Qaisra Shahraz at Manchester Literature Festival in Elizabeth Gaskell House

Elizabeth Gaskell House

It was great to take part in Manchester Literature Festival and to launch my new book “The Concubine and the Slave Catcher”.

I was doubly delighted to be hosted in Gaskell House, home of one of my favourite women writers – Elizabeth Gaskell. It was a thrilling experience indeed to sit on her sofa and pose for photographs in her living room with lovely Cathy Bolton, the festival director and a fellow writer.

Friends And Readers

I have known Cathy Bolton, a poet, since the days we were connected with the local publishers “common word” many years ago.

Great to meet and spend time drinking tea in lovely China cups with friends and guests in Gaskell Cafe.


I enjoyed my literary session chaired by Libby Tempest, another friend. She did a great job in chairing the session. I was impressed by the enormous research she had undertaken on my background. And affectionately likened me to Elizabeth Gaskell saying that “like Elizabeth Qaisra is a mother, a writer and a social campaigner”.

I read from three stories, “The Slave Catcher”, “Train to Krakow” and “The Journey”. I answered lots of questions on various topics. I spoke passionately about life as a Muslim woman living in difficult times and being sandwiched between two monsters, extremism and Islamophobia and how frustrated I felt in having to constantly defend my faith.

Signing Books

It was great to sign books for my long lost friends as well as guests.

Peace Banner

During my discussion I talked about my interfaith and peace work as co-chair of ‘Faith Network 4 Manchester’ and executive member of ‘Muslim Jewish Forum’ and ‘We Stand Together’. I took my peace banner ‘Spread Hummus Not Hate’ and we had a great time posing for group photographs with it around Elizabeth Gaskell House. Including with the wonderful volunteers and the hosts.

We all said ‘No To Hate’.

Thank you to the Gaskell House team for hosting me and providing a wonderful event.

Sally – Gaskell House manager, Libby, Cathy, Jane, Rosa, Rebecca, Esther and other volunteers.