First St Andrews Literary Festival proves to be a real page-turner

Professor Richard Dawkins, seated, with Robert Topping.
Professor Richard Dawkins, seated, with Robert Topping.

The first St Andrew Literary Festival kicked off in great style last week with a standing-room-only turnout at the launch event.

As world renowned scientist and writer Richard Dawkins said afterwards, the smallest town on his tour had hosted the largest gathering and it took around two hours after his talk at the Younger Hall to sign his book for everyone who wanted to meet him.

The opening week also included the launch of local author Christopher Rush’s new book, Penelope’s Web, at an event that brought in people from across north east Fife and proved an early highlight for the festival.

“The first week has been fantastic,” said Jenny Bernstein, of bookshop Topping and Company, which is behind the inaugural festival.

“We’ve had lots of interest and great support, with lots of people coming into the shop looking for programmes and tickets.”

Another highlight was a visit by Marina Warner, making her only Scotland appearance in support of her new book of short stories.

The local audience has been very receptive to the festival. We’ve had people being excited to meet their favourite authors. It also has been a great mix of people, both town and gown and we’ve also attracted people from as far away as Glasgow.

Jenny Berstein

“So far, we’ve had good feedback,” said Jenny.

“The local audience has been very receptive to the festival. We’ve had people being excited to meet their favourite authors.

“It also has been a great mix of people, both town and gown, who’ve attended the events and we’ve also attracted people from as far away as Glasgow.

“We’re really happy with how it’s going but there is still a lot more to come.”

Friday (September 25) sees award-winning biographer A.N. Wilson in town to discuss his work ‘The Book of the People’,

Next week’s line-up includes the University of St Andrews’ very own Don Paterson, Ukranian cooking with Olia Hercules and Will Boyd.

In all the festival is covering 20 events and will run from September 16 to October 13.

For full details go into the bookshop or see the website www.toppingbooks.co.uk