Brian Whittingam

Radical Voices & Rebel Stories

20 – 29 February, 2020

See the full programme

Paisley’s inaugural Book Festival will take inspiration from the 200th anniversary of the Paisley Radicals reflecting their spirit with a programme of grassroots activism, new ideas and political conversation.

paisley. book festival logo

The festival programme includes events for children, young adults and adults with something for everyone over the ten days of the Paisley Book Festival. Acclaimed writers from across the UK will be taking part in discussion panels, masterclasses, workshops, storytelling and performances, and books will be on sale and can be signed by the author at events.


Events will mainly take place at Paisley Art Centre on New Street plus other venues:  POP in the Piazza Shopping Centre, Central Library’s location by the Lagoon Leisure Centre, in some of the pubs, the local university, and café hotspots in Paisley.

Come along and have fun with the family in Paisley this February, a fresh destination to enjoy reading with your children, and discover something new.  Many events are free.


Paisley Book Festival will open with Radical Renfrewshire, marking the 200th anniversary of the Paisley Radicals – the inspiration behind the festival

Paisley Book Festival: Opening Night: Radical Renfrewshire

John Byrne celebrates his 80th year with a Big Birthday Bash in his hometown; Kirsty Wark talks about her new novel and her life reporting politics and Nikesh Shukla, editor of The Good Immigrant, is in discussion with Jay G Ying, co-founder of the BAME Scottish Writers Network

The Festival Finale


Fun Lovin Crime Writers

The Finale will feature a live gig from the Fun Lovin’ Crime Writers – aka an all-star line-up of Val McDermid, Christopher Brookmyre, Mark Billingham, Doug Johnstone, Stuart Neville and Luca Veste swapping murder for music.


jackie kay

Jackie Kay

Other highlights include Janice Galloway, Jackie Kay, Kirstin Innes, Jenni Fagan, Chris McQueer, Emma Jane Unsworth and Alan Bissett

From 20th – 29th February 2020 venues across Paisley will host events – from festival hub Paisley Arts Centre to the Bull Inn pub, Piazza Shopping Centre and The Lagoon swimming pool

Events across the ten days include:

jim carruth

Jim Carruth

● A major opening night event celebrating Renfrewshire Rebels, featuring an exclusive reading from Scottish radicalism author Maggie Craig, poetry from Renfrewshire born Jim Carruth, and music from Glasgow-based singer-songwriter Heir of the Cursed (20 Feb)

john byrne

John Byrne

● John Byrne returning to his native Paisley for a Big Birthday Bash celebrating his 80th year. Part retrospective of his incredible body of work and part a raucous knees-up, expect readings from John’s plays, old and new, special guests and probably some cake (22 Feb)

● From wowing the crowds at Glastonbury to closing the first ever Paisley Book Festival in style, the Fun Lovin’ Crime Writers – aka an all-star line-up of Val McDermid, Christopher Brookmyre, Mark Billingham, Doug Johnstone, Stuart Neville and Luca Veste – will swap murder for music in a toe-tapping and unmissable live gig (29 Feb)

What’s The Script – Jenny Lindsay, 22 February

What’s This Script with Jenny Lindsay, Paisley Book Festival

nikesh shukla

Nikesh Shukla

● Editor of The Good Immigrant – a vital collection of writings by emerging British BAME authors, poets, journalists and artists on the issues of race and immigration – Nikesh Shukla will share a timely conversation with Jay G Ying, co-founder of the BAME Scottish Writers Network (23 Feb)


Janice Galloway

● Marking thirty years since the publication of her debut novel The Trick Is To Keep Breathing introduced her as a lyrical, radical new voice in Scottish literature, Janice Galloway talks about her life, work, and anything else that takes her fancy (22 Feb)

● Scots Makar Jackie Kay reading poems on the festival’s theme of Radical Stories and Rebel Voices, including some new work inspired by the American performer and international activist Paul Robeson (28 Feb)

rebel women

● Jenni Fagan, Kirstin Innes and Emma Jane Unsworth – authors of three of 2020’s most anticipated new novels Luckenbooth, Scabby Queen and Adults – get together to chat about the politics of writing rebellious, non-conformist female protagonists (23 Feb)

● An evening of rebel poetry curated by Scottish culture blog The Fountain, with live performances from Michael Pederson, Hollie McNish and Sarah Stewart (27 Feb)

