ILKLEY Literature Festival has announced the first events of 2020.

As part of the Spring Series, the festival will be welcoming politicians who hit the headlines in 2019 and revising preconceptions of Shakespeare with academic Emma Smith.

Yvette Cooper: The Power of Women’s Voices is a rescheduled event which takes place on Thursday, March 12, 7.30pm, The Grammar School at Leeds, LS17 9NA. In this timely and personal anthology, Yvette Cooper MP tells the story of 30 inspirational speeches given by women, from Boudica to Margaret Thatcher and from Malala Yousafzai to gun-control activist Emma Gonzalez. This is not only a much-needed celebration of women’s speeches throughout history, but also proof that powerful and persuasive oratory can be decidedly female.

Sir Oliver Letwin is at All Saints Church, Ilkley, on Thursday, March 19, 6pm, tickets £10/7 concessions. With a political career spanning over three decades, Sir Oliver Letwin served as an MP, a cabinet minister at the top of the UK government, and a member of the National Security Council. Now, in his new eye-opening book, Apocalypse How? Technology and the Threat of Disaster, Letwin draws on his experience in government to investigate the resilience of the UK’s infrastructure and why we are more vulnerable than ever.

All Saints Church, Ilkley, will host Emma Smith, Professor of Shakespeare Studies at Hertford College Oxford,on Thursday, April 30, 7.30pm, All Saints Church, LS29 9DS, £10/7 concessions. In This is Shakespeare she introduces a radical new way of looking at The Bard. The book thrives on revealing, not resolving, the ambiguities of Shakespeare’s plays. Debunking our obsession with what Shakespeare ‘really meant’, Emma Smith argues that his ‘gappiness’, not genius, is his defining characteristic. Call the Box Office on 01943 816714 or visit