News. Boswell Book Festival is set to impress

5th of April, 2019

Next month will see a swirl of activity at Dumfries House as a diverse array of writers from around the world head to Ayrshire for the Boswell Book Festival. The world’s only festival dedicated to biography and memoir will celebrate its ninth edition this year and the three-day event offers a weekend of discussion and debate to inspire and delight.

Named after local hero James Boswell – the Scottish writer and biographer of Dr Samuel Johnson – the festival has become a firm fixture on the calendar, with tickets already on sale for a vast sweep of events that promises plenty for lovers of the written word. “The 2019 programme will delight long-standing fans and new visitors alike with events for everyone, from sports fans to families and music lovers to history buffs,” says Mairi Kidd from Creative Scotland. “Celebrating the lives and experiences that non-fiction offers, Ayrshire’s Boswell Book Festival brings high quality provision in a unique genre to a great location.”

The curtain raiser on May 10 will see broadcaster Kirsty Wark – in conversation with former BBC editor Jane Fowler – introduce her latest work The House by the Loch, a novel inspired by . Wark’s childhood memories that draws on real historical incident. Equally anticipated that evening is an intimate appearance by Lancastrian vocalist Alfie Boe, who will be sharing his story alongside performances of his best loved songs.

Alfie Boe; Kirsty Wark

A packed weekend schedule begins in earnest on the Saturday with events traversing a wide cross-section of topics from the Scottish Enlightenment and a witty take on the life of Oscar Wilde to a naturalist’s guide to Canada’s western extent and espionage through the eyes of KGB double agent Oleg Gordievsky. Beyond discussions with authors, visitors can expect a series of workshops – including a hands-on session with textile artist and curator Clare Hunter – and an equally vivid and entertaining children’s schedule.

“This programme, with its eclectic mix of subjects, inspired by our unique theme of biography and memoir, will allow any visitor to travel in their imagination from the worlds of Beijing to Washington, from Strictly Come Dancing to The Importance of Being Earnest and from Mary Queen of Scots to Napoleon,” says festival director Caroline Knox. “And even if you left childhood behind long ago, there is nothing more magical than the sight of the readers of the future enraptured by the very best children’s writers and illustrators at work today.”

Claire Hunter; Dacia Maraini

New for this year’s event – which is supported by the Prince’s Foundation – is an exciting talent-sharing partnership with the Pisa Book Festival, which will see Dumfries House welcome Italian authors Dacia Maraini and mafia expert Federico Varese, alongside a bi-centenary celebration of the Italian translation of James Boswell’s bestselling An Account of Corsica.

With a roster of entertainment – including comedy and music performances – extending the festivities into the evening, this year’s Boswell Book Festival looks set to be the most exhilarating yet.

To see the full festival line up and to book tickets please visit boswellbookfestival.co.uk

Words: Ben Olsen