● Chitra Ramaswamy and Emily Morris talking about their two very different but equally subversive accounts of pregnancy in a baby-friendly event (23 Feb)

magi gibson paisley book festival

Magi Gibson

● Renowned multi-award-winning Scottish writer and performer Alan Bissett introduces some of his favourite Scottish talents in three unexpected Paisley locations Sonnet Youth’s: Scottish poets Kevin P Gilday, Imogen Stirling and Magi Gibson performing in the booths of the Bull Inn and the surreal and funny literary sensation behind Hings and HWFG, Chris McQueer, at legendary live music venue Callum’s Cavern, plus a look at the mountain of working class poetry unearthed from Renfrewshire archives in 1990 by then-Paisley writer in residence Tom Leonard and unread for centuries (28 and 29 Feb)

tracy patrick

Tracy Patrick

● Renfrewshire’s only independent publisher, Jenny’s Well Press, with a night of five Scottish writers – Jim Ferguson, Fiona Lindsay, Tracy Patrick, Dave Manderson and Carl MacDougall – whose fictional characters go against the grain (24 Feb)

Jenny’s Well Press – Full details of event 24 February, 5.30 p.m.

Paisley Book Festival: Jenny’s Well Press presents: Writers and Rebellion

jim ferguson

Jim Ferguson

● Paisley-based Fundamental Conduit with a thought-provoking event mixing spoken word, music and performance. Audiences will hear stories about Paisley radicals and their inspiring history, reflecting on the power of local radicalism and rebellion within our current political climate (25 Feb)

Poets in the Library

Linda Jackson The Siren Awakes

Linda Jackson photo Dini Power

Fri 21 Feb

Paisley Central Library (located at Lagoon Leisure Centre)
FREE – ticketed

Hear from some of Scotland’s foremost radical writers including Sheila Templeton, Linda Jackson, Tracy Patrick, Ross Wilson, Graham Fulton and Brian Whittingham. These voices tell much-needed stories of rebellion from the Paisley mills, Kelty mines, Clydeside shipyards and Aberdeen fish-markets.

● Breaking the Mould: Creating Disabled and Low-Income Access to Publishing – award-winning author Ever Dundas joining Stuart White, founder of Write Mentor; Briana Pegado, director of Creative Edinburgh; and Lynsey Rogers, Writing Communities Coordinator at the Scottish Book Trust, to dissect diversity in the publishing industry and what positive changes are being made to open the gates (22 Feb)

● Coffee house Bianco e Nero hosting a free drop-in Pop-Up Poetry Shop celebrating Paisley’s rich poetic history, from Robert Tannahill to Tom Leonard.Come along to have a go at writing creatively – either poetry or prose – , browse books, poems, Paisley maps and photographs (dates throughout the festival)

mara menzies feal the fear

Mara Menzies

● Inspiring family events for wee rebels including acclaimed Kenyan-Scottish storyteller Mara Menzies telling thrilling tales of people who stood their ground (22 Feb)

● Luke Winter and his typewriter in residence at the Piazza Shopping Centre writing on-the-spot stories from audience suggestions (22 Feb)

● Campfire Club: Rousing Rebels, weaving new stories and old around the inside campfire (23 Feb)

● Bookbug in the Bath, a splashing good reading story session in the water at The Lagoon, in both Gaelic and English (26 Feb)

● Lari Don introducing Fierce, Fearless and Free – her new collection of myths and legends about girls who escape ogres, defeat dragons, save villages, and never wait for a prince to save them (29 Feb)

Alan Bissett presents…Tom Leonard’s Radical Renfrew: 30 Years On

Sat 29 Feb
The Lane



Alan Bissett

Buy your tickets now

In 1990, Tom Leonard – one of Scotland’s greatest poets and Paisley’s then Writer-in-Residence – unearthed a monumental collection of working-class poetry from Renfrewshire archives, unread for centuries.

tom leonards radical renfrew gerry crruthers

Gerry Carruthers

Glasgow University’s Professor Gerry Carruthers discusses Radical Renfrew’s influence, thirty years on, and that of the late, great Leonard himself.

Matchbox Cineclub Cage-a-rama 2020
Glasgow Libraries Christmas Reading Challenge for Kids

This section: Books, Talks, Poetry and Creative Writing Events, Events, Fairs, Festivals and Fundraisers

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