1. Overview

    Boswell Book Festival, the world’s only festival dedicated to biography and memoir, takes place from 10-12 May.

  2. Programme

    Now in its 9th year, Boswell Book Festival will host over 70 events within the stunning grounds of Dumfries House near Cumnock in Ayrshire. An impressive cast of authors will come together over the weekend to deliver a wide range of talks, readings, discussions and debates. Authors include Alfie Boe, Ben Macintyre, Kirsty Wark, Neil Oliver, Jonathan Fenby and Susan Calman.

    This year’s programme, with its eclectic mix of subjects, will allow any visitor to travel in their imagination from the worlds of Beijing to Washington, from Strictly Come Dancing to The Importance of Being Earnest and from Mary Queen of Scots to Napoleon. And even if you left childhood behind long ago, there is nothing more magical than the sight of the readers of the future enraptured by the very best children’s writers and illustrators at work today.

    To find out more about the Boswell Book Festival visit the festival website.

    Dumfries House - home of the Boswell Book Festival.
  3. Ticket Giveaway

    We are offering current Trust subscribers the opportunity to obtain free tickets to a selection of events taking place at the festival. If you would like to request a pair of free tickets to one of these events, please complete our ticket registration form before 4pm on Friday 19 April. Tickets will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis.

    Successful applicants will be contacted by email before Friday 26 April. If you do not receive a confirmation email by this date then you have been unsuccessful on this occasion. All unsuccessful applicants will be on a reserve list for returned tickets.

    The Ticket Giveaway is now closed.


  4. Baillie Gifford Sponsored Events

    Allan Little

    Saturday 11 May 2019, 4.45pm

    In a talk commissioned for the festival, the award-winning BBC Special Correspondent, Allan Little, draws on the conflicts he has witnessed, including the first Gulf War, the break-up of Yugoslavia and the aftermath of the Rwandan Genocide, to talk about the way in which war has fascinated and beguiled the young, and young men in particular – from Rupert Brooke signing up in 1914 with his heart full of the nobility of sacrifice and the redemptive power of mortal risk to those in the conflicts of today.

    Jonathan Fenby, Allan Little and Adam Zamoyski

    Sunday 12 May 2019, 10.30am

    When BBC Special Correspondent Allan Little stood in Wenceslas Square in Prague during the so-called Velvet Revolution of 1989, he remembers thinking, ‘this is one of those moments, one of those pivots on which history turns – and I’m here, witnessing it'. In a discussion drawing on the past to shine light on today, China expert Jonathan Fenby will show how the years 1947–1948 ‘really did change the world,’ seeing the unrolling of the Cold War, the beginning of the end of the British Empire, the creation of the state of Israel and more, all chronicled in his new book Crucible. Adam Zamoyski takes us back to the 1815 Congress of Vienna, as depicted in his Rites of Peace, when the victors over Napoleon carved up Europe, setting the parameters for the two World Wars in the 20th century – bringing the narrative back to the finale of the Cold War, as witnessed by Allan Little in Prague.

    Rosemary Goring

    Sunday 12 May 2019, 3.15pm

    Scotland Her Story is an attempt to put women back into the nation’s story. To this end, novelist and literary editor for The Herald, Rosemary Goring, has had to work like a metal detectorist uncovering the lives of women – over 150 contributors – who until very recently took second place in history, resulting in the loss of half of Scotland’s history. Early exceptions were Mary Queen of Scots and Countess Buchan who crowned Robert the Bruce. From the 16th century, the material becomes richer however, taking in witches, soldiers’ wives, Covenanter martyrs, domestic goddesses and suffragettes to names more familiar today such as Jean Armour, Jane Carlyle, Marie Stopes, Elsie Inglis and Lulu, Jackie Kay, Nicola Sturgeon and Leila Aboulela.

    Eric Motley

    Sunday 12 May 2019, 6.30pm

    Eric Motley’s rise from a small town in Alabama founded by freed slaves after the American Civil War, to the Oval Office where he became the youngest appointee to serve as Special Assistant to President George W Bush, is recounted in Madison Park: A Place of Hope, a moving memoir of how the passion for learning cultivated at a young age enabled a young man with no worldly advantages to realise his potential in the ‘Land of the Free’. The son of adoptive grandparents, Motley grew up amid the tensions of racially charged Alabama, where faith bound the African-American community together. After University at Samford, he was encouraged by professors to apply to the University of St Andrews for graduate study, where he fell in love with Scotland, hiking through the countryside, reciting poetry. Now Eric Motley is executive vice-president of the world-famous think tank, the Aspen Institute, which provides a non-partisan forum for dealing on a national and international level with the global issues facing the United States and her partners across the world.