Organisers of Ilkley’s prestigious literary festival have revealed the secret behind how they get their big-name authors – sausages and cream buns.

Festival director Rachel Feldberg said: “If an author is seemingly reluctant to come to Ilkley we say the words ‘Bettys’ and ‘Ilkley Moor’ and that normally persuades them – also Lishman’s sausages.”

The festival, which starts on Friday, October 1, is to hold more than 200 events.

In terms of booking authors, Rachel said: “It’s a combination of keeping a very careful eye on who are the exciting people who have new books out.

“Spotting, for example, that Peter Snow has a new book on Wellington coming up – and we know what a wonderful performer and speaker he is. Then noticing that someone like Simon Hoggart, who we have had before and who is enormously witty and knows so much about politics, has got a new book out.

“We always try to have good history events. So when I saw that Niall Ferguson, a bit of a history superstar, had got a new book out, we pounced on him.

“We never forget that one of our key purposes is to make sure that everybody can hear from all the leading novelists and poets, so this year we’ve got Joseph O’Connor.

“Then we’ve got Michele Roberts, who is always a big favourite, and Helen Simpson, with new short stories.”

Around a quarter of this year’s events have sold out, with many moving to alternative venues to accommodate larger audiences.

Among the famous faces are broadcaster Michael Parkinson, journalist John Simpson and yachtswoman Ellen MacArthur.

“The festival team have been working hard to secure other sought-after speakers, including the Simonyi Professor for the Public Understanding of Science Marcus de Sautoy, who took over the post from Richard Dawkins.”

A talk by arts critic Andrew Graham-Dixon on Caravaggio, the 16th century artist renowned for his religious work, was aptly scheduled for All Saints Parish Church. But after all 250 seats were booked it had to be moved to the King’s Hall where it has now sold out.

The programme includes quirky events such as award-winning poet Jo Shapcott giving a reading in somebody’s home.

The festival is run by four part-time workers and relies on funding from the Arts Council, Bradford Council and West Yorkshire Grants. The festival will open with John Simpson in conversation with the executive director of Screen England Ruth Pitt at the Kings Hall next Friday, October 1.

Visit www.ilkleyliteraturefes for more details.