Lee Randall, Guest Programmer at Wigtown Festival Company standing in front of a tree in a garden.

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Lee Randall

Wigtown Welcomes Lee Randall as Guest Programmer for 25th Festival

  • 2023 to be a 10-day celebration of Book Town and storytelling

  • New programmer says book festivals are her ‘natural habitat’

Lee Randall, a well-known figure in Scottish literature and media, has been appointed as Guest Programmer for the 25th Wigtown Book Festival.

The festival takes place from 22 September to 1 October and brings together leading authors, poets, journalists, scientists, politicians, singers and a multitude of others for hundreds of events in and around Scotland’s National Book Town.

Over the past decade Lee, who lives in Edinburgh, has become closely associated with Wigtown, chairing around a dozen events a year and contributing to all aspects of the festival.

Her new role will involve curating the 2023 Wigtown Book Festival programme which includes everything from talks by a wide variety of authors to annual lectures, performing and visual arts and much more.

She said: “I have been in love with Wigtown Book Festival for more than a decade now. At first I would just go for a few events, and then I began staying the whole 10 days.

“The festival, and Wigtown as Scotland’s National Book Town, are remarkable.

“I am thrilled to have been given this opportunity and especially for the 25th year. Despite the direness of the world right now, my mission will be to make this quarter century of Wigtown Book Festival something celebratory.”

In addition to her close relationship with Wigtown, Lee has previously programmed the Borderlines Carlisle Book Festival, the Granite Noir crime fiction festival in Aberdeen and worked on the 2022 St Hilda’s Crime Fiction Weekend. She has also worked in publishing, is the author of several biographies and spent 13 years writing and commissioning arts content for The Scotsman and Scotland on Sunday.

Literature, and storytelling more widely, are abiding passions for Lee who said: “Book festivals are my natural habitat – I love them. They are a place where ideas, writing, reading, and commerce all meet up for a great big party.

“I also believe that stories matter – they are how people understand themselves, each other and the universe around them. Humans have always told stories – from their earliest origins gathered round a camp fire.

“Whether it’s through books, poetry, song – we need to tell stories, they are important and literacy is important. Book festivals like ours bring all these things together.

Founded in 1999, Wigtown Book Festival is now one of the UK’s best loved literary events and in 2022 had more than 200 events and activities for all ages and interests.

Cathy Agnew, incoming chair of Wigtown Book Festival, said: There was strong competition for this role, which underlines the affection people have for Wigtown Book Festival, its reputation as a superb event and recognition that this year is an important milestone in its history and growth.

“Lee is an old friend of the festival and of Scotland’s National Book Town, with enormous experience, energy and a deep love of literature and storytelling. I have no doubt that our 25th festival will be absolutely outstanding.”

Anne Barclay, Operations Director of Wigtown Festival Company (which organises the event), added: “Lee has become an absolute mainstay of the festival over the years and this role will allow her to use her talents and boundless energy to the full, contributing even more to the festival team.”

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About Lee Randall

  • Lee Randall has more than 30 years’ experience in book publishing and media, including 13 years with The Scotsman Publications, creating and commissioning content and running magazines/features/arts coverage, while making a name for herself as a talented, trustworthy writer. Her profiles include interviews with everyone from Serena Williams, Ernest Borgnine, Marie Helvin, and Jamie Dornan, to Andrew O’Hagan, Fay Weldon, Tessa Hadley, and many others. She also wrote a popular humorous weekly column.
  • More recently, Lee’s writing has appeared in aeon.co, Evergreen literary magazine, and at BooksFromScotland.com.
  • Lee is an experienced book festival programmer, notably for Granite Noir, Aberdeen’s crime fiction festival, which had its most successful year in 2020, drawing an international roster of authors and audience members.
  • She is an experienced live interviewer, working with festivals and bookstores throughout the UK. Live interviews have included Damon Galgut, Andrew Cotter, A.M. Homes, and Paula Hawkins.
  • In the 1990s she published three unauthorised celebrity biographies and ghost wrote Q&A manuals about navigating the law and medicine, for non-English-speaking adult immigrants. She has worked as a freelance copywriter for trade publishing, as a technical writer, and as a B2B blog editor.
  • Lee is a dual citizen of the UK and the USA.