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The Festival in a Factory 2019

Thu 6 Jun–Sat 8 Jun

The Festival in a Factory is back!

From award-winning authors to world-renowned experts, poets and entertainersThe Festival in a Factory is an eclectic celebration of culture and creativity in the inspiring surroundings of the Emma Bridgewater Factory where Emma has manufactured her iconic handmade and hand-decorated pottery for more than twenty years.

Join us for three exciting days of author talks, panel discussions and hands-on workshops in surprising spaces from the old pottery warehouse to the cobbled courtyard.

2019 programme highlights also include V&A Meet the Curator events on Frida Kahlo and Christian Dior, Greenpeace Oceans campaigner Will McCullum on the giving up plastic and National Trust Head of Research Nino Strachey on the Bloomsbury Group, plus great children’s authors, free poetry and family activities too.

Curated by trustees’ designer and pottery manufacturer Emma Bridgewater and Director of the Victoria & Albert Museum and former Stoke Central MP Tristram Hunt, the Festival brings together people of all ages for stimulating encounters in this most creative of cities.

Marketing and Box Office supported by The New Vic Theatre

Event tickets £8.

Book online at  or New Vic Box Office: 01782 381381


To see the Festival’s full schedule please click here or see below…

Thursday 6 June – Emma Bridgewater Factory, Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent. ST1 3EJ.

A.N. Wilson – Victoria: a life
2.00pm – The Meakin Room

To many, Queen Victoria is a ruler shrouded in myth and mystique – an aging, stiff widow, paraded as the figurehead to an all-male imperial enterprise. But in truth, Britain’s longest reigning monarch was one of the most passionate, expressive, humorous and unconventional women who ever lived. Acclaimed Staffordshire-raised biographer, novelist and columnist A. N. Wilson makes a return visit to the Festival to reveal Victoria as a brave, original woman at the very epicentre of Britain’s changing place in the world.
Click here to book this event


Rachel Reeves: Women of Westminster
3.30pm – The Meakin Room

In the century since women first gained the vote, almost 500 have been elected to the House of Commons, yet it was not until 2015 that the total number of women ever elected surpassed the number of male MPs in a single parliament. Rachel Reeves (MP for Leeds West since 2010) new book “Women of Westminster” celebrates the remarkable achievements of these political pioneers from the earliest suffrage campaigns, to Barbara Castle’s fight for equal pay, to Harriet Harman’s recent legislation on the gender pay gap.

Rachel also examines why it is that, despite Britain having now had two female Prime Ministers and women MPs having made significant strides in the fight for gender equality, the stories of many of the Women of Westminster have too often been overlooked in political histories.
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V&A – Meet the Curator: Frida Kahlo
3.30pm – The Old Pottery Warehouse

Claire Wilcox, Senior Curator of Fashion & Textile at the V&A, shares highlights of the museum’s recent exhibition which presented an extraordinary collection of personal artefacts and clothing belonging to the iconic Mexican artist Frida Kahlo.

Locked away for 50 years after her death, this was the first exhibition of this collection outside Mexico and presented a fresh perspective on Kahlo’s life story through her most intimate belongings.
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V&A – Meet the Curator: Christian Dior
5.00pm – The Meakin Room

V&A Curator of Fashion & Textile Oriole Cullen visits the Factory to share highlights of the museum’s new landmark Christian Dior exhibition. Spanning from 1947 to the present day, it traces the history and impact of one of the 20th century’s most influential couturiers, exploring the enduring influence of the fashion house and Dior’s relationship with Britain.
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Tom Baldwin: Conrtol, Alt, Delete
5.00pm – The Old Pottery Warehouse

Something has gone badly wrong: people loathe politicians, distrust the press and increasingly fear each other. Ctrl Alt Delete is a brutally honest and sometimes funny account of how our democracy was crashed — and whether we can still re-boot it. Interviewing everyone from Tony Blair to Michael Gove, top journalists to Russian bloggers, and tech giant execs to online activists, Tom Baldwin will describe a vicious battle for control of the news agenda, at the expense of public trust and the value of truth. He will also share how technological change has hollowed out space for virulent new populist alternatives, including the so-called ‘alt-right’ and ‘alt-left’. And will also warn that not only extremists, but also the progressive centre, may now decide to press ‘delete’ on liberal democracy altogether.

