By Ann Evans

Simon Theakston

If you’re involved with crime – reading, writing and watching that is! Then you won’t want to miss the 2017 Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival in July 2017. A killer line up of the world’s top crime writers will be gathering at the Old Swan Hotel, Harrowgate for this renowned and popular festival.


The festival takes place from 20th to 23rd July, and it’s famed for its no barriers approach, as fans, fledgling writers and established superstar authors mingle in the hotel bar, the bookshop and papakata tents in the hotel grounds.

VERA Brenda Blethyn Photo by Charlotte Graham

Special guests are: Dennis Lehane, Lee Child, Ian Rankin, Peter May, Stuart MacBride, Joseph Finder, Arne Dahl, Kathy Reichs, Brenda Blethyn, Robson Green and James Runcie.


Visitors will also enjoy a new Agatha Christie exhibition which makes its début at the festival with rare photographs and documents from both Agatha Christie and Collins’ archives in a visually led outdoor display. The exhibition is part of HarperCollins’ 200th anniversary celebrations.

Agatha Christie

The venue of The Old Swan Hotel couldn’t be more appropriate for this exhibition of Christie’s life, her publishing and her career; as it was in this Harrowgate hotel that she was found to be staying after her mysterious 11-day disappearance back in 1926.


The 2017 Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival’s Programming Chair, Elly Griffiths, author of the Dr Ruth Galloway crime series, said: “The ghost of Agatha Christie clearly haunts the Old Swan Hotel. Nowhere is the genre she devoted her life to so enthusiastically celebrated than at the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival – the biggest event devoted to crime fiction in Europe, if not the world.”

Crime fest

The event, delivered by the north’s leading arts organisation, Harrogate International Festivals, is one of the most important in the crime publishing calendar. Agents, publishers, publicists, readers and authors attend from all over Europe and the world.


An amazing programme is planned with the opening night featuring the crime writing equivalent of The Oscars, the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award, in association with retail partner, WHSmith, and media partner, the Mail on Sunday.


TV panels will focus on ITV’s Vera, featuring author Ann Cleeves and actress Brenda Blethyn, and ITV’s Grantchester, with writer James Runcie and actor Robson Green.


Val McDermid’s annual New Blood panel, one of the most anticipated events in publishing, features four hand-picked débuts from the Queen of Crime and the Festival’s co-founder. 2017’s débuts are Fiona Cummins, Jane Harper, Joseph Knox and Kristen Lepionka.

Ian Rankin

The day-long writing workshop, Creative Thursday also returns, with author and Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Glasgow, Louise Welsh, and Senior Lecturer of Creative Writing and Director of the new Crime Fiction MA at UEA, Henry Sutton, with a chance for aspiring crime writers to pitch to top agents and editors.


The festival will also serve up its usual helping of heated debate. From digging into the past to skirting the supernatural, panel authors include Chris Brookmyre, Mick Herron, Alifair Burke, Denise Mina, Belinda Bauer and Graeme Macrae Burnet, who was shortlisted for the 2016 Man Booker Prize. There will also be a panel exploring reboots of iconic crime characters, from Poirot to Sherlock, with authors Sophie Hannah, Ruth Ware and Stella Duffy.

Lee Child. Photo by Sam Atkins

Elly Griffiths will deliver a special author dinner murder mystery, Digging up the Past, with help from Francis Pryor of Time Team fame. There’ll also be a Graham Norton style Late Night Event with BBC’s Pointless star, Richard Osman, featuring authors Lee Child, Val McDermid and Mark Billingham.


Simon Theakston, Executive Director of T&R Theakstons and title sponsor, said: “2017 promises a remarkable Festival as we mark 30 years of Rebus with Ian Rankin, 20 years since Lee Child introduced us to Jack Reacher, and 15 years since Dennis Lehane released Shutter Island. I can think of no better place than our Festival – amongst readers, authors, and friends – to raise a glass of Theakston’s beer to these giants of the genre.”

Old Swan – Crime Writing Festival Photo

Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival, the Old Swan Hotel, Harrogate, 20-23 July, 2017.<

Box Office: 01423 562 303.