Portobello Book Festival 2022 – Saturday 1st October – afternoon events


1.30-2.30pm                                                                   LIBRARY UPSTAIRS

Caron McKinlay (The Storytellers) and Elissa Soave (Ginger and Me) speak about the joys and challenges of publishing their debut novels in 2022.

In The Storytellers three women trapped in the afterlife are forced to revisit their toxic pasts to answer the ultimate question What is love?

In Ginger and Me everything changes when Wendy meets Ginger in this part coming of age and part mystery thriller.

Chair: Paul Hudson


3.00-4.00pm                                                                        LIBRARY UPSTAIRS

Author Mark Fleming discusses his new book 1976: Growing Up Bipolar, a disturbing but life-affirming memoir. From playing gigs and recording an album and BBC radio session during Edinburgh’s electrifying post-punk scene to severe depression and locked psych wards, he describes how music has soundtracked the highs and lows of his life. 

Chair: Bill Jameson


4.15-5.15pm                                                                     LIBRARY UPSTAIRS

Gregor Gall, Visiting Professor of Industrial Relations at the University of Leeds and the editor of Scottish Left Review, draws on Joe Strummer’s lyrics, bootleg recordings, interviews and testimony from over 100 followers, to take the reader on a journey through the political influences and motivations that defined one of the UK’s greatest punk icons and produced a lasting legacy of progressive politics.

Chair: Joe Herzberg, drummer and Clash fan


5.30-7.00pm                                                            LIBRARY DOWNSTAIRS

Edinburgh GP, Dr Gavin Francis’s 7th book Recovery, the Lost Art of Convalescence is not only a useful practical guide, but also an uplifting meditation on hope and healing. World-leading expert on global health, Professor Devi Sridhar’s book Preventable: How a Pandemic Changed the World and How to Stop the Next One, tells the extraordinary story of Covid-19 and how global politics shape our health.

Chair: Stewart Mercer, Professor of Primary Care and Multimorbidity, Edinburgh University

Tickets for all events are available from Portobello Library
Books available from The Portobello Bookshop

Portobello Book Festival 2022 – Saturday 1st October – morning events


10.30-11.30am                                                               LIBRARY UPSTAIRS                                                 

David Alston’s book, which has been described as “necessary reading for our moment”, exposes and explores the prominent role of Highland Scots in the exploitation of enslaved Africans and their descendants in the cotton, sugar and coffee plantations of the 18th and 19th centuries.  This legacy, entwined with so many of our contemporary institutions, must be reckoned with.

Chair: Lisa Williams, Founder of the Edinburgh Caribbean Association and Honorary Fellow, University of Edinburgh


11.00-11.30am                                                         LIBRARY DOWNSTAIRS

BOOK BUG returns to the Book Festival for fun, songs and rhymes.


12.00-1.00pm                                                          LIBRARY DOWNSTAIRS

Bridget Campbell, author and illustrator, discusses her latest project Trudy & Me, a rhyming children’s picture book set in Portobello. Sharing the perspective of Patrick (4) big brother to Trudy (2) who has Down’s Syndrome, it is a joyful book about siblings and about accepting and celebrating difference. Lauren Eliott Lockhart, Patrick and Trudy’s mum, joins Bridget for the session which includes a reading of the book, a discussion of how it was produced, a chance to see original artwork as well as activities for children.


12.00-1.00pm                                                                 LIBRARY UPSTAIRS

Very different eras of history feature in the novels of both Mary Paulson-Ellis (20th century Portobello in Emily Noble’s Disgrace) and Sue Lawrence (16th century Scotland in The Green Lady). Join them as they discuss their books, how they make their historical settings authentic and just why we find the past so fascinating.

Chair: Joanne Baird

Tickets for all events are available from Portobello Library
Books available from The Portobello Bookshop

Portobello Book Festival 2022 – Friday 30th September events


10.30-12.00noon                                                           LIBRARY UPSTAIRS

Long Live Dada! Free Your Mind. Free Your Writing.

Learn about the ground-breaking techniques developed by artists from the DaDa movement and create your own writer’s manifesto. This fun and hands-on session is open to writers of all abilities and styles. The workshop is led by writer and award-winning visual artist, Sasha Saben Callaghan. Sasha’s illustrations have been published in a wide range of publications and featured in national and international exhibitions. All materials will be provided.


