Lennoxlove Book Festival line-up announced

SIR Chris Bonington will pay tribute to John Muir, the father of the environmental movement and founder of America’s national parks, in a lecture at the Lennoxlove Book Festival, whose programme was announced yesterday.

Alistair Moffat, Festival Director, and author Neil Francis look through this year's programme. Picture: Neil Hanna
Alistair Moffat, Festival Director, and author Neil Francis look through this year's programme. Picture: Neil Hanna

Britain’s most eminent mountaineer will also celebrate the role Scotland’s countryside has played in his career as part of a festival that includes Jeremy Paxman and Patsy Kensit.

The new lecture is in honour of one of East Lothian’s most famous sons ahead of his centenary year in 2014, and has the theme of “Scotland’s wild places”.

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The fifth Lennoxlove Book Festival, sponsored by personal investment managers McInroy & Wood, runs 1-3 November at Lennoxlove House in Haddington, East Lothian. Among the highlights will be Kirsty Wark talking about her favourite books and Alan Johnson, the former home secretary, on his poverty-stricken childhood.

Crime fiction will also feature prominently with guests including BBC Radio 4’s Mark Lawson talking about his new satirical crime novel, Chris Brookmyre and Scotland’s godfather of crime, William McIlvanney.

John Lloyd, Jon Canter, John Sessions and Rory Bremner will also be attending.

Yesterday, Sir Chris said of his forthcoming visit: “I am looking forward to coming to this year’s Lennoxlove Book Festival to talk about my own personal experience exploring the Scottish Highlands. To me, it is a place of incredible natural beauty.”

The festival will also be hosting, for the first time, the Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust Book Awards, worth £30,000 and Scotland’s largest literary prize.

Other events in the popular Family Book Festival will feature favourite children’s characters and story-tellers. Lauren St John, bestselling author of The White Giraffe and The Elephant’s Tale, will be talking about growing up in Zimbabwe, animal stories and her work with the Born Free Foundation.

Vivian French, Lari Don, Sally Magnusson and Chae Strathie will be returning to entertain children of all ages with their latest books.

Alistair Moffat, festival director, said: “The fifth Lennoxlove Book Festival bursts with life and vigour, offering something for everyone, from history to fiction, cookery to politics, and plenty of humour in between.”

Victor Wood, chairman of lead sponsor McInroy & Wood said: “What a pleasure and privilege it has been these past five years to have helped bring this festival to our midst – a pleasure we are eager to share with all who will join us again this year.”

The pick of the lecturers at Lennoxlove

• Kirsty Wark

The Newsnight presenter is a devoted reader and soon to be an author – her first novel is published next year. At Lennoxlove she will talk about books that changed her life.

• Jeremy Paxman

Next year sees the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War, which is the presenter’s subject.

• William McIlvanney

McIlvanney, a giant of Scottish literature, will talk about his character detective Jack Laidlaw and how it changed the tone of the entire genre.

• Alan Johnson

The former home secretary has written a remarkable memoir of a childhood of almost Dickensian poverty amid the London slums of the 1950s.

• Patsy Kensit

As a child actress the star of Holby City and Emmerdale played alongside Elizabeth Taylor and Mia Farrow. She has also starred in a number of major films, but she concealed a turbulent family life: a father with a criminal record and a mother battling cancer.