Portobello Book Festival 2019 Programme

PBF prog zoom

The wait is over! The programme for the 2019 Portobello Book Festival, 3rd-6th October, has now been revealed. We have a packed programme as always this year and are delighted to be welcoming an exciting list of authors, contributors and guests. We are especially pleased to be running a special event in conjunction with our new local bookshop, The Portobello Bookshop, and to be paying a return visit to Jameson Gate.

Copies of the programme will be available from the library and local businesses in the coming few days. Tickets to all events are, as always, free and will be available from Monday 2nd September at Portobello Library in Rosefield Avenue.

Click the link below to see the full programme and look out for more info about each individual event over the coming weeks.

Portobello Book Festival 2019 programme




Books by participating authors will be available.


Tickets for all events can be collected in person from

Portobello Library from 2nd September. Some tickets

will be available at venues 15 minutes before events.


is organised by local enthusiasts and Portobello Library.

If you have ideas or would like to be involved, please contact:




14 Rosefield Avenue, EH15 1AU


189 Portobello High Street, EH15 1EU


17-21 Portobello High Street, EH15 1DW


46 Portobello High St, EH15 1DA


77 Promenade, EH15 2EL

Photos from our Friday Evening Cabaret Event

The Friday Evening Cabaret event is always popular and was expertly compered for the tenth year in a row by David Francis. This year as well as David entertaining us, James Spence read some Haiku poetry telling part of the story of Gregory’s Girl, performance poet Jo Macfarlane shared some of her work, Alex Callaghan gave us his debut poetry performance and local composer Gareth Williams was joined by cellist Justyna Jablonska as he explored the theme First Words, Last Lines. Thanks to Peter Ross and Margaret Drysdale for these photographs.

Photos from our School Events with Justin Davies @flyingscribbler, Lindsay Littleson @ljlittleson, @jillcalder and @janismackay. @scottishbktrust

Four of our local schools enjoyed visits from authors on Friday as part of the book festival. Here are some photos from these events.

The children at Brunstane Primary had monster fun with Justin Davies, author of “Help! I Smell a Monster”.

At Duddingston Primary. Lindsay Littleson told the P4-7 assembly lots of funny stories from her childhood, explained how she became an author, spoke about the importance of never giving up and about her latest exciting adventure story “The Titanic Detective Agency”.

Towerbank Primary were visited by Jill Calder who had a very appropriate book to talk about – “The Sea”. There was lots of artistic activity as part of this session as the children learned about the importance of looking after our oceans and had a go at illustrations themselves.

Primary 2 at St John’s Primary enjoyed a visit from Janis Mackay. Here’s what one of the teachers had to say about the event:

St Johns P2 had a visit from Janis Mackay – a local Scottish author from Portobello who entranced the pupils with her stories of writing poems in the north of Scotland by the sea. While there she describes finding a baby Seal on the beach, which is the inspiration for her book ‘The Wee Seal’. The children sang songs, talked about the different things you could find on a beach and listened to Janis tell the story. It was a fantastic experience and the P2s loved meeting a real-life author!

Our thanks to all the authors for coming along, to the children for taking part so enthusiastically, to the schools for having us and to the Scottish Book Trust for making the sessions possible through Live Literature Funding.

Shifting Sands? Making change make sense. @lesleymcara1 @b_mcgeever @arekigo

Sunday 6th October – 4.45pm – Library downstairs

How are the conventional thinking and the orthodoxies of the past being challenged and changed in the contemporary world?  How can we be sure about anything anymore?  Three academics address these questions from the perspective of their own disciplines and research: Lesley McAra, Professor of Penology and Director of Edinburgh Futures Institute, University of Edinburgh; Brendan McGeever, Lecturer, Pears Institute for the Study of Antisemitism, Birkbeck, University of London; Arek Dakessian, Research Fellow, Institute for Global Health and Development, Queen Margaret University.

This final event of the 2019 festival has been moved to the library downstairs.

Chair: Ian Martin

Tickets for all Portobello Book Festival events are free and can be picked up from Portobello Library in Rosefield Avenue.

Finding out the rest: the rediscovery of Scottish history with James Robertson

Sunday 6th October – 3.30pm – Library downstairs

History is a mirror we hold up to our present selves. James Robertson considers how our view of Scotland’s past has changed in recent years and what influence that has on the way we see the country today.

Chair: Jenni Calder

Tickets for all Portobello Book Festival events are free and can be picked up from Portobello Library in Rosefield Avenue.

New Opportunities in Publishing

Sunday 6th October – 2pm – Library Upstairs

Respected magazine and newspaper designer Neil Braidwood explores the changing face of publishing. He is joined by author and self-publisher of The Blue Suitcase Marianne Wheelaghan and Nathaniel Kunitsky of Knight Errant Press who work with queer and under-represented writers to publish intersectional stories.

Tickets for all Portobello Book Festival events are free and can be picked up from Portobello Library in Rosefield Avenue.

Meet the author: Michel Faber

Sunday 6th October – 2pm – Library downstairs

Michel Faber has written nine books including Whitbread-shortlisted Under the Skin, the highly acclaimed The Crimson Petal and the White, The Book of Strange New Things, which won the 2015 Saltire Book of the Year, and most recently Undying, his first poetry collection.

Chair: Donald Canavan

Tickets for all Portobello Book Festival events are free and can be picked up from Portobello Library in Rosefield Avenue.

Jock’s Jocks: Voices of Scottish Soldiers from the First World War

Sunday 6th October – 12.30pm – Library upstairs

North East folksinger Jock Duncan spent over 50 years interviewing ‘the Jocks’ – Scottish veterans of the Great War. Jock’s labour of love is a unique glimpse into the lives of those who left the farms of Aberdeenshire, Angus and Perthshire for France, Flanders and the shores of Gallipoli. Gary West, who edited the collection, shares these fascinating tales.

Chair: James Robertson

Tickets for all Portobello Book Festival events are free and can be picked up from Portobello Library in Rosefield Avenue.