Book Festival day planner

This article is from 2009

Carol Ann Duffy

As with most of the festivals, the Book Festival is a scary prospect at first glance. Here, Lizzie Mitchell maps out a plan which should make the minefield a little easier to negotiate. All events are based in Charlotte Square Gardens.

Saturday 15

Ruth Padel
The opening event and the first of many on a Darwinian theme, this one by his great-great-granddaughter, the poet Ruth Padel. 10.15am, £9 (£7).

The Beano
Invent a new Beano-inspired character in this interactive retrospective. It says it’s a children’s event, but watch out for the kids who never grew up still channeling Beryl the Peril in the back row. Age 6-12. 10.30am, £4.

Carlos Ruiz Zafón The Shadow of the Wind was the most successful Spanish novel since Don Quixote. With his second adult novel just released in the UK, it’s a good time to find out more about this master storyspinner. 3pm, £9 (£7).

Hilary Spurling Winner of the 2005 Whitbread Book Award for her hugely acclaimed biography of Matisse, Hilary Spurling explains how the master painter helped to shape the course of modern art. 4.30pm, £9 (£7).

Amnesty International Imprisoned Writers Series Free, daily readings focusing on articles from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Various speakers. 5.30pm daily, free.

Carol Ann Duffy The new Poet Laureate speaks at the Big Issue event. Unfortunately for most of us, tickets sold out on the first morning of release. 8pm, £9 (£7).

Sunday 16

Alexander McCall Smith A Book Festival favourite returns, bringing Africa alive with his stories in an event for 6-10-year-olds. 10.30am, £4.

Ian Brown, Matt McGuire & Colin Nicholson Celebrating the launch of a new series of Edinburgh Companions to Scottish Literature, three editors and contributors discuss the fine holdings of contemporary Scottish literature and poetry. 11am, £9 (£7).

Suchen Christine Lim, Simon Tay & Edwin Thumboo Three of Singapore’s most distinguished authors come together to give a precious insight into the literature and culture of Southeast Asia’s smallest nation. 4pm, £9 (£7).

Elaine Showalter One of the founding figures of feminist literary criticism in the US discusses her new book A Jury of Her Peers: American Women Writers from Anne Bradstreet to Annie Proulx. 4.30pm, £9 (£7).

Simon King
The writer, producer, presenter and cameraman of countless nature documentaries talks about a career which has taken him from boiling a badger’s head to withstanding an attack by a rabid cheetah. 6.30pm, £9 (£7).

Spiegelbar Live music and bar in a Highland Park-sponsored traveling ballroom. Sit back, relax, and forget about edifying literature every evening. 9pm, free.

Monday 17

Tony Ross The creator of Horrid Henry heads up an hour of drawing and introduces his new book Big Bad Bun. Ages 4-9. 10am, £4.

Margaret Drabble In her first openly autobiographical novel, one of Britain’s most distinguished novelists discusses the jigsaw of her past and present in The Pattern in the Carpet: A Personal History with Jigsaws. 11.30am, £9 (£7).

AC Grayling The lush-locked philosopher discusses Ideas That Matter in the 21st century, and challenges us all to start contributing to the big philosophical debates. 3pm, £9 (£7).

Carol Ann Duffy If you missed out on the Big Issue event on 15 Aug, you might want to accompany the sprogs to an hour of Lost Happy Endings and other stories and poems from the official national songstress. 5pm, £4.

Iain Banks Another appearance from the Festival stalwart. 6.30pm, £9 (£7).

Tuesday 18

Ten at Ten Ten minute reading to get you up in the morning. Something fresh every day. 10am daily, free.

Tracy Chevalier More historical fiction from Chevalier, this time about Mary Anning, who at the height of the 19th Century vogue for fossils was busy discovering whole ichthyosaurs and plesiosaurs in the cliffs at Lyme Regis. Highly appropriate in the Year Of Our Darwin 150. 11.30am, £9 (£7).

