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Gravity festival returns with more conversations that matter 

Written by Rachael Norris, 8th July 2022

Authors Lissa Evans, Katherine May, Kit de Waal and Tony Schumacher headline exciting weekend of events hosted from Liverpool’s Calderstones Park, 29 September – 2 October.
Gravity is a festival for our times that fuses great books and novels with intimate conversations about life’s ups and downs.  

L to R: Kit de Waal, Katherine May, Jarvis, Hannah Chukwu, Roosevelt Montas, Lissa Evans, Frank Cottrell-Boyce and Tony Schumacher

This year’s programme – which takes place online and in person – includes talks from guest speakers and wellbeing activities such as poetry walks and Shared Reading. 

Highlights include: 

  • BBC1 ‘The Responder’ writer, Liverpool-born Tony Schumacher in conversation about the personal experiences that inspired the hit show. 
  • Hannah Chukwu, series editor of Penguin’s Black Britain: Writing Black, will be curating one day of yet to be announced events with a panel of brilliant black writers. 
  • Author of New York Times bestseller, Wintering: The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times Katherine May in conversation with researcher of autism and literature Melissa Chapple and Emeritus Professor of Literature and Psychology at the University of Liverpool, Philip Davis (Reading for Life).  
  • Journalist Tomiwa Owolade and founder and director of The Reader, Jane Davis, share their admiration for the clear sightedness and the sometimes-hard truths found in the essays of American writer James Baldwin. 
  • BAFTA-winning television producer, author of novels for both adults and children, Lissa Evans joins Bootle-born screenwriter and author Frank Cottrell-Boyce for a chat on children’s books, imagination, and Lissa’s award-winning novel Wed Wabbit. 
  • Kit de Waal author of international best seller and winner of the Irish Novel prize My Name Is Leon talking about the difficulties and joys of growing up poor and mixed race, and her powerful belief in love and books. 
  • A draw-along with V&A Award winning author and illustrator Jarvis as we talk about his latest picture book The Boy with Flowers in his Hair. 
  • Roosevelt Montas, author of Rescuing Socrates, talks to Neil Atkinson (Anfield Wrap) and Pranav Sood about how, as a Dominican-born teenager in Queens, NY, great books changed his life.

Tickets are on sale today at

The charity behind the festival, The Reader, uses the power of literature and reading aloud to transform lives. The Reader’s founder, Jane Davis MBE, left school at 16 with two GCSEs, eventually returning to education as a young, single mother. Using literature for personal reflection was at the heart of The Reader magazine, which launched in 1997. 

Jane Davis, commented: “I started The Reader because I'd had experiences that showed me that great literature does something very real, very practical, for people. Stories, novels, poems and great scripts of all kinds are valuable because they tell us about who we are.  

“If we share these reading experiences, we learn about each other as well as ourselves. Literature helps us deal with what the writer Jeanette Winterson calls ‘the normal problems of gravity’ and it does it without medicalising our difficult problems. If you think Gravity isn't for you – I urge you to come anyway, sit, have a cuppa, see what happens.” 

Hannah Chukwu, series editor of Penguin’s Black Britain: Writing Black, will be curating one day of yet to be announced events and conversations with special guests and speakers.

Hannah said: “I’m excited to be working with The Reader on curating events as part of Gravity festival 2022. The Reader is an extraordinary organisation that is pioneering the conversation around bringing literature to those who need it the most. 

“This collaboration will create important conversations about the relationship between literature and representation that will leave audiences feeling inspired and hopeful about the possibilities opened up by more diverse literature.”

The countdown is on to September with more headline speakers, Shared Reading and wellbeing events, from art workshops to guided poetry walks, to be announced in the coming weeks along with access to the digital elements of the festival. 

The Reader is supported by Arts Council England, The National Lottery Community Fund, players of People’s Postcode Lottery and the Steve Morgan Foundation.    

Gravity festival is supported by The Granada Foundation and the National Lottery Heritage Fund. 

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