The Southbank Centre has announced the return of the London Literature Festival (21 – 31 Oct) and the theme of “friendship” is timely. We pull out some highlights for you to look out for.

Like many crowd activities and festivals, the London Literature Festival was put on ice; we last saw the popular wordsmiths’ event in 2019, and in October, the programme returns with a series of talks, performances and debates on the complexities of friendship today, through a hybrid programme of virtual and in-person events.

The full listing guide of the London Literature Festival is available here; here are some highlights from the programme that we are looking forward to…

Common Ground: Friendship in The City Of London

Thursday 21 October 2021, 7.45pm, The Southbank Centre’s Purcell Room. Ages 16+, ticketed, £10

Rising literary stars Caleb Azumah Nelson, Vanessa Onwuemezi and Naomi Ishiguro read from their work and reflect on friendships forged in London. London is a city that can spark love, friendship and solidarity, but it is also a place marked by isolation, loneliness and inequality. The panellists explore the complexities of contemporary friendship through the lens of London. How are friendships and relationships forged in the city shaped or warped by the pressures of London life?

Candice Carty-Williams: Empress & Aniya

Candice Carty-Williams
Empress & Aniya author: Candice Carty-Williams

Saturday 23 October 2021, 7.30pm, The Southbank Centre’s Queen Elizabeth Hall. Ages 13+, speech-to-text, ticketed, £10

Candice Carty-Williams, author of the smash hit Queenie, talks to Charlie Brinkhurst-Cuff about her debut Young Adult novel and the value of true friends. Empress & Aniya is South London’s answer to Freaky Friday. It follows two teenage girls from different backgrounds who accidentally cast a body swap spell on their 16th birthday. Empress is from a single-parent household and lives on an estate that she’s learned to love, while Aniya’s parents are in high-profile jobs and have given her a life that she often takes for granted.

Empress & Aniya: YA novel from Queenie author, Candice Carty-Williams


 Conversations On Love With Natasha Lunn

Sunday 24 October 2021, 7.45pm, The Southbank Centre’s Purcell Room. Ages 16+, ticketed

Natasha Lunn is joined by writers Tom Rasmussen and Bolu Babalola, plus Charlotte Fox Weber, a psychotherapist, to launch her book Conversations on Love. It takes its name from Lunn’s popular newsletter and sees her interviewing authors and experts on the topic of love itself, as well as drawing on her own mistakes in love and experiences of marriage, friendship and motherhood.


Books by Black authors that should have been on your 2020 reading list



Essential: Creative Future Writers’ Award 2021

Dorothy Koomson
Image credit: Niall McDiarmid

Wednesday 27 October 2021, 7.30pm, Level 5 Function Room at the Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall. Ages 16+, ticketed, £5

Dorothy Koomson, the best-selling novelist and Queen of the Big Reveal,  hosts this year’s prize for under-represented writers, along with award-winning poet Joelle Taylor. Founded in 2013, the Creative Future Writers’ Award is a development programme for talented writers from a wealth of backgrounds. It includes the UK’s only national writing competition for all under-represented writers, alongside a series of workshops in hubs throughout the UK.

Melan interviews best-selling adult-fiction author Dorothy Koomson



Keisha The Sket

Friday 29 October 2021, 7.45pm, The Southbank Centre’s Purcell Room. Ages 16+, ticketed, £10

Keisha The Sket, the noughties viral coming-of-age story, is now available in print for the first time and you can celebrate with her creator, Jade LB. She is joined at this event by writers Candice Carty-Williams and Aniefiok Ekpoudom, who have contributed essays to the print edition. Jade LB, Carty-Williams and Ekpoudom reveal where they were when Keisha The Sket first broke the internet and share their thoughts on why it became such a memorable cultural moment for a generation of young Brits.


Are these 10 Black poets on your list when you need to soothe your soul?



Malika’s Poetry Kitchen: Friends And Family

Credit: Poet Malika Booker

Saturday 30 October 2021, 1pm, The Southbank Centre’s Purcell Room. Ages 16+, ticketed, £10

Join Malika Booker and members of her poetry collective as they celebrate the publication of their anthology Too Young, Too Loud, Too Different. Also appearing are Jill Abram, who has been director of Malika’s Poetry Kitchen since 2010, Nick Makoha, Yomi Ṣode, Kareem Parkins-Brown and Katie Griffiths.


Keep The Receipts

London Literature Festival
Keep the Receipts – Tolani Shoneye, Audrey Indome & Milena Sanchez
Image credit: Matt Monfredi

Saturday 30 October 2021, 5pm, The Southbank Centre’s Queen Elizabeth Hall. Ages 16+, speech-to-text, ticketed, £10, £20

Tolani Shoneye, Audrey Indome and Milena Sanchez, hosts of The Receipts podcast, launch their new book in a special live event promising real talk with no filter. Keep the Receipts is a love letter to sisterhood for women. In it, Shoneye, Indome and Sanchez chart their highs, lows and learnings according to their lenses and voices. The trio also navigate self-empowerment, society and relationships, in the hope that their stories will encourage all women to live fully, without apology.

Learn more about the London Literature Festival and purchase tickets on the Southbank Centre website.

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