THE BIGGEST literature event ever to hit Huddersfield has kicked off in cutting-edge style.

Fans of the written word gathered at The Media Centre, Northumberland Street, for the fourth annual Huddersfield Literature Festival (HLF) followed by a burlesque launch party.

The event, which includes its strongest line-up ever, promises to further establish Huddersfield as a stop on every fiction and non-fiction fan’s tour.

Headlining this year’s festival are original punk poet John Cooper Clarke and frontman of cult (and John Peel) favourites The Fall. They chat and perform on Sunday (8pm) at the Lawrence Batley Theatre and Huddersfield University St Paul’s Hall (7.30pm) respectively.

Other big attractions include broadcaster and comedian Ian McMillan who shares the stage with Cartoonist of the Year Tony Husband at St Paul’s Hall tonight (7.30pm).

And representing the Huddersfield quarter is Almondbury author of Chocolat – later made into an academy award nominated film – Joanne Harris who plays the same venue tomorrow (7.30pm).

Harris, who is also a patron of the festival, says the event may convince the complacent London literature set the North has its fair share of top writers.

She said: “There’s an awful lot of good writers here and there are some very good festivals but until recently we didn’t have one in Huddersfield.

“London has this general feeling that no author would be seen dead living in Yorkshire, and of course, we can now say: ‘Excuse me, here we are!’

“I think the festival has already put Huddersfield on the map in a number of ways...

“I’m also a patron of the Oxford Literature Festival and when I’m down in Oxford I will mention to all the people I meet that there’s a jolly good festival in Huddersfield and if they’re invited to come they’d be mad to miss it.”

HLF director Michael Stewart said: “I’ve found from the ticket sales this year that we’ve attracted a wider audience from a much wider sphere of influence. It reaches out across the North; east and west and the Midlands.

“I guess it’s a Mark E Smith thing that we’ve got people coming from London. I think there’s one coming from Aberdeen.

“It’s a real coup to get someone like Mark E Smith. He’s only done two other festivals...

“The festival is quite cutting-edge because it’s expanding the whole idea of what literature is really.

“Songwriting rarely has literary merit but occasionally it does and Mark E Smith is one of those that does.”

For further details of HLF, including a full list of events visit: . For tickets call: 01484 430528.