Leeds Literary Festival

A Festival of Words and Ideas



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MiliM is non-profit making and run entirely by volunteers, we are proud to be able to offer an exciting programme of webinars during the Covid-19 crisis.

To be able to do this, we do need help to replace event revenue we have lost this year.

Every penny helps, goes directly towards events and we are very grateful for your contribution.


Milim Spring 2019

Vanessa Rosenthal

Inside Out - A Life in Stages

Actress and playwright Vanessa Rosenthal has been searching for her identity her whole life.

Is she Jewish or not? English or not?

This character, or that, on and off stage?

From her mother’s conversion to Judaism, and Vanessa’s resulting sense of being on the outside looking in, to life as an actress, working with some of theatre’s biggest names and juggling a full family life, this candid and compelling memoir unpicks many taboos on Jewishness to help her with her question. As an apparently insufficiently Jewish lew, what or who should she be?


Venessa has great supporter of and contributor to Milim and we are delighted to welcome her back to tlak about her new book  Inside Out – A Life in Stages


For those of you who live in Leeds or able to get to the city, Vanessa will be speaking in person, and we will be broadcasting the talk live via Zoom.


After the talk there will be refreshments and an opportunity to meet with Venessa


The talk will be at


UHC Synagogue

151 Shadwell Lane

Leeds LS17 8DW


There is plenty of free secure onsite parking


If you would like to join us, please select the “In person ticket”


You will receive a Zoom link as well in case you cannot attend


To buy Vanessa’s book click here

Anne Sebba

Ethel Rosenberg Cold War Tragedy

New York Times bestselling author Anne Sebba’s moving biography of Ethel Rosenberg, the wife and mother whose execution for espionage-related crimes defined the Cold War and horrified the world.

In June 1953, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, a couple with two young sons, were led separately from their prison cells on Death Row and electrocuted moments apart. Both had been convicted of conspiracy to commit espionage for the Soviet Union, despite the fact that the US government was aware that the evidence against Ethel was shaky at best and based on the perjury of her own brother.

Anne Sebba returns to Milim to talk about her new  book which is the first in forty years to focus on one half of that couple. Ethel was a bright girl who might have fulfilled her personal dream of becoming an opera singer, but instead found herself struggling with the social mores of the 1950’s. She longed to be a good wife and perfect mother to her two small boys, while battling the political paranoia of the McCarthy era, anti-Semitism and misogyny. Because of her profound love for and loyalty to her husband, she refused to incriminate him, despite the government’s pressure to do so. Instead, she courageously faced the death penalty for a crime she hadn’t committed, orphaning her two young sons.

Seventy years after her trial, this is the first time Ethel’s story has been told with the full use of the dramatic and tragic prison letters she exchanged with her husband, her lawyer and her psychotherapist over a three-year period, two of them in solitary confinement. Hers is the resonant story of what happens when a government motivated by fear tramples on the rights of its citizens.

To purchase Anne’s book click here

Adam Sisman in the Literary Review wrote: ‘In Anne Sebba Ethel Rosenberg has found the ideal biographer, sympathetic without being blind to her flaws and with a sure grasp of the period.’

Anne Sebba is a biographer, lecturer, journalist, former Reuters foreign correspondent and author of eleven books for adults. She rear History at King’s College London and her first job was at the BBC World Services in the Arabic Department. Her latest book will be Ethe Rosenberg: An American Tragedy and before that she wrote about Paris from 1939-49 through women’s eyes, Les Parisiennes: How the Women of Paris Lived, Loved and Died in the 1940’s published in 2016, a standout social history,’ according to the US trade journal, Booklist and winner of the Franco-British Society prize. Film rights have been sold, with a multi episode TV drama planned.

Nicholas Evans

Forgotten Cultural Jews

Dr Nicholas J Evans is Senior Lecturer in diaspora history at the Department of History. He is also an academic in the Queen’s Anniversary Prize-winning Wilberforce Institute for the study of Slavery and Emancipation at the University of Hull.

