Book Festival reveals stellar literary line-up

Joanna Lumley
Joanna Lumley

STARS of British literature will jostle with famous television faces when they gather for the 10th Brewin Dolphin Borders Book Festival.

Harmony Garden in Melrose is again the setting for the annual literary extravaganza and among this year’s highlights, running from June 13 to 16, will be appearances by actresses Joanna Lumley and Phyllida Law, golf legend Peter Alliss, Scotland Street author Alexander McCall Smith, former spymaster Dame Stella Rimington and legendary Scottish wordsmith, William McIlvanney, making his festival debut.

The ever-popular Tom Conti and festival favourite John Sessions will also be on hand, along with the doyenne of the historical fiction genre, double-Booker Prize winner Hilary Mantel.

Lumley will even feature in a unique festival special, when she joins stage luminaries David Robb and Briony McRoberts in a unique performance of Sir Walter Scott’s The Lay of the Last Minstrel.

From the world of fiction, McCall Smith will join by Kate Mosse and A.N. Wilson, while in the non-fiction arena, television history presenter Neil Oliver will speak on the Vikings, while Richard Holloway and scientist Frank Close will debate the relationship between science and faith.

As ever, food and drink are near the top of the 
festival menu, with food ­writer Claire Macdonald and two ­iconic programmes will be ­reincarnated in the form of Melrose Mastermind and Harmony Gardeners’ Question Time.

And younger readers are especially well catered for with Lauren Child and Francesca Simon, Stoneheart author Charlie Fletcher and Astrosaurs author Steve Cole, plus master of horror Darren Shan bringing zombies to Harmony House Gardens.

Excitment is also already building on who will be the fourth winner of the £25,000 Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction.

Festival director Alistair Moffat says the past decade has mushroomed into a major attraction that pulled in 13,000 people last year.

“Our sponsors help us make it happen. But it is the authors who have made it sing,” said Mr Moffat.

“We couldn’t have hoped for a more diverse, starry and topical cast of stars to help us celebrate the 10 years, than those in this year’s programme.”

The Southern Reporter is media sponsor for the festival.