Hilary Mantel and Ian Rankin on book festival line-up

Writers Hilary Mantel, Alexander McCall Smith and Ian Rankin are among those who will be appearing at the Baillie Gifford Borders Book Festival this autumn.

The event is moving temporarily from its usual base at Harmony Garden to Abbotsford, home of Sir Walter Scott, whose 250th anniversary is being celebrated throughout 2021.

Others appearing at the festival in November include crime writers Val McDermid, Christopher Brookmyre and Denise Mina, former shadow chancellor Ed Balls and former prime minister Gordon Brown.

The book festival is welcoming audiences back for the first time since 2019, after the June 2020 event was effectively cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic, with the programme taking place online.

Ian Rankin
Ian Rankin will take part in the festival (Jane Barlow/PA)

Alistair Moffat, festival director, said: “We are absolutely delighted to be welcoming the book-loving public back to the Baillie Gifford Borders Book Festival this year, even more so in light of everything that the last 18 months has thrown at us.

“The festival will feel a little different this year: we are swapping the warm, sunny days of June for the autumnal beauty of November; and the iconic Harmony Garden for the magnificent home of Sir Walter Scott, Abbotsford.

“It seems totally fitting in this year of the 250th celebrations of Scott to be welcoming a host of great authors to his home, but, on a practical note, holding the Book Festival at Abbotsford also allows us to ensure that the festival is Covid-safe and that our audiences, whom we have missed so much, can come and enjoy everything we have to offer with peace of mind.”

He added: “We very much look forward to returning to Harmony Garden in June 2022, but, for now, we are thrilled to have so many wonderful authors joining us at Abbotsford this November for six days of unbridled literary pleasure.”

More than 60 events will take place over the course of the book festival, which runs from November 2 to 7.

Others on the line-up include former rugby star Gavin Hastings, former footballer Pat Nevin, television presenter Michael Palin, shadow business secretary Ed Miliband, comedian Rory Bremner and broadcaster James Naughtie.

Giles Ingram, Abbotsford chief executive, said: “Abbotsford is delighted to be welcoming the Baillie Gifford Borders Book Festival to the home of Sir Walter Scott, especially as we celebrate the 250th anniversary of his birth.

“The authors and visitors to the festival will be able to experience the wonderful home and setting that inspired Scott to become Scotland’s greatest storyteller and inspires writers still.

“It is fitting that in Scott’s anniversary year our commemorations include the opportunity to celebrate the literary heritage we enjoy today.”

The 12th Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction will be celebrated with an event with 2021 winner Hilary Mantel, who was awarded the £25,000 prize in June of this year for The Mirror And The Light.

The Family Book Festival, sponsored by Saltire Roofing & Building, will return on Saturday 6 and Sunday November 7 with a programme of author events and outdoor activities for children aged three to 12.

Tickets for this year’s Baillie Gifford Borders Book Festival are available from September 29 via Citizen Ticket and at www.bordersbookfestival.org