Tom Baldwin has spent the best part of three decades at the centre of politics and the media. He has been communications director for the Labour Party, political editor of The Sunday Telegraph, assistant editor of The Times, and The Times’ Washington bureau chief.

‘Written with characteristic gusto and insight, this is a no-holds-barred indictment of the democratic and civic crisis we face today.’ — Tristram Hunt
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Nadine Dorries
6.30pm – The Old Pottery Warehouse

MP for Mid Bedfordshire Nadine Dorries is the author of the No. 1 bestselling Four Streets trilogy and a series of novels set in streets and hospitals of Liverpool and her favourite place in the world, the west coast of Ireland. Nadine visits the Festival to discuss her twin careers of writing and politics in what is sure to be a lively and fascinating event.
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William McCullum: How To Give Up Plastic
6.30pm – The Meakin Room

Around 12.7 million tonnes of plastic are entering the ocean every year, killing over 1 million seabirds and 100,000 marine mammals. By 2050 there could be more plastic in the ocean than fish by weight. Plastic pollution is the environmental scourge of our age, but how can YOU make a difference?

Will McCallum is Head of the Oceans campaign at Greenpeace UK and has been working with governments and companies to prevent our plastic crisis, as well as researching what everyday consumers can do to reduce plastic pollution. Will has put everything he’s learnt into his accessible guide How to Give Up Plastic and will share tips and tricks to help you reduce your plastic footprint in your homes, communities and workplaces.

Plastic is not going away without a fight. We need a movement made up of billions of individual acts, bringing people together from all backgrounds and all cultures, the ripples of which will be felt from the smallest village to the tallest skyscrapers. Will’s book and message is a call to arms – to join forces across the world and to end our dependence on plastic. #BreakFreeFromPlastic
Click here to book this event


Viv Groskop: How To Own The Room
8.00pm – The Meakin Room

Viv Groskop is a writer, stand-up comedian and TV and radio presenter. A late-in-life starter in stand-up comedy and broadcasting, she has transitioned from journalism to live work by studying successful women speakers and performers with the beady eye of a life-long professional critic. She is the veteran of three sold-out five star Edinburgh Fringe shows. As an executive performance coach, she works with women across business, media and advertising, helping them to hone their authority, presence and leadership.
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Friday 7 June – Emma Bridgewater Factory, Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent. ST1 3EJ.

Andrew Roberts: Churchill
12.30pm – The Meakin Room

When we seek an example of great leaders with unalloyed courage, the person who comes to mind is Winston Churchill: the iconic, visionary war leader immune from the consensus of the day, who stood firmly for his beliefs when everyone doubted him. But how did young Winston become Churchill? What gave him the strength to take on the superior force of Nazi Germany when bombs rained on London and so many others had caved?

Bestselling, award-winning author of Napoleon and The Storm of WarAndrew Roberts will share with festival-goers his landmark biography of Winston Churchill, based on extensive new material including transcripts of War Cabinet meetings, diaries, letters and unpublished memoirs from Churchill’s contemporaries, that reveals the true genius of the man, statesman and leader.
Click here to book this event


National Trust – Nino Strachey: Bloomsbury Group
2.00pm – The Meakin Room

Virginia Woolf famously concluded, ‘A woman must have money and a room of her own to write fiction.’ Nino Strachey, National Trust Head of Research and herself descended from members of the Bloomsbury Group, explores the homes of Virginia Woolf, her lover Vita Sackville-West, and Vita’s first cousin Eddy – the man who stood between Vita and Knole, the house she loved but could not inherit. In her book Rooms of their Own Nino brings together stories of love, desire and intimacy, with vivid accounts of the settings in which they took place, and offers fresh insights into the complicated interlocking lives of the Bloomsbury Group.
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Jenny Uglow: Mr Lear
3.30pm – The Meakin Room

Acclaimed biographer Jenny Uglow brings us a joyful and moving appreciation of Edward Lear’s extraordinary life and work. From troubled childhood to striving artist, she tracks his swooping moods, passionate friendships and restless travels. His ‘nonsenses’ are elegantly unpicked, his complex poetic genius revealed. Jenny Uglow’s latest book, Mr Lear: A Life of Art and Nonsense is an illustrated biography of Lear, as natural history artist, landscape painter, travel writer and loveable outsider – as well as the much-loved author of ‘The Owl and the Pussy-Cat’ and a host of hilarious limericks.

