Suffolk Book League

General Enquiries: 07908 440653

Registered Charity Number: 296783
Honorary President: Margaret Drabble

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About the Suffolk Book League

Somerset Maugham QuotationThe Suffolk Book League (SBL) was founded in 1982 and has introduced a varied programme of novelists, historians, poets, journalists, biographers, MPs and social commentators to speak in Suffolk. Our honorary president is Dame Margaret Drabble. An article about the origins of the charity can be read here.

Past speakers have included Hilary Mantel, Rose Tremain, Brian Keenan, Alexander McCall Smith, Doris Lessing, PD James, Louis de Bernieres, Sarah Waters and David Starkey to name but a few. A selection of our past speakers with links to their websites, writing and biographies can be viewed via the link below.

Click here for a list of Past Speakers

The Suffolk Book League events calendar also includes study days, trips to places of literary interest, quizzes and joint meetings with local literary festivals.Jane Harris

We also publish a quarterly magazine for our members, Book Talk, and enthusiastically support the bi-annual New Angle Literary Prize.

The SBL is a registered charity (number 296783), the aim of which is to promote, encourage, foster or strengthen by all and every suitable means the habit of reading and the wider and more general distribution of books, by and among all people. We are involved in various community projects such as Got to Read, Summer Reads, Schools Mastermind Competition, World Book Day/Night, supporting one-to-one reading with young offenders at Warren Heath Prison, Short Story Competitions and hosting book launches for local writers such as the "Girl Reading" by Katie Ward.

Katie WardGirl Reading Katie Ward Quote


So why does reading matter to us?

"It's because through books more than any other medium we use our imagination to enter the lives of others and find out what it's like to be someone very different;  in another place or time, someone younger or older, richer or poorer, powerful or oppressed, in love or in trouble. It equips us for life because in the intimacy of reading we discover what we have in common as well as what separates us...I believe reading - particularly fiction - helps broaden the mind and overcome prejudice." Brian Morron, Former Chairman of SBL

got to readWe are pleased to support the initiative Got to Read, which is a charity based in Suffolk who want to enable individuals and communities to share and enjoy reading. We know that some people would like to be more confident in their reading, writing and speaking skills. Got to Read provides training and support to volunteers who have a love of reading and want to share that with others. The volunteers give one-to-one support to help people with their own personal reading goals, whether that is building on what they can do already, or starting right from the beginning. If you are interested in being involved with this worthwhile cause and can spare some time, please visit the website for more information -




Your news and events could appear here!

As well as our exciting annual programme, which can be viewed on our Events page, details of other local literary-related events can be found on this website throughout the year. If you would like to advertise your event on here for free please contact us at


BookTalk - A Good Read

Our quarterly magazine BookTalk welcomes contributions from any keen writers who want to be included in the "A Good Read" feature. Email us at or tweet us at A_Good_Read if you have a book review that you'd like to share and chat about with other readers. We're also looking for people who would like to review our events. BookTalk is published in March, June, September and December.


Bookworm Joel wins Schools Book Mastermind Competition

One of the local literary initiatives that we support financially is the annual Schools Book Mastermind competition run by the Schools Library Service.

Stowupland High School student Joel won the final of the Suffolk Book Mastermind competition and was cheered on by fellow pupils, teachers and librarians. In the afternoon two top authors - Ipswich born Hayley Long and Chris Priestley from Cambridge - gave inspirational talks about their childhood and how they became writers before signing copies of their books.

Joel won £200 of books for his school, as well as a book token. He will also keep the winner’s shield at the school for a year. The competition saw 29 schools competing to find the county’s best-read pupils, and entrants are then whittled down to eight students for the final.


2017 New Angle Prize

Following the successes of previous years, the New Angle Prize for Literature returns to Ipswich for the fourth time this Summer, and one lucky author will win £2,500 for a book of literary merit set in or influenced by the region of East Anglia. The 2017 judges' long-list of books has been announced and can be viewed in full here. Details of the Shortlist Showcase evening as well as the award ceremony can be found on our Events page.

Further details can be found at


Suffolk LibrariesSuffolk Libraries

Support Suffolk Libraries and take a look at the array of services you can access and the variety of events they have coming up by clicking here


Waterstones Ipswich Events

Our partners Waterstones in Ipswich always have a number of interesting events planned, including local author book signings. Click here for full details of these events and more.


Are you a budding book reviewer?

We currently have a selection of new books that have been given to us by Waterstones in Ipswich, which are looking for a good home. The books are completely free and all we ask in return is that you to write a short review on what you thought of it for us to include in future editions of Book Talk. We'll even give you some pointers on how to write a review if this is something you haven't done before! If you are interested please email or pick up a book before our speaker events from the refreshments area. You may also want to pass these books onto others to help us share a love of reading throughout the county.


Can you help Exning Primary School Library?

You may have heard about the fire that tragically destroyed the Year 1 classroom and crucially the library at Exning Primary School in West Suffolk in early September 2015. Click here to read the EADT article.

Whilst the school promptly reopened, rebuilding their library stock will take considerably longer and that's where you can help! The school is looking for donations of books suitable for ages 4 to 11 years, which can either be dropped off at the school or you can contact Heather Philpot at to arrange collection. The full address of the school is Oxford Street, Exning, Newmarket, Suffolk CB8 7EW. For further information and details of how else you can help, please call the school on 01638 600123.

As part of our charitable giving, we arranged a donation of new music books to the library from the "Getting to know the world's greatest composers" collection, which were gratefully received.


West Suffolk Hospital - Second Hand Books Needed!

The Voluntary Service at the West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds has a Patient Library and the volunteers take the trolley of donated books, talking books and magazines around the wards for the patients and they also spend time with them, which is very much appreciated. Any donated books that are not used in the library are passed onto the Friends of West Suffolk Hospital Charity Stall who sell them to patients and visitors, raising much needed funds that are gifted back to the hospital to purchase extra equipment. The Hospital welcomes book donations on an on-going basis and these can be left at any time at the Main Reception and the volunteers on the information desk will pass them onto the Voluntary Services Manager, Linda Murrell. If you would like further information about this or volunteering at the Hospital please contact Linda on 01284 713206.


Suffolk Magazine

To celebrate our 30th anniversary year we were featured in the May 2012 edition of the Suffolk Magazine - click here to view the article


Nikki McDonagh and Brian Morron

New Beginnings: Five short stories from new authors

The Suffolk Book League has previously organised short story competitions for local unpublished writers keen to showcase their talent and the most recent winner was Glimmer by Nikki McDonagh. The winner and runners up of the last competition were selected by the late Bernardine Freud, writer and creative writing tutor, whose presence on the Suffolk literary scene is much missed.

In addition to the prize money the finalists attended a creative writing workshop with Bernardine Freud and the finalised versions of their short stories have now been published by the Suffolk Book League for all to enjoy. The New Beginnings booklet can be downloaded here.


© Suffolk Book League 2017