Wigtown Welcomes Lee Randall as Guest Programmer for 25th Festival

Lee Randall, a well-known figure in Scottish literature and media, has been appointed as Guest Programmer for the 25th Wigtown Book Festival.

The festival takes place from 22 September to 1 October and brings together leading authors, poets, journalists, scientists, politicians, singers and a multitude of others for hundreds of events in and around Scotland’s National Book Town.

Over the past decade Lee, who lives in Edinburgh, has become closely associated with Wigtown, chairing around a dozen events a year and contributing to all aspects of the festival.

Her new role will involve curating the 2023 Wigtown Book Festival programme which includes everything from talks by a wide variety of authors to annual lectures, performing and visual arts and much more.

Natural habitat

She said: “I have been in love with Wigtown Book Festival for more than a decade now. At first I would just go for a few events, and then I began staying the whole 10 days.

“The festival, and Wigtown as Scotland’s National Book Town, are remarkable.

“I am thrilled to have been given this opportunity and especially for the 25th year. Despite the direness of the world right now, my mission will be to make this quarter century of Wigtown Book Festival something celebratory.”

In addition to her close relationship with Wigtown, Lee has previously programmed the Borderlines Carlisle Book Festival, the Granite Noir crime fiction festival in Aberdeen and worked on the 2022 St Hilda’s Crime Fiction Weekend. She has also worked in publishing, is the author of several biographies and spent 13 years writing and commissioning arts content for The Scotsman and Scotland on Sunday.

Literature, and storytelling more widely, are abiding passions for Lee who said: “Book festivals are my natural habitat – I love them. They are a place where ideas, writing, reading, and commerce all meet up for a great big party.

“I also believe that stories matter – they are how people understand themselves, each other and the universe around them. Humans have always told stories – from their earliest origins gathered round a camp fire.

“Whether it’s through books, poetry, song – we need to tell stories, they are important and literacy is important. Book festivals like ours bring all these things together.

Milestone year

Founded in 1999, Wigtown Book Festival is now one of the UK’s best loved literary events and in 2022 had more than 200 events and activities for all ages and interests.

Cathy Agnew, incoming chair of Wigtown Book Festival, said: “There was strong competition for this role, which underlines the affection people have for Wigtown Book Festival, its reputation as a superb event and recognition that this year is an important milestone in its history and growth.

“Lee is an old friend of the festival and of Scotland’s National Book Town, with enormous experience, energy and a deep love of literature and storytelling. I have no doubt that our 25th festival will be absolutely outstanding.”

Anne Barclay, Operations Director of Wigtown Festival Company (which organises the event), added: “Lee has become an absolute mainstay of the festival over the years and this role will allow her to use her talents and boundless energy to the full, contributing even more to the festival team.”

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