Bad Language with Gregory Norminton

Our headliner on 31 May 2017 is author Gregory Norminton. Gregory has had several novels out on Sceptre, the imprint which is also home to Melvyn Bragg and David Mitchell, and has a fifth novel, The Devil’s Highway, coming out next year. His stories have appeared on BBC Radio 4 and he is no stranger to BBC Radio 3’s The Verb. When he’s not being broadcast to the world, he lectures in creative writing at MMU. Tonight, we celebrate the follow-up to his 2013 short-story collection Thumbnails: The Ghost Who Bled (Comma Press) contains short fiction that spans centuries and continents, from deeply insecure time travellers to medieval mystics and futuristic body modification cults,

As ever, there are ten open mic spots on offer. Read the detail here, then email us on

“[The Ghost Who Bled] is a sublime collection of short stories by a writer whose breath-taking flexibility of style gives life to an array of different voices… Unfailingly beautiful, deceptively simple and lyrically powerful.” The Irish Times

“There is a yesteryear quality to much of Gregory Norminton’s writing, at least in these stories, several of which look backward in style to classics of the genre.” Asian Review Of Books

Wednesday 31 May 2017, 7.30pm at The Castle pub, Oldham Street, Manchester. Free admission. Join the Facebook event here.


Bad Language at Elizabeth Gaskell’s House

Manchester After Hours - Bad Language at Elizabeth Gaskell's House

Multi award-winning literature organisers Bad Language present an immersive evening of storytelling in the beautifully-restored surrounds of Elizabeth Gaskell’s House.

The city’s finest writers and live performers will read specially-commissioned pieces responding to the living history of the house of Elizabeth Gaskell, author of Mary Barton and North And South, in a promenade style performance.

This is part of the 2017 Manchester After Hours festival. Performances from 6.30pm. No booking necessary.

Thursday 18 May 2017, 6.30pm at Elizabeth Gaskell’s House, Plymouth Grove, Manchester. Free admission. Join the Facebook event here.

Bad Language with Beth Underdown

The Castle Manchester 26 April 2017 7.30pm Free

Our headliner this month is a debut novelist. Beth Underdown used to work at Phaidon Press before joining the University of Manchester’s Centre for New Writing as lecturer. Her first book The Witchfinder’s Sister centres around Alice Hopkins, brother of Matthew Hopkins, the Witchfinder General who hunted down over a hundred so-called witches in the seventeenth century Essex. Beth Underdown is no stranger to Bad Language, and we’re delighted to welcome her to our stage.

‘Beth Underdown grips us from the outset and won’t let go…at once a feminist parable and an old-fashioned, check-twice-under-the-bed thriller.’ Patrick Gale, author of Notes from an Exhibition
‘A tense, surprising and elegantly-crafted novel.’ Ian McGuire, author of The North Water

Our open mic this month is: Essjay, Zena Barie, Francis Wyne, Mark Rawlins, Cameryn Moore, Jo Howard, David Judge, Kofi Gyamfi, Rosie Fleeshman, Katie Cleaver.

Wednesday 26 April 2017, 7.30pm at The Castle pub, Oldham Street, Manchester. Free admission. Join the Facebook event here.

Bad Language with David Gaffney


Our headliner this month is DAVID GAFFNEY, author of Sawn-Off Tales and all-round short story guru.

His creative projects have revolved around lost cat posters, motorway junctions, Powerpoint software, Piccadilly train station, and “Men Who Like Women Who Smell of Their Jobs”. He has worked on an opera, a live graphic novel, and has penned work for the Guardian, Sunday Times, Financial Times and Prospect magazine. His latest work is a novel All The Places I’ve Ever Lived – part ghost story, part murder ballad and part crime thriller. Copies of David’s book will be available on the night.

These are the open mic superstars joining us this month:

Abi Hynes
Beverley Butcher
Bryce Main
Chris Neilan
Gavin Pate
Sarah-Clare Conlon
Sean Stapleton
Steve Timms
Susan Wainwright
Victoria Tann

Wednesday 29 March 2017 7.30pm at The Castle pub, Oldham Street, Manchester. Free admission. Join the Facebook event now.


