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Catherine Lockerbie steps down as Director of the Edinburgh International Book Festival

After nine highly successful years, Catherine Lockerbie is to step down as Director of the Edinburgh International Book Festival in order to move on to an international consultancy role in culture and literature.

Lockerbie, whose work has been recognised by five honorary doctorates amongst many other accolades, became Director in 2000 and has presided over a period of remarkable expansion and transformation.  The Edinburgh International Book Festival has become the largest and most pre-eminent event of its kind in the world, with 200,000 people attending over 750 events each year, and with authors, both world-renowned and brand new, invited from over 45 different nations.  Under Lockerbie’s directorship, the Book Festival has become an internationally acclaimed platform for audiences to debate with leading thinkers from the worlds of politics, science, economics and the media as well as literature.

Catherine Lockerbie said “It has been an unbelievable privilege to lead, nurture and build a festival dedicated to the power of words, ideas and challenging discussion.  I am incredibly proud of our world-class team and what we have all achieved. The Book Festival has been a personal mission of mine, and I have poured every ounce of my energy, passion and thought into what has been an all-consuming role.  Following a period of medical leave, I believe this to be a propitious moment to move on to new challenges and opportunities. 

“Obviously I will be leaving with considerable sadness, but also with intense pride and optimism. I’m handing on the Festival at a point where it is artistically and organisationally in the most robust health.  It is a dynamic and changing time in the literary and cultural life of the land and the consultancy role will allow me to retain my links with the writers and organisations to which I am dedicated, but also to explore many exciting new possibilities.”

Susan Rice, Chair of the Edinburgh International Book Festival said “Catherine has taken the Book Festival into the major leagues, expanding the size and quality of its programme, the number of visitors and the praise it earns in the public eye.  She has even seemingly expanded Charlotte Square Gardens because, though no one thought we could fit any more in, she has managed to do that as well.  Catherine moves on from an outstanding term as Director of the Book Festival.  She leaves us in good heart and in good hands and she goes with our gratitude, our pride in what she has achieved and our love.”

Carol Ann Duffy, Poet Laureate said “Catherine Lockerbie has established the Edinburgh International Book Festival as the finest of its kind in the world. Her achievement shines like a beacon throughout the global world of literature. She has been a literary director of integrity, vision, compassion and inspiration and writers and readers everywhere are forever in her debt. She leaves the post with the deep love and gratitude of every man, woman and child who ever attended her festivals.”

Margaret Atwood, who will be launching her new novel, Year of the Flood, at the Book Festival in August said “The incomparable Catherine Lockerbie is — well, incomparable. Such passion and dedication and wild Scottish fervour welded to such a nit-picking eye for detail — these qualities are seldom found together. Hooray for her, and may the wind be always at her back.”

The strength of the 2009 Edinburgh International Book Festival programme, conceived by Lockerbie and developed by the Book Festival team, is reflected in the first three weeks of ticket sales which have seen an increase of 35% over the same period last year. Richard Holloway is Guest Director for this year’s festival, preparations for which are well underway. The search for a successor to carry on the development of the Festival will now begin and it is hoped that the new Director will take up their role in time to shape the 2010 programme.