David Reynolds How did Jefferson’s ‘empire of liberty’ become the world’s greatest superpower? David Reynolds unlocks some of the key historical events in the American rise to supremacy. noon, £9 (£7).

Women and Islam What’s the real story about ‘women and Islam’? How fair is it to use an unadulterated language of subjugation and dispossession? Come and hear the different sides of the discussion from a diverse and well-informed panel. 5pm, £9 (£7).

Patrick McCabe & Colm Tóibín Two much-loved chroniclers of small-town Ireland bring their latest novels to the festival. 8.30pm, £9 (£7).

Wednesday 19

Jonathon Green Alter kackers and scuttlebutts from the author of the Chambers Slang Dictionary. One of the more robust flavours of the week’s festivities. 10.30am, £7 (£9).

John O’Donoghue An unsentimental account of mental illness from a poet and author who once spent a decade in and out of psychiatric hospitals, squats, foster houses and homeless shelters. 11am, £9 (£7).

Anthony Giddens The author of The Politics of Climate Change explains why current policy is doomed to abject failure in the fight against climate change, and why the environmentalists have got it wrong too. 1.30pm, £9 (£7).

Lindsey Davis The queen of classical crime fiction talks about the latest adventures of Marcus Didius Falco, this time in Alexandria. Expect few pyramids and little respect for sacred cats. 4pm, £9 (£7).

Kamishibai: Ancient Japanese Storytelling In rural Japan, storytellers used to cycle from village to village bringing stories on illustrated scrolls. Rediscover an old oral tradition in this event for 5-9-year-olds. 4.30pm, £4.

Thursday 20

Nothing But The Poem No need to do any homework beforehand; this relaxed session with Lilias Fraser of the Scottish Poetry Library asks you to look at the text of a single poem and nothing but. 11am, £12 (£10).

Liz Lochhead A generous helping of vim and sass from one of Scotland’s favourite writers. 2pm, £9 (£7).

Tom Holland & Barnaby Rogerson Two accessible historians sweep through a millennium-and-a-bit of Western civilization, going from the death of Christ to the last crusades and beyond in 60 minutes. 2.30pm, £9 (£7).

Joan Bakewell The ever-admirable Dame Bakewell discusses her first novel, All the Nice Girls, the semi-autobiographical story of a wartime girls’ school which ‘adopts’ a merchant navy ship. 3pm, £9 (£7).

Judith Kerr Childhood memories of fleeing Nazi Germany from the author of When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit. Pink Rabbit is still wonderful, and so is Kerr. Age 9+. 5pm, £4.

Alice Albinia & Justine Hardy Albinia traces the religious and political course of the Indus River, while Hardy journeys to the troubled region of Kashmir with evocative portrait of the country as seen through the eyes of the Dar family. 8.30pm, £9 (£7).

See and Box Office: 0845 373 5888

The Golden Hour

Guesting at Ryan Van Winkle's cabaret evening are Edinburgh Makar Ron Butlin, Julia Boll and Ewan Morrison, joined by musicians Yaz Duncan and Rantum Scantum.

A C Grayling

MATTERS OF THE MIND Fundamentalism, environmentalism and bioethics are defining our future, just as Marxism, feminism and existentialism have influenced our present. In Ideas That Matter, A C Grayling asks what we need to know as we move into the 21st century. Passionate, erudite but always accessible, one of our most…

Alexander McCall Smith

Children's event: AGE 6 - 10 Join Alexander McCall Smith as he brings Africa to life through his many enchanting stories including Akimbo and the Baboons. An event the whole family can share.

