Our book reviewer, Dawn Geddes, enjoys a day out at the world’s only festival of biography and memoir! Tag along for the ride…
Being a book worm can be isolating at times. After all, the very nature of the beastie sees us spending most of our time alone with our head in a book! As much as I love reading, it’s sometimes nice to get outside and be with ‘real’ people. And there’s no better place to go than one of Scotland’s amazing literary festivals.
This month, I had the pleasure of visiting the Boswell Book Festival. James Boswell was, in fact, the inventor of modern biography. And this three-day extravaganza took over the stunning grounds of Dumfries House in Ayrshire.
After arriving early with a child or four in tow, first stop was the children’s section. Illustrator and author Nick Sharratt was there to talk about his latest picture book Animal Pants. He delighted the young audience with stories, rhymes and many hilarious illustrations of pants!
Then I headed off to the main part of the festival which takes place in and around Dumfries House itself. I tend to opt for fiction at book festivals. However, with so many wonderful biography and memoir authors on offer, I stepped out of my comfort zone. And I’m glad I did.
First up was a talk from bestselling historian, broadcaster and royal expert Kate Williams. She discussed her stunning book, Rival Queens, for a fascinating hour. It’s a wonderful exploration of Mary Queen of Scots: her complicated relationship with Elizabeth I, her imprisonment and her harrowing execution.
I tend to opt for fiction at book festivals. However, with so many wonderful biography and memoir authors on offer, I stepped out of my comfort zone. And I’m glad I did.
The theme of death, followed me right into the next Q&A. Forensic anthropologist, Sue Black, talked about her gripping memoir, All That Remains. This was the first time I’d listened to Sue talk. I found her stories horrifying, thrilling and compelling in equal measure. She was definitely the highlight of the festival for me.
My last event of the day was with Matthew Sturgis. He discussed his book Oscar, A Life, which features recently uncovered material on Wilde’s life. This actually includes the transcript of his trial. It was brilliant to hear Sturgis’ reveal the stories behind some of Oscar’s wittiest and most memorable quotes.
What a wonderful and fascinating day! By the time I left, my head was buzzing with new found knowledge, and my TBR (to be read list) had doubled in size!
If you love stepping back into the past or jumping into brand new exciting worlds, then Boswell Book Festival is the literary event for you.
For further information about Boswell Book Festival, click here.