An Epic Wigtown Book Festival Gets Set to Dish Up A Literary Feast for its 21st Year

Scotland’s Book Town to welcome Kirsty Wark, Arabella Weir, Ruth Davidson, Geoffrey Robinson, Doddie Weir, Matthew Parris and many more

The 21st annual Wigtown Book Festival is set to welcome a rich variety of writers, broadcasters and others – and is unveiling new attractions like the Wigtown Feasts.

Among those taking part this year are Kirtsy Wark, Arabella Weir, Kerry Hudson, Sinead Gleeson, Kathleen Jamie, Doddie Weir, Carol Drinkwater, Nathan Filer, Steve Jones, Ruth Davidson MSP, Geoffrey Roberston QC, Tom Devine, Melanie Reid, Eunice Olumide and Matthew Parris.

They will be joined by the likes of wine mogul Tony Laithwaite, author and illustrator Jackie Morris and Wigtown’s own best-selling author Shaun Bythell who is publishing a new set of his bestselling diaries, called Confessions of a Bookseller.

At the same time the festival is giving away thousands of free tickets for under-26s in its ongoing work to promote a love of literature and creativity among young people.

Taking place from 27 September to 6 October the festival will offer more than 275 events for adults and children, including debates music, film, visual arts, theatre and food.

This year it explores a number of key themes. It will look north to the epics of the Atlantic seaboard and Nordic regions. It will also have a series of events under the banner of Lost Province, which will dig deep into Galloway’s ancient past.

With 2019 being the UN’s International Year of Indigenous Languages, the festival will celebrate the power of conversation and will celebrate the country’s three native languages – English, Gaelic and Scots.

The brand new Wigtown Feasts, in association with A Year of Conversation, will involve a series of simultaneous suppers in houses across the town in order to give visitors, festival guests and residents that chance to mix, chat, dine and gain new perspectives.

Adrian Turpin, Artistic Director of Wigtown Book Festival, said: “This year’s festival will bring some of the most exciting voices from literature, politics, entertainment, journalism and science to Scotland’s National Book Town.

“Our 21stanniversary events will offer 10 days of fascinating talks, movies, shows and other events for adults, young people and children to enjoy. Some will be challenging others inspirational and some sheer fun.

“The new Wigtown Feasts will be a key element. What better way to welcome visitors from afar than to invite them to break bread with people from the town?”

This children’s festival Big Wig, continues to grow, and will begin with a party celebrating of the 50thanniversary of The Very Hungry Caterpillar.

For the first time the line-up for young people’s festival, under the new name of WigWAM, has been integrated into the main programme. The events are open to all ages but free to anyone under 26.

Paul Bush OBE, Director of Events at VisitScotland, said: “The Wigtown Book Festival is one of the UK’s best-loved literary events and EventScotland is delighted to be continuing its support of the festival through its Beacon Programme. Events play a key role in our visitor economy, attracting visitors from far and wide. This year’s festival has another stellar line-up of speakers as well as new attractions that are sure to once again draw in the crowds.”

Councillor Adam Wilson, the Council’s Events Champion, said: “The book festival is able to showcase Galloway in an uplifting, natural way, and charm many thousands of visitors each year. It fits perfectly with the more rewarding pace of life in this picturesque corner of South West Scotland, and provides a timely economic boost for the bookshops who have done so much to support the regeneration of the town.”

Some of this year’s guests

Kirsty Wark, bestselling author and one of the most trusted names in British news will be talking about The House by the Loch, inspired by her own childhood memories and set in rural Galloway.

Ruth Davidson became Scottish Conservative Party leader in 2011, just six months after becoming an MSP. She discusses her book Yes She Canwhich combines the story of her own rise with her conversations with 17 mould-breaking women in fields as diverse as science, politics, the military, business and sport.

Legendary barrister Geoffrey Robertson QC will spill the beans in a talk about his entertaining memoir Rather His Own Man, recalling his battles on behalf of everyone from George Harrison and the Sex Pistols to Salman Rushdie and Julian Assange.

Melanie Reid, who was paralysed from the top of her chest down after falling from a horse, talks about The World I Fell Out Of, a powerful account of how she rebuilt her life.

Matthew Parris looks ahead to his forthcoming work Fractured, which draws on his Radio 4 series Great Lives to consider whether genius comes from the wreckage of a fractured childhood – considering eminent figures from Freddie Mercury to Marie Curie.

Scottish rugby legend Doddie Weir will be a particular highlight as he discusses a remarkable sporting career and his campaigning for motor neurone disease research.

Kathleen Jamie, winner of the Saltire Book of the Year and the Costa Award for Poetry, talks about her new book Surfacingwhich blends memoir, cultural history and travelogue, exploring how the changing natural world alters our sense of time.

The mother of all confessional shows from the bestselling author and star of The Fast Show and Two Doors Down, Arabella Weir. Does My Mum Loom Big in This? is for everyone who’s had a mother or been a mother, featuring hair-raising hilarious true stories from Arabella’s dysfunctional childhood and her life as a single working mother.

Carol Drinkwater became a household name as Helen Herriot in All Creatures Great and Small. Her “Olive” memoirs sold more than a million copies
and have been followed by a series of epic novels. The latest is The House on the Edge of the Cliff.

Nathan Filer, former mental health, won the Costa Book of the Year Award for his bestselling debut novel The Shock of the Fallabout a young man with schizophrenia. In his non-fiction work A Breath on Dying Embershe returns to the subject, debunking myths.

Steve Jones, one of the UK’s best-known scientists, shows how life on Earth is ruled by our nearest star which nourishes and destroys all life. Here Comes the Sun dazzlingly links science, politics and culture. Steve is a Senior Research Fellow at University College London.

Historian Tom Devine speaks on The ‘Death’ and Reinvention 
of Scotland. By the late 18th century Scotland was prospering in the Union. But some believed this came at a cost: Anglicisation and the end of an ancient identity. Sir Tom looks at this “crisis” and reaches surprising conclusions.

Eunice Olumide was signed to the catwalk when she was just 16. Since then she has worked all over the world for designers including Mulberry, Alexander McQueen and Harris Tweed, as well as collaborating with the V&A. Along the way, she has championed diversity and stood up for ethical fashion. In How to Get Into Fashionshe talks about a remarkable career.

In the 1960s Tony Laithwaite, a student from
Bolton, took a job washing bottles
in Bordeaux. So began a 50-year affair with wine. His wonderfully engaging memoir Direct is a love letter to France and the grape, and the wonderful characters he met on his unlikely journey to becoming Britain’s most successful wine merchant.

When Jackie Morris heard about the removal
of words such as kingfisher, bramble, and acorn from a junior dictionary, she had to act. The result was The Lost Words, her award-winning, beautiful collaboration with Robert Macfarlane. She talks about our relationship to the natural world under threat, a subject she has also written about in the introduction to the lost childhood classic The House Without Windows.

Shaun Bythell runs The Bookshop in Wigtown. It should be an idyll for bookworms. Unfortunately, Shaun also has to contend with bizarre requests from people who don’t understand what a shop is, home invasions during the Wigtown Book Festival, and his neurotic Italian assistant who likes digging for river mud to make poultices. He tells
all about his new set of bestselling diaries.

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