Alexander McCall Smith

THE HIGHLAND PARK EVENT With twenty million books sold in English alone, and translations in forty three other languages, Alexander McCall Smith is simply a literary phenomenon. Join him in the company of Mma Ramotswe, Bertie Pollock, Isobel Dalhousie and welcome some new friends; sometimes surprising, often hilarious…

Alice Albinia & Justine Hardy

TRAVEL AND ADVENTURE Join two authors as they explore one of the most complex, volatile and beautiful regions of the world. Alice Albinia tells the mesmerising story of the Indus River as it travels from Tibet to Pakistan, sweeping through 2000 miles of geography and more than five millennia of history. Kashmir was once a…

Amnesty International Imprisoned Writers Series

AFRICA Our daily free readings in solidarity with writers facing persecution for their thoughts and words. Today we hear the work of writers in Africa, a continent rich in diverse culture though several of its countries are ravaged by genocide, discrimination and greed. Our featured readers this afternoon include Iain…

Amnesty International Imprisoned Writers Series

BURMA Our daily free readings in solidarity with writers facing persecution for their thoughts and words. Today we hear the work of writers from Burma, a nation oppressed by its military dictatorship, including that of imprisoned National League for Democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi. Our featured readers this afternoon…

Amnesty International Imprisoned Writers Series

EXILE Our daily free readings in solidarity with writers facing persecution for their thoughts and words. Today: work on the theme of exile by authors from countries including Afghanistan and Bangladesh. Our featured readers this afternoon include Yasmin Alibhai-Brown and James Lasdun.:

Amnesty International Imprisoned Writers Series

FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION Our daily free readings in solidarity with writers facing persecution for their thoughts and words. Freedom of expression is essential for a just society, though it is denied to millions of people around the world. Today's work on this theme includes poetry by Chinese prisoner of conscience Shi Tao.

Amnesty International Imprisoned Writers Series

HUMAN DIGNITY Our daily free readings in solidarity with writers facing persecution for their thoughts and words. Demand Dignity is a campaign theme of Amnesty International looking at rights to education, health and housing. Today we hear Iranian, Palestinian and Indian-British writing. Our readers this afternoon include…

Amnesty International Imprisoned Writers Series

JOURNALISTS Our daily free readings in solidarity with writers facing persecution for their thoughts and words. Being a journalist is one of the most dangerous professions in the world. Work by journalists from four countries is featured, including a piece by Sri Lankan editor Lasantha Wickrematunge, who was assassinated…

Amnesty International Imprisoned Writers Series

MEDICAL FOUNDATION FOR THE CARE OF VICTIMS OF TORTURE Our daily free readings in solidarity with writers facing persecution for their thoughts and words. Today we hear the work of the writers group from the Scottish Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture. Our featured readers this afternoon include Ron…

Anthony Giddens

POLITICS AND SOCIETY Can politics-as-usual really tackle climate change? Anthony Giddens, one of the world's most widely cited sociologists, believes not. In The Politics of Climate Change, he argues controversially that the current orthodoxy can't deliver, while the opposing recipes of the green movement are flawed.

Carlos Ruiz Zafón

FINE FICTION The Shadow of the Wind was a publishing phenomenon, the most successful Spanish novel since Don Quixote. With The Angel's Game Carlos Ruiz Zafón returns to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books in a gothic tale of lost souls and literary intrigue. Join us in welcoming Spain's master storyteller to the Book Festival…

Carol Ann Duffy

Children's event: AGE 9+ Carol Ann Duffy's insightful prose and romantic spirit perfectly capture the otherworldly delights of fairy tale magic. Experience The Lost Happy Endings and other stories and poems with this celebrated spinner of tales and our new Poet Laureate. Accompanied by musician John Sampson.

Carol Ann Duffy

THE BIG ISSUE EVENT Carol Ann Duffy is a voice much loved in Charlotte Square: warm and witty, provocative and heart-rending in equal measure. A perennial and hugely popular visitor to the festival, her flair for language is nothing short of breathtaking. Come and be transported by the nation's first female Poet Laureate.

