Agatha Christie celebrated at Theakston Crime Writing Festival

Agatha Christie celebrated at Theakston Crime Writing Festival

A major exhibition celebrating Agatha Christie will be hosted at this year's Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival, while authors Lee Child, Peter May and Ian Rankin have been announced among a selection of special guests.

Alongside four days of special guests and panel events, the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival will be celebrating Agatha Christie with a new exhibition about her writing, life and publishing career to debut at the 2017 Festival.

It will be using rare photographs and documents from both the Agatha Christie and Collins archives in a visually led outdoor display. Part of HarperCollins’ 200th anniversary, it will be displayed at the festival venue, the Old Swan Hotel, where Christie was found after her famous disappearance in 1926.

Joining Child, May and Rankin as special guests, the latter who is hosting his own festival RebusFest this year, are Dennis Lehane, Stuart MacBride, Joseph Finder, Arne Dahl, Kathy Reichs, Brenda Blethyn, Robson Green and James Runcie.

The 2017 Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival’s programming chair, Elly Griffiths, author of the Dr Ruth Galloway crime series, said: “The ghost of Agatha Christie clearly haunts the Old Swan Hotel. Nowhere is the genre she devoted her life to so enthusiastically celebrated than at the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival - the biggest event devoted to crime fiction in Europe, if not the world.”

Simon Theakston, executive director of T&R Theakstons and title sponsor, said: “2017 promises a remarkable festival as we mark 30 years of Rebus with Ian Rankin, 20 years since Lee Child introduced us to Jack Reacher, and 15 years since Dennis Lehane released Shutter Island. I can think of no better place than our festival - amongst readers, authors, and friends - to raise a glass of Theakston’s beer to these giants of the genre.”

The opening night features the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award, in association with retail partner, W H Smith, and media partner, the Mail on Sunday; TV panels will focus on ITV’s "Vera", featuring author Ann Cleeves and actor Brenda Blethyn, and ITV’s "Grantchester" with writer James Runcie and actor Robson Green; and "Queen of Crime" Val McDermid’s annual New Blood panel features four hand-picked debuts from Fiona Cummins, Jane Harper, Joseph Knox and Kristen Lepionka. 

There will also be a day-long writing workshop, Creative Thursday, with author and professor of creative writing at the University of Glasgow, Louise Welsh, and senior lecturer of creative writing and director of the new Crime Fiction MA at UEA, Henry Sutton. The workshop gives aspiring crime writers the chance to pitch to agents and editors.

The festival also promises to host "heated" debates, with panel authors include Chris Brookmyre, Mick Herron, Alifair Burke, Denise Mina, Belinda Bauer and Graeme Macrae Burnet, who was shortlisted for the 2016 Man Booker Prize. There will also be a panel exploring reboots of iconic crime characters, from Poirot to Sherlock, with authors Sophie Hannah, Ruth Ware and Stella Duffy.

Griffiths is delivering an author dinner murder mystery too, called Digging up the Past, with help from Francis Pryor of "Time Team" fame. There will also be a Late Night Event with BBC’s Pointless star, Richard Osman, featuring authors Child, McDermid and Mark Billingham.

Tickets for the festival went on sale this week.