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Festival shines a light on books and ideas

University staff, students and alumni are joining a celebration of books and ideas at Edinburgh International Book Festival this month.

More than 1000 writers and public thinkers are taking part in the Book Festival which runs from 11 – 27 August in Charlotte Square in Edinburgh.

Celebrating reading

Crime writer and alumnus Ian Rankin and Rachel Hosker from the University’s Centre for Research Collections feature in a panel discussing the role of libraries.

The event marks the 50th birthday of the University’s Main Library.  

James Tait Black Prizes

Two events support How to Read a Novel – a free online course delivered in collaboration with the Book Festival.

These will be followed by the reveal of the University’s James Tait Black Prizes – the UK’s longest running literary awards.

Early literature

Dr Sarah Dunnigan, from Scotland’s Early Literature for Children Initiative (SELCIE), joins Lyn Stevens, Curator at the Museum of Childhood, to discuss creating an exhibition from an archive spanning 200 years of children’s literature.

The life of the formerly enslaved African American activist and author Frederick Douglass and his family are in the spotlight.

Walter Evans, the owner of a major Douglass archive, Professor Celeste-Marie Bernier and Dr Andrew Taylor, both from English Literature, will discuss Douglass’s legacy.

Acclaimed authors

Award-winning writer Ali Smith is presenting a lecture in association with the School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures as part of Muriel Spark 100.

It celebrates the achievements of one of Scotland's finest writers following her centenary year.

Bestselling author Ed Husain features in an event sponsored the University’s Alwaleed Centre and chaired by journalist and broadcaster Ruth Wishart.

Other speakers include acclaimed novelist Yan Lianke who is discussing his new novel The Day the Sun Died at an event supported by the Confucius Institute.

Revered author Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o will discuss tyranny and resistance in association with Edinburgh’s Centre of African Studies.

Claire Askew, writer-in-residence in the University’s School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures, joins the former creative director of London Records and crime writer Alan Parks to discuss crime novels.

Stimulating debate

The theme of gender inequality will be explored by former Government Minister Jo Swinson in association with GenderEd – the University’s online resource for gender and sexuality studies.

The issue of healthy living will be spotlighted by Edinburgh GP and author Gavin Francis; Devi Sridhar, Global Public Health Chair at the University; and writer Daniel Gray.

Scotland’s pre-eminent historian Sir Tom Devine, an Edinburgh Emeritus Professor, is presenting a lecture based on his co-edited book New Scots: Scotland's Immigrant Communities Since 1945.

Elsewhere Mike Boyd, from uCreate Digital Studio at the University, explores how to present book scenes in virtual reality. Ruthanne Baxter, Museums Services Manager at the University, examines the theme of so-called music rooms in novels.

‘Creativity for Breathing’, an event by the Medical Research Council Centre for Inflammation Research, explores people’s experiences of lung disease.

Other events include ‘Sri Lanka: Understanding the Past, Finding its Future’, and ‘Freedom Debate: Gender in India and Pakistan’, both supported by the Centre for South Asian Studies.

Book Conservation

The University Collections are being showcased in two events.

These are focusing on Edinburgh’s collection of astronomy books, and an introduction to book conservation.

The Book Festival in Edinburgh is an unbeatable place for meeting inspiring people and sharing big ideas. This year’s programme brings together writers whose experiences will truly change our way of looking at the world.

Nick BarleyDirector of the Edinburgh International Book Festival

Related links

Edinburgh International Book Festival

School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures

How to Read a Novel MOOC