Dambisa Moyo (* Dambisa Moyo CANCELLED*)

AFRICA A provocative look at why aid doesn't work. In the past fifty years, more than one trillion dollars in development-related aid has been transferred from rich countries to Africa. Zambian global economist Dambisa Moyo shows that the lives of Africans are not better as a result, and calls for more innovative ways for…

David Reynolds

AMERICA Thomas Jefferson envisioned the United States as a great 'empire of liberty'. David Reynolds, writer and presenter of the major Radio 4 series on America, takes the phrase as a key to the saga of the country, helping to unlock both its grandeur and its paradoxes. He examines how the anti-empire of 1776 became the…

Elaine Showalter

LITERATURE AND CULTURE One of the pre-eminent figures in feminist literary criticism, Elaine Showalter turns the spotlight on America's women writers from 1650 to the present day. A Jury of her Peers: American Women Writers from Anne Bradstreet to Annie Proulx pulls no punches in sorting the literary wheat from the chaff.

Hilary Spurling

LIVED LIVES Henri Matisse helped make art modern. Hilary Spurling, scholar, traveller and storyteller, revealed how in her hugely acclaimed two volumes of biography. Now she brings them together in the abridged, single-volume Matisse: The Life. The leading biographer shares her insights into the life of one of the 20th…

Iain Banks

THE NATIONAL LIBRARY OF SCOTLAND EVENT Festival favourite Iain Banks slips effortlessly between his two writing personae - mainstream novelist and grand master of science fiction. From family business shenanigans in The Steep Approach to Garbadale to revenge on distant planets in Matter, these tales are the product of one…

Ian Brown, Matt McGuire & Colin Nicholson

CELEBRATING SCOTLAND This year sees the launch of the Edinburgh Companion series, a collection of books capturing some of the best writing on the major figures and movements in Scottish literature. Wonderful guides to give every reader insight and pleasure! This morning, Ian Brown, Matt McGuire and Colin Nicholson discuss…

Joan Bakewell

FINE FICTION Joan Bakewell waited until her mid-seventies before publishing her first novel. All the Nice Girls tells the wartime story of a girls' school that adopts a ship on the Atlantic convoys, with unexpected consequences for all concerned. One of our most distinguished broadcasters explores the conflict between…

John O'Donoghue

LIVED LIVES Poet and author John O'Donoghue was first admitted to Claybury asylum aged sixteen in 1975, just after his mother had been institutionalised. He went on to spend a decade in and out of asylums, halfway houses, therapeutic communities, dosshouses, squats and on the streets. Come and hear his brave and moving…

Jonathon Green

LITERATURE AND CULTURE From wingnut (a person with large, protruding ears) to squirrel-kisser (an environmentalist), the leading lexicographer of slang takes us on a roller-coaster journey through the inventive and seamier side of language featured in Chambers Slang Dictionary.

Judith Kerr

Children's event: AGE 9+ Her enchanting picture books The Tiger Who Came to Tea and Mog the Cat are classics, but Judith Kerr's own life is a fascinating page turner too. Hear all about her childhood escape from Nazi Germany, as originally told in her captivating novel When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit.

Kamishibai: Ancient Japanese Storytelling

Children's event: AGE 5 - 9 In rural Japan, storytellers ride bicycles from village to village using picture scrolls to share tales of adventure. Mio Shapley and Fergus McNicol introduce this bardic tradition of illustrated storytelling using their own kamishibai bike. A unique presentation of some amazing legends.

Lindsey Davis

CRIME FICTION The goddess of Roman crime returns. Ancient history, humour and supreme storytelling crowd the pages of Lindsey Davis's bestselling and unfailingly well-researched work. In her latest, Alexandria, classical sleuth Falco travels to Egypt to investigate a mysterious death in the world famous library.

Liz Lochhead

CELEBRATING SCOTLAND An hour in Liz Lochhead's company is purest bliss and a tonic for the spirit. The poet and dramatist is one of the defining figures of modern Scottish literature: raucous plays, poignant poems, sassy language, a voice filled with vigour and confidence.

