Category Archives: | Edinburgh

Saturday’s Highlights

To Look Out for Saturday 23rd August 2014

 18:30    James Tait Black Prize – The winners of both the Biography Award and the Fiction Award of the world’s oldest Literary Prize will be announced Saturday evening.

 18:45    IDP2043 – the first of two events today celebrating the launch of the Book Festival’s new graphic novel with contributors Pat Mills, Denise Mina, Hannah Berry and others.

 19:00    Dialogue 13:  Empire – Linda Colley, Tom Devine and Menzies Campbell consider whether the crumbling of the British Empire has made the Union a less attractive proposition.

 20:30    Brenda Blethyn & Ann Cleeves – In this special event Cleeves, who writes the Vera Stanhope series of books, comes together with Blethyn, who plays Vera in the TV series, for a conversation about the pleasures and pitfalls of bringing literary characters to life on page and screen.

Find the full list of events on the EIBF website, including their exciting line-up of events for children and teens.


If you don’t have time to see an event drop by for a a glass of your favourite drink, ice cream  or have a quick look around the book festival bookshops.

Friday’s Highlights

Highlights for Today: Friday 22 August

15:30    Omid Djalili – The acclaimed comedian and actor talks about his joyously funny memoir about growing up and finding fame as a young Iranian in London.

16:30    Barroux & Michael Morpurgo – Based on the diary kept by a French soldier during WWI, Barroux’s new graphic novel provides a fresh perspective on the first two months of the conflict.

 20:00    Francesca Martinez & Mark Thomas – Diagnosed with cerebral palsy at the age of 2, Martinez has brilliantly overcome being regarded as ‘abnormal’ in a world obsessed with normality.

 21.30    Irvine Welsh – Funny, dirty and as offensive as ever, Welsh returns with another novel that flies in the face of good taste.

Find the full list of events on the EIBF website, including their exciting line-up of events for children and teens.

If you don’t have time to see an event drop by for a a glass of your favourite drink  or have a quick look around the book festival bookshops.

Thursday’s Highlights

Highlights for Today: Thursday 21 August

14:00 Irving Finkel – The story of Noah’s Ark is set for a radical reinterpretation. Finkel, who is an expert on Mesopotamia and author of The Ark Before Noah, shares his enthralling discoveries.

15:00 Lynn Barber – a chance to hear the fearsomely incisive celebrity interviewer being interviewed.

18:30 Kate Mosse – Mosse launches her new novel, The Taxidermist’s Daughter, and also discusses her short story collection.

19:00 Alan Warner – Warner’s new novel is set in 1980s London and centres on two struggling writers trying to eke out an existence. Warner discusses the demands of an imaginary return to Thatcher’s Britain.

Find the full list of events on the EIBF website, including their exciting line-up of events for children and teens.

If you don’t have time to see an event drop by for a a glass of your favourite drink  or have a quick look around the book festival bookshops.

Wednesday’s Highlights Edinburgh International Book Festival

To Look Out For on Wednesday 20th August:

 11:30    Helen Dunmore – With a powerful mixture of tragedy and redemption, Dunmore’s new novel skilfully depicts the effects of war on ordinary people.

 15:00    Germaine Greer – Greer shares her joy in rebuilding wild nature.

 15:30    Henry Marsh – As a successful neurosurgeon he has held people’s lives in his hands, but is all too aware of the risks involved in conducting brain surgery.

 18:45    Luke Brown & Nick Harkaway – Dynamic contemporary fiction with two young sharp writers with glittering futures ahead of them.

 20:30    Esther Freud – In her new novel, Charles Rennie Mackintosh looms large as she brings life to the Scottish icon.

Find the full list of events on the EIBF website, including their exciting line-up of events for children and teens.

If you don’t have time to see an event drop by for a a glass of wine or have a quick look around the book festival bookshops.


Edinburgh Book Festival – Tuesday’s Highlights

Highlights for Today: Tuesday 19 August

 11:30    Damon Galgut – The leading South African writer presents a new novel imagining E M Forster’s inspiration for A Passage to India.

 15:00    Bonnie Greer – talks to Ruth Wishart about her tough upbringing and how it feels to be the key character in a real-life rags to riches story.

15:30    Luke Harding – The award winning journalist recounts the remarkable story of Edward Snowden and the profound questions it raises.

 19:00    Billy Collins – Twice Poet Laureate in the USA, Collins returns with Aimless Love, his first collection of new poems for 12 years.

 20:30    Michael Pitre & Willy Vlautin – Two young novelists paint pictures of a fractured USA, raising the question whether the Great American Novel is as outdated as the American Dream.

Find the full list of events on the EIBF website, including their exciting line-up of events for children and teens.

If you don’t have time to see an event drop by for a a glass of wine or a wander about the book festival bookshops.

Scottish Poets awarded £24,000 in Edinburgh



The Trustees of the Edwin Morgan Trust are thrilled to announce the results of the first Edwin Morgan Poetry Award for Scottish poets aged 30 or under, the largest poetry prize in the UK.

The winner 

Niall Campbell is awarded £20,000, for his first collection Moontide, published by Bloodaxe this year. Niall was born in 1984 on the island of South Uist in the Outer Hebrides, and now lives in Edinburgh. He received the news and the Award at an event at the Edinburgh International Book Festival on Thursday 1th August 2014 in the evening.  Moontide was a Poetry Book Society Recommendation, and is also shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best First Collection.

The judges of the Award were poets Stewart Conn and Jen Hadfield. Stewart Conn commented: ‘These poems, with their rich textures, succulent descriptions and seductive cadences reveal a gifted word-smith… [they] transform the sea-bound Uist they celebrate.’  And Jen Hadfield remarked, ‘In lightly framing the unsaid, some of these poems have a haunted quality: they are cat’s cradles between poet and reader.’

The runner-up £1,000 plus help with publication

Claire Askew (currently studying Creative Writing at the University of Edinburgh – PHD ) for her unpublished collection ‘This changes things’. She receives £1,000 as a shortlisted poet, and a further amount to support her work towards publication. Jen Hadfield said that ‘Askew’s is a humane consciousness, with a genius for communicating how people tick’, while Stewart Conn welcomed a ‘voice that is arrestingly and distinctively her own… words and imagery constantly seeming fresh-minted.’

Other short-listed poets, who each receive £1,000

Are: Londoner, Tom Chivers, Orkney born, Harry Giles living in Edinburgh, Stewart Sanderson studying at the University of Glasgow, and Californian Molly Vogel studying creative writing at the University of Glasgow.

On behalf of the Trustees, Professor James McGonigal recalled Edwin Morgan’s basic optimism, his faith in the future, as a poet who ‘always preferred to look forward, not back’: ‘The Edwin Morgan Poetry Award supports a new wave of Scottish poets in practical and positive ways. The quality of work emerging is ample proof that such faith in Scottish poetry was justified.’




Seven days of book lovers events left – Count down starts now

Seven days left and a lot still to come.  At he Book Festival there are still plenty of things to see and do. Many of the events still have tickets available, including:Playwright, novelist and critic Bonnie Greer shares her amazing life story (Tue 19 Aug, 3pm, £10, £8)

Esther Freud talks about her latest novel which places Charles Rennie Mackintosh at the heart of the action. (Wed 20 Aug, 8.30pm, £10. £8)

There’s a new novel and a short story collection from bestselling Kate Mosse (Thu 21 Aug, 6.30pm, £10, £8)

Children’s Laureate Malorie Blackman talks about the power of fiction (Fri 22 Aug, 7pm, £7, £5)

Edinburgh Book Festival celebrate the launch of IDP2043, their very own graphic novel, with two events featuring the finest writers and graphic artists (Sat 23 Aug, 6.45pm, £10, £8 and Sat 23 Aug, 8.30pm, £10, £8)

Master of the short story Lydia Davis shares her latest collection with novelist and Book Festival Guest Selector Ali Smith. (Sun 24 Aug, 8.30pm, £10, £8)

Acclaimed writer and poet Michael Rosen explores the fascinating characters of the alphabet.
(Mon 25 Aug, 3pm, £10, £8)

Find the full list of events on the EIBF website, including their exciting line-up of events for children and teens.

If you don’t have time to see an event drop by for a tasty ice-cream, a glass of wine or a browse in the book festival bookshops.

Cosmopolitan Agony Aunt Irma sensational hit at Edinburgh Book Festival

The Edinburgh book festival is full of surprises and none more than the appearance of  Irma Kurtz,  an agony aunt for the Cosmopolitan in a show event and a book signing on Thursday 14th August 2014.

Irma  has during her career, that totals more than forty years,  dealt with most problems, that are either intimate or otherwise.  That is problems of heartbreak, family and relationships for many generations of readers.  At the show her fans both male and female, from Edinburgh and beyond heard her wit and candid answers to questions about her challenging job and Irma’s new book My life in agony.

The event was chaired by Janet Smyth – Programme Director of Edinburgh International Book Festival (EIBF).  Janet  said “We start our International Book Festival planning early in October of the previous year, it was then that we had a hicup of excitement when we discovered Irma’s new book,  My life in agony, basically her autobiography”

Irma explained that being an agony aunt now is very different than 40 years ago.  Young agony as a result of the social media such as Facebook and Twitter, is a new challenge, a challenge that can  automate any grief and is faster than letter in its delivery of hurt. Then as when normal emotional issues hit us, it is time for us all to listen to our inner voice and apply common sense and wisdom, that can be difficult.    And that is what an agony aunt does, the simple application of common sense, with a smattering of wisdom.  For the writer, the process of recording the information for another to read can resolve the issue and/or provide clarity.

In today’s world Irma’s role of Agony Aunt  has a new challenge, with letters coming in a new formats such as  email and Facebook.  Of course there still is the standard letter, that can go on  to many pages.  The postman straining with the delivery of each heavy bag of agony mail, the letters causing the Postie physical as  opposed to emotional stress and pain.  Sometimes the writers  are looking for a pill, a very special one, the pill to heal the heartache of a woman’s loss or broken heart   For men there are  Agony Uncles, but they are not so prominent.   Men are not always open to making their most intimate of emotions and inner thoughts known.  As a result the Agony Uncles tend to move on.  Move on  to become counsellors.

The packed audience left after a question and answer session and  sixty minutes of delightful and amusing information and entertainment with jovial banter

I must say an event well worth seeing.













Sun shines and crowds flock to the Edinburgh Book Festival

One of the major shows during the Edinburgh Festival that always surprises is the Edinburgh International Book Festival.  The first time I attended it was a delight and each year its appeal never fails.  There are of course the authors and if you are lucky enough to book your ticket in time, you can meet with them at one of the many events.

As can be seen from our photos it s not just the events that attract, it is the beautiful gardened area of Charlotte Square that brings the people too.  Add to this the shops with a large display of books, including a shop that specialises in Children’s material the visitor is in book heaven.  Today it was pure perfection, as the sun shines, and the crowds just flock in.

Sunny Book FestivalOn Saturday 9th August 2014 today…

12:30    Ben Chu & David Eimer – Chu and Eimer explore whether it is possible to get a real sense of what China means, both to the outside world and to itself.

15:00    Iain Macwhirter – In the first of our events examining Scotland’s Future, Macwhirter outlines his view of the steps he believes Scotland and England will take after the referendum.

16:30    Sweet Potato & Callaloo – Jackie Kay introduces a vibrant generation of writers and poets whose work has its roots in the Caribbean.  Part of the Empire Café series.

17:00    The Voices in Our Head – Nathan Filer, Edward Carey and Matthew Quick talk about their relationships with their characters and their inner voices exploring how a writer hears and channels the creative voice that drives a narrative or character.  Part of ‘Conversations with Ourselves’.

20:00    Letters Live – Shaun Usher’s Letters of Note celebrates the humble magic of the lost art of letter writing. Joining Usher to read and discuss their favourites are Patrick Kennedy, Lisa Dwan, Jackie Kay, John Lloyd, Richard Herring, Bridget Christie, Richard Holloway, Lucy Porter and Simon Garfield

20:30    Zoe Howe – Howe talks to Vic Galloway about her no-holds-barred tale of cult Scottish band The Jesus and Mary Chain.

To Look Out For Tomorrow- Sunday 10th August 2014:

 12:00    Margaret MacMillan – This week when we commemorate the 100th anniversary of WWI, MacMillan explains the motivations and mistakes that tipped us into the Great War.

 13:30    Jung Chang – Charting the life of the woman that dragged China into the modern age, Chang offers a fascinating account of the birth of modern China

16:30    Judith Kerr & Matthew Kneale – Acclaimed author and illustrator Judith Kerr is joined by her son, novelist Matthew Kneale to discuss creative heritage and inheritance.  What travels with us from childhood to form the adults we become?

 18:30    Rowan Williams – Presenting a moving and uplifting new collection of poetry, Williams explores moments of human transformation, whether in body or in spirit.

 19:00    Dialogue 1:  Commonwealth – Scottish novelist Louise Welsh, Indian writer Meena Kandasamy and Jamaican-born Geoff Palmer ask what the Commonwealth can tell us about post-referendum Scotland.

 20:00    Kirsty Walk – One of the nominees for the Book Festival’s First Book Award, Wark presents her debut novel The Legacy of Elizabeth Pringle.


Raising the Bar – new Pub Publication from Historic Scotland

Many streets in the centres of Scotland’s cities,towns and villages can boast at least one if not
several public houses, the exteriors of which are often unpretentious. Inside, however, a wealth of decorative features and exuberant details can often still be found.

Although they have some elements in common with those elsewhere in the UK, other features are uniquely Scottish. In their design and detail many add to the rich tapestry of our built heritage.

Read about this story and more in Raising the Bar a Historic Scotland publication.