Award-winning authors, leading poets, heavyweight broadcasters and celebrated Olympians will be just some of the highlights of the Ilkley Literature Festival as it celebrates its 40th anniversary this year.

Dozens of writers will make their festival debuts including broadcaster and writer Jonathan Dimbleby, who will present BBC Radio 4’s Any Questions live from the Kings Hall, in the town.

Appearing for the first time will be award-winning fiction writer, Alexander McCall Smith, whose ninth installment of his best-selling 44 Scotland Street series, Bertie’s Guide to Life and Mothers will be released in August.

Historical novelist Philippa Gregory will talk about The White Princess, the latest instalment of her best-selling series The Cousins War, the follow-up to the The White Queen which is currently being shown on BBC1. Colin Dexter, writer of the Inspector Morse books, will reflect on his award-winning career in crime writing and musician Graham Nash, of folk-rock super group Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, will recount some of the best anecdotes from his memoir Wild Tales: A Rock n Roll Life.

Discussing his best-selling novel Return of the King: The Battle for Afghanistan, will be award-winning British historian and writer William Dalrymple.

Triathlete brothers Alistair and Jonathan Brownlee appear on home turf at the festival to talk about their joint memoir – Swim, Bike, Run: Our Triathlon Story and, in anticipation of Le Grand Depart next year, Team Sky professional cycling coach, Rod Ellingworth, will tell the back-story to his book Project Rainbow: The Rise of British Road Cycling, co-written with William Fortheringham. Kirsty Wark, best-known for fronting Newsnight will talk about writing fiction, in advance of the publication of her first novel, ‘Other Women’s Flowers’. Wildlife television presenter Kate Humble, will read extracts from her autobiography Germaine Greer returns to reflect on what has happened to women in society over the last 40 years and broadcaster and three-time long-listed author for the Man Booker Prize, Melvin Bragg, who first visited the Festival in 1977, will talk about his latest novel ‘Grace and Mary’.

Introducing ‘Fighting on the Home Front: The Legacy of Women in World War One’, will be former BBC chief news correspondent Kate Adie, charting the century-long seismic move towards equal rights and asks what these women achieved for future and present generations.

Headlining the political arm of this year’s Festival, politician and activist Jonathan Aitken, recounts his forty year friendship with Margaret Thatcher through his book ‘Margaret Thatcher: Power and Personality’ and former Tory cabinet minister Douglas Hurd, will discuss his new book ‘Disraeli’, co-authored by Edward Young, speech-writer for David Cameron.

Yorkshire-based writing royalty will feature in the line-up. Poet Simon Armitage, reflects on how the writing of Ted Hughes, who premiered his specially commissioned piece ‘Cave Birds’ at the Ilkley Literature Festival in 1975, has influenced his own work. ‘Barnsley bard’ Ian MacMillan will be bringing his children’s poetry to the Kings Hall for more than 450 local primary school children and Ilkley-based ‘Gentleman’ Jeremy Dyson will tell spooky true life ghost stories from around the British Isles.

Festival director Rachel Feldberg said: “Our 40th anniversary is a wonderful opportunity for us to welcome a roll call of the nation’s leading contemporary writers to Ilkley for the first time, and also to persuade several much-loved Festival favourites back to the town.

“This year’s Festival will celebrate writing in many different genres, covering a diverse range of subjects and styles.

“It is a tribute to the 40 years of hard work, dedication and a love of writing, from each Festival team over the years, that Ilkley continues to draw some of the finest writers of our day.”

The full Festival programme will include more than 220 events across 20 venues, over 17 days from October 4-20, 2013.

Priority booking for Friends of the Festival opens from August 12 to 21. Booking opens for the public on August 27. For further information, visit