The line-up has been unveiled for the 21st annual Wigtown Book Festival, which will bring some of the UK’s leading writers, journalists, broadcasters and others to Scotland’s National Book Town.
Taking place from September 27 to October 6, it will offer more than 275 events for adults and children, including debates music, film, visual arts, theatre and food.
This year the festival 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 whole 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.
Another furrow the festival will be ploughing is “This Farming Life” – well suited to a Scottish region famed for its beef and dairy.
Perhaps not unrelated there will also be the Wigtown Feasts, in association with A Year of Conversation, where a series of simultaneous suppers will be held in houses across the town to bring together residents, festival visitors and authors to chat and dine.
Adrian Turpin, Artistic Director of Wigtown Book Festival, said: “Historically Galloway was a meeting place and a melting pot for so many different cultures. That’s the theme of this year’s festival. We want to bring some of the UK’s most exciting voices to Scotland’s Book Town. But we also want to show the world what is unique about the whole region. That act of exchange is what gives the festival energy. The Wigtown Feasts are a key element. What better way to welcome visitors from afar than to invite them to break bread with people from the town?”
Among the festival’s many special guests this year will be Kirsty Wark, bestselling author and one of the most trusted names in British news. She will be talking about The House by the Loch, inspired by her own childhood memories and set in rural Galloway.
Legendary barrister Geoffrey Robertson QC will spill the beans when he talks about his highly entertaining memoir Rather His Own Man, which recalls 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, will talk about The World I Fell Out Of, a powerful account of how she rebuilt her life.
Wigtown also welcomes Matthew Parris and his forthcoming work Fractured, which draws on his Radio 4 series Great Livesto consider the theory that 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 this year as he discusses a remarkable international sporting career and his more recent work campaigning for motor neurone disease research.
The marvellous Mairi Kidd will be providing a change of pace when she entertains audiences talking about Warriors & Witches & Damn Rebel Bitches.
As ever, there will be many writers and others from the region, discussing the things that make Dumfries and Galloway so special.
Among them is Jamie Blackett who returned from the Army to run an estate on the Solway Firth, to find a fast-changing countryside. He discusses how he found his feet as a farmer, observing wildlife, people and peccadilloes. He also looks at the challenges facing a fragile way of life and the directions rural Scotland may take after Brexit. Another well-known Galloway name is Wigtownshire boy Arthur Anderson, who became a farming journalist on The Scotsman and was later a key figure on the BBC’s Landwardprogramme.
For full details of Wigtown Book Festival go to wigtownbookfestival.com.