The Wigtown Book Festival has launched #WigtownWednesdays as part of a series of online initiatives to allow the public to enjoy excellent writing and meet fascinating authors despite the lockdown.

Lots of different events are being lined up, including a monthly online book club which holds its first get-together on 22 April when the special guest will be Dumfries and Galloway conservation hill farmer, and author of the memoir Native, Patrick Laurie. Nature writer Polly Pullar will also be on hand. 

Patrick’s latest book explores his love of the Galloway countryside and his efforts to reconnect with its natural and farming heritage.

He is well known in the region for his work to revive the traditional Riggit Galloway breed of cattle and to farm in a way that creates the right conditions for fragile bird species such as black grouse, grey partridge, curlews and lapwings to thrive.

#WigtownWednesdays got started yesterday when over 100 people enjoyed an evening listening to broadcaster and Sunday Times bestselling author Sally Magnusson discussing her new novel The Ninth Child.

Future #WigtownWednesdays will feature:

  • Adventurer Robert Twigger on Walking The Great North Line
  • Philosopher Julian Baggini on lessons from a crisis

There will also be the chance to take part in one of the most popular events of the annual book festival – Stuart Kelly’s literary pub quiz. There are even plans for a virtual version of the Wigtown’s Got Talent competition.

Adrian Turpin, creative director, Wigtown Festival Company, said: “We couldn’t just sit here in silence at a time like this, so we decided to bring some of the spirit of Wigtown Book Festival.

“At a time when many are likely to have time to read, and may take comfort from reading, we decided to introduce new ways for people to enjoy with literature, with authors and with Scotland’s National Book Town.

“Book festivals are about more than reading, they are about talking, listening and experiencing. So our aim has been to find different, and sometimes quirky, ways that people can engage with literature, authors and storytelling.

“We hope people will make #WigtownWednesdays a weekly date.”

Plans are in place to introduce a regular podcast and some exclusive long reads are being specially commissioned. The festival has also been raiding the archives to put some of its past gems online, such as Joanna Lumley’s appearance in 2013. 

The whole initiative is being made possible thanks to support from Baillie Gifford and is free, but public donations would be greatly appreciated to help cover the costs.

– Ends –

Picture by Colin Hattersley.

About Patrick Laurie

  • Patrick Laurie’s blog Working for Grouse is visited by over 30,000 visitors each year. As well as writing and farming, he works for Soil Association Scotland on a programme which supports conservation projects on farmland. 

About Native

  • Desperate to connect with his native Galloway, Patrick Laurie plunges into work on his family farm in the hills of southwest Scotland. Investing in the oldest and most traditional breeds of Galloway cattle, the Riggit Galloway, he begins to discover how cows once shaped people, places and nature in this remote and half-hidden place. This traditional breed requires different methods of care from modern farming.
  • As the 20th century progressed, the people of Galloway deserted the land and the moors have been transformed into commercial forest in the last 30 years. Much has been lost, and the new forests have driven the catastrophic decline of the much-loved curlew, a bird which features strongly in Galloway’s consciousness. The links between people, cattle and wild birds become a central theme as Patrick begins to face the reality of life in a vanishing landscape.
  • See

For further information and interview requests contact Matthew Shelley on 07786 704299 or [email protected]  

Wigtown Festival Company Ltd, 11 North Main Street, Wigtown, Dumfries & Galloway, Scotland, UK, DG8 9HN © 1999 – 2018. Wigtown Festival Company Ltd is a company limited by guarantee with charitable status.                                        Scottish Charity No. SCO37984.