He uses the fruits of his academic research on voluntary and coerced migration to, through and from Britain to empower religious and ethnic minority communities both at home at and abroad.
This is a joint meeting with the Leeds branch of JHSE

Leah Garrett

X Troop: The Secret Jewish Commandos Who Helped Defeat the Nazis

June 1942. The shadow of the Third Reich has fallen across the European continent. In desperation, Winston Churchill and his chief of staff form an unusual plan: a new commando unit made up of Jewish refugees who have escaped to Britain. The resulting volunteers are a motley group of intellectuals, artists, and athletes, most from Germany and Austria. Many have been interned as enemy aliens, and have lost their families, their homes-their whole worlds. They will stop at nothing to defeat the Nazis. Trained in counterintelligence and advanced combat, this top secret unit becomes known as X Troop. Some simply call them a suicide squad.
Drawing on extensive original research, including interviews with the last surviving members, Leah Garrett follows this unique band of brothers from Germany to England and back again, with stops at British internment camps, the beaches of Normandy, the battlefields of Italy and Holland, and the hellscape of Terezin concentration camp–the scene of one of the most dramatic, untold rescues of the war. For the first time, X Troop tells the astonishing story of these secret shock troops and their devastating blows against the Nazis.
“This tale of profoundly motivated and capable men of action on a noble mission, each profiled in condensed biographies, is a rousing and redefining portrait of an, until now, overlooked group of dedicated warriors who played an outsized role in defeating the Third Reich.”

Caroline Shenton

National Treasures Evacuating London's Collections to Jewish Country Houses during the Second World War

As Hitler prepared to invade Poland during the sweltering summer of 1939, men and women from across London’s museums, galleries and archives formulated ingenious plans to send the nation’s highest prized objects to safety. Using stately homes, tube tunnels, slate mines, castles, prisons, stone quarries and even their own homes, a dedicated bunch of unlikely misfits packed up the nation’s greatest treasures and, in a race against time, dispatched them throughout the country on a series of top-secret wartime adventures.

National Treasures highlights a moment from our history when an unlikely coalition of mild-mannered civil servants, social oddballs and metropolitan aesthetes became the front line in the heritage war against Hitler. Caroline Shenton shares the interwoven lives of ordinary people who kept calm and carried on in the most extraordinary of circumstances in their efforts to save the Nation’s historic identity.

Dr Caroline Shenton is an archivist and historian. She was formerly Director of the Parliamentary Archives in London, and before that was a senior archivist at the National Archives. Her book The Day Parliament Burned Down won the Political Book of the Year Award in 2013 and Mary Beard called it ‘microhistory at its absolute best’ while Dan Jones considered it ‘glorious’. Its acclaimed sequel, Mr Barry’s War was a Book of the Year in 2016 for The Daily Telegraph and BBC History Magazine and was described by Lucy Worsley as ‘a real jewel, finely wrought and beautiful’. In 2017, Caroline was Political Writer in Residence at Gladstone’s Library. Her third book, National Treasures, will be published in November 2021.


Adam Andrusier

Two Hitlers and a Marilyn

Adam Andrusier spent his childhood in pursuit of autographs. After writing to every famous person he could think of, from Frank Sinatra to Colonel Gaddafi, he soon jostled with the paparazzi at stage doors and came faceto-face with the most famous people on the planet.

For young Adam, autographs were a backstage pass to a world beyond his chaotic family home in Pinner, and his Holocaust-obsessed father. They provided a special connection to a world of glamour and significance lying just beyond his reach.

But as Adam turned from collector to dealer, learning how to spot a fake from the real deal, he discovered that in life, as in autographs, not everything is as it first appears. When your obsession is a search for the authentic, what happens when you discover fraudulence in your own family?
Two Hitlers and a Marilyn is both a hilarious and moving account of discovering that idols are mortals. It’s a story of growing up, forgiveness and discovering a place in the world.

Simon Goulden

Funding, Falmouth and Fish&Chips: A brief look at Jewish lives in Georgian England

Simon Goulden is an education and management consultant, writer and international lecturer. Initially qualifying in civil engineering, Simon switched to education management, leading the Agency for Jewish Education for many years. He recently obtained his MA in Jewish Education from LSJS.

He has authored, edited and acted as consultant on Jewish prayer books and books about Judaism, Jewish history and Israel and lectures and leads museum tours at LSJS.


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