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Wigtown Book Festival launches free virtual book club

Patrick Laurie is one of the guest authors of the monthly book club
Patrick Laurie is one of the guest authors of the monthly book club

Bookworms across Scotland can rejoice, as Wigtown Book Festival has launched a series of online events to allow people to enjoy literature from the comfort of their own homes.

Coined “#WigtownWednesdays”, the new initiative boasts a fantastic virtual line-up, including a monthly online book club which holds its first get-together on 22 April.

Those who join in will be able to virtually meet author of the memoir Native, Patrick Laurie – a Dumfries and Galloway-based conservation hill farmer. Nature writer, Polly Pullar, will also be on hand.

Patrick’s latest book explores his love of the Galloway countryside and his efforts to reconnect with its natural and farming heritage.

He is well known in Dumfries and Galloway for his work to revive the traditional Riggit Galloway breed of cattle and to farm in a way that creates the right conditions for fragile bird species such as black grouse, grey partridge, curlews and lapwings to thrive.

#WigtownWednesdays began on April 15, when over 100 people gathered in their homes to listen to broadcaster and Sunday Times bestselling author Sally Magnusson  discussing her new novel The Ninth Child.

Sally Magnusson

Future #WigtownWednesdays will feature adventurer Robert Twigger on Walking The Great North Line and philosopher Julian Baggini on lessons from a crisis.

There are even plans for a virtual version of the Wigtown’s Got Talent competition, and there will also be the chance to take part in Stuart Kelly’s literary pub quiz, which is one of the most popular events of the annual book festival.

The festival is still scheduled to go ahead in Scotland’s national booktown from 25 September to 4 October.

Adrian Turpin, creative director, Wigtown Festival Company, said: “We couldn’t just sit here in silence at a time like this, so we decided to bring some of the spirit of Wigtown Book Festival.

“At a time when many are likely to have time to read, and may take comfort from reading, we decided to introduce new ways for people to enjoy with literature, with authors and with Scotland’s National Book Town.

“Book festivals are about more than reading, they are about talking, listening and experiencing. So our aim has been to find different, and sometimes quirky, ways that people can engage with literature, authors and storytelling.

“We hope people will make #WigtownWednesdays a weekly date.”

Plans are in place to introduce a regular podcast and some exclusive long reads are being specially commissioned.

The initiative is completely free thanks to support from Baillie Gifford, but the Festival is asking for public donations to help cover the costs.