Lennoxlove Book Festival begins today

Alistair Moffat, Festival Director and Author Neil Francis look through this years programme. Picture: Neil Hanna
Alistair Moffat, Festival Director and Author Neil Francis look through this years programme. Picture: Neil Hanna
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A BOOK festival in an historic East Lothian country house opens this evening with a talk by mountaineer Sir Chris Bonington.

More than 50 authors will appear at the fifth Lennoxlove Book Festival this weekend with a mixture of fiction and non-fiction events.

Highlights include talks by scientist Richard Dawkins, news anchor Jeremy Paxman and comedian and satirist Rory Bremner, who will turn his focus on the Scottish Parliament.

Novelists Maggie O’Farrell, Kate Mosse, Christopher Brookmyre and William McIlvanney are among those taking part in the event at Lennoxlove House near Haddington in East Lothian.

Non-fiction events include BBC Radio 4’s James Naughtie on Barack Obama, politician Lord Hurd on Benjamin Disraeli and a wine-tasting session with Helen McGinn, author of The Knackered Mother’s Wine Club.

Festival director Alistair Moffat said: “This year, hand on heart, we can honestly say there is something for everyone to enjoy at Lennoxlove: brilliant fiction, history, politics, comedy, wine, food and even golf!

“It’s a great family day-out, where books and reading truly come alive. There is nothing like it!”

Sir Chris will open the event with a personal appreciation of Scotland’s wild places when he gives the John Muir Lennoxlove Lecture this evening, marking the Year of Natural Scotland 2013.

Tomorrow and Sunday there will be ticketed events for families throughout the day, including Lauren St John, Sally Gardner and Sally Magnusson as well as free activities for children including Bookbug Rhyme and Storytime Sessions provided by East Lothian Libraries, a Where’s Wally-spotting competition, and circus skills workshops in the grounds of the house.

Organisers said that there are still tickets available for most events.

Councillor John McMillan, spokesman for economic development and tourism at East Lothian Council, said: “Lennoxlove has gone from strength to strength and is now established as one of the best festivals, not just in East Lothian, but in Scotland.

“We are delighted to have been involved in establishing such a prestigious event here and I’m sure visitors will enjoy listening to some really high-profile authors in the stunning setting of Lennoxlove House.”

The results of the Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust Book Awards will be announced tomorrow, revealing the £30,000 prize winner as voted for by the public.

The shortlisted books are Close Your Eyes by Ewan Morrison (fiction), Empire Antarctica by Gavin Francis (non-fiction), Small World by Richard Price (poetry) and Tony Hogan Bought Me An Ice-Cream Float Before He Stole My Ma by Kerry Hudson (first book).

The festival is sponsored by personal investment managers McInroy & Wood and East Lothian Council with support from Creative Scotland and Year of Natural Scotland 2013 through EventScotland, as well as chartered accountants Springfords, Queen Margaret University and, for the first time, Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust.