About Us

An eclectic celebration of culture and creativity the Festival in a Factory takes place in June in the inspiring surroundings of the Emma Bridgewater Factory, Stoke-on-Trent, where Emma has manufactured her iconic handmade and hand decorated pottery for more than twenty years. See the flavour of our programme with last year’s 2019 progamme here

Curated by trustees’ designer Emma Bridgewater and Director of the Victoria & Albert Museum Tristram Hunt, the UK’s only festival in a manufacturing environment features author talks, panel discussionshands-on workshops and live performances in surprising spaces all around the canal-side Victorian factory.

Fom Mercian history to Dior dresses, from spy thrillers to best-selling fiction, from battling plastic to exploring great lives and ideas for our own, the 2019 Festival featured thought-provoking encounters with award winning writers, world renowned experts, broadcasters and entertainers including:

  • Retail queen Mary Portas on how we work, Viv Groskop inspired us to How to Own the Room and Elizabeth Day helped us embrace How to Fail
  • a festival curtain raiser event with one of Britain’s finest actors, Christopher Eccleston, on class, roots and acting
  • UK Children’s laureate Lauren Child enthralled Stoke school children with how to write and draw your dreams
  • Stoke born historian and biographer AN Wilson discussed the real Queen Victoria in her bicentennial year, historian Tom Holland revealed Aethelflaed, England’s forgotten Anglo Saxon queen and acclaimed author Ben Macintyre revealed an astonishing real life Cold War spy story and Andrew Roberts celebrated Churchill’s true genius
  • MP Rachel Reeves explored the dynamic lives and contribution of the Women of Westminster, the BBC’s Kamal Ahmed shared his experience of race and identity in Britain and journalist Tom Baldwin asked if politics and the media have killed democracy
  • Greepeace UK’s Head of Oceans campaign Will McCallum shared how to give up plastic and reduce our impact on the planet’s
  • Acclaimed biographer Jenny Uglow shared the surprising and nonsense life of Edward Lear and the National Trust’s Head of Research Nino Strachey explored the spaces so important to the Bloomsbury Set
  • The hottest tickets in town were for our sell-out Meet the V&A Curator events with Oriole Cullen and Claire Wilcox on the museum’s recent Christian Dior and Frida Kahlo hit exhibitions
  • Novelist and screen writer Deborah Moggach entertained our finale audience with a hilarious  discussion about her outstanding career
  • Poets packed out the factory with pop up sessions in the courtyard and studio and festival goers enjoyed free factory tours to see how we make 35,000 handmade and hand decorated pieces of pottery every week, plus screen printing workshops, children’s authors and clay crafts too

Emma Bridgewater says, “From our first festival in 2014, our aim has been to bring the very best writers, commentators and thinkers to Stoke-on-Trent where there has always been a great appetite for debate, but also with the hope that we might inspire people to explore ideas, provide stimulating encounters with award winning authors, poets and playwrights and foster the joy of books and reading. From a small conversation Tristram Hunt and I had several years ago we now have a truly established, very warmly received and joyful festival, busy with book lovers of all ages that attracts friends old and new to Stoke-on-Trent. We look forward to welcoming you to the best weekend of the summer!”

The Festival is especially grateful for the longstanding support of the Bertarelli Foundation who’s ongoing commitment has ensured the Festival’s success. Through the Foundation’s support, the Festival is able to welcome schools and youth groups to events free of charge and host events with successful and inspirational figures to encourage young people from Stoke-on-Trent to aim high.

Tickets for all events are £8 and available from the www.newvictheatre.org.uk, at the Box Office or by phone or the Festival website. Follow us on Facebook or Twitter @SOTLitFestival for news and updates.


Registered Address: 

Emma Bridgewater Factory, Lichfield Street, Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent, ST1 3 EJ.