Manchester Histories Festival

Our Patrons


Maxine Peake

One of the nation’s favourite actresses, RADA-trained Maxine Peake has had a prolific run of Colour photograph of actress and Manchester Histories Patron Maxine Peake sitting on a chairtop quality dramas in recent years; See No Evil: The Moors Murders, Red Riding, Little Dorrit,  Henry IV, The Secret Diaries of Miss Anne Lister, BAFTA nominated dramas Silk, The Village, and Shameless. Maxine’s career in theatre is as equally impressive. Most recently, Maxine made headlines taking the title role in Hamlet at the Manchester Royal Exchange in a "radical reimagining" of William Shakespeare's play, which opened to rave reviews.

Maxine has also turned her considerable talents to scriptwriting. Starting with her first radio play Beryl: A Love Story on Two Wheels, which was broadcast on BBC Radio 4 and nominated for a Sony Radio Award, it was obvious that her expertise lay in writing stories as well as telling them, with a particular focus on creating female-led and female-fronted drama. Beryl was adapted into a stage play, again penned by Maxine, and produced at the West Yorkshire Playhouse as part of the Tour de France Grand Départ. The production's run was extended due to stunning reviews and high demand for tickets. Her second play, Queens of the Coal Age, another hit for Radio 4, revisited the incredible story of Anne Scargill and the miners' wives who attempted to save pits from closure by occupying a mine.

Lemn Sissay 

Internationally-renowned performance poet, writer and broadcaster, and Chancellor of the Lemn Sissay The University of Manchester, Lemn Sissay MBE is author of a series of books of poetry alongside articles, records, broadcasts, public art, commissions and plays. Sissay was the first poet commissioned to write for London Olympics. His Landmark Poems are installed throughout Manchester and London. They can be seen in The Royal Festival Hall and The Olympic Park. His Landmark Poem, Guilt of Cain, was unveiled by Bishop Desmond Tutu in Fen Court near Fenchurch St Station. Lemn is associate artist at Southbank Centre, patron of The Letterbox Club and The Reader Organisation, ambassador for The Children’s Reading Fund, trustee of Forward Arts Foundation and inaugural trustee of World Book Night and an honorary doctor of Letters. He has been a writer from birth and foremost he is a poet. His new book Gold From the Stone will be published in August 2016. His 2015 Desert Island Discs was made pick of the year for 2015 Sissay’s installation poem ‘what if’ was exhibited at The Royal Academy alongside Tracey Emin and Antony Gormley. It came from his Disko Bay Expedition to the Arctic alongside Jarvis Cocker, Laurie Anderson, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Leslie Feist and KT Tunstall. His 21st century poem was released on multi-million award winning album Leftism by Leftfield. A violin concerto performed at The BBC by Viktoria Mullova was inspired by Lemn Sissay’s poem Advice For The Living. He was the first Black Writers Development Worker outside of London. He created and established Cultureword (part of Commonword) where Sissay developed supported and published many new writers who’ve gone on to a life of creativity. Sissay received an MBE from The Queen for services to literature and an honorary doctorate from University of Huddersfield and Univeristy of Manchester. University of huddersfield run The Sissay PhD Scholarship for care leavers: the first of its kind in the UK.

Michael Wood

Historian and broadcaster Michael Wood  is the author of several highly praised books onColour photograph of historian and broadcaster Michael Wood in China English history and well over one hundred documentary films, among them In the Footsteps of Alexander the GreatandThe Story of India,which the Wall Street Journal described as ‘still the gold standard’ of documentary history making. The Independent newspaper called his Story of England, which told the tale of one village, Kibworth in Leicestershire, through British history, ‘the most innovative history series ever on TV’. 

Michael was born in Manchester, and educated at Manchester Grammar School and Oriel College Oxford, where he did post-graduate research in Anglo-Saxon history, on which he has written many academic articles. 

Currently Professor of Public History at the University of Manchester, Michael  was recently awarded the Historical Association’s Medlicott Medal for ’outstanding services and current contributions to history’ and in 2015 he received the British Academy’s President’s Medal for outreach in history.   Michael lives with his family in North London.



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