Media release: Dame Judi Dench to take centre stage at Boswell Book Festival 2018


DAME Judi Dench, star of stage and screen will open the eighth edition of the Boswell Book Festival 2018 – the biggest and most ambitious Festival ever! Her audience will be treated to a first-hand account of her remarkable career in conversation with Glasgow Citizens Theatre director, Dominic Hill.

Dame Judi’s Friday evening talk will be recorded and screened at 10am on Saturday 5th May, after which she will hold a book signing session.

Sharing the limelight…

Anthony Horowitz, worldwide bestselling author on his life and the challenges of writing tales of mystery from Midsomer Murders to Sherlock Holmes and on to Bond!

Sally Magnusson, BBC presenter delves into her Icelandic roots to tell the true story of pirates and slavery in one of Iceland’s greatest sagas.

Matthew Parris, charismatic presenter of BBC Radio 4’s Great Lives, renowned commentator and broadcaster, tells us what he thinks makes a ‘great’ life.

Helen Pankhurst, women’s rights activist and great-granddaughter of suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst joins the cast both to mark and reflect on the 100th year since women got the vote.

Alexander McCall Smith, celebrates the 20th year since the publication of his No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series which has sold over 20 million copies in English only, and discusses his life and his fascination for W H Auden

Cardinal Vincent Nichols discusses his life and work from his fight against human trafficking and slavery to his passion for sacred music, in conversation with composer Sir James MacMillan.

Maggie O’Farrell Costa Novel Award winner reveals a whole life in tense snapshots of seventeen of her own brushes with death.

Biography goes visual

Michael Heath – legendary cartoonist

Speaking at his first UK festival with a career of 60 years in Fleet Street, from Punch to Private Eye (Great Bores of Today) to The Spectator, Heath’s observational genius started with his dysfunctional Marxist parents.

Giles and Mary from Channel 4’s Gogglebox

Are you sitting comfortably? Hilarious switched-on couple, Giles Wood and Mary Killen, dare to head north from their cosy Wiltshire fastness to reveal how a 30-year long marriage manages to survive when a man who sees himself as a cross between Mr Bean and Basil Faulty shares his life with a woman who identifies with the Queen.

The Royal Collection – Life Passion and Power

Michael Hall, special adviser to the BBC4 TV series was given unprecedented access to the royal residencies. His book Art, Passion and Power records the taste and obsessions of Kings and Queen from William the Conqueror to Elizabeth II and how over time they used the arts to strengthen their position as rulers by divine rights.

Also treading the boards…

Jackie Kay, Andrew O’Hagan, Judy Murray, WW2 Veterans of the Arctic Convoys, Four Mums in a Boat, Chris Mullin, Darren McGarvey plus the intriguing prospect of Kilted Yoga with Finlay Wilson – seated stretches included.

Quote from Festival director, Caroline Knox: “This is our biggest most ambitious, and star-studded programme in the eight years of the Festival. It is brimming with life stories that span a Dame, a Yogi, a Cardinal and a Rapper, a mix which would have delighted Ayrshire’s James Boswell, the inventor of modern biography.

“Once again, Dumfries House is the welcoming backdrop to the weekend where I predict creative sparks with fly as the power of the written word is let loose in one of Scotland’s great Enlightenment Houses.

“Turning our attention to future generations of readers and thinkers is always very high on our agenda and as usual our Children’s Festival places great emphasis on leading children to books over two action-packed days.

“There is a talk for all tastes at the Festival as well as free activities and of course the Royal Drawing School sessions. Falling on the May Bank Holiday, what better place for a holiday outing TICKETS ON SALE THURSDAY 15 MARCH for all ages.”


Children’s Festival 5-6 May 2018

Engineering Centre: Dumfries House, 


Two days packed with talks and FREE activities for all the family 

Travel with us from the Big Bang to our planet today, through prehistoric times meeting a gang of tinyteeny dinosaurs, encountering Julius Zebra and his gladiator friends, a spooky sorceress, nail-biting heroes and more.

This journey of spellbinding facts and glorious fantasy explodes in a showboat programme of funny, compelling and inspirational tales from leading children’s authors.

Also on show will be a display of the new ‘Book Trail’ created by primary pupils in Auchinleck and Ochiltree which is planned to run from Auchinleck Library to Dumfries House with the Trail’s mascot, Boswell’s greyhound, in the lead.

At the heart of the Children’s Festival:

Nicola Davies, prize-winning author, zoologist and former presenter of BBC’s The Really Wild Show who takes ‘Poo’ as one of her subjects  – probably the most useful stuff on Earth!

Anthony Horowitz, creator of the number one bestselling Alex Rider novels, wrote his first book at the age of ten and has gone on to thrill his young readers with great plots and wickedly funny tales such as Granny and Groosham Grange.

Gary Northfield, comic book genius, who has space travelling ladybirds, Ninja hedgehogs and an insect orchestra waiting to keep you entertained.

Christopher Lloyd unfolds history and science in a way that has never been seen before with his giant visual timelines.

Vivian French MBE

WINNER of the Scottish Book Trust Outstanding Achievement Award 2018

Much-loved author, Vivian French returns.And she needs help with her next adventure for reluctant hero Alfie Onion!  Chae Strathie and illustrator-in-residence Eilidh Muldoon, join her for a Festival Finale of Story Consequences

With Waterstones Children’s Bookshop, author signings, nearby Café and FREE inter-active activities including Owl Magic. Don’t miss out on a fun-packed weekend.

Sponsors: Boswell Book Festival 2018

The festival thanks all our sponsors without whose help this major festival could not exist. Particular thanks are due to East Ayrshire Council, Dumfries House, Baillie Gifford and once again this year, to Creative Scotland:

Sasha de Buyl, Creative Scotland Literature Officer, said: “Ayrshire’s Boswell Book Festival goes from strength to strength. Featuring Scotland’s burgeoning non-fiction writing talent, the country’s finest authors and appearances by the likes of Dame Judi Dench and Helen Pankhurst, the Festival offers captivating and inspiring insights into a multitude of lives lived and experiences gained. In addition, the two-day children’s programme promises fun activities – many free – and compelling tales from leading children’s authors including Anthony Horowitz, Vivian French and Gary Northfield.”

Notes for editors

Festival Practicalities

Location: Dumfries House, Cumnock, Ayrshire, KA18 2NJ

Directions: /Location/

Tickets: Main Author Talks: £9 £67 (c)

Children’s/Families: £2  (Under twos who do not need a seat are free)

Some free events for all ages of child

Online at:

Box Office: 01563 554 900

In person: Cumnock Town Hall & Waterstones, High Street, Ayr

(A few events vary slightly in price)

Full details & ONLINE BOOKING:

Book signing: Authors will sign books immediately after their talk in either the venue itself or the Café/Bookshop.

Booksellers: Waterstones of Ayr will run the Festival Bookshop from the Café/Bookshop Marquee

Catering: On site: Festival Café Bar, Woodlands Restaurant, Coach House Café

Parking: There is parking on the Dumfries House Estate. Access to Dumfries House is from the A70 Ayr/Cumnock or Cummnock/Ayr direction. There is only ONE entrance to the Festival, marked ‘Dumfries House Cars Only.’

The Boswell Trust: The Boswell Book Festival is an event inaugurated and staged by The Boswell Trust a charity registered in Scotland that is established for the promotion of heritage, literary arts and education, specifically the restoration of James Boswell’s mausoleum in Auchinleck churchyard and the creation of a visitor attraction in the adjoining Boswell aisle.

More information on the Boswell Trust:

Trustees: James Knox (chair), Peter Kennerley, Margaret Boswell Elliot, Caroline Knox, Gillian Watson and Dr. William Zachs

For photographs, author interviews, more information, books etc. please contact:

Carol Carr PR:

Marketing and PR – Boswell Book Festival


T: 01988 700 974   M: 07766 754 877


@bozzyfest   Facebook

Further information – Dame Judi Dench award history

Dame Judi Dench Academy Award, a Tony, four television BAFTA Awards, six film, and seven Laurence Olivier Awards. She holds the record for most acting majors across all six American and British events, winning eighteen and receiving fifty-two nominations. Other significant awards include two Golden Globe Awards, two Screen Actors Guild Awards, and ten critics awards. Overall in her career to date, she has won 55 competitive awards from 203 nominations. She has also received ten honorary awards, including the lifetime achievement Special Olivier Award and the BAFTA Fellowship.

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