Bad Language in January: Rosie Garland


Our first headliner in 2017 will be the incomparable Rosie Garland.

Tagged ‘literary hero’ by The Skinny, Rosie’s passion for language was nurtured by libraries. Her debut novel ‘The Palace of Curiosities’ won the 2012 Mslexia Novel Competition & was nominated for both The Desmond Elliott and Polari First Book Prize. ‘Vixen’ was a Green Carnation Prize nominee. Third novel ‘The Night Brother’ is due June 2017.

Her latest poetry collection, ‘As in Judy’ (Flapjack Press) has just been published. She sings with post-punk band The March Violets, & is currently developing a new musical project, Time-Travelling Suffragettes.

Join our Facebook event now.  On our open mic this month is: Anna Percy, Drew Lawson, Jasmine Chatfield, Jimmy the Angry, Joe Darlington, Joy Wassell-Timms, Lily Luty, Miles Hadfield, Trisha Starbrook, With Clarity.

Wednesday 25 January 2017 7.30pm at The Castle pub, Oldham Street, Manchester. Free admission.

Bad Language in November: Deborah Andrews



After a brief holiday over the road, we’re BACK where we belong, in the cosy back room of The Castle, for our final event of 2016! Come celebrate a year that has seen a raft of great headliners, wonderful new headliners, our first capital city show, and an award here or there. Everyone keeps going on about how 2016 was a great year that nothing bad happened in, right?

Deborah AndrewsTo help us celebrate we have the wonderful DEBORAH ANDREWS.

Deborah is an award-winning theatre practitioner turned novelist. Her knowledge of the theatre world inspired her debut novel Walking the Lights, which she’ll be reading from tonight. Walking the Lights has recently finished runner-up in the Guardian’s Not the Booker prize. She has an MLitt (Distinction) and an AHRC-funded PhD in creative writing from Glasgow University. She now lives in Lancaster where she teaches creative writing. Her short stories have been published in several anthologies and she is currently writing her second novel. For more info. please visit:

As always, our open mic is ready and waiting – email and grab a slot. Remember, if you’re new, we hold half our slots for people who have never performed for us before.

Wednesday 30 November 2016 7.30pm at The Castle pub, Oldham Street, Manchester. Free admission. Join the Facebook event now.

Bad Language in October: Mark Pajak

Mark PajakWe’re having a fun time right now. We’ve just sold out at Manchester Literature Festival, had an amazing night at the Portico Library, returned to a great reception at the Royal Exchange, and later this month we’re making our London debut at Mirrors festival.

One of our Manchester Literature Festival stars will be our headliner at this month’s special one-off Bigger Bad Language on October 26th at Gullivers.

Mark Pajak’s hot-off-the-press first collection Spitting Distance is the poetry winner of the 2016 Bridport Prize. We’re delighted to welcome him to the Bad Language stage just days after his Bridport win.

Other credits include being a Laureate’s Choice poet, getting commended in Buzzwords Cheltenham poetry prize and The Poetry Society’s National Poetry Competition, and winning a 2016 Northern Writers Award. He is this year’s Apprentice Poet in Residence at Ilkley Literature Festival.

gullivers-oldham-street-manchester-458x304His collection is full of “insight and imaginative,” says Carol Ann Duffy. “Fresh, urgent, alive, awake, with such a strong visceral impact… There is a fierce intelligence at play here,” says Patience Agbabi.

Alongside Mark on our Gullivers stage, we will have our ten open mic stars. This time, most of them never have performed for us before. Those names are:

Barbara Robinson, Barry Evans, Bryce Main, Charles Eades, Emily Stuart, Johnny Rodgers, Phil Olsen, Ros Ballinger, Stephanie Lonsdale

Join our Facebook event now.

Wednesday 26 October 2016 7.30pm upstairs at Gullivers, Oldham Street, Manchester. Free admission.