Mull set for first Tobermory Book Festival

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The first Tobermory Book Festival, called West over Sea, will launch four new books this month on October 25-28, when it ‘celebrates Mull’s place as Scotland’s Hebridean book capital’.

The three organisers behind the non-profit venture, long-time friends Hugh Andrew, Hugh Raven and Duncan Swinbanks, hope it can start ‘a unique and enjoyable end of season attraction for Mull’.

Hugh Andrew, founder and managing director of Scottish publishing house Birlinn, explained: ‘Over the last few years there have been a growing number of book festivals in Scotland and it seemed to us that Tobermory and Mull represented the perfect place to have one.

‘As we all know, for the moment, Mull is again unable to run the Closed Road Rally which attracted so many visitors to the island. We hope the Tobermory Book Festival will help fill a gap at the end of the season’s calendar and bring people to the island at a lovely time of year.

‘The events are themed around Mull, the West Coast and the outdoors – hence our title West over Sea, after Dorothy Pochin Mould’s classic book. It shows the vibrancy of community and publishing here that we have four completely new book launches – David Caldwell’s Mull and Iona: A Historical Guide; David Ross’s, Highland Herald; Eilean: The photography of Margaret Fay Shaw edited by Fiona Mackenzie; and Sandy McCall Smith’s A Gathering: A Personal Anthology of Scottish poetry.

‘Speaking as a publisher who – with this autumn’s launches – will have published some 23 books on or around Mull (and some 70 on Argyll and the Isles), it’s a chance to celebrate the extraordinary importance of the written word for the area.

‘People often don’t realise the cumulative economic driver of books for a community, not simply in bringing it together but in showcasing it to the world. One of our Mull authors and illustrators – Ben Blathwayt – has just sold four of his books set on Mull to China so literally we are taking Mull round the world.’

Hugh Raven, a director of Ardtornish Estate by Loch Aline, added: ‘The West Highlands has been known for centuries to inspire artistic creativity. Mull celebrates Mendelsohn, and Mull and Morvern spawned the great Ossianic legends – which became best-selling epics at the dawn of the British publishing industry. Ardtornish has hosted and energised Tennyson, Palgrave, Andrew Lang, John Buchan and many more. This is a place to celebrate books.’

Duncan Swinbanks of Tackle and Books in colourful Tobermory, one of the most photographed bookshops in Scotland, said he was thrilled to be involved: ‘That these amazing authors are coming to Mull is a dream come true for everyone. We pass on our thanks to all who have helped over the months with organising this event.’

A full programme of events is shown on the festival website. Tickets for the events are available by following the link on the website to the Comar Box Office or phoning directly at 01688 302211.