12.30-1.30pm                                                                  LIBRARY UPSTAIRS

John Brodie’s Portobello is the latest local history book by Archie Foley and Peter E Ross and is a comprehensive selection of colour images from the archive of John Brodie who in the 1950s and 60s was an amateur photographer living in Wakefield Avenue. Archie begins the session with an illustrated talk after which there will be time for questions and discussion with local historian Dr Margaret Munro and David McLean (Lost Edinburgh).


2.00-3.00pm                                                                         JAMESON GATE

Hugh Miller, stonemason, pioneer geologist and fossil-hunter, ground-breaking popular science writer, folklorist, crusading newspaper editor and man of faith, spent the last years of his life in Portobello. In this session Larissa Reid, freelance science writer, poet and member of The Friends of Hugh Miller and Elsa Panciroli, Highland palaeontologist and author of Beasts Before Us and The Earth, Oxford University Museum of Natural History, reflect on how he has influenced them.

Chair: Jim Gilchrist, Hugh Miller enthusiast


3.30-4.30pm                                                                     LIBRARY OUTSIDE

For an outlying suburb which only took root as a community in the mid to late 18th century, Portobello can boast an intriguing variety of literary associations from Arthur Conan Doyle to contemporary crime writers, Walter Scott to Jules Verne. During this walking tour, Jim Gilchrist reveals some often surprising connections.


3.30-4.30pm                                                                   LIBRARY UPSTAIRS          

Poet Henry Bell and photographer Angela Catlin collaborated to create Still Life, a document of the pandemic in Glasgow. Their poems and photographs “offer a glimpse of the grief, fear, solidarity and moments of joy that the experience of Covid-19 brought to Scotland”. Henry and Angela discuss the book and their approach to creating Still Life.


7.30-9.00pm                                                            LIBRARY DOWNSTAIRS

An evening of music and conversation that has been specially created by local songwriter and composer Gareth Williams for Chamber Music Scotland as part of EventScotland’s Year of Stories. This collection of new songs takes the last page of a book and that moment when the reader silently reads the final lines of a story and transforms it into music. The event features Gareth at the piano, Katrina Lee on violin and Justyna Jablonska on cello. The acclaimed Scots singer Lori Watson joins them as a special guest to perform a brand new Song from the Last Page written especially for Portobello Book Festival.

Tickets for all events are available from Portobello Library
Books available from The Portobello Bookshop

Portobello Book Festival 2022 – bookshop event @portybooks – Thursday 29th September – TL Huchu



Come along to The Portobello Bookshop where T L Huchu will be discussing the two books in his acclaimed Edinburgh Nights series. 

The Library of the Dead and its sequel, Our Lady of Mysterious Ailments, are set in a dystopian Edinburgh, featuring Zimbabwean magic and Scottish pragmatism. 

Chair: Ann Landmann, Director of the Cymera Festival

Tickets for all events are available from Portobello Library
Books available from The Portobello Bookshop

Portobello Book Festival 2022 – information about programmes and tickets

We are delighted that Portobello Book Festival will be taking place from Thursday 29th September until Sunday 2nd October, with events at Portobello Library in Rosefield Avenue, Jameson Gate on Portobello High Street, The Portobello Bookshop on the High Street and a walking tour around Portobello. All events are in-person this year.

Programmes will be available from 3rd September from Portobello Library, The Portobello Bookshop and various local businesses. Some will also be handed out at The Portobello Market on 3rd September.

Look out over the weekend for full details of all the events, featuring local writers and readers and internationally renowned authors. As always, we feel there is a great mix of books featured and that there is something for everyone.

Tickets for all events can only be collected from Portobello Library in person in advance and will be available from Monday 12th September. When collecting tickets, you are restricted to four per event per person. Library opening hours are Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday 10am-8pm, Thursday, Friday and Saturday 10-5pm.

Entry to events is free to all, although we are always very grateful for donations to cover expenses. We are also very grateful to all our participants who give their time freely.

We are delighted that our local independent bookshop, The Portobello Bookshop, will be running a bookstall in the library over the weekend carrying books by all our participating authors will be available.

If you want to buy or order books in advance of the festival, you will find the bookshop at 46 Portobello High Street. Opening hours are 10am – 6pm, seven days a week. You can order books in person or by phone or online either to Click and Collect or for delivery. The phone number is 0131 629 6756.

All Covid rules and restrictions have been lifted in Scotland but, as you will know, the virus has not gone away. If you are unwell with COVID-19 symptoms or have a high temperature, please do not attend any events. Although it’s no longer required, please free to wear a face covering if you would like to. In the unlikely event that there are any updates to Covid regulations which mean we need to change or cancel any events, details will be posted on the website and our social media. We’re on Facebook (Portobello Book Festival) and Twitter (@portybookfest).

We hope you enjoy the 2022 Portobello Book Festival!

The next Portobello Book Festival will run from 29th September to 2nd October 2022

The organising team has been busy planning a brilliant Portobello Book Festival for 2022. This year it will begin with an event at The Portobello Bookshop on Thursday 29th September then run over the weekend until Sunday 2nd October. Full details will be revealed early September so watch this space.

We start to plan our October Festival in January so if you’re interested in being considered for inclusion contacting us in the first half of January is a good idea. There are always limited spots and after our early planning sessions most of these are already accounted for. 

We’re volunteers so can’t always keep track of requests carrying over year on year so making our job easier and getting in touch in early January makes it easier for us to consider you. 

A thank you from the Portobello Book Festival organising team

The 13th Portobello Book Festival was a great success and we hope you all enjoyed it as much as we did. It was great to be able to be back in the library again and to have in-person events, as well as a couple of events online. 

The organising team would like to thank:

Cal MacAninch for excellent readings and the talented musicians who took part in the opening event celebrating the launch of our publication Pandemic Portobello. Also thanks and congratulations to all the local writers whose work was included. Pick up your free copy from the library if you don’t have one already.

All our participating writers for inspiring us

Our fantastic chairs for keeping everything running smoothly

Our soundman Jock and his assistants Jill and Riley for making sure that everyone could be heard

The security and cleaning staff for being so cheery as they worked – they really helped create a lovely atmosphere. 

The folk from the Chest Heart and Stroke shop who lent us their step at a moment’s notice when we realised the stage needed something to make it more accessible. It felt like a real community effort to see them so pleased to help when we were in need. 

Ally Heather for organising the online event with Peter Geoghagen and Peter McColl

Emma Christie for organising and hosting the online crime fiction event with the Caledonia Crime Collective

The Portobello Bookshop for making sure all our authors’ books were available for sale both in the shop and on their website’s book festival page: https://theportobellobookshop.com/porty-book-festival/

Evelyn Kilmurry (Locality Manager for North East Locality) and Andrew McTaggart (Service Manager for North East Locality) for their help and advice on Covid protocols to make sure we were able to use the library safely.

A huge thanks to Paul, Lesley and the staff of Portobello Library, a fantastic resource on our doorstep, without whose help and time we would not be able to run our festival. Special mention to Ian for spending his whole day off making sure our last minute tech requirements for the unexpected zoom event could be met.

And of course, thanks to everyone who came along to the events and created such a vibrant atmosphere.

The 2022 programme will be launched early September with tickets available shortly afterwards. The organising team will be starting to plan for this very soon. Any ideas and suggestions will be warmly welcomed.

Watch now: Democracy for Sale? with Peter Geoghegan

Sunday 3rd October – 3.30pm
Click the YouTube link below to watch this event

Peter Geoghegan, the well-known writer, journalist and broadcaster, talks about his recent, highly acclaimed book Democracy for Sale: Dark Money and Dirty Politics.  According to the Observer, ‘This should be the most discussed political book of the year.  The subject could not be more urgent.’ 

Chair: Peter McColl

Change to this evening’s Val McDermid event

Unfortunately, Val McDermid is now unable to join us in person this evening. However, through the wonders of technology, she will be joining the live audience and chair via Zoom. The event will still take place in the library at 5pm, chaired by Louise Fairbairn, and will not be streamed online. Those attending will still have the opportunity to put questions to Val.

The queen of crime talks about her latest thriller, the first in her new series.  In the winter of discontent, Allie Burns and her fellow journalist Danny Sullivan, at the risk of making powerful enemies, are exposing the criminal underbelly of respectable Scotland.

Books by all our participating authors are available to order from The Portobello Bookshop.
Click here to visit the PBF page