As a half-Yorkist, on my mother’s side, it gives me great pleasure to announce that the venerable Yorkshire spa town of Harrogate will be hosting the first Harrogate History Festival, on October 25th-27th,  2013, at the Old Swan Hotel, under the auspices of Harrogate International Festivals.

Special guests at the Festival include Rose Tremain and Fay Weldon, as well as a roster of other history writers—albeit largely creators of historical fiction rather than actual historians.

For keen e-readers of history, there are in fact plenty of free resources online, from the novels of Sir Walter Scott or George Eliot’s “Romola” to Leo Tolstoy’s “War and Peace” or Balzac’s “The Chouans.”

HarrogateAnd the more serious student of history rather than historical romances has some fabulous, superbly written choices, from George Macaulay Trevelyan‘s fabulous English social histories and the speeches of Winston Churchill, to John Addington Symonds’s dazzling translation of the autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini, and Josephine Tey’s fascinating exoneration of Richard III in “The Daughter of Time.” All of these are completely free, and are just the smallest sample of the riches out there.

Readers should be aware, though, that as already noted in TeleRead, literature festivals can be very nice self-financing earners for their organizers, and have a tendency to proliferate far beyond their actual cultural value. And Harrogate International Festivals, which as its materials claim, “has fired up hearts and minds since its inception in 1966, revolutionising the cultural landscape of the North Yorkshire spa town,” currently has nine separate events on its calendar for the year.

That said, any platform responsible for the brilliantly named “Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival” in July clearly deserves major credit. And Theakston is one other Yorkshire brand I’m more than happy to endorse.



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