Clive Myrie to appear at IBF24!

Author, journalist and BBC presenter Clive Myrie will be joining us to talk about his recently published memoir, Everything is Everything.

In his book, Clive Myrie blends personal stories from his own family history, with insights gained as a journalist covering global events, exploring how his identity and experiences shaped his understanding of the world.

Keep your eyes peeled for more updates, and join us from Thursday 29 August to Sunday 1 September!

Another highlight of our 2024 festival

Islay Book Festival are thrilled to bring you another highlight of this year’s festival… a very special event around George Orwell! It will be chaired by the author’s son and Patron of the Orwell Society, Richard Blair (pictured), to mark the 75th anniversary of the novel Nineteen Eighty-Four. One thing we can already tell you is that Les Wilson, author of Orwell’s Island: George, Jura and 1984, will be joining the conversation. More details about this event organised in partnership with The Orwell Society and the other authors taking part will be announced soon.


We are DELIGHTED to introduce you to three of the fantastic authors who will be joining us for our 2024 festival, taking place on Thursday 29 August-Sunday 1 August. They are…




We are so excited to welcome them to Islay later this year, and to hear them speak about their latest books! Keep an eye on our social media pages for more updates using our hashtag #IBF24

2024 Date Announcement

We are very excited to announce that the next Islay Book Festival will be taking place on Thursday 29th August – Sunday 1st September 2024. Mark the dates in your calendars as we plan to make 2024 the best festival yet. Keep an eye on our website and social media to catch the announcements of the wonderful guests who will be attending! If you want to get involved with our book festival, our 2023 AGM is taking place on Monday 4th December at The Celtic House. All welcome!

IBF2023 Review

To borrow the words of one of our guest authors, Chitra Ramaswamy, “what a beautiful, warm, and genuine community book festival” it was!

We kicked off on Thursday 7 September with Lari Don, who visited all of Islay and Jura primary schools with two virtual storytelling sessions for P1-P3 and P4-P7. Lari, who couldn’t visit in person due to long Covid, made these sessions wonderfully interactive, even inspiring some of the pupils to write their own tale!

In the afternoon, renowned palaeontologist and primary school teacher Steve and Anne Brusatte delivered an exciting after-school session at MYCOS, Port Ellen, around the picture book they wrote together, Dugie the Dinosaur. On Friday morning, they brought Dugie to Keills Primary School, joined for the occasion by the pupils from Jura’s Small Isles, before continuing to Port Charlotte in the afternoon. 

Meanwhile, Sarah McIntyre and Philip Reeve had their own grand tour, visiting first Islay High School for a joint art/English session with a world-building theme inspired by Philip’s Utterly Dark series, before presenting the Adventuremice books they write and illustrate together at Bowmore Primary, and to Port Ellen pupils later on.

Friday was a super busy day, as both Alan Warner and Coinneach MacLeod, aka The Hebridean Baker, also visited the high school to chat about becoming a successful author after leaving school in Oban at 16 and the influence of Gaelic on their work respectively. 

As for Marie C. NicAmhlaigh, she visited the Gaelic Medium Unit at Bowmore Primary for some Gaelic storytelling, skilfully using props to retain the wee ones’ attention and teach them new words.

In the evening, we had a full house for the opening event of our general programme at the Gaelic College with the Hebridean Baker. Còisir Ghàidhlig Ìle impressed the audience with a puirt à beul, followed by a beautiful rendition of Sìne Bhàn. 

Martine Nouet’s questions brought forth some very entertaining answers from the now globally-famous, Lewis-born baker, and Fraser Rathbone from Jura Distillery offered both a dram and a cocktail demonstration to everyone present. 

Islay bakers showed their own fantastic talents, Islay Cocoa’s Emma Goudie winning first prize in our competition with her chocolate-dipped shortbread with salted caramel, and the Islay High School students successfully raising money for their Iceland trip with delicious home bakes. A great time was had by all!

On Saturday morning, soft-spoken, mesmerising Kapka Kassabova brought tears to people’s eyes in her talk about her latest book, Elixir, when evoking the bond between the land and people, that we’re losing at our own peril. The discussion delved into foraging and herbalism, and was aptly sponsored by The Botanist, with a gin miniature offered to all participants.

Kapka was followed by Angus Peter Campbell who, as a professional actor as well as author, delivered an entertaining session around his latest novel in English, Electricity, and his translation of Orwell’s Animal Farm into Gaelic, Tuathanas nan Creutairean. Angus also talked about the need to perpetuate Gaelic culture and language in all their richness, the loss of which would be devastating for whole communities. 

