Islay Book Festival 2019

International bestseller Ian Rankin headlines the 2019 Islay Book Festival next week with organisers gearing up for the biggest and most high-profile edition yet. The annual event, which has been switched from its previous slot at the end of September, runs from Thursday (Aug 29) to Sunday (Sep 1).

A well-known single malt fan, Rankin will be talking about how Islay’s iconic products have featured in his life and work to leading whisky writer Dave Broom in the Filling Store at Laphroaig Distillery on Friday.
That event has already sold out but there will be another chance to hear from the award-winning master of crime fiction at the Ramsay Hall on Saturday night.
There, Rankin will be talking about the huge changes that have taken place in the 30+ years of his most famous creation, Edinburgh detective John Rebus, in the company of leading historian Sir Tom Devine.

That is followed by a screening of Dave Broom and Adam Park’s acclaimed new whisky documentary “The Amber Light”, which looks at the connection between Scotland’s culture and its national drink. Both the Ramsay Hall events are backed by Diageo, this year’s lead sponsor of the book festival. Read more...

Other highlights of the bookfest include acclaimed cookery writer and former Masterchef winner Sue Lawrence talking about her move into writing historical thrillers and Lord Robertson introducing Norman Bissell’s new novel “Barnhill” which deals with George Orwell’s time at the remote Jura farmhouse where he wrote “Nineteen Eighty-four.”

Rankin and Scotland’s Makar, or poet laureate, Jackie Kay will both be visiting Islay High School during their time on the island and the festival also includes a programme of free family events at Bowmore Primary School on the Saturday.

For the first time, this year’s festival includes a Sunday morning walk with participants scheduled to enjoy a walk to the ruins of the abandoned hamlet of Lurabus on the Oa peninsula. That hike is designed to tie in with Tom Devine’s presentation, later on Sunday at the Cyber Bistro in Port Ellen, of his latest work “The Scottish Clearances.”

Another first this year is the presence of Cape Breton’s Stacey MacLean, currently on a Gaelic writer’s residency on Islay funded by The British Council. Stacey will be taking part in an Islay-Cape Breton evening of poems and songs at Portnahaven Parish Church on Thursday 29th and talking about Cape Breton’s Gaelic traditions at the Gaelic College on Friday evening.

Further details and tickets for all the sessions can be found at

Tag: book festival