After a successful inaugural year in 2015, the Bradford Literature Festival returns to the city from 22nd – 29th May.
Devised by literature lovers and Bradford residents, Symia Aslam and Irna Qureshi, the festival returns with nearly 200 events across the region. Celebrating the arts, culture, and of course, the written word, the myriad of events span faiths, nations and identities, with the festival also featuring a number of Jewish-themed events across the 10-day festival. JLife finds out what’s in store for the Jewish communities of West Yorkshire…
On 22nd May at Bradford Synagogue, journalist and author, Anne Sebba will be joined by the writer, producer and former director of the National Media Museum, Colin Philpott to discuss the remarkable life of Ida Cook. Writing under the pseudonym Mary Burchell, Ida was a prominent romantic novelist of in the mid-20th century for most of her life. However Ida and her sister also harboured a heroic past, having saved 29 Jews from the Nazis in 1930s. Ida’s memoir, recently republished as ‘Safe Passage’, is a vivid account of their exploits, and contains an updated introduction by Anne Sebba.
Also on 22nd May, the Jewish Heritage Tour is making a comeback. Arriving from the 1820s onwards in the Manningham area of Bradford, a growing community of German Jews had a huge impact on the cultural and commercial life of the city, contributing to Bradford’s transformation from small regional town to major industrial capital. Jewish historian, Paula Grizzard will lead visitors around what was once known as the Jewish Quarter of the city, sharing several stories about the original merchants. She will also talk about the lives of war poet, Humbert Wolfe, and artist Sir William Rothenstein, who painted portraits of the likes of Oscar Wilde and Albert Einstein. The tour will start inside Bradford Synagogue and will include a walk of up to two miles, finishing at Bradford Synagogue.
Susan Duxbury-Neumann, author of ‘Little Germany: A History of Bradford’s Germans’ will lead a talk at the Design Exchange on 29th May where she will discuss the city centre region known as Little Germany. Bradford became renowned for its rapidly expanding textile trade and Little Germany’s palatial warehouses were built by German and Jewish wool merchants who had entered the country and settled in the city. Comparatively few in number, these merchants influenced Bradford’s markets with their knowledge of commerce and philanthropic culture.
On the closing day of the festival Bradford Cathedral will be hosting ‘Sacred Poetry’, an evening of celebratory verse and music from across the religious spectrum. With performances by a host of talented artists, the concert will feature different kinds of devotional musical styles, choirs and chants, alongside sacred spoken word poetry. Musical offerings from representatives of multiple faiths, including the Bradford Cathedral Choir, will be joined by the London’s Jewish Museum Poet in Residence, Aviva Dautch. Her reviews and literary essays are widely published and her poems appear regularly in magazines including Agenda, Ambit, Modern Poetry in Translation, The Rialto and Poetry Review.
For information about more events taking place across the city or to request a programme, visit Bradfordliteraturefestival.co.uk.