No, Kendal has become very slimmed down in the book department. Now just the BT and one or two other events. At one point in the past it was referred to as a mountain film and book festival, like Banff, but that's been dropped now.
In reply to Gordon Stainforth: Yes Kendal does not seem to be that good on the cultural side of things (books, speakers, writing workshops etc).
The speakers would have to Eitherhave a book to flog or have written a great one. Only slight problem would be cost as I haven't any free cash and I don't think the likes of Messner, Pritchard, Simpson, Stainforth etc come fro free.
There certainly should be a literature festival. The Bretton Hall festival run by Terry Gifford was always a quality event. Top line speakers yet Terry was always keen to bring in new writers. Regrettably the venue was "lost" and he was offered a "merger" with Kendal. It was shoved off into a small building up Kendal High Street and was poorly promoted. The powers that be had changed and the new brooms, just did not want to know about the literature side of mountaineering/climbing. It was a frought few years where I believe that genuine collectors were alienated. A very unpleasant time all round but thank goodnes that has died away now. More recently the literature side of the festival is mostly the BT Award. There are occasional book events at Kendal, but there is little or no focus and they tend to be poorly attended.
It must be difficult to pitch a pure literature festival I feel, so you have to have a couple of big names to pull in numbers. There should always be a theme to provoke discussion and TG achieved this although I guess it was hard work sometimes to keep speakers on track.
I recently returned from the Oakdale Climbing Festival in California and whilst the focus for this each year is Yosemite it has an excellent literature content with speakers welcoming book loving climbers. The 3 day event is nicely laid back, not as laid back as Jim Bridwell was, but a great atmosphere for debate and discussion with plenty of the great and good only too happy to be there.
Best of luck if you are going to take the lead and try to get something off the ground. Happy to help if there is a germ of a plan.
Showroom Cinema (and Workstation), Sheffield. V good facilities. A few hundred yards from Sheffield Station. Either independently, or with Matt Heason (who has vast experience running SHAFF adventure festival there)
Or; completely independent, with advantage of being in a climbing/hillwalking area, the Maynard at Grindleford. Now used by the BMC for Peak area meetings. Has a very good conference room and excellent facilities. Is also a few hundred yards from Grindleford station. It actually has two conference rooms. The smaller one could be used for book stalls,, book signings etc.
I think you should talk to Matt Heason initially, whatever. Because he was once BMC Peak Area secretary, he has experience of the Maynard too. He is a supreme organiser, and would be able to give very good advice, even if he did not want to become involved.