A critic and consultant for over 40 years Jenny regularly appears in the Guardian, the New York Review of Books or through her blog in the NYR Daily She also writes for The New Yorker, The Times Literary Supplement, and The Beano. Her other books include: In These Times: Living in Britain through Napoleon’s Wars, 1793-1815,Elizabeth Gaskell: A Habit of Stories, Hogarth: A Life and a World , The Lunar Men: The Friends who Made the Future,Nature’s Engraver: A Life of Thomas Bewick,A Gambling Man: Charles II and the Restoration and The Pinecone: The Story of Sarah Losh.
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Elizabeth Day: How To Fail
7.00pm – The Meakin Room

Inspired by her hugely popular podcast, How To Fail, novelist and former Observer journalist Elizabeth Day’s shares her brilliantly funny, painfully honest and insightful celebration of things going wrong. Part memoir, part manifesto, How to Fail is based on the simple premise that understanding why we fail ultimately makes us stronger. Uplifting, inspiring and rich in stories from her own life, Elizabeth reveals that failure is not what defines us; rather it is how we respond to it that shapes us as individuals.
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Saturday 8 June – Emma Bridgewater Factory, Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent. ST1 3EJ.

Barbara Mitchellhill
11.00am – The Old Pottery Warehouse

Damian Drooth is a super sleuth, a number 1 detective and a boy who has a nose for trouble… He’s determined to clean up the world so criminals better beware! Join author Barbara Mitchellhill for a fun packed session of stories and adventure ideal for readers aged 7+. Barbara is an award winning children’s author who began writing for BBC Children’s television and went on to produce series books for young readers (including the ‘No 1 Boy Detective’) as well as fast and furious historical adventures for older children.

PLEASE NOTE: Tickets for this event – £5.00
Click here to book


Kamal Ahmed: The Life & Times of a Very British Man
2.00pm – The Meakin Room

Former BBC Economics editor  Kamal Ahmed had a very British 1970s childhood: a Raleigh racing bike, Adidas Gazelle trainers, cord trousers – and regularly being told to “go home”, even though he’d been born just down the road. Today, tensions over immigration and Europe have brought some of the attitudes to race that we might have hoped had gone the way of 1970s rainbow jumpers, ferociously to the forefront of British life. As one of the first generation of mixed-race Brits, Ahmed is perfectly placed to explore the conversation around race and identity today. Join him for personal anecdotes, political analysis, and passionate belief in the ultimate good of this country.
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Tom Holland: Aethelflaed
3.30pm – The Meakin Room

Who was Æthelflæd?
What role did she play in the founding of England?
How has her legacy lasted to this day?

DISCOVER the epic history of England’s forgotten queen. Planting cities, sponsoring learning and defeating her people’s enemies, Æthelflæd laid the foundations of a kingdom that lasts to this day. Tom Holland’s Æthelflæd puts a spotlight on this formidable leader, pulling her out of the shadowy history of the dark ages.

THE MOST INFLUENTIAL WOMAN THAT ENGLISH HISTORY FORGOT. Watch Tom’s short film to find out more about the Lady of the Mercians.

Tom Holland presents BBC Radio 4’s Making History and is the author of Rubicon: The Triumph and Tragedy of the Roman Republic, which won the Hessell-Tiltman Prize for History and was shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize. He has adapted Homer, Herodotus, Thucydides and Virgil for the BBC and in 2016 wrote a history of Æthelstan, who was the nephew of Æthelflæd and raised in her court.
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Ben McIntyre: The Spy & The Traitor
5.00pm – The Meakin Room

Multimillion-copy, bestselling author of books including Agent Zigzag, Operation Mincemeat, A Spy Among Friends and SAS: Rogue Heroes Ben Macintyre visits the Festival to reveal one of the boldest and most extraordinary episodes in the history of British spying. In his latest book The Spy and The Traitor about a KGB double agent, Ben explores a tale of espionage, betrayal and raw courage that changed the course of the Cold War forever…

‘The best true spy story I have ever read’ John Le Carre
Click here to book this event



Marketing and Box Office supported by The New Vic Theatre

Event tickets £8.

Book online at  or New Vic Box Office: 01782 381381


To see the full programme and to keep up-to-date with the latest festival news, visit or follow us on Facebook or Twitter @SOTLitFestival

Booking Information
Showing: Thursday 6 June–Saturday 8 June 2019

Tickets: £8.00 - £8.00

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