Manx Litfest was sparked by a throwaway line following an event organised by author Chris Ewan back in 2010, when he brought three Scottish crime writers to the Erin Arts Centre.

Isle of Man writer John Quirk was in the audience, and on leaving the event, said to his friend, ‘The Isle of Man needs more literary events like this’. To which his friend replied, ‘then why don’t you do something about it?’

After two years of drawing together a team of like-minded bibliophiles, much research and planning, and establishing Manx Litfest as a charity, the first festival was held at the end of September 2012.

Each September we try to bring something new to the festival whilst retaining its familiar structure: six days of readings, Q&A panels, talks, library events, school events, workshops and performance pieces. We keep busy during the rest of the year too, not only gearing up for the next festival, but organising one-off events such as workshops and writing retreats.

 Some events, such as the Book Fanatics Quiz Night and the Writers’ Day have become firm fixtures in the Litfest Calendar. The opportunity for a one-to-one session with a literary agent, which takes place as an adjunct to Writers’ Day, is always popular too, and it is fantastic to be able to connect aspiring local authors to an agent, who will certainly give invaluable feedback and might, potentially, offer representation as well (it has happened, on several occasions, over the years!)

Schools’ Day, which takes place on the Friday of each festival, is the cornerstone of our mission. A team of authors, poets, illustrators and poets – both local and visiting – visit primary and secondary schools all over the island for free, delivering readings, workshops, talks and performances, with the simple aim of inspiring children with a love of literacy.

Each year we offer new and exciting author events at venues all over the island. Our award-winning guests have included novelists Martina Cole, Joanne Harris, Alexander McCall Smith and Andrew Taylor; non-fiction writers Dr. Sharon Blackie, Christopher Riley and Alan Johnson MP; children’s writers Frank Cottrell-Boyce, Phillip Ardagh and Cathy Cassidy; poets Thommie Gillow and Jae Hulme; illustrators Martin Impey and Chris Ridell; storyteller Ben Haggarty; singer-songwriters The Bookshop Band….and that’s just to name a few; the list goes on and on! Good going for eleven years - nine, really, given that Covid forced us to cancel in 2020 and 2021!  

Litfest is a true team effort, involving committee members, volunteers, sponsors, patrons, guests and, not least, our local supporters and audience members. As we prepare for the next festival in September 2024, we would like to offer our sincere thanks to everyone who has helped Manx Litfest to flourish over the years.