2022 Commissions

Every year Durham Book Festival commissions new writing and we are thrilled to share our Durham Book Festival 2022 commissions with you. During the festival we will be launching a host of exclusive films, podcasts and essays. The commissions will be available to watch, read and listen to throughout the festival, from Monday 10 October 2022.

Letters from the World

Durham Book Festival has commissioned five international writers to write a letter to the people of Durham from wherever they are in the world. Written on the same day across four different continents, these letters will open a window into the lives and experiences of writers and thinkers all over the world.

The New Great Britons

In 2002, the BBC ran a campaign to find the Greatest Briton. 20 years on, this partnership project with Durham University’s Dr Natalie Mears is a series of short films with leading university researchers, each advocating for ‘great Britons’ they feel have been overlooked by history.

Writing the Missing – Folding Water

Across time and water, in beautiful and startling words, soundscapes and images, award-winning disabled activist, writer and performer Lisette Auton weaves together character and setting to provoke debate and action. Lisette asks why she is still folding herself into the impossible. And what would happen if she finally said no?

Following the success of Durham Book Festival-commissioned films Writing the Missing – The River Cycle and Writing the Missing – All At Sea, Lisette Auton and Rob Irish come together for the final time in the Water Trilogy to push the creative boundaries of access, words and kindness.

Jessica Andrews: Forgotten Histories and Finding New Narratives

Durham Book Festival have commissioned an essay from award-winning Sunderland-born writer Jessica Andrews. The piece reflects on the many facets of north-eastern female identity and how it is perceived today. It is inspired by the life of Eileen O’Shaughnessy Blair, George Orwell’s often overlooked first wife who was born in South Shields.

Naomi Booth on Violet Hunt

Violet Hunt was a writer born in Durham in 1862. She went on to found both the Women’s Suffrage League and English PEN, as well as becoming a prolific writer and literary salon host. Durham Book Festival and English PEN have commissioned acclaimed author and Durham University academic Naomi Booth, to write a piece exploring Violet Hunt’s extraordinary life.

SoulFood: A film from REfUSE Café

Durham Book Festival has been working with REfUSE café, a pay-as-you-feel community café in Chester-le-Street that works to reduce food waste. The café community have co-created a film showcasing the ground-breaking environmental work and culture of the café.

Self-Guided Walk: The Never Never Land of W. H. Auden

Follow in W. H. Auden’s footsteps on a downloadable self-guided circular walk starting and finishing in Rookhope, County Durham and listen to broadcaster Jeremy Vine give an overview of Auden, his work and affinity with the North Pennines.

Yours Sincerely: The Climate Letters

For the third and final collective project of Linda France’s Writing the Climate residency, which brought us Murmuration and Dawn Chorus, Linda is inviting people to write and send a letter about their take on the accelerating climate and ecological crisis.

It’s up to you who you choose to write to – your MP, the CEO of Shell, a wildfire fighter in Australia or a reindeer herder in the Arctic, your best friend, your descendants or your ancestors. Send it if you can, and share it with us on social media with the hashtag #TheClimateLetters. When you write, you hold the whole world in your hands.


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