD start to this year's Durham Book Festival was guaranteed with three sell-out Harry Potter screenings in Durham Cathedral, which must rank as a contender for the world's most fabulous pop-up cinema.

The screenings of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone - one last night and two today - mark the 20th anniversary of the publication of JK Rowling's now famous first book.

The film of the book came out in 2001 with the cathedral as one of the locations.

All the tickets for the screenings were sold inside 12 hours so 1,500 Potter-loving muggles (the name given to mere humans in the books) will be descending on the last resting place of St Cuthbert and the Venerable Bede this weekend.

If you worry about Harry Potter in the cathedral, you might wish at attend a festival session in its Prior's Hall on Tuesday at 7pm. It's called Are Cathedrals Still Relevant? The question will be addressed by the Dean of Durham, Andrew Tremlett, and guests including the Dean of Chelmsford, Nicholas Henshall.

A "lively debate" is promised and a new collection of essays on the subject, Holy Ground, will be launched.

Durham Book Festival starts this weekend and runs until October 15.

Claire Malcolm, chief executive of New Writing North, which produces the festival for Durham County Council (with funding from Arts Turn to Page 44 Council England and Durham University), said it was "a bumper year" with more events and a bigger audience expected.

See the full programme at www.durhambookfestival.com or tel. 03000 266600.

Tickets are still available for plenty of events. Here are a dozen to bookmark...

| THREE POETS, Palace Green Library, Saturday, October 7 (4pm): They are TS Eliot Prize winner Sinead Morrissey, recently appointed professor of creative writing at Newcastle University, Colette Bryce and Tara Bergin. In the same place on Sunday (10.30am) Teesside poet Bob Beagrie will be joined by musicians to launch an epic Dark Ages poem, Leasungspell.

| JENNI MURRAY, Gala Theatre, October 8 (4pm): The long-serving presenter of Woman's Hour on BBC Radio 4 offers A History of Britain In 21 Women, which is also the title of her new book. Those women include Boudicca, Mary Quant, Jane Austen, Emmeline Pankhurst, Elizabeth I, Barbara Castle and, yes, Margaret Thatcher.

| PETER SNOW and ANN Mac-MILLAN, Gala Theatre, October 9 (6.15pm): The man known for his Newsnight election 'swingometer' and his wife, also a broadcaster and journalist, will be talking about their book War Stories. It pulls together the stories of 34 men and women who were swept up in the chaos of war, spanning four centuries and four continents.

| RODDY DOYLE, Gala Theatre, Monday, October 9 (8pm): The Irish novelist made his name with The Commitments (published in 1987 and turned into a film in 1991) and Paddy Clarke Ha Ha ha which won the Booker Prize in 1993. Here he talks about his latest novel, Smile, which has a 54-year-old narrator, Victor, and deals with the anguish of sexual abuse. …

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