08/09/2017
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History events at 2017 Wigtown Book Festival

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Professor Ted Cowan (pictured), Professor Tom Devine and Professor Angela McCarthy are just three of the big history names lined up for the Wigtown Book Festival, which offers a range of history talks ranging from the Viking Age through to the French Revolution.

The event, taking place in Scotland’s National Book Town from 22 September to 1 October 2017, will be a chance to hear leading writers and thinkers including historian Professor Sir Tom Devine who will discuss recent research revealing the truth about the country’s relationship with slavery. 

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Artistic director Adrian Turpin said: “Was the Reformation really the result of one stubborn monk pinning a document to a church door? What would have happened had Culloden gone the other way? Did Scotland profit from the slave trade? These are just a few of the big historical questions that will be tackled by some of the leading historians, writers and thinkers at work today.

“There’s a huge appetite for works of historical fact and fiction, and this year’s festival will be looking at some of the most topical and intriguing. It’s a chance to find out more about people and events from the past, and how they continue to shape our lives today.”

Wigtown Book Festival history highlights

  • Tea and Empire, will see Professor Devine and renowned emigration scholar Professor Angela McCarthy reveal the hidden histories of Scots in Asia, including surprising tales of tea and opium. Central to their talk is James Taylor of Kincardineshire, who pioneered the global popularity of Ceylon tea before dying in disgrace
  • What If the Jacobites Had Won? Historians Jacqueline Riding (Jacobites) and Sarah Fraser (The Last Highlander) spend a playful hour imagining an alternate history in which Stuarts ruled supreme and the Hanoverians were the rebels
  • Professor Ted Cowan, Glasgow University emeritus professor of Scottish History and Literature, will speak at a special event called Galloway in the World, which reveals how this area of south-west Scotland once exerted global influence
  • Sarah Fraser, The Prince Who Would Be King, The Life and Death of Henry Stuart: The greatest king Britain never had, the oldest son of James VI. Acclaimed as the soldier-prince who would save
his people from Catholicism, he was a celebrity across Europe. He championed science, art and exploration, conceiving a plan to modernise the navy. Yet, incredibly, he was just 18 when he died
  • Iain Gale, Always a Borderer: Founded to defend Edinburgh from the Jacobites, the King’s Own Scottish Borderers were at the heart of military history. Iain Gale tells the story of the regiment and its Galloway men, including Wigtown’s Victoria Cross-winner Louis McGuffie

Wigtown Book Festival 2017

The festival runs from 22 September to 1 October 2017. To book tickets, or for more information, visit the festival website.

Funders: Wild Foods of Scotland, Creative Scotland, Dumfries & Galloway Council, EventScotland, The Holywood Trust, Engage, Batchworth Trust, Winifred Kennedy Trust, Mr Edward Hocknell, The Korner Family, Sir Iain Stewart, WS Wilson Charitable Trust.

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