The Lilliput Press and New Island at the Cheltenham Literature Festival: Shebeen Series


Irish publishing takeover at Cheltenham Literature Festival 2021


For the first time, the Lilliput Press and New Island Books have made the historic move of bringing a showcase of Irish-published literary talent – the Shebeen Series – to The Times and The Sunday Times Cheltenham Literature Festival 2021 as a representation of the industry and the best of Irish writing.


With the generous support of the Arts Council of Ireland, and in partnership with the Cheltenham Literature Festival, this exciting event sees two of Ireland’s most prestigious and long-standing publishers join together to take over a stage for a full afternoon at the world’s oldest literature festival. Irish publishing houses have never before been given a full stage for a whole day at such a world-renowned UK literary festival – this sets a precedence for Irish-published authors. While Irish authors are acclaimed the world over, Irish publishers and Irish authors have not always taken centre stage at international festivals. The Shebeen Series revolutionizes this.


This full programme of panel talks and ‘in conversation’ events is part of this year’s theme ‘Read the World’, a major new three-year theme for the Cheltenham Literature Festival.


The complete line-up of the ‘Shebeen Series’ sees ten Irish-published authors take control of The Huddle stage in person on Saturday 16 October from 1–6pm. The stellar line-up includes: Hennessy Prize-winning PAUL PERRY, author of The Garden (New Island 2021), in conversation with ADRIAN DUNCAN, winner of the John McGahern Annual Book Prize 2020 and author of Midfield Dynamo (Lilliput 2021); NUALA O’CONNOR, author of Nora (New Island 2021) and shortlisted for the Kerry Irish Novel of the Year Award 2015, in conversation with ALICE LYONS, author of Oona (Lilliput 2020), which was shortlisted for the Kate O’Brien Prize 2021; a panel event around the landmark anthology The New Frontier: Reflections from the Irish Border (New Island 2021) with editor JAMES PATTERSON and contributors DARRAN ANDERSON and JILL CRAWFORD; and a panel discussion around Archipelago: A Reader (Lilliput 2021) with co-editor FIONA STAFFORD and contributors JAMES MACDONALD LOCKHART and BERNARD O’DONOGHUE.


Topics will range from the global reach of Irish writing to the lives of overlooked characters; from the art of fictionalising true tales to the exploration of the influence of the Border on the people that inhabit that divide in the 21st century; as well as a reimagining of the relationships between the islands of Ireland and Britain in a world now fast being defined by climate and environmental degradation.


The Cheltenham Literature Festival leads the way in celebrating the written and spoken word, presenting the best new voices in fiction and poetry alongside literary greats and high-profile speakers. With the Shebeen Series by Lilliput and New island, they have embraced this pioneering effort at collaboration across the Irish Sea.


The Lilliput Press, winner of the Small Press of the Year Award in Ireland 2020, was founded in 1984 by Antony Farrell in County Westmeath and publishes a wide variety of Irish interest books, including work by Donal Ryan, Kevin Power, Neil Jordan, Elske Rahill, Emer Martin and forthcoming from Martina Devlin.


This year’s festival runs from 8–17 October. The Shebeen Series takes place on The Huddle stage on Saturday 16 October, 1-6pm and has free entry. The full programme is online for browsing at