Melvyn Bragg at Scarborough Books by the Beach

Melvyn Bragg will be at Books by the Beach
Melvyn Bragg will be at Books by the Beach

Writer and broadcaster Melvyn Bragg is the first headline guest to be announced for this year’s Books by the Beach.

He will be discussing his much- praised new novel Now Is The Time, about the Peasant’s Revolt of 1381 at an event at the Spa on Friday April 15 at 7.30pm.

Bragg presented The South Bank Show for ITV and wrote the Cumbrian Trilogy which included The Hired Man – turned into a musical. He also wrote A Time to Dance, which was adapted for television.

“I’m thrilled that Melvyn Bragg is heading across the ‘border’ from Cumbria to Yorkshire for this event,” said co-director of the event Heather French.

“He is one of the authors I have wanted at the festival since we launched it. Last summer, after I saw the BBC documentary Wigton to Westminster, I was determined to get him for Scarborough. And he said ‘Yes.’.”

Co director Peter Guttridge, who, as a chairman at other book festivals has shared the stage with Baron Bragg several times, said: ‘This event will be about Melvyn Bragg the author, not the broadcaster.

He has done such an extraordinary job championing culture over the years - particularly on television’s The South Bank Show and BBC Radio’s In Our Time, but also in the House of Lords since his ennoblement in 1998 – that his novel writing has often been overlooked.”

He has written over a score of novels, from his first – For Want of A Nail – published in 1965 when he was 26, to Now Is The Time, winning a host of book awards on the way. His latest is a recreation of the biggest rebellion in English history. “Much of his fiction has been autobiographical,” Guttridge said, “and often it has been the more powerful for that.

The rest of the programme has yet to be annonced. “To say I’m excited about it would be an understatement,’ said Heather. Ordinarily I would say Melvyn Bragg would be the icing on our cake – but this year we have a big cake and a lot of icing.”

Books by The Beach runs from Wednesday April 13 to Sunday April 17.

Author MC Beaton, who wrote the Hamish Macbeth and Agatha Raisin, series of books will also be at the festival

Tickets for Melvyn Bragg go on sale on Thursday January 21 at the Spa box office.

Tickets for all other events will be on sale at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, from early next month.