Gerda Stevenson, who’d delighted Gortanvogie residents in the morning with poems and songs in English, Scots and Gaelic, gave an incredible reading from her latest poetry collection, Tomorrows Feast. Gerda literally had the audience in stitches and teary-eyed from one minute to the next. 

Laughter was definitely on the menu with Jenny Colgan, who was presenting her latest romantic comedy, The Summer Skies.

Marisa Haetzman, aka Ambrose Parry, and Sarah Smith took to the stage to discuss their respective historical noir fictions, Voices of the Dead and Hear No Evil – the latter featuring an Islay protagonist – just as the golden hour was in full glory over Loch Indaal.

On Sunday, Alan Warner answered Les Wilson’s questions about Nothing Left to Fear From Hell, his masterful book about Bonnie Prince Charlie’s escape via the Hebrides. The discussion about characterisation, the evocation of landscape and the use of sounds in writing was absolutely fascinating. 

Chitra Ramaswamy gave an extremely moving talk about Homelands, sharing the beautiful aspects of her friendship with now 99-year-old Holocaust survivor Henry Wuga, as well as the story of her own family.

In the afternoon, Steve Brusatte gave us a quick but riveting course in deep time history while chatting about his Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs and Rise and Reign of the Mammals. Steve is a highly renowned name in his field, even working as an advisor for Jurassic World films, so it was a massive honour to have him in our midst. His event was followed by our grand raffle draw.

Meanwhile, generous Gerda Stevenson delivered an excellent poetry workshop at Ardbeg Distillery, while Philip Reeve held a session about his Utterly Dark series at the Mactaggart Leisure Centre, with the support of friend illustrator Sarah McIntyre.

The atmosphere over the four days was one of joy, enthusiasm, and bonding over the love of words and stories, which is exactly what we had hoped for. So a massive thanks to our sponsors, guest authors, chairs, volunteers, teachers and all the various people who helped us make the Islay Book Festival 2023 the fantastic event that it was. And thanks to YOU, the wonderful community who gave such a warm welcome to our authors that all of them, without exception, expressed their desire to come back to Islay before they had even left the island. We hope you very much enjoy reading their books over the next few months. See you next year!

Photo credit: Rhianna Jones

Unveiling our 2023 programme!

The Islay Book Festival committee members have been busy bees in the last few months, and we are so very happy to unveil our 2023 programme!

This year’s festival, including school and children’s events, will take place from Thursday 7 to Sunday 10 September.

Our general programme at the Gaelic College will kick off on Friday 8 September for a special evening with the Hebridean Baker, sponsored by Jura Distillery. Expect Gaelic singing, stories, recipes, a cocktail demonstration, and even a baking competition!

On Saturday, Kapka Kassabova will start the day off with an event fittingly sponsored by The Botanist around her stunning new book Elixir, which focuses on the wild plant gatherers of the valley of the Mesta in her native Bulgaria.

The next speaker will bring us back closer to our shores. Angus Peter Campbell will talk about his new novel in English, Electricity, a beautiful ode to island life, as well as tell us what it was like to translate George Orwell’s Animal Farm into the Gaelic Tuathanas nan Creutairean.

The afternoon will see us move on to poetry as Gerda Stevenson reads from her latest collection, Tomorrow’s Feast, which centres on the legacy faced by the next generation.

After poetry, romance will be in the spotlight as the Scottish queen of ‘Feel Good Fiction’, Jenny Colgan, presents The Summer Skies, her new escapist stand-alone novel set in the Scottish islands.

And to wrap up this busy day, what could be better than a fascinating Tartan Noir panel? Marisa Haetzman, writing under the pseudonym Ambrose Parry with husband Chris Brookmyre, will be in conversation with Sarah Smith, to chat about their respective historical fictions, Voices of the Dead and Hear No Evil.

On Sunday, Alan Warner will take us on a famous Hebridean journey in Scottish history as he discusses Nothing Left to Fear from Hell, his latest short novel about Bonnie Prince Charlie’s escape after the Battle of Culloden.

Chitra Ramaswamy will follow with what promises to be a moving event about her book Homelands, inspired by her friendship with Holocaust survivor Henry Wuga, who escaped Nazi Germany as part of the Kindertransport to settle in Glasgow.

Our Sunday afternoon session will be all about palaeontology, as Steve Brusatte presents his two popular science books The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs and The Rise and Reign of the Mammals, drawing from the fossil discoveries Steve and his team have made on the Isle of Skye over the past decade.

Alongside this exciting general programme, Gerda Stevenson will run a poetry workshop at Ardbeg Distillery on Sunday afternoon (booking essential as places are limited), and there will also be two children’s events: Anne and Steve Brusatte will visit MYFOS in Port Ellen on Thursday for an after-school session around their picture book Dugie the Dinosaur, while Philip Reeve will present his Utterly Dark middle-grade series at the Mactaggart Leisure Centre on Sunday afternoon.

Our varied school programme will include sessions with Lari Don, Sarah McIntyre, Philip Reeve, Anne and Steve Brusatte, and Angus Peter Campbell for a visit to the Gaelic Medium Unit. Alan Warner, Sarah McIntyre and Philip Reeve will also visit the students of Islay High School. 

And Gerda Stevenson will bring poetry and songs to the residents of Gortanvogie Care Home.

Mindful of the cost of living crisis, we’ve kept the price of tickets for our general programme low at £5 (£3.50 concession) per event, and, for best value, you can also purchase a festival pass for £30 (£20). Children’s events at MYFOS and the Mactaggart Leisure Centre are free. 

For more information about the individual events and to find out exact times and book tickets, click here.

We hope to see many of you join us in September for a big celebration of words and stories!

Revealing our 2023 line-up!

Our committee has been busy putting together an exciting line-up for this year’s Islay Book Festival on 8-10 September, and we couldn’t wait to share the names of our guest authors with you ahead of the busy season.

Coinneach MacLeod, aka The Hebridean Baker, will open the festivities with his stories and recipes.

Tartan noir will be well represented, with the presence of Ambrose Parry and Sarah Smith.

Jenny Colgan will come to argue that Scotland, and its islands in particular, are a great setting for romance, not only for murder.

Multi-talented Angus Peter Campbell will present his latest novel in English, chat about translating George Orwell into Gaelic, and possibly share a bit about his acting career.

Gerda Stevenson will put poetry on the programme, while Alan Warner will regale us with the Hebridean adventures of Bonnie Prince Charlie.

British and European history will feature prominently in Chitra Ramaswamy’s event, while Kapka Kassabova will tell us what the Bulgarian forests hold in common with the Scottish Highlands.

Palaeontologist Steve Brusatte will talk about the history of life on Earth, and be joined by his wife Anne to visit Islay schools with their picture book inspired by the Isle of Skye’s fossil finds. Star storyteller Lari Don will undoubtedly delight pupils’ imagination. And last but not least, super duo Sarah McIntyre & Philip Reeve will be back to the island to present their new series.

Needless to say, we have a fantastic programme in the works for you, and we’ll be back soon with more detailed information about all our authors’ books and individual events. Stay tuned!

We’re back on 8-10 September 2023!

The Islay Book Festival AGM took place on 18 December 2022 at the Gaelic College, and we’re delighted to announce that we’ve formed a new, enthusiastic committee, complete with new office bearers.

Lyn Rogers has been voted in as secretary, Darren Hehir as treasurer, Isla Rosser-Owen as vice-chair and Charlène Busalli as chair. The other committee members are Carolyn Ferguson, Heather Harvey, Sue Hehir, Ingrid Hill and Richard Mansbridge.

We would like to say a huge thank you to all previous committee members for their tremendous work: the Islay Book Festival wouldn’t be the fantastic event that we all know without them. We are also very grateful to Isla Rosser-Owen for remaining as vice-chair for the time being, so that we can have a smooth handover over the next few months, as we organise our first physical edition since 2019.

The festival has grown considerably over the years and that year, around 35 events were held across Islay and Jura. As an almost completely renewed committee, we have decided to scale down a bit for our 2023 edition, but the general orientation will remain the same, with both public and school events, including a Gaelic programme. Here are the dates to put down in your diaries: Friday 8 to Sunday 10 September 2023.

We look forward to working with other local organisations to make it yet another fantastic edition. If there are any writers/illustrators you would like to be considered as guest authors for future editions, do not hesitate to pop us an email at We are also open to new committee members and would be particularly keen on welcoming within our team a Gaelic speaker to help us with our Gaelic programme, a Jura resident, as well as one or two youth committee members. We’re also always on the lookout for volunteers to help us around festival time, so do give us a shout if this might be something of interest.

All of us at the Islay Book Festival would like to wish a happy, healthy, successful New Year to all Ilich, Diurich and Ileach readers on farther shores!

Islay Book Festival 2024: Full Lineup Announced

We are thrilled to fully unveil another stellar lineup for this year’s Islay Book Festival!

Islay Book Festival 2024 Line Up

Author of Mayflies, Andrew O’Hagan, will open our festival in style on Thursday 29 August, answering questions about his new novel, Caledonian Road, from Ileach and BBC Scotland political editor Glenn Campbell.

On Friday 30 August, peat scientist Mike Billett will hold a distillery event in the afternoon, while the evening will see a lively conversation between crime fiction superstars Chris Brookmyre and Denise Mina.

Saturday 31 August will start with a sea swimming session hosted by adventurer and author of Blue Scotland, Mollie Hughes.* Sue Lawrence will present her new historical novel Lady’s Rock, set on Mull and Islay. A panel on the theme of ‘Welcoming Nature’ will feature Mollie Hughes, Orkney-based nature writer Victoria Bennett, and poet Alycia Pirmohamed. Concomitantly to this event, children’s author Maisie Chan will hold a fun-filled session adapted to children with additional needs.

Gaelic poetry and translation will both be in the spotlight with a conversation between Taylor Strickland, winner of the Scottish Poetry Book of the Year Award 2023, and Niall O’Gallagher, current An Comunn Gàidhealach Bard.

We will celebrate the 75th anniversary of George Orwell’s 1984 with a special event moderated by the novelist’s son and Chair of the Orwell Society, Richard Blair. Les Wilson, author of Orwell’s Island: George, Jura and 1984, and Gary Younge, winner of the Orwell’s Prize for Journalism 2023, will both feature as participants.

On Sunday 1 September, there will be a poetry walk with Alycia Pirmohamed, organised in partnership with the Islay Natural History Trust. Ronald Black and David Caldwell will co-present their respective forthcoming books, John Dewar’s Islay, Jura and Colonsay and The Archaeology of Finlaggan. Author of All My Wild Mothers: Motherhood, Loss and An Apothecary Garden, Victoria Bennett, will be in conversation with local author Tracey Hunter on the themes of grief, nature and healing.

There will be an afternoon tea with Sue Lawrence, who will tell us all about her new Scottish baking book, featuring a few Islay bakers in its pages. And finally, we’re hugely honoured that BBC journalist and presenter Clive Myrie has accepted to join us to talk about his memoir, Everything is Everything, with Lord George Robertson of Port Ellen.

As well as this general programme, there will be a substantial school programme as usual, with authors Alan Windram, Maisie Chan, Nadine Aisha Jassat, Linda NicLeòid and Mollie Hughes visiting pupils from nursery to senior students. Author Victoria Bennett will also pay a visit to the residents at Gortanvogie Residential Home.

Please sign up to our newsletter for our announcement about event timings, locations and ticketing in due course.

See you all in August!

* Subject to confirmation

More IBF24 Authors Announced

We are very excited to bring you news of three more wonderfully talented authors who will be joining us at this year’s festival.

With such a range of knowledge there’s sure to be something for everyone. We can’t wait to welcome these brilliant authors to Islay Book Festival from 29th August – 1st September.

Keep an eye on the website and our social media to be the first to know when events go on sale.

IBF Authors on the Highland Book Prize Longlist

The Highland Book Prize has announced its 2023 Longlist, and several IBF authors feature. Alan Warner, Kapka Kassabova and Sally Huband are all past or future authors appearing at the Festival. Well done to all the authors on the longlist!

The prize is presented by the Highland Society of London and Moniack Mhor, Scotland’s National Writing Centre, and celebrates literature that comes from the rich landscape and culture of the Scottish Highlands and Islands. This includes books written by authors who live in the Highlands or were born there, as well as books whose content is Highland themed.

Twelve books were selected from 76 eligible submitted titles by a team of volunteer readers with a diverse range of backgrounds and experience, in conjunction with the judging panel, Moniack Mhor, and the Highland Society of London.

For more information, visit Highland Book Prize.

Support us with Argyll Community Lottery

We’ve launched an Argyll Community Lottery page! As a charity, the Islay Book Festival relies solely on funding from our sponsors and the generosity of the public. You can now support us in a fun way by purchasing Argyll Community Lottery tickets here:

Tickets cost only £1, with a draw every Saturday night. Each ticket has a 1 in 50 chance to win, with prizes ranging from free extra tickets to £25,000. When someone chooses us as their cause, 50% goes to us, 20% to admin costs, 20% to prizes and the remaining 10% is shared between all the other good causes registered with the lottery, so it means it benefits other local charities as well.

We hope many of you will choose to support us this way, and wish you good luck in the lottery. Gun robh math agaibh!

We promise not to overload your inboxes!

With thanks to our sponsors