Margaret Drabble

MEET THE AUTHOR Soothing or infuriating, the jigsaw is a peculiarly British form of meditation. Margaret Drabble considers the pieces of her past and how they ornament the present in The Pattern in the Carpet: A Personal History with Jigsaws. This is one of our most distinguished authors at her touching and stimulating…

Nothing but the Poem

POETRY WORKSHOP Renew your love of poetry with this fresh approach to reading with Julie Johnstone and Ryan Van Winkle from the Scottish Poetry Library. In this relaxed discussion you won't need any background knowledge; you'll simply come fresh to the text of single poems, take the time to read deeply and let new…

Patrick McCabe & Colm Tóibín

FINE FICTION An immensely welcome return to the Book Festival by two superlative writers who explore small-town Ireland in their latest novels. Colm Tóibín's Brooklyn is a tender story of love and loss as his heroine is summoned home from her new life in the States. The Holy City by Patrick McCabe is the compelling and…

Ruth Padel

WAKE UP TO WORDS: EXPLORING DARWIN Our opening event plunges into the heart of one of our major themes this year: a reassessment of Charles Darwin, and his revolutionary theory that changed our understanding of the world. We start by appraising Darwin the man. Acclaimed poet Ruth Padel is Darwin's…

Simon King

NATURE AND THE ENVIRONMENT In a career that has taken him from deserts to arctic wastes, Simon King's films for TV have captivated millions. His autobiography Wild Life tells how the small boy who kept bits of dead animal in his sock drawer went on to work on Planet Earth, The Blue Planet and Big Cat Diary. One man's life…

Suchen Christine Lim, Simon Tay & Edwin Thumboo

WRITERS FROM SINGAPORE Internationalism is at the heart of our programme and we strive to bring authors to the Book Festival from all corners of the globe. Today, a unique literary occasion: we welcome three of Singapore's finest authors offering a rare opportunity to learn about one of Asia's most dynamic and vibrant…

Ten At Ten

FICTION AND POETRY A perfect literary ten minute reading to start the morning, free, in our lovely Writers' Retreat in the trees. A short story, or poetry - a surprise each day. Check the screen in the Entrance Tent to find out who will be reading today.

Ten at Ten

FICTION AND POETRY A perfect literary ten minute reading to start the morning, free, in our lovely Writers' Retreat in the trees. A short story, or poetry - a surprise each day. Check the screen in the Entrance Tent to find out who will be reading today.

Ten At Ten

FICTION AND POETRY A perfect literary ten minute reading to start the morning, free, in our lovely Writers' Retreat in the trees. A short story, or poetry - a surprise each day. Check the screen in the Entrance Tent to find out who will be reading today.

The Beano

Children's event: AGE 6 - 12 Celebrate one of Scotland's best-loved comics in this interactive retrospective. Former writer Morris Heggie, editor Euan Kerr and illustrator Jim Petrie bring The Beano to life as you've never witnessed before. Together you'll invent a new Beano-inspired character and watch it develop right…

Tom Holland & Barnaby Rogerson

HISTORY In this hour we take a compelling look at the foundation of Western civilisation. Tom Holland's Millennium takes us from the crucifixion to the First Crusade, examining how the power of Western Europe emerged. Barnaby Rogerson documents the battles of the last crusaders; conflicts that were to shape the destinies…

Tracy Chevalier

MEET THE AUTHOR Tracy Chevalier again taps real historical characters as the source for her bestselling fiction; this time Mary Anning, the fossil-obsessed girl who discovered whole Plesiosaurs in the Dorset cliffs. Remarkable Creatures tells how Anning's finds invited people to question the literal truth of the Bible and…

Women and Islam

GUEST DIRECTOR SERIES People who would never dream of suggesting that Christianity is a single faith system, with a uniform set of beliefs and practices, are often quite prepared to believe that Islam is a monolith which uniformly oppresses women. But what is the real story and what does the Quran actually say on the…