Giles Wood and Mary Killen from Gogglebox
Giles Wood and Mary Killen from Gogglebox

Dame Judi Dench to headline Boswell Book Festival

Dame Judi Dench will headline Scotland’s biography and memoir festival.

Running at Dumfries House, in East Ayrshire, the eighth Boswell Book Festival will host a series of events, running from 4-6 May, in the world’s only literary festival marking memoir and biography.

It is named after James Boswell, whose family had settled in Auchinleck since the sixteenth century.

Boswell became friends with Dr Samuel Johnson – compiler of the definitive dictionary of the English language – and would later become his biographer.

The account of his life, published 222 years ago this May, has never been out of print. His Life of Johnson established him as the inventor of modern biography.

Dame Judi Dench, star of stage and screen will open the eighth edition of the Boswell Book Festival 2018 on Friday 4 May. Her audience will be treated to a first hand account of her remarkable career in conversation with Glasgow Citizens Theatre director Dominic Hill.

Festival director Caroline Knox said: ‘How James Boswell, who delighted in the theatre, would have approved of the presence of the great Dame Judi Dench to open the festival celebrating his life and achievements as a writer.

Giles Wood and Mary Killen from Gogglebox

‘Dame Judi’s Opening Night appearance launches a treasure trove of talks and activities for every age over the Festival weekend.

‘Now in our eighth year, this is the most ambitious programme yet, spilling over with riches and diversity from poets, cartoonists, intrepid reporters and courageous women to obsessive monarchs, war veterans and professional TV watchers – and with speakers and audience rubbing shoulders, I predict that creative sparks will fly as the power of the written word is let loose in one of Scotland’s great Enlightenment houses.’

Dame Judi’s Friday evening talk will be recorded and screened at 10am on Saturday 5 May, after which she will hold a book signing session.

This year, other attendees include:

Anthony Horowitz, worldwide bestselling author on his life and the challenges of writing tales of mystery from Midsomer Murders to Sherlock Holmes and on to James Bond.

Sally Magnusson, BBC presenter delves into her Icelandic roots to tell the true story of pirates and slavery in one of Iceland’s greatest sagas.

Matthew Parris, charismatic presenter of BBC Radio 4’s Great Lives, renowned commentator and broadcaster, tells us what he thinks makes a ‘great’ life.

Helen Pankhurst, women’s rights activist and great-granddaughter of suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst joins the cast both to mark and reflect on the 100th year since women got the vote.

Alexander McCall Smith, celebrates the 20th year since the publication of his No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series which has sold over 20 million copies in English only, and discusses his life and his fascination for W H Auden.

Anthony Horowitz has written for legendary literary characters including Sherlock Holmes and James Bond

Cardinal Vincent Nichols discusses his life and work from his fight against human trafficking and slavery to his passion for sacred music, in conversation with composer Sir James MacMillan.

Maggie O’Farrell, Costa Novel Award Winner reveals a whole life in tense snapshots of seventeen of her own brushes with death.

Mary Killen and Giles Wood from TV’s Gogglebox will appear, having written the book The Diary of Two Nobodies, which features a year in their lives.

Caroline continued: ‘This is our biggest most ambitious, and star-studded programme in the eight years of the Festival. It is brimming with life stories that span a Dame, a Yogi, a Cardinal and a Rapper, a mix which would have delighted Ayrshire’s James Boswell, the inventor of modern biography.

‘Once again, Dumfries House is the welcoming backdrop to the weekend where I predict creative sparks with fly as the power of the written word is let loose in one of Scotland’s great Enlightenment Houses.

‘Turning our attention to future generations of readers and thinkers is always very high on our agenda and as usual our Children’s Festival places great emphasis on leading children to books over two action-packed days.

‘There is a talk for all tastes at the Festival as well as free activities and of course the Royal Drawing School sessions. Falling on the May Bank Holiday, what better place for a holiday outing? Tickets are on sale from today, for all ages.’

Tickets are available HERE or by calling 01563 554 900.