Booklovers beat a path to Scotland’s book town

Leading journalist Gavin Esler to present the 2017 Magnusson Lecture.
Leading journalist Gavin Esler to present the 2017 Magnusson Lecture.

The Wigtown Book Festival starts today (Friday, September 22) – with ten times as many tickets already sold than there are local residents.

Scotland’s Book Town will welcome leading writers, poets, historians, journalists, academics, musicians, photographers and many others to take part in a vibrant event which runs from September 22 to October 1.

Visitors will have the chance to hear leading writers of adult, young people’s and children’s fiction and also to be present at debates that cover everything from the major events shaping the world today – to what would have happened had the Jacobites won?

There’s also plenty for those who love the comic and the quirky. Richard Littler will be making his first ever appearance to talk about Discovering Scarfolk – his fictional town in north-west England that never progressed beyond 1979. It’s a place where pagan rituals blend seamlessly with science, the priority is keeping rabies at bay, and everyone must be in bed by 8pm because they are perpetually running a slight fever.

Nikki Welch and Blair Bowman will take their audience on a sensuous journey around the Whisky Tube Map. Follow the Intrepid Line to the spirit’s geographical extremes, hop on a ferry to the island of Outliers or luxuriate on the Decadent Line.

Meanwhile dairy farmer Rosamund Young will reveal The Secret Life of Cows and that they are a lot more like humans than we think!

The Magnusson Lecture, sponsored by The Open University, is a centrepiece of the festival. They commemorate the life of the academic and broadcaster Magnus Magnusson. This year sees former Newsnight presenter Gavin Esler discuss the collapse of trust in government and the use of simplistic stories by populist leaders to stir up support.

Esler fears that “The Trust Gap” that has developed in Western democracies and across the world are putting our collective futures in peril. The time has come, he argues, to fight back against those who defend “alternative facts” as anything other than lies and misrepresentations and to defend rational values.

Full festival details from