Starkey in enemy territory

18/08/09Edinburgh International Book Festival 2009  Raj Persaud & Menzies Campbell. Pic Neil Hanna
18/08/09Edinburgh International Book Festival 2009 Raj Persaud & Menzies Campbell. Pic Neil Hanna

HISTORIAN David Starkey, best known north of the Border for his attacks on Scotland, is among the internationally acclaimed writers attending literary festival Borders, Books and Bikes this August.

He will discuss Great Britain and the monarchy, as well as his well-documented comments which described Scotland as a “feeble little country”.

Starkey, 66, will be joined by a host of other well known names at Traquair House.

Jonathan Powell, Tony Blair’s closest aide during his ten years as prime minister, is in conversation with former Scotsman editor Magnus Linklater on how to win and keep power.

Historian William Dalrymple will chat with Des Brown about British rule during the 19th and 21st centuries in Afghanistan, while Pakistani poet Fatima Bhutto and journalist Rashed Rahman are due to talk about the trials of their home country.

Comedian and activist Mark Thomas will recall his recent walk along the length of the seperation wall in Palestine in a discussion during a stroll around the hills at Traquair.

Others set to appear are journalist and TV presenter Mariella Frostrup, BBC News presenter Allan Little, former Liberal Democrat leader Sir Menzies Campbell, civil rights lawyer Gareth Peirce, former UN diplomat Sir Kieran Prendergast and Borders writer Allan Massie.

There is a range of other events such as Selkirk actor John Nichol telling stories as he cycles to Traquair.

Mark Cousins will curate short films to be screened upstairs at Traquair, an exhibition of sculpture from Scotland and Zimbabwe will be hosted in the grounds, and there will be a retrospective exhibition of Borders artist Caroline McNairn, who died last year.

The festival is the brainchild of Mark Muller Stuart QC and his wife Catherine and is part of the Beyond Borders programme which runs throughout August.

Mark said: “I believe Scotland can act as a cultural beacon to other small nations, particularly those emerging from conflict.

“We invite you to join a remarkable group of Scottish and international writers as they beguile you with tales from around the world in the stunning scenery and heritage of the Borders.”

Tickets for the August 20 and 21 festival are priced from £8. For more information visit or phone 01896 830823.