A host of authors and celebrities booked for festival

By Dave Barry

Scarborough’s fifth annual book festival will celebrate two commemorations - 100 years of votes for women and the bicentenary of the publication of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein.

Books by the Beach, from 11-15 April, will feature a host of award-winning authors and celebrities.

Suffragettes lecturer Diane Atkinson will fly the flag for female suffrage at an after-lunch talk at the Crescent Hotel (11 Apr).

Diane is the author of Rise Up, Women! The Remarkable Lives of the Suffragettes. She has been consulted on numerous TV documentaries and was in the film Suffragette, starring Meryl Streep and Helena Bonham-Carter.

Prize-winning writer and poet Fiona Sampson will talk about Mary Shelley (11 Apr). The author of Frankenstein, published 200 years ago, was raised in a house of radical thinkers. Aged 16, she eloped with Percy Bysshe Shelley, living on the move across Britain and other parts of Europe, coping with debt, infidelity and death.

This will be at the library, where most of the festival will be held.

American journalist, author and libertarian Lionel Shriver, who lives in London, will discuss her latest book, Property, due to be published a few days after her talk (14 Apr).

Shriver is best known for her novel We Need to Talk About Kevin, which won the Orange prize for fiction in 2005 and was adapted into the 2011 film of the same name, starring Tilda Swinton.

Lucy Mangan will invite readers to cast their minds back to childhood and their old favourite books (13 Apr). “So whether you're a Famous Five fan or loved Milly Molly Mandy, it'll be fun reminiscing with her memoir Bookworm”, says festival director Heather French.

Dame Stella Rimington, the ex-head of MI5, will bring a whiff of mystery (15 Apr). She joined the security service in 1968 and worked in counter-subversion, counter-espionage and counter-terrorism. She has written an autobiography and nine novels, most recently, Breaking Cover.

Biographer Katie Nicholl will talk about her book Harry - Life, Loss and Love and the prince’s engagement to Meghan Markle (14 Apr). She will also join fellow journalists Rosie Millard and Gerry Foley on the Sunday papers panel (15 Apr).

The festival’s traditional Amnesty International talk will come from Bali Rai, who will discuss his short story The Colour of Humanity.

Accompanied by her Storytime Band, Chocolat author and inveterate Tweeter Joanne Harris will tell intimate, engaging, quirky and darkly magical stories (15 Apr). They were originally written in 140-character segments for a Twitter audience

On the first day of the festival (11 Apr), former stand-up comedian and broadcaster Natalie Haynes will talk about her novel The Children of Jocasta; novelist and biographer Nicholas Shakespeare will bring Churchill to life; and marathon man Ben Smith will talk about his work.

At other venues, Renoir expert Catherine Hewitt will reveal the story of Suzanne Valadon, the Impressionist’s model with hidden talents, at the art gallery (11 Apr); Anne Brontë aficionado and author Samantha Ellis will talk about the overshadowed younger sibling at St Mary's Church, hosted by festival patron Helen Boaden, the BBC’s former head of news (12 Apr); Libby Pearson’s Me and Thee Theatre will perform Hiding at the town hall, in the council chamber (13 Apr); and radio and TV journalist Jeremy Vine will chat about his memoir What I Learnt - What My Listeners Say and Why we Should Take Notice at the Stephen Joseph Theatre (14 Apr).

Foodwise, Rosie Millard will muse over our love of gossip, secrets and sensationalism over a Brazilian breakfast at the Palm Court Hotel (14 Apr); Eat Me café will serve pie, mash and liquor at the SJT and Ben Aaronovitch will share tales about writing for Dr Who and the bestselling Rivers of London series (13 Apr).

Heather says: “I'd like to thank all my fantastic sponsors, partners, volunteers and friends of the festival. It wouldn't be possible without them. Roll on April and festival fever!”

The full line-up of who has been booked so far can be found on the festival website at  www.booksbythebeach.co.uk.

Tickets can be bought at the SJT and by ringing 370541.