Programme Name: Rise of the Clans - TX: 03/12/2018 - Episode: The Bruce Supremacy (No. 1/3) - Picture Shows:  Neil Oliver - (C) BBC Studios - Photographer: ***

TV stars among the guests at Boswell Book Festival

The 9th Boswell Book Festival, the world’s only book festival dedicated to biographies and memoirs held in honour of James Boswell, will run from 10-12 May 2019. 

The Festival will, as ever, bring together a range of writers from around the world to the renowned Dumfries House in Ayrshire with a weekend of discussion and debate.

Boswell Book Festival opens on Friday 10th with broadcaster Kirsty Wark followed by a unique chance to hear one of the best-loved vocalists of his generation Alfie Boe in a particularly intimate performance.

The organisers are delighted to welcome Faiza Hayani Bellili and Leila Hedjem to Scotland. These are two of the contributors of Together – the bestselling community cookbook produced by women affected by the Grenfell Tower tragedy which was supported by HRH The Duchess of Sussex, and they will be talking about the impact of the event on their family, friends and the community.

Through the weekend audiences will also be able to hear from Doddie Weir, Neil Oliver, Susan Calman, Tom Devine, Dame Sue Black, Edinburgh born model and campaigner Eunice Olumide, Kate Williams, Ursula Buchan (talking about her grandfather John), Clare Hunter, Bendor Grosvenor and Ben MacIntyre.  Editor David MacClay will be talking about Dear Mr Murray and seven generations of the Scottish publishing house and its authors.

Professor Bashabi Fraser and journalist Alan Taylor will be without Ahmet Altan marking the publication of his memoir written in prison, in a conversation about imprisoned authors. Rosemary Goring will be putting women back in the nation’s history with her book Scotland Her Story.

Tim Bouverie will be talking about his first book, Appeasing Hitler, in conversation with Lt Col Charles Cameron MC, a witness to the times, who fought at El Alamein with the Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders on Saturday 11 May. Again catching the mood of the times on Sunday Allan Little, Jonathan Fenby and Adam Zamoyski will explore whether world affairs are again at a pivotal moment in history. Allan Little will also be giving the inaugural Boswell Lecture on why war exerts such a magnetic pull on the young.

From Alabama USA Eric Motley, the youngest appointee of the George W. Bush administration, who currently serves as Executive Vice President of the Aspen Institute will appear on Sunday in conversation with James Naughtie. And from the remote West coast of Canada, Joanna Streetly a naturalist guide will talk about life on the edge.

Neil Oliver is coming to the Boswell Book Festival (Photo: BBC Studios)

Music lovers will also enjoy the music of Sir Peter Maxwell Davies and Saturday Night at the Pavilion will see a dramatic performance of comedy gold in Dear Lupin, the letters between a world-weary father to his feckless son.

The Festival is also delighted to announce a new partnership with Pisa Book Festival which continues a centuries-old dialogue between Scotland and Italy bringing with it the anticipation of a deeper understanding between the two nations and their writers. It is therefore with enormous pleasure that the festival welcomes Dacia Maraini, a writer of intense power, and mafia expert Federico Varese while at the same time celebrating the bi-centenary of the publication in Italian  of James Boswell’s bestselling An Account of Corsica.

The popular Children’s Programme this year is delighted to welcome back two Festival favourites Nick Sharatt and Kjartan Poskitt, ‘Mr Murderous Maths’ who alongside Scottish based illustrator, Jill Calder  and bestselling author Vivian French (who is also doing a workshop for those who would like to learn how to write a children’s book) will be entertaining families of all ages.

Director of the Boswell Book Festival Caroline Knox said: ‘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. 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.’

Mairi Kidd, Interim Head of Literature, Languages & Publishing at Creative Scotland added: ‘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 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.’

The Boswell Book Festival is grateful to the following sponsors who help make the event possible: The National Lottery through Creative Scotland, Dumfries House, East Ayrshire Council, Baillie Gifford, RUA Medical, Hillhouse Quarry and The London Review of Books.

The Boswell Book Festival started in 2011 and named after the Ayrshire writer James Boswell, the inventor of modern biography, the Festival is staged by The Boswell Trust. For the first few years the festival was staged at Auchinleck House, the Boswell family seat, and in 2013 moved to the larger Dumfries House.

Full listings can be found at

Tickets for all events are on sale now.