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!

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

Watch now: The Caledonia Crime Collective

Saturday 2nd October – 12.00 noon
Click the YouTube link below to watch the event

Join the Caledonia Crime Collective (CCC) as they discuss the thrills, spills and sometimes chills of everything Tartan Noir and all its facets. From gritty police procedurals to psychological thrillers – and even a splash of the supernatural – the panel will discuss and debate the diversity of modern Scottish crime fiction. 

Hosted by Portobello author and CCC founder Emma Christie (The Silent Daughter).

Attending events this weekend? Here’s some useful information!

There’s just one day to go before the 2021 Portobello Book Festival begins and we thought it would be useful to give you some information about attending events. Some things are different from previous years so please do make yourself familiar with what is going to happen this year.

Entry to each event will be five minutes before it is due to start.

If your event is in the library upstairs, you will enter and leave by the fire exit door to the left of the main entrance. If you require to use the ramp, that will still be possible of course.

If your event is in the library downstairs, you will enter and leave by the usual main library doors.

As rooms will be cleaned between events, even if you have a ticket for the following event you will need to leave the building.

You must have your ticket with you. Regretfully, we cannot admit anyone without a ticket, no matter the reason. The only exceptions are guests of the contributors whose names are on the guest list.

There are no tickets available on the door before events this year. If you have a ticket you now can’t use, please return it to the library as soon as possible. Many events have no tickets left so this will give others a chance to attend.

You must register attendance by either checking in with the QR code, or via the Check In Scotland website or by giving your contact details to the staff.

You must wear a face covering at all times in the library, unless you are exempt.

We will be filling up the events from the front and after each event, we will ask those at the back to leave first.

As windows will be open for ventilation throughout all events, please wrap up warmly!

We will, as always, be delighted to receive any donations. Buckets will be available on the way out after each event. If you do intend to donate, it would be helpful if you could have your money ready as you leave to avoid queueing.

With all these precautions in place, we hope that you will feel safe and enjoy the events over the weekend. We are looking forward to seeing everyone and listening to all our fabulous participants.

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

Checking in for Portobello Book Festival events

As you’ll be aware, we are required to take contact details for everyone attending book festival events at the library for Test & Protect contact tracing purposes. To make this as quick as possible, and to minimise queuing, we’d really appreciate if people could scan the Check in Scotland QR code while waiting to get in to each event. There will be posters up at the library you can scan with your smartphone or you can use the website as mentioned on the poster below.

If you don’t have a smartphone, staff will take a note of details on a paper record. Details will be stored in accordance with data protection rules and kept for 21 days. Details will only be used to get in touch with you to advise if you may be a close contact of someone who has tested positive.

Please remember that you must wear a face covering at all time during events, unless you are exempt.