Wigtown Book Festival

By Laurie Atterbury

Every year in the coastal village of Wigtown, authors and book enthusiasts descend for ten days of talks and events at one of Scotland’s largest literary conventions. It’s September 2014, and this year two lucky Hurtwood Press employees made the journey beyond the border to visit the festival and find new mediums and methods of expression within books. 

 

Continuing to flourish

Wigtown was once the chief town of Galloway, it was a bustling market community in the south west of Scotland. It’s strategic position on the river gave considerable commercial potential as the key point through which trade travelled in the region. Wigtown is also remembered in infamy for the martyr burnings of the seventeenth century, when ‘covenanters’ rejected the right of the King to call himself the head of the church. 

Since then, Wigtown has seen a fall in martyr burnings as well as market trade. The introduction of the rail system did not favour the town and caused a general decline over the course of the twentieth century. In 1997 however, the town was chosen as Scotland’s National Book Town and as such has begun to flourish once more. Now in it’s eighteenth year, the festival is renowned as a resource for many weird and wonderful authors and artists to talk about their works and trade.

 

Here are a few of our favourite featured books

What the Fuck is Normal? by Francesca Martinez

TV comedian Francesca Martinez’s new book focuses on the impact of a society obsessed with image and her own experience with self-acceptance. My only qualm with this talk would be the slight hypocrisy of crying out against consumerism and then asking people to come to the back of the hall and buy your books!

The Boy in the Book by Nathan Penlington 

Writer, poet and magician Nathan Penlington pieces together the life of a little boy through a series of choose your own adventure books. This charming story reignites something of everyone’s childhood and the insecurities and escapism that can be found there.

First Impressions by Lisa Hooper

Career conservationist-cum-printer Lisa Hooper’s love affair with birds in displayed through many printing techniques. In part an instruction manual, in part a book of poetry and in part a book of art, this was one of our personal favourites as Lisa shows the value of printing as a method of artistic merit.

The Strongman: Vladimir Putin by Angus Roxburgh

The history of Russia is littered with powerful, centralist leaders and Putin is no exception. Angus Roxburgh’s book tries to help us understand the methods and motivations of “The Strongman” against the backdrop of current social and political affairs in Russia and internationally. Roxburgh has literally been hired as part of a Putin PR campaign, so there may be an angle to his work, but in his talk he did not shy away from the brutal tactics employed by Putin and simply refrained from judgement over their implementation.

Do No Harm: Stories of Life, Death and Brain Surgery by Henry Marsh.

Neurosurgeon Henry Marsh has one of the most difficult jobs in the world. It’s a matter of statistical certainty that during their career a brain surgeon will leave people irreparably damaged, so how do they deal with it? Through fantastic prose the author talks of his profession, famed for its ‘men of granite’ and how the power they hold affects them personally.

 

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