will be the first major book festival of 2005 – it will launch Scotland's literary calendar. Glasgow is long overdue its own book festival." The quote dates from early November 2004, and belongs to Anthony Browne, who at the time was Scottish events support manager at bookshop Ottakar's.
The city's book scene has contracted since then. The casualties include Borders, as well as Ottakar's, and both of them are still much-missed. But the festival has thrived.
The first one unfolded across the week of February 19-27, with 140 authors appearing at literary events across the city. Confirmed names included Louise Welsh, Roy Hattersley and Julia Donaldson.
It went off so well that, almost before it knew what was happening, the city had a major festival on its hands. An indication of how successful it has been can be glimpsed from the programme for the 2013 festival, the eighth. It's a crowded schedule, laden with big names and weighty themes. The opening night, on April 12, includes Sandi Toksvig, Will Gompertz, Tracey Thorn and Antonio Carluccio.
Between then and April 20 authors include Gavin Esler, Mark Millar, Alasdair Gray, Howard Marks, Mona Siddiqui, Jim Naughtie, Kathleen Jamie and William McIllvanney. The I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue team will put in an appearance. There's a poetry slam championship, a Sunday Herald independence debate, a debate on Leveson, plus creative writing workshops and family events.
It's encouraging to see the Mitchell Library being put to such ambitious use, and attracting such big names. Those of us who have enjoyed the Edinburgh International Book Festival from time to time are glad Glasgow is adept at exploring and promoting the written word, too.
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