Line-up revealed for this year's Scarborough's Books by the Beach - Helen Lederer, FRank Gardner, Polly Toynbee, Alan Johnson lead the way

This year’s Books by the Beach festival offers a mix of nautical politics, murder-mystery and history over three days in Scarborough from Friday, June 7 to Sunday, June 9.
Author Glenda Young with the first book in her series on South Bay beachAuthor Glenda Young with the first book in her series on South Bay beach
Author Glenda Young with the first book in her series on South Bay beach

The festival will be launched by bestselling historical novelist Stacey Halls at Queen Street Methodist Central Hall on the Friday at 10.30am. Her first book, The Familiars, was the bestselling debut hardback novel of 2019 and won a Betty Trask Award. Stacey will introduce her new novel The Household which is et against Charles Dickens’ home for fallen women

Scarborough-based Egyptologist Professor Joann Fletcher will be discussing Wine in Ancient Egypt: From the Temples of the Gods to the Table of Cleopatra at the same venue,

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Coastal crime is the next theme when the audience meets Glenda Young, writer of the Scarborough-set Sea View Hotel cosy crime series, at the Crescent Hotel at 3pm. Cake and a cocktail are included in the ticket price for the author’s event.

BAFTA-winning journalist and former Scarborough Boys’ High School head boy Peter Taylor returns to his home town to share his new book Operation Chiffon: the Secret Story of MI5 and MI6 and the Road to Peace in Ireland.

He will be interviewed by former Head of BBC Radio Helen Boaden, who is also the festival’s patron.

Booker Prize long-lister David Nicholls brings Friday’s programme to a close at Queen Street at 7.30pm. His starter For Ten, Us, and One Day, have sold more than eight million copies worldwide.

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There have been numerous adaptations of David’s own novels. The latest is a 14-episode Netflix adaptation of One Day starring Ambika Mod and Leo Woodall. He will be discussing his highly-anticipated new novel You Are Here – a story of first encounters.

Marine biologist Helen Scales will discuss her latest book What the Wild Sea Can Be: The Future of the World’s Ocean at Queen Street on the Saturday at 10.30am.

Historical novelist Rory Clements will be at Queen Street Church at 1pm. The twice-winner of the CWA Historical Dagger Award is the author of the Shakespeare and Tom Wilde series. His latest book, Munich Wolf, introduces readers to a new hero operating in pre-war Second World War Germany.

The festival continues with BBC's security correspondent Frank Gardner at Queen Street at 3pm when he will discusses Invasion – his new international thriller – with his former BBC colleague Helen Boaden.

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Author and broadcaster Polly Toynbee discusses her memoir An Uneasy Inheritance on Saturday at 5pm. Polly will be conversation with guest interviewer Alan Johnson, who is also appearing later in the festival.

Writer, actress, comedian and presenter Helen Lederer – best known for her role in Absolutely Fabulous – brings Saturday’s programme to a close at Queen Street at 7.30pm. She will be talking about her new book is a memoir, Not That I’m Bitter.

Former Labour politician Johnson open’s Sunday’s sessions with a chat about his new novel Death on the Thames at the YMCA Theatre at 1.30am.

Audiences can then meet journalist Sophie Elmhirst who will be introducing her first book Maurice and Maralyn – a true life tale of a whale, a shipwreck and love.. Sophie is appearing at Queen Street at 1pm.

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Scarborough next welcomes novelist Jennie Godfrey – raised in West Yorkshire within a mill-working family. Following a corporate career, she is now a writer and part-time Waterstones bookseller.

Her debut, The List of Suspicious Things, is inspired by her Yorkshire childhood in the 1970s. She is at Queen Street at 3pm.

Poet and novelist Jackie Kay will be performing her poetry at Queen Street at 5pm.

The festival finale brings Patrick Grant to the stage. With a career in fashion spanning nearly two decades, Patrick has a lot to say about our clothing, He will discuss his new book Less.

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Festival director said: “I’m very excited about this year’s line-up. We are honoured to welcome household names alongside prizewinning authors, a national poet and some fascinating debuts.

" I hope everyone loves the variety of events and I’m sure there’s something for everyone. I’m delighted with the support I’ve received from the visiting authors, publishers, interviewers, my festival patron, our volunteers and all partners.

"Please do support your local festival, and if you’ve not experienced it before then buy a ticket and give it a go. Join in the fun and help keep Scarborough on the cultural map.”

Tickets for all events are available from the YMCA Theatre box office, St Thomas Street, Scarborough.

Telephone 01723 506750 or email

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