Book Festival To Host Edinburgh World Writers' Conference

Submitted by edg on Fri, 9 Mar '12 9.53pm

The Edinburgh International Book Festival and the British Council are collaborating on a new venture The Edinburgh World Writers’ Conference 2012-2013.

The conference, launching at the Edinburgh International Book Festival this August, will bring together leading Scottish and international writers for a series of discussions framed around keynote opening statements. It will be simultaneously broadcast online.

“Half a century ago Edinburgh hosted a Writers’ Conference that was so influential it helped bring about the explosion of literary festivals as we know them today," said Book Festival director Nick Barley (pictured), launching the 50th anniversary conference yesterday.

"Norman Mailer, Rosamond Lehmann and William S Burroughs were among the international authors who locked horns with celebrated Scottish writers in 1962, when over a five day period fifty authors met to discuss how writing can help make sense of the world. In this exciting new programming partnership with the British Council, we will be inviting fifty writers from across the globe to return to the themes of 1962 and to set them in a modern context.”

Conference delegates will debate in front of a public audience the same topics that almost brought writers to blows back in 1962.

The questions remain the same but organisers wish to use new technology to give the conference discussions a global dimension, with live on-line broadcasts and ongoing conference meetings across the planet in countries including India, Germany, Australia, Canada, Egypt and China over the next twelve months.

As further countries join the discussion, the Edinburgh World Writers’ Conference will assemble highlights of the global discussion into a book about writing today, which will be published after the final conference session in the autumn of 2013.

Susie Nicklin, British Council Director Literature, added: “The British Council, working with our global team and our offices worldwide, is ideally placed to harness the power of international literature for cultural relations between nations. We are therefore delighted to be launching this ambitious project with the Edinburgh International Book Festival. From August 2012 to August 2013, from the Caribbean to Cairo to Kuala Lumpur, we will maximise digital technologies and the reach of social media to enable a truly inclusive and wide-ranging discussion to take place about literature now and its relevance to our lives - a thread common to us all, across the globe."

The 2012 Writers’ Conference is being supported by The Scottish Government’s Edinburgh Festivals Expo Fund, Creative Scotland, EventScotland and the City of Edinburgh Council.

Full details of the 2012 Edinburgh World Writers’ Conference will be announced in June.

The Edinburgh International Book Festival takes place from 11 to 27 August 2012 and the full programme will be announced on Thursday 21 June 2012t

World Writers' Conference, Big Ambitions

Organisers of the the Edinburgh World Writers’ Conference have big ambitions for the event. In a release, the EIBF said it wants to build "the most complete picture of writing and its relationship to modern life ever attempted" as the world's top writers debate what matters most at this point in time in the global literature firmament.

Here's how some of its backers are framing the 50th Anniversary Conference.

“The Edinburgh World Writers’ Conference will be a fantastic celebration of our rich cultural heritage and our nation’s significant contribution to world literature.” (Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs)

"The exchange of ideas, lively debate and thoughtful discussion are at the heart of our culture. Technology now enables us to make those conversations global, inviting new perspectives and expanding our understanding of words, writing and Scotland’s continuing role as a literary powerhouse. It’s an excellent project for this Year of Creative Scotland.” (Andrew Dixon, Chief Executive, Creative Scotland)

“The Edinburgh International Book Festival will undoubtedly exploit the opportunity that London 2012 and the Year of Creative Scotland presents by bringing together the best writers from Scotland and around the world. The Edinburgh World Writers’ Conference is an ambitious project that will provide a fantastic platform for a global literary discussion, while supporting the key values of the festival.” (Paul Bush OBE, Chief Operating Officer for EventScotland)

"As the world’s first UNESCO City of Literature, Scotland’s Capital city is a genuine global hub for all things book-related and the Edinburgh World Writers’ Conference will reinforce the city’s literary clout and significance still further. Edinburgh has an enviable international reputation as a festival city and supporting the cultural ambitions of the Festivals in this unique year makes perfect sense given the proven positive impact they have on the people and economy of the city. The Scottish Government should also be commended for initiating the Expo Fund around which the other partners have worked to supplement." (Councillor Steve Cardownie, Festivals and Events Champion for the City of Edinburgh Council)

More on Edinburgh's Festivals