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Melbourne Writers Festival 2016: What To Expect

Melbourne Writers Festival 2016: What To Expect

Picture of Monique La Terra
Updated: 5 August 2016
Across two weeks in August, Melbourne will transform into a literary hub with over 300 page-turning events, more than 100 of which are free. Local and international writers will be joined by industry experts, publishers, editors and agents, to present literature events, immersive experiences, book launches, hands-on industry insights and thought-provoking conversations.

Opening Night Gala

Hosted by Sky News anchor Ashleigh Gillon the festival’s opening night gala will kick off with a keynote address given by the author of The Hate Race, the audacious Maxine Beneba Clarke who will discuss unlearning conservative approaches to literature. The prestigious Miles Franklin Literary Award will also be presented.


Courtesy of MWF

Richard Flanagan: Does Writing Matter?

Sit in on author Richard Flanagan’s first public lecture as the University of Melbourne’s founding Boisbouvier Chair of Australian Literature and listen as he discusses what it means to be human in relation to psyche of Australia in Does Writing Matter?

PJ Harvey & Seamus Murphy: The Hollow of the Hand

See British singer-songwriter PJ Harvey as you’ve never seen her before as she joins artistic forces with photojournalist Seamus Murphy in a session which merges her poetry and photography. Harvey will present verses from The Hollow of the Hand alongside images taken during the pair’s journeys through Kosovo, Afghanistan and Washington DC between 2011 and 2014.

Alexei Sayle: Thatcher Stole My Trousers

Speaking with Richard Fidler, writer and The Young Ones actor, Alexei Sayle will share stories from his memoir Thatcher Stole My Trousers in this conversational event. From the first MC of London’s Comedy Store to his role as one of Britain’s comedic founding fathers, Sayle was front and centre during the UK’s transformative 80s and is ready to remark on his career.


Writers from the US, UK, Canada, Ireland and Asia have flown in to join our-home grown authors in a series of over 100 literary events. Meet the winner of the Miles Franklin Award, sit in on stimulating seminars, be there as authors launch new titles, attended the 21st Ned Kelly Awards and listen to literature on the Yarra in Whisky & Water. 

The Agenda

From global economic prosperity to post-revolution Iran, hear journalists, academics and writers such as George Megalogenis, Philippe Sands, AC Grayling and Laura Secor discuss thought-provoking issues surrounding politics and global affairs unlikely to be broadcast on the six o’clock news. Throughout the festival, there will be a number of Coffee & Papers events featuring senior journalists and editors from The Age.


Melbourne Writers Festival 2015 Courtesy of MWF

Live & Social

For truly immersive, close-enough-to-smell-the-paper experiences, attend one of the many Live & Social events. Join a walking tour, have your say at a community forum, get cosy at one of the intimate Caravan Conversations, enter into the Story Peddler Tent for Story Slam or celebrate the LGBTQ community with at the Queer literary salon.

Industry Insights

MWF understands that many of you who attend the festival aren’t only literary fans, but belong to the industry and have therefore curated 11 specialised events to help you succeed. Editors, agents, publishers and writers will present poetry and editing masterclasses, seminars on mentoring, journalism and YA (Young Adult) as well as insider tips on getting published.


Melbourne Writers Festival 2015 Courtesy of MWF

Children & Teens

There’s something for every age group to discover at MWF and this year young and old can visit exhibitions, take part in Roald Dahl storytelling sessions and get hands-on at ArtPlay. There are also opportunities to meet your favourite children’s authors, and you can even learn to draw the BFG.

Closing Night Address

To close the festival, the award-winning author of We Need to Talk About Kevin and The Mandibles, Lionel Shriver, will discuss the concept of a post-gender world in his keynote address, which will leave you contemplating whether gender-based stereotyping is compelling us backward or forwards.

August 26 – September 4, 2016

Various locations