The city has rich links to the words and works of some of the most celebrated writers who have ever lived. Robert Burns, Robert Louis Stevenson, Sir Walter Scott, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Muriel Spark, Irvine Welsh, Alexander McCall Smith, Ian Rankin and JK Rowling are just a handful of the many authors with connections to Edinburgh, so it is only appropriate that Edinburgh plays host to the largest book festival in the world.

Each August over 800 events for adults and children are held over three weeks, when international writers, poets and musicians arrive to engage audiences in readings, writing workshops, education events, panel discussions, talks and performances.

In 2019, the theme of discovering new stories – stories that bridge division, celebrate our shared humanity, and help us understand our place in the world – was explored at events during the festival. The 2019 festival launched its most international programme to date, bringing together over 900 authors, illustrators and performers from all around the world.

New voices at the Book Festival included award-winning Indian author, citizen and activist Arundhati Roy who appeared in conversation with Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, alongside up-and-coming Australian novelists Thomas Keneally and YA writer Markus Zusak. Famous writers and personalities featured included Tim Winton, Branko Milanovic, Eddie Izzard, Kate Atkinson, David Nicholls, Joanne Harris, Mark Haddon and Roddy Doyle, among others.  

The festival also saw the worldwide launch of a major new novel from Salman Rushdie along with the book launches of Tracy Chevalier, Ann Cleeves and Deborah Levy.

The Baillie Gifford Children’s Programme also returned with fantastic family-friendly entertainment and appearances from authors including Julia Donaldson, Cressida Cowell and Malorie Blackman.

Well known faces to appear at the Edinburgh International Book Festival included Former Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis, leader of the Labour Party Jeremy Corbyn, Julia Donaldson, Harry Hill, Brian May and Ann Cleeves, among others.

History

Held in the leafy surroundings of Charlotte Square, the Edinburgh International Book Festival is still something of a newbie compared to others, starting in 1983 and only becoming an annual event in 1997.

The festival initially held 30 meet the author events in its tented village. Recent festivals have featured Margaret Atwood, Yann Martell, George Monbiot, Harold Pinter, Sebastian Faulks, Alan Bennet, Germaine Greer, Susan Sontag, Zadie Smith and Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai.

Watch

Highlights from last year's Edinburgh International Book Festival: