Archway’s first book festival attracts glittering array of writing talent

Archway With Words starts on September 21

Archway With Words starts on September 21 - Credit: Archant

If you had to guess the location of one of Islington’s first independent literary festivals, it’s a safe bet Archway wouldn’t be top of your list – the northern tip of the borough better known for its hospitals and gyratory than great authors.

Stephanie Smith

Stephanie Smith - Credit: Archant

But Archway With Words – an eight day celebration of reading, writing, books and words starting next Saturday – looks set to change that as it invites a line up of literary talent to the heart of N19.

The array of wordsmiths – who between them have sold millions of books – include Girl With a Pearl scribe Tracy Chevalier, Fast Show funnyman Charlie Higson, former Public Image Limited bass player Jah Wobble and Islington’s own poet extraordinaire John Hegley.

Mr Wobble said: “I am really looking forward to coming to Archway with my modern jazz ensemble and new book. I am very proud to be in such good company as authors like Charlie Higson.”

Stephanie Smith, the brains behind the festival, said: “The idea first came to me when I was at Archway market and five or six authors walked past within a few minutes and it made me realise there are a great deal of writers in Archway, I always say if you throw a stick round here you will hit one.

“You have got people like Bill Paterson and Paul Morley living within a few streets of each other so it’s a good place to host an event like this.

“Some people might not think Archway is the kind of place to hold a book festival, but as a resident and a business manager I think it is.”

Most Read

The festival kicks of with the Saturday super Spectacular, featuring a huge creative writing workshop, 11 author sessions, plus food and drinks stalls all held on Archway island – in the middle of the gyratory.

“Even though you are in the middle of all that traffic, when you are on the island it feels like a little oasis,” she said. “It should be a great day, the workshop will use the cut up technique – like fridge poetry – there are some great authors speaking and the market is moving up there for the day so there will be lots going on.”

Cllr Janet Burgess, the executive member for health and wellbeing for Islington Council, who helped find the festival, said: “Archway With Words has a lot to choose from, whether you just want come along and watch or actually participate too. And it’s great that so many different venues are getting involved and opening up their doors for this.”

n Archway With Words runs from September 21 to 28 at various churches, pubs, shops and on the streets. Visit