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Tickets for the 2024 Boswell Book Festival

Main festival events will be live at Dumfries House with the exception of Rory Stewart and Esther Rutter on Friday. Tickets range from £10 to £12.

Children’s festival events are live at the weekend and cost £3, or £2 for KA18 postcode addresses.

Events in the main venues will also be live-streamed.

Online tickets are £5 per event or £35 for a Rover Pass giving access to all online events.

You will receive the links needed to access online events via the e-ticket that will be emailed to you.

Rose Reilly with Louise Baillie (17:30 BST)

Fri

5:30 PM

Rose Reilly with Louise Baillie (17:30 BST)

An exclusive event for all the family. Age 7+

With the success of the Lionesses having changed the map for women’s football forever, come and hear the legendary Ayrshire footballer Rose Reilly MBE, the only Scottish person to have won a football World Cup.

Despite her early and obvious skills on the park she was barred from playing football with the boys at school, and so took to disguising herself as a boy called 'Ross'.

During the 1960s and 1970s it was unheard of for a woman to be a successful football player in Scotland, so at just 17, Rose moved abroad to become a professional footballer with Reims in France before moving to AC Milan where, in 1983 she scored the winning goal in the Women's World Cup final which gave Italy the title over the United States of America, and was voted the world’s best female footballer. Rose also represented Scotland at international level.

Louise Baillie’s new book Spectacular Scottish Women tells the story of 30 inspirational women including poet Jackie Kay, percussionist Evelyn Glennie and Rose Reilly herself.

In conversation with Louise Baillie



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Jackie Kay (18:00 BST)

Fri

6:00 PM

Jackie Kay (18:00 BST)

May Day is the long-awaited new collection from one of our best-loved poets and former Makar of Scotland, Jackie Kay. As the title suggests, these poems cast an eye over several decades of political activism, from the international solidarity of the Glasgow of Kay’s childhood, accompanying her parents’ Socialist campaigns, through the feminist, LGBT+ and anti-racist movements of the 80s and 90s, up to the present day when a global pandemic intersects with the urgency of Black Lives Matter.

Kay brings to life a cast of influential figures, delving beneath the surfaces of received narratives: the Jamaican model Fanny Eaton, for example, muse of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood in England; Paul Robeson, Angela Davis and the poet Audre Lorde; and a ‘what-if’ poem concerning Rabbie Burns and a road-not-taken towards the West Indian slave trade. Woven through the collection is a suite of lyric poems concerning the recent losses of Kay’s parents: poems of grief and profound change that are infused with the light of love and celebration.

In conversation with Sheena McDonald



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Rory Stewart Pre-recorded via Videolink (18:00 BST)

Fri

6:00 PM

Rory Stewart Pre-recorded via Videolink (18:00 BST)

Rory Stewart's pre-recorded interview. BBC’s Allan Little will introduce this recorded interview on the festival stage.

In his best-selling book, Politics On The Edge, Rory Stewart relates how over the course of a decade as an MP, he went from being a political outsider to becoming an effective government minister to standing for prime minister - before being sacked from a Conservative Party that he had come to barely recognise. Stewart learned at first-hand how hollow our democracy and government had become as individual politicians laid the foundations for today’s political and economic chaos.

Grounded in his earlier careers as a Scottish soldier, diplomat, travel writer, philanthropist and international academic, he talks with wisdom and approachability – familiar to his thousands of followers on-line including from his co-hosted podcast The Rest is Politics – on our era of populism and global conflict offering sanity and empathy in a disputatious age.




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Esther Rutter Pre-recorded via Videolink (19:30 BST)

Fri

7:30 PM

Esther Rutter Pre-recorded via Videolink (19:30 BST)

Esther Rutter’s pre-recorded interview with Susan Mansfield

William and Dorothy Wordsworth are an essential element in this powerful memoir of recovery from mental illness.

In her early twenties, Esther Rutter suffered a breakdown while teaching English in Japan. Sectioned and held in a Japanese psychiatric institution until she could be flown home, her recovery only began when she went to live and work in the Lake District, becoming immersed in the realm of the great poet William Wordsworth.

As an intern at Dove Cottage, Wordsworth’s home, at first Rutter finds the landscape itself alien and intimidating, and lurking among those hills is the fear of a regression into her mental illness. Slowly, she sets about drawing together from her surroundings the threads of her personal story, recovery, and the legacy of the Wordsworth siblings who brought her there.

Her search for a sense of belonging intertwined with the stories of the Wordsworths and the Dove Cottage community culminated in lifelong bonds of friendship, and – finally – love.




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About the Boswell Book Festival

The world’s only festival of biography and memoir, normally set in the spectacular grounds of Dumfries House, draws an enthusiastic audience attracted by its unique theme.

Inspired by the great Ayrshire biographer James Boswell of Auchinleck, at the heart of the Festival is a programme of stories taken from the inspirational lives of people past and present - told through talks, drama, art and music.

Find out more and view highlights

Children's Festival

Why is it so important to children to tell our stories?

Stories connect the past and present to the future and learning these stories is what can awaken future generations to their potential.

Through the Festival, the Boswell Trust engages with primary and secondary schools across Ayrshire and beyond.

Find out more and view highlights

If you wish to support the festival going forwards, please use the donate button.

Donate

We are indebted to all who have supported the Boswell Book Festival over the past ten years in so many different ways. It is only with the help of so many loyal supporters that the Festival has achieved recognition